Thursday, December 31, 2009

A New Year's Gift To Me...

I just bought a new (to me) bike... I pick it up Sunday. Photos to come...


Can it be? Are we actually looking at the end of another year? Wow…

For what it’s worth, it was a good one. For me anyway. I traveled, put a story in another book, wrote a lot, rode my bike, grew tomatoes and lived.

For a lot of people, it wasn’t as great. A lot of my friends lost their jobs, and Detroit continues to scrabble for economic survival. We’d all move away, but our houses aren’t exactly sellable right now, you know?

CNN posted a story that advocates an idea I’ve talked about for a while. If the city is becoming a wasteland, why not level it all and send it back to the wilderness? OK, maybe not that far, but why not large-scale urban farming? I think it’s a radical, innovative idea that could help Detroit reach a level of self-sufficiency and profitability again, as well as eliminating some serious blight.

I didn’t come here to get political, though. I came here to wish you all a Happy New Year, and to tell you to remember to put a penny on the windowsill tonight.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Ain't goin' nowhere...

Just to prove I'm still around... here's a kitten.

Just got back from Italy. There are some good pics coming...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hey Marine!

Just for the record, this is TFN's absolutely favorite video clip right now. Go ahead and and watch it, it's only six seconds long.

Z is in town tonight; we're going to eat crawfish.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The new baby

This is the new baby. She's a 1968 Schwinn Breeze, and after we spend the winter working on restoring her, she's going to be TFN's neighborhood cruiser.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All my best friends are metalheads...

Lucero was awesome. I made my way into a pit for the first time since Flatfoot 56. I’m getting too old for pits, especially the full-blown hardcore bust-over-the-head type pits. In order for me to make my way into pits anymore, the vibe has to be perfect – the crowd has to have a positive buzz, a bunch of folks there to have a good time, and I also have to be feeling the music, too.

This one was perfect, a crowd that pleasantly drunk, just out for fun, not out for blood, just there to reel with the music, to make enjoying Lucero a common experience. And reel we did… it was perfect. At one point, during “Nights Like These,” the whole pit stopped, and shouted

“The beer tastes like blood, my mouth is numb.
I can't make the words I need to say
She had a weakness for writers, and I was never that good with words anyway.”

Then we all high-fived one another, and the music ctarted rolling again, and so did we.

I’ve said it before, but Ben Nichols is a poet, and I like to meet him, and I’d like to meet his muse.

Man, what is a muse?

In Greek mythology, there were nine of them, and they were goddesses who presided over the arts, and inspired the artists. But that was a long time ago, when Greek art, music, poetry, etc. was all pretty structured. Back then, as one who aspires to be a writer, I would have answered to Calliope perhaps, who was a pretty little thing who inspired epic poems. Oddly enough, her lover was Ares, the god of war, and they had kids together.

It just goes to show that opposites attract, I guess, for those of us who subscribe to that particular lyric “The opposite of war isn’t peace – it’s creation” - which as a musical lyric may have been inspired by the Muse Erato, who inspired lyric poetry. She was well-known for inspiring love and erotic poems, but was never really hooked up with any gods. She was then either getting it on with everyone, or a tragic figure that inspired what she wasn’t having.

In any case, nine Muses were fine when the world was smaller and the art more rigid. But they don’t really cut it now. I think that as the world got bigger, and the poets, artists, lovers and dreamers spread around the world, the Muses found they couldn’t handle the increased workload, so they allowed the creation of more muses (not the change to the lowercase).

Somehow, for better or for worse, everyone who aspires to create now finds their own muse, one who’s always there to inspire the artists to make their own particular brand of art. Except of course when the muse is not there, which is frustrating, sometimes, but sometimes it’s also even more frustrating when they are around.

I think, as the lineage of the muses got watered down, and they got scattered throughout the world, they changed. They’re not related to one another, at least not in appearance, and they very rarely have anything in common with one another. When a muse goes away for a while, it’s a safe bet he/she’s not hanging out with other muses. Except when he/she comes back looking like he/she’s been in a bar fight. Then he/she was around other muses. Or he/she was just in a bar fight.

But where do our muses come from? Do we create them, or do we find them? Or do they find us? If we don’t create them, where are they before and after us? Do they travel from artist to artist? Or are they born with us, and will die with us. If they will die with us, what inspires muses to inspire suicidal, tragic poets to die young, unless they themselves are suicidal tragic figures who want to die young?

And if my muse is older than I am, who did he help before? I mean honestly, who would want this muse other than me? Who would really be inspired by a barefoot, dirty, towheaded, socially awkward, mildly manic, slightly offensive, pleasantly drunk muse other than me?

What’s your muse look like?

Friday, September 18, 2009

It's Nights Like These

"She had a weakness for writers, and I was never that good with words anyway."


I love this band. I have always wanted to see this band. Frontman Ben Nichols is a poet that sounds like a country-fried Kurt Cobain, and I worship every release they've done.

Did I mention I like them?

Well, here's the deal. They're playing tonight, and I'm going. But it gets better. They're playing the Ferndale Drunkfest DIY Fest! Which means, I will ride my bike to watch them play outside, while I sit in the grass and drink beer and talk to my friends.

Which is the best way to see a band like this.

I'm looking forward to seeing all my friends tonight, to raise a beer and say goodbye to the summer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thank you, Mr. President!

I love this, because I agree with him. Kanye West IS a jackass.

"I know we're all sad about Patrick Swayze, but Micheal Jackson did the best celebrity death of the year!" - Kanye West

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years Ago...

I won't say much about it, except to point out this poster that came out seven years ago.

It's a poster that I and another artist created at the ad agency I worked for at the time. It remains some of my best work, I think. I hadn't really thought about it in a while, until an old coworker posted it on FaceBook today.

Beatles Rock Band has made it to our house... so yeah, not much is getting done round there. The only way that things are even getting tidied up is that folks are coming over tonight... you know, to play Beatles Rock Band.

Labor Day came and went in a road trip to Chicago. It was a good time, as all Labor Days should be, a day off and saying goodbye to the summer. I do, however, try to take a moment to think about what that day is about. My dad was a union man, and at one time, I've was part of the UAW as well.

I know the unions have done a lot for my family, for a few generations now; I come from a few generations of factory and auto workers. There will always be a blue collar wrapped around my heart.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Poor, poor Paprika...

Originally uploaded by alpharat
So this morning, Paprika reached out to all of her friends as well as some casual acquaintances, via Facebook.

It seems that she was robbed at gunpoint in London last night. The crooks took all of her money and her plane ticket, but fortunately not her passport, but she was stranded. She just needed a loan to pay for her hotel, get a cab to the airport and a plane ticket.

Personally, I don't know why she wouldn't have paid for her hotel with a credit card, and I would think the airport would be able to take care of her as long as she had her passport, but what do I know? I wasn't there.

Fortunately, I told her that I knew some guys in London who owed me cash and a favor. If she would just tell me where to meet her, I would send some guys over with 1,200 pounds for her. There was no need to worry about the safety of the transaction I told her, because I trusted these guys, and they were also very big. A bunch of hooligans I told her, but nice guys.

Anyway, if she would just give me a location, the six of them would bring her an envelope full of cash, and take her to the airport.

I'm not sure why, but she never responded after that. Then she even unfriended me.

Maybe it's because the real Paprika was sleeping soundly in Texas at the time.

Then again, what do I know.

So I'm happy she made it back to Texas safely without ever realizing the trauma she had been through in London, and here's hoping that Facebook fixes this ASAP.


Monday, August 31, 2009

It's a bad day for the True Believers...

I can't help but think the Disneyfication of all I hold true is upon us. Get ready for a softer, cuddlier, more friendly version of Wolverine, kids. Maybe with lollipops for claws and some trademark mouse ears.

Disney to Acquire Marvel Entertainment

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Is it my birthday?

If recent events are any indication, it just may be. Emagine entertainment has announced plans to open a cinema/bowling complex in Royal Oak.

What does this mean?

A. A major cinema within biking distance from my house.
B. A major cinema that serves beer... within biking distance from my house.

I heart this news.

Not-so-glorious Basterds

We saw "Inglourious Basterds" this weekend, and if I had to sum up the film in a sentence it would be this: Quentin Tarantino needs to get the fuck over himself.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good movie. The story is good, the acting amazing.

It's just that the movie is almost three hours long, and that's about 45 minutes too long.

I imagine Tarantino has this stable of kissups and toadies who have him convinced that he is so amazing that he can do no wrong, that every shot he takes and every bit of dialogue is so amazing that he must use it ALL. I don't think he knows how to edit anymore, or believes that anything he does ever needs to be edited. Ever.

Mr. Tarantino, building suspense and boring the viewer are two different things. Your scenes and movies are too long, and use too much unneccesary C-R-A-P.

Incidentally, even though the movie was way too long, it was done so at the expense of the Basterds, who themselves were ignored in their early days in lieu of spending too much time developing a story that could have been developed in half the time.

Hopefully, they'll rerelease the movie on DVD as a... what's the opposite of a director's cut?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brain buckets save lives...

I have a confession to make.

When we bought our new bikes, we didn't always wear helmets when we were just running over to our friends' houses. Or to grab food. Sure, when we're riding to Royal Oak, or to Birmingham, no question, but just to go a block? What's the point?

Keep in mind that, on the bike trail, I won't even ride with anyone who doesn't wear a helmet. I am adamant and militant that, if you're going to ride with me on a trail, you will wear a helmet. I will help you get out of the woods should you hurt yourself, but I don't want to ride with someone who's risking a serious closed head injury; I know people who've gotten serious concussions on the trail when the helmet did its job. Sans helmet, they would have been looking at skull fractures.

So where did I get this double standard? Who knows. But no more.

A friend of ours was riding his bike. Same scenario, just running to a friends house, so no helmet. He was hit by a car. He got a serious concussion and seven staples in his head. Serious shit. He was still recovering when we saw him last week.

I now wear my helmet every time I get on my bike.

The other night, we rode our bikes to the Borders in Birmingham (12 or so miles round trip), got some books and rode back to F-town. We stopped in for cocktails with friends, then headed home.

As we made ready to head out, unlocking bikes and putting on the buckets, some douchey hipster walked by with two ladies. He said, "seriously, helmets? Is that necessary?"

A. WTF? Why say anything if you disapprove, other than you want to impress your hipster lady friends?
B. Seriously, WTF? What did I do to you.
C. I mean seriously. W. T. F. you ass?

I started to look daggers at him, then decided it wasn't worth it. Instead, I said flatly, "my friend just got hit by a car."

No response from him, and the girls stopped to turn and glare at him, as if they just realized the dick move he's just made.

I hope he went home alone.

Anyway, helmets save lives, kids. It's sad when you need to be reminded this way.

In Asheville, a bike helmet even stopped a bullet.

Apparently, a guy, who happened to be a firefighter, saw another guy and his son riding their bikes on a busy road (which is legal). The firefighter got upset because the guy wasn't being safe, so he shot him.

The helmet stopped the bullet.

I know a lot of people are wrapped up in how psycho the shooter was (and the fact that the shooter, Charles Alexander Direz, is on paid leave right now!), but I really want to know - where can I get a bulletproof helmet? It could come in handy in Detroit.

Speaking of Detroit, Anthony Bourdain devoted part of an episode to our lovely town last night. I liked what he said, and he hit some great places, but we're worth more than part of an episode. I mean, he didn't even get coneys!

Monday, July 27, 2009

After the Race

muddy feet
Originally uploaded by alpharat
Team Angry Monkey had a great time at this year's Team Tree Farm rally.

It was rainy, and the trail was SLIPPERY, slow and just a little bit muddy.

Just a little, though.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

For $200, you too can blow up a bridge...

The guy who smashed into the tanker, caused the overpass to collapse and left the city with $2 million in damage? He got a speeding ticket. That's it.

He didn't even get a reckless driving charge or anything like that. Nope, his only penalty will $200 fine and two points on his driving record.

The messed up thing is that he can probably get out of this, too. Seriously, once the police announced that he'll only get charged for speeding, that's it. Now he can take that charge to court and say, "prove it."

And nobody can.

Meanwhile, businesses, commuters and our cash-strapped state is going to suffer even further.

That's all I have to say. Now I'm going to go ride my bike - just not to the Kroger that's closest to my house. Not for quite some time.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It was 40 years ago today...

On this date, in 1969, the U.S. government faked the moon landing.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, retired newsman Walter Cronkite was planning on revealing the coverup to the world.

Certain forces felt this should not be the case.

RIP Mr. Cronkite.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's all rubble and rubbish

Short post, but it's worth noting that an overpass on I-75 collapsed less than a mile from my house last night after a tanker exploded. Miraculously, nobody was hurt, but the expressway is closed for now, and who knows when the overpass will be rebuilt.

Today, it's revealed that a guy who was driving two fast veered into the tanker and caused the whole thing. One guy caused this massive destruction because he's a douchebag. I can't get to the nearest Kroger to my house because this guy is a douchebag. Seriously? I hope they kick his ass, put him jail and make him pay for the new bridge.

Honestly, just knowing that he singlehandedly has made my commute hell for the foreseeable future and messed up daily life for so many people simply because he's an idiot drives me nuts. Idiots should never be allowed this kind of power. Idiots should not be allowed out of their yards without a leash.

In other, unrelated news, punk rock has entered the world of organized crime, I love my new bike and so do the ladies, and the movie The Blob seems to be coming true.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I can lead a nation with a microphone...

Listening to: "Handlebars" by Flobots

Really, that's just a small fraction of what I'm listening to right now. No exaggeration, over 100 new CDs have passed through my hands in recent weeks. Some have been absolutely amazing (New Tomorrow's latest is one of the best hardcore records I've heard in a while), and some not so much (brokenCYDE is the biggest piece of shit ever).

All along the way, I haven't bothered to blog. Sometimes I like to blog, sometimes I don't feel link it, and sometimes the world gets in the way and I can't be bothered. Who knows and who cares which one it was this time, as only four of you read this stuff anyway.

Concert season is in full swing; one show a week is a slow week for me lately. Tonight? Green Day. I'm hoping it will be good, but their latest album isn't that great. Hopefully, they'll put on a good show tonight.

I'm more so looking forward to the weekend that will have Warped Tour and Mayhem within two days of one another. A weekend of two all-day festivals, culminating in a performance by Slayer. Ruling level? High.

In an effort to help stimulate the economy as well as to become ever more like Eurotrash, I motivated the purchase of two new velocipedes for our house. This pairing consists of the equivalents to station wagons - big, smooth-rolling machines with grocery racks and bags - the sort of thing that will be getting us all over the neighborhood as long as weather allows.

Last night, for example, we took them to the bookstore, to a restaurant and then for drinks, a total of only say six miles or so, but it was an incredibly fun way to traverse those six miles and spend an evening. Now, that's all I want to do, go home and ride my new bicycle.

Too bad I have to go see Green Day tonight.

Clare Pproduct
Originally uploaded by griffinshot
My mom, in the current bid to be the coolest grandmother ever, took my nieces to see Marky Ramone's Blitzkrieg play in Lansing. Afterward, the met the band and got autographs. Their bassist, Clare Pproduct, was incredibly cool to the girls, and encouraged my oldest niece to keep playing the guitar, as ther needed to be more girls in punk rock.

My nieces discovered a new idol that day, and she's all they can talk about. And not only that, they're all about punk rock now. So instead of aspiring to be like the girls from High School the Musical, they're aspiring to be Clare. Which I fully approve of.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My New Friend Bina

Originally uploaded by alpharat
This is our new friend Bina. She's a sweetheart. She'll be having babies, and we've been promised one, but I don't think city ordinances will allow it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Gorilla with a Knife

Seriously, the photo says it all. But if you want the story, too, it's here.

Surprisingly, though, this isn't the first incident of its kind. This article about the 25 worst exotic pet attacks includes this item:

June 1995, Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania: An escaped pet monkey wielding a knife and cigarette lighter enters a standoff with police. The animal was eventually captured.

Man, what I wouldn't have done to have seen that standoff.

Monkeys. Man. Unreliable and dangerous in the most awesome way.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Two Questions...

Question 1: Does anybody read this thing anymore?

If you do, please comment below this post, anonymously is fine, so I can take a tally. I am evaluating my online presence, and something's got to give. It may be this site, you know, unless people do still come here.

Question 2: WTF is up with PETA?

I've been to Seattle twice now, and one of my favorite places is Pike Street Market. They have tons of wonderful food, and it choice for people watching, too.

And they also have these guys:

These are the guys at Pike Street Fish Market. It's one of the best places to get fish in the city, because it's by the water and very fresh, and it comes with a show. Last time we went, we brought back a ton of salmon on the plane, packed in dry ice. We ate it when we got home.

Now it seems that PETA wants to make these guys stop throwing the fish, because it's "disrespectful to creatures that already have gone through a lot," and that "tourists would not be nearly so eager to snap photos if dead kittens or gutted lambs were sailing over their heads."

Now, I'm a big advocate of animal rights. I own two rescued animals. There is just a line between being humane, and being a psychotic zealot. These are dead fish. They were killed to be food, they are not trophys and they're not going to waste, they are on their way to somebody's table. Does it really matter if they fly part of the way? It's like saying that I better not flip those burgers too energetically on the grill, as it's disrespecting the cow that made them.

Seriously, choose your battles. Fight against euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats. Fight against inhumane factory farms. Fight against cosmetic testing. Fight against anything that causes undue pain or stress to animals. Don't bitch about a fish that catches some air on its way to the kitchen.

This is why people think you're psychotic, PETA.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Who needs love when there's Southern Comfort?

Today’s musical interlude: “Leeds United” by (who else?) Amanda Palmer

I really should change the title of the blog from Kit Burns Was Framed! to the Amanda Palmer Superfan or something, but you know, she’s great.

For the past couple days, I have been blasting this song as I fly down the freeway on my way to work.

Of course, today I didn’t fly down the freeway. I crawled, Apparently an armored car spilled its contents on the freeway this morning, and things were shut down while they cleaned up the cash. The people who were there right when it happened snatched up cash and got on their way. Economic stimulus package? We’ll see. If armored cars started spilling cash at random for average folks, it would probably be a lot more effective at spurring consumer spending than all of the cash that was thrown at the banks just to pay disappear into the pockets of overpaid executives.

From the Mind Your Own Business Dept.

There has been a story in the news lately about a pole dancing studio in Orion Township. It’s a fitness class where the instructor teaches women pole dancing for fitness. The instructor ascribes losing 40 pounds to the high level of fitness involved. I can believe it; at a Jane’s Addiction show about 10 years ago, the band had pole dancers on 50-foot poles on stage. The women climbed to the top, hung upside down, let got, dropped 10 feet and then caught themselves with just their legs. These were serious athletes, like acrobats.

Apparently, some residents have their panties in a bunch over the school, like it’s a stripper factory. It’s not, it’s a place where women go to try a new type of fitness. It’s not done naked, and even if it were, who cares, because it’s done indoors?

At any rate, the only criticism that people have about the place is simply to say “it’s immoral.” How unsatisfying are these people’s lives? Talk about repression to the point of danger. Even if your average housewife takes the class, feels good about her self-image, gets self-confidence, and then decides to try some of those class techniques in the privacy of her own home, what is the problem? Seriously, some people need to stop fun-governing.

Let's Win It at Home

The Wings play game 7 tomorrow. It’s all or nothing at this point, and we really need to send the Pens packing like we did last year. The whole town, like most years, has Wings fever. What the Wings need is a little intimidation factor, like the All Blacks have with the Haka.

How intimidated would you be to face off to a team that greeted you with a war dance?

What do we have? Cross dressers. On my way to work this morning I saw a transvestite walking down the street, wearing nothing but a McCarty jersey and high heels (the jersey was long enough to cover up, but barely).

God, I love Detroit, but I wonder how McCarty would feel about this?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Drain the Blood

Music for the moment: A song by Jane’s Addiction.

As per my usual style, I was going to post a video by Jane’s Addiction here, but Warner Music has decided that music videos on YouTube somehow hurt album sales, so instead of a video or musical snippet by the Best. Band. Ever. I am simply going to give a shout out:


It probably helps to say it as much as pulling YouTube videos helps them sell records, but it does make me feel a little better.

Once again, life is moving faster than I can keep up with. Chrysler is down, but it looks like it’s coming back just fine. GM has gone down, and ‘m not as certain about that one. The president is telling our industry how to run itself, and as big of a liberal as I am, I’m not really very happy with him either.

In addition to all of that mess, it seems that I “get to” take a week off this summer. Unpaid, of course. While I’m not entirely happy about that situation, I can say that at least I have a job, which is becoming rarer and rarer in these parts.

Isn’t it sad when “at least I have a job” is the bright side?

Last night, as I was watching the Wings lose (that’s OK boys, we’ll win it at home), I was let in on a secret conspiracy theory. A friend who will remain nameless for the sake of safety revealed his suspicion that the government is trying to drive our entire state into the ground, so that they can close it, use it for a landfill and parcel out the contents of the Great Lakes to the rest of the country, who would love to get their greasy little mits on our water. Who knows? He may be right.

Which would be a shame, because I like this state.

Our little cottage was awesome, like a little fairytale cabin in the woods, if fairytale cabins had satellite TV and modern appliances, that is. We had a relaxing weekend, with some biking, some wineries and brunch with Mr. and Mrs. Z, who are two of my most favorite people in the universe.

Also, we saw the NIN|JA show (Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction). Nine Inch Nails, who for years have been a great live show actually are quite sucky live now. There are a million different reasons I could go into about this (Trent is old, the last few albums by NIN have sucked, Trent doesn’t put any energy into his performances anymore, Trent has kind of become a whiny bitch onstage), but I won’t get into them.

Instead I’ll simply say that Jane’s Addiction is and always will be the Best. Band. Ever. TFN and I love this band to the point of succumbing to a PDA during “Summertime Rolls.” I think I would have put this wonderful song in the post, but instead I’ll say FUCK YOU WARNER MUSIC!

Brody is Back!

I really don’t have much more to say about this right now. But, as you all know, I can’t stop talking about music, I will talk about my love for Brody Dalle.

Brody Dalle with the Distillers, several years ago:

She was just such a gutsy, in-your-face kind of vocalist, pure bad-assedness. Her voice was unapologetically harsh, and I loved this band for that. She showed that girls could front punk bands and not be forced to be cute about it.

Then, the Distillers went “on hiatus” for several years.

I eventually figured they wouldn’t get back together.

It turns out I was right.

But Brody would be back.

Over the years, she has had a baby and refined her look and sound. Her new band, Spinnerette, is much more slick, much less badass, but I think sexier, and I still really dig it.

I got to interview Brody. She rocks.

On an unrelated note, did you know they make lingerie out of dairy products in Italy? I saw them at the grocery store.

Sexy Italian cheese lingerie

Honestly, I could rant and rave for a lot longer, but let’s just leave it with cheese-flavored undergarments for now. It seems like an upbeat place to stop.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

All your sanity and wits, they will all vanish, I promise

Music for this morning: Gogol Bordello – “Start Wearing Purple”

I love this band. We see them religiously when they pass through town, and it’s always a giant party. People riding the crowd on drums, girls wearing washboards being played by other members of the band, it’s fantastic.

The lead singer, Eugene Hutz is also a really cool guy that I’ve had the pleasure to meet and to interview before. If you saw Everything is Illuminated, you might recognize him from that – he starred opposite Elijah Wood.

A clip:

Anyway, the reason I’m all up on them right now is they’re in town next week, and we’ll be catching them.

As excited as I am about that, though, I’m more excited about the cabin.

TFN and I have reserved a cabin on the shores of Lake Michigan for four days. It’s right on the water; open the back door, step onto the beach, crack a beer, have a fire. That’s how I’m planning on spending four days.

With the way things are rapidly descending into chaos in these parts, it will be good to not be thinking about it all for a few days.

Plus, Shane Dog gets to go. He’ll like that.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

"Miss Mina"

mitchell and miss mina
Originally uploaded by alpharat
It was April 19, 1995. I remember that day because it was also the day that 168 people were killed and over 800 people were injured in the Oklahoma City bombing - the largest terrorist attack on American soil in history before September 11, and the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history.

It was a warm spring day, and people were coming over to TFN’s apartment. Along with some of our friends walked in Ms. Mina, the cat who would be a part of our lives for the next… forever.

Over the years, we’ve been through a lot with this cat. She was diagnosed with diabetes a while back, and has kept up with daily shots like a trooper.

She started getting sick a little while back, and this morning I dropped her off at the vet’s for some tests.

The vet just called back; her test results are inconclusive – we’ll know more tomorrow. It could be a thyroid or kidney condition; it could be a lot of things. Once we have the test results, we’ll move forward with what we need to do to treat her.

The thing I was not prepared to hear is that Ms. Mina is not a Ms. at all.

She’s a Mr.

Over the past 14 years, four other vets have missed this.

We’re going to have to sit down with “her” and have a talk tonight, and figure out what “she” wants to do.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Happy Birthday, Amanda Palmer!

I got an email from the lovely, talented Amand Palmer. Yesterday was her birthday. She said that all she wants for her birthday is for me to share a video with you. Any video. As I have shared many with you already, the next one I should post here is the wonderful, controversial video for "Oasis." This one has actually been banned in the UK. It's funny, if a little lacking in the taste department.

I was even going one-up that and tell you all to go out and place graffiti in her honor for her birthday, to, wherever you could, write the following words:

If you see Amanda Palmer on the street, kill her.
That way she'll live forever.

Then take a photo and send it to me. But that's not a legal tribute, so I won't.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Palmer.

Photo © TFN

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Never worry... even when you should...

I am quite happy today, despite everything, because I am listening to the Vaselines.

I first heard the Vaselines on a cassette tape I got back in high school. I was immediately fixated on this band, a duo from Glasgow that played silly, sweet-sounding songs that were actually all about sex, but Frances McKee’s coy voice was like a blushing child-bride and the songs took on an air of innocence. Their album was perfection.

Odds are, you’ve heard Vaselines tunes and didn’t know it. Nirvana has covered a few Vaselines songs - “Molly's Lips,” “Son of a Gun” and “Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam.” When I first found Nirvana’s Tribute to the Vaselines in the bins at a record store in college, I felt vindicated in my love for both bands.

In college, I played that Vaselines tape to death, and was sad. A few years later, I found the CD in New York and was happy again. Now, they have re-released the album, with bonus stuff. This also makes me to be happy. I posted a review of it here.

Now, all of the things I could be sad about, were it not for the Vaselines…

Bye-bye Pontiac - It seems GM is getting rid of Pontiac, as part of their bid for survival. I drive a Pontiac. It’s the one that everyone makes fun of, but it’s the comfortable functional car I’ve ever been in. I will drive it forever, because I don’t know of anything that will match it’s versatility or comfort, even if it’s ugly.

It’s my second Pontiac. The first was was 1980 Bonneville. Bonnie was a couch on wheels. She may have been a gas hog, but she was a comfortable car, and HUGE! I moved in that car several times.

Of course, along with the demise of Pontiac goes the demise of another crapload of jobs (crapload is an industry term). I don’t get it. All of the jobs are going away, but nothing is taking their place. What are people going to do? How many people will lose their homes before the government figures out things are that hosed that something REALLY drastic needs to occur?

Then again, if all of those unemployed people were to just not be here, like if the population were drastically reduced by a pandemic of some sort….

Whoah! Let’s back up, because I’m not suggesting that’s a planned thing. In fact, I really don’t think the pig flu is that big of a deal. It’s serious, yes, but it’s not going to destroy life as we know it (Even though life as we know is getting a bit dreary right now).

I found this article that really breaks down the seriousness of the issue.

This snippet really puts it into perspective:

Yet consider the much-cited Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918. It's common for commentary to cite infection rates and total associated fatalities.

It's estimated that about 28 per cent of Canadians and Americans contracted the Spanish flu. Worldwide, an estimated 2.5 per cent of the sick died of complications, which made the pandemic one of the most lethal flu outbreaks in recorded history. Certainly it was one that imprinted itself upon human consciousness for several generations.

But there's another way to look at those statistics. You might observe, for example, that they mean that even during the worst ravages of the 1918 flu, 97.5 per cent of those infected survived and recovered. Or that 72 per cent of the population -- even in the absence of the sophisticated public health planning and infrastructure that Canada and the U.S. have since built -- was not infected during the pandemic.

So, even if we had a repeat of the 1918 flu, the chances were seven out of 10 that you wouldn't catch it and if you did, the odds were better than nine out of 10 that you'd survive.

This is from an era when we didn’t have the medical technology or fast communications we have now. It sucks that people will die from this, and we’ll all do well to wash our hands, etc., but for the most part, panicking is really unnecessary. Call me when it’s an Ebola pandemic.

Even so, if the infection rates do increase, you all will be invited to our plague party, so get your nice clothes ready.

There are other things actually worth worrying about around here. Chrysler is less than 48 hours from learning its fate, and if the worst happens, that’s another crapload of jobs.

If Detroit really falls, and falls hard, it won’t recover, and people will flee even faster. What’s that mean? It means we’ll flee to find new work, which will mean a foreclosure on our house, which is essentially worthless right now. My neighborhood, which is a nice little bungalow neighborhood, has nice houses on the market for $30k right now – and they’re not selling. It’s the perfect time to buy, assuming that, you know, you’re not already saddled with a house that you paid ten times that for, which is now worthless.

The house directly behind me is for sale though, so if you want to buy it, and you’re awesome, we should knock out the back fences and make one big yard of awesomeness.

Getting on to happier things...

TFN and I have settled into a bizarre routine. We have a big book of diseases – the big ones throughout history, like the plague, malaria Typhoid (which is different from Typhus, I have learned) and yes, the Spanish flu. We read aloud about diseases right now. It’s fun, if a little bizarre.

We planted 75 heirloom tomato plants by seed, to offset one of our more expensive vices. They were doing quite well, until the cat ate over half of them. We were fortunately able to go out and replace them with some actual plants, which are now sitting in an even more cat-proof spot, waiting to move outdoors.

We also planted two big beds of flowers, adding curb appeal to our house, which in this economy adds about $6 to its value.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ripped from the news

This week, the Virginia state Republican Party found its own YouTube page vandalized. Someone had cracked the account and uploaded, of all things, Russian lesbian soft-core pornography.

That really made me laugh.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Pros and Cons

Sometimes, when I'm having a really bad day, it pays to take a few minutes to make a list of pros and cons.

Things that I heart:

1. Ocean Spray on the Go Cran-Grape Mix
2. Liverwurst, for its ability to mask the taste of pills from the dog
3. The arrival of Oberon, which heralds the arrival of spring
4. The fact that, in two hours, I'll be at the K&A Compound with a beer in one hand, and a piece of grilled meat in the other
5. My little baby tomato plants which are hopefully peering out the dining room window at the sun
6. The new record by Girl In A Coma, which is easily the best record I've heard yet this year

Things that I don't heart:

1. Microsoft Power Point

When you put things into perspective, the day doesn't seem so bad. Even if, if the latest news reports are to be believed, the end times of the zombie apocalypse are upon us. Watch the news for stories like this; it will be the only warning we get.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Ain't supposed to die on a Saturday night...

Good news for me though... TFN and I are going to go see Gaslight Anthem tonight, the perfect mashup of Bruce Springsteen and punk rock...

"I wonder which song they're gonna play when we go? I hope it's something quiet, minor, peaceful and slow."

Just saying...

I hope I'm not the only one out there, but I really hate Billy Mays.

Why is he always freaking yelling at me?

Seriously, one of these commercials is all that it takes to wreck my day...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Just because they call themselves friends, doesn't mean they'll call..."

Back from SXSW... listening to Amanda Palmer...

I love that girl.

As part of our trip to SXSW, it just so happened that she was on our flight from Detroit. We walked with her through the airport, and even got to watch her luggage while she got a cart. Geeky fan moment, I know, but I was giddy, like, “Amanda trusts US to watch her luggage, complete with her cute little ukulele case!”

The next day, we ran into her in a restaurant, and chatted for a second with her.

I am so happy to say that she is every bit as nice in person as I have always hoped.

Anyway, if you’re interested in seeing more, including a couple photos from her show at the Central Presbyterian Church (more on the way), they’re here.

Shane had a bit of a bad time while we were gone. Basically, he fell at the dog hotel and couldn’t get up. Fortunately, we take him to the best dog hotel there is, Bubble and Bark, who are also partnered with the best vet in the universe, Little Friends of Ferndale, and they took care of him while we were gone.

Now, the old man is on three medications, but he’s puttering around the house, eating and begging at the table again.

He worries me sometimes, but as long as he’s comfortable and happy, I’m glad he’s around.

Meh, that’s all I got right now.

Oooooh, but I did discover another girl singer that I heart, although her sound is a little more… shall we say inaccessible?

This is iwrestledabearonce, and yes that’s her singing, and no, they don’t do anything to her voice.

I saw these kids play (more here), and they also blew me away. TFN doesn’t have the infatuation for them that I do, but even she admits that they are wicked talented, whether or not she likes them.

It’s the same thing with Metallica. I’ve never really been a fan of theirs, other than Master of Puppets, but damn, they know how to rock, and when I interviewed Kirk Hammett, he was also wicked cool.

So that’s where we leave off. TFN took 8000 million billion photos at SXSW, and I will has plenty mores of thems to shares with alls of yous in the soonest amount of time.

For now though, if the government isn’t going to give me bailout money, you’d think they at least give me a jetpack, no?

Friday, March 20, 2009

SXSW 2009

Having a great time in Austin, but seriously working my butt off, albeit in a good way. Watching music, writing about it and having beer ain't all bad.

Plus, I get to meet some of my idols. Like Keith Morris of the Circle Jerks.

More on their show here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Off to Austin

I know I haven't been around much lately, and guess what? This will continue to be the case.

I'm headed to Texas!

Happy St. Patrick's Day, gang.

PS - The photos TFN took of the Tossers and the Mighty Stef are here.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Might Stef

The TossersSo the Tossers ruled, just like we knew they would (the photo is just a quick snapshot I took on my phone, nothing compared to the shots TFN grabbed). The place was packed and smoky and sweaty, just like I guessed. And the music was the type of music that fosters a sense of community in even a bar full of strangers.

The added bonus was the Mighty Stef, who opened up.

Stef is a combination of Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, Nick Cave and Joey Ramone, and his music runs just as wide a range of sounds.

And, he's a cool guy. This tour is taking his band down to Austin for SXSW (where they will be playing an exhausting run of NINE shows in three days!), and we have plans to meet up next week.

This trip is looking better and better.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Tossers

The last show we went to was Flogging Molly (and they totally whipped ass with a belt), and tonight it's the Tossers.

It seems that this year we are squeezing all the Irish we can out of the days surrounding St. Patrick's Day, seeing that we will be on a plane to Austin on the day itself.

Flogging Molly was packed, and I assume the Tossers will be as well. Irish punk bands seem to be one of the few industries that do better as the economy does worse. Granted, the local outlook may be bleak and most everyone may be out of work, but that just makes it more worthwhile to get drunk and dance sweatily and raucously with a bunch of strangers to songs that are about doing just that.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Come to SXSW with us!

sxsw 2008

Just getting ready to head to Austin for SXSW, and I want you to come along.

Obviously, I can't take you all to Austin with me... but there is a way you can play along at home.

Here's the details.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Silly Magazine

Silly Magazine
Originally uploaded by alpharat
I already know why...

Now it's just a matter of securing the necessary funds.

Seriously, this is not my idea of hard-hitting journalism.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tonight, we'll be singing Drunken Lullabies...

Flogging Molly is tonight!

I look forward to when Flogging Molly comes to town, and tonight it's going to be extra special. It seems that a whole bunch of us (some of us good Catholics, even) have acquired tickets without a coordinated effort and will be meeting up to hoist a pint or 15.

Now I`m aimin' for heaven
But probably wind up down in hell
Where upon this alter I will hang my guilt ridden head
But it`s time I`ll take before I begin
Three sheets to the wind, Three sheets to the wind
Rebels are we, though heavy our hearts shall always be
Ah, no ball or chain no prison shall keep
We`re the rebels of the sacred heart

In a way, it almost seems like a sign that spring is on its way. It was a cold, windy, slippery drive to work today, but tonight, friends who've been scarce all winter have decided to shrug off the blanket of hibernation to go into the city for a celebration.

We'll be dancing, singing, drinking... and really is there much more to life? Ok, maybe there is, but tonight there isn't. Tonight, when I am shouting along to "Drunken Lullabies," "Salty Dog" or Rebels of the Sacred Heart" with a pint in my hand and my arms around my friends, soaked in sweat and beer, well that's all that's going to matter.

I'm getting misty-eyed just thinking about it.

Every year, Flogging Molly does a tour called the Green 17 Tour, which culminates on St. Patrick's Day, and every year, Detroit is one of the stops. (We're fortunate because the fiddle player is a native, and she and the singer lived here for a bit, although now they're living in Ireland.

Seriously, this show could not come at a better time, after a recurrence of cold was managing to drag my mood downward again.

Indeed, tonight sparks off what will be a festivity-packed, multi-ethnic weekend which will, by its end, have managed to include Irish music, a German beerhall, Spanish cuisine, a Broadway Musical and an Oscar Party. Look at me! Who's all cultured and shit?

And we're down to just hours away from it all...

Can you tell I'm a little excited?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not a bad view. Not at all...

Not a bad view
Originally uploaded by alpharat
This is what I stare at all day when I'm working at my desk. It's really not a bad deal, because it's rather conducive to creative thought.

Then again, sometimes it's a bit too conducive for daydreaming.

I wouldn't trade it though, and I've had much worse. The absolute worst was the duck pond.

Once, at an old job, I was promised a view of a pond with ducks. After the new workspace was set up, they made a mistake. Not only would I have had to crane my neck to see the duck pond, but the cube wall climbed so high it obscured any window view.

Keep in mind that was the same job where, after making cutbacks and letting a ton of people go, they put in a pool table. The pool table was right outside the president's office, and nobody was allowed to use it, because they should be working. So this pool table was just a testament to how poorly run the company was, a beacon that proclaimed "look what the recovered salaries of your fallen comrades has brought us. Look, but don't touch."

Most depressing pool table ever.

I'll take this view, though. I like it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Making up a song about Coraline... and Nanerpus

We saw Coraline this weekend…

This was an absolutely incredible movie. Neil Gaiman is a genius and I can’t wait to see what he does with the film adaptation of The Graveyard Book (which just won a Newberry Award, by the way)!

On its surface, Coraline is a story about a little girl who feels neglected by her parents, who are in the middle of a big work project. She finds a little door in the wall that takes her to another place, populated by “Other Mother” and “Other Father,” who pay attention to her, give her what she wants and cook better.

I won’t give any surprises away, but aside from the film’s scary parts, there are a bunch of other themes going on, that are thinly veiled and tap into a kid’s primal fears. Essentially, it’s a fear that your parents may disappear. And also, there was a feeling that I got when a child doesn’t quite understand the case when Mom and Dad are broke.

The movie was complex and beautiful and I loved it. Plus, we saw it in the most amazing 3D I’ve experienced. That just sweetened the deal.

Plus, Coraline’s family was from Pontiac, and they have a snow globe of the bear statues at the Detroit Zoo. If you went to the Detroit Zoo as a child, odds are you had your picture taken there.

The whole fam damily

Apparently the phones are ringing off the hook at the Zoo with people asking for those globes, which the Zoo has never actually produced. If they know what they’re doing, though, they’ll get with some company in China and do it fast before the buzz dies down.

Also, one more thing:

I heart Nanerpus.

Denny’s failed with this ad, because all I cared about with this ad was about how awesome Nanerpus was, and how Denny’s wrecked a perfectly good commercial with their part about their crappy food.

If there is any justice, a fifty-foot Nanerpus will rise from the depths and crush the restaurant chain once and for all, just Grand Slam them into oblivion. Then maybe, Nanerpus can finish his song in peace.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Pills, peas and a box of soup

Aside from the financial output of it, I love grocery shopping. I love going to the grocery store, certain ones anyway - those ones that offer what people in the industry call a good user experience.

At one time, I raved about Westborn, but that one has fallen by the wayside because their deli workers are mean and get meaner if you want more than one thing from the meat or deli counter and we've picked up produce that only lasted a few days from there, and even some that was revealed to be moldy when we got it home.

Plus, the last time we went (we still pop in there for produce, simply because it's convenient) they were out of jalapenos. Seriously, what the eff? What store runs out of something like jalapenos?

Really, the main reason I liked it was because the coffee smelled good in there.

One store that I am madly in love with is Trader Joe's. Seriously, I heart this place.

This guy made a commercial that sums up the way I feel about TJ's perfectly.

I hope the folks at TJ's give him a job for it.

Speaking of jobs...

Kwame just got a job in Texas yesterday. With Compuware.

This sickens me.

Compuware is a Detroit-based company that has, over the past few years, faced layoffs and cutbacks due to the failing economy. On Tuesday, they even announced the reduction of another 250 jobs in the Detroit office.

Apparently, they're doing well enough to hire the man who helped wreck Detroit, though.

While they are the sort of company that the average consumer doesn't use, I will be going out of my way to not have anything to do with them, and to let others know that I am not impressed by their choice at all. I can't see anyplace on a corporate roster where a thug like Kwame would even fit in, and have little respect for a company that feels otherwise.


The other night we went to a pretty people bar for a friend's birthday.

Pretty people bars are the sort of places I don't tend to go to. The reasons are, I think, obvious, so I won't go into it.

That being said, pretty people bars deserve a place in the world, because they give those people a place to go so I don't have to encounter them, except on the rare occasion that I end up at one of these places.

At any rate, this is the conversation I heard in the men's room, between a Russian guy and another guy. All of these people at the pretty people bar are quite interchangeable, mind you, and the only characteristic that distinguishes Russian guy from anyone else in there was his accent, so he's got that going for him, which is nice:

Russian guy: You go to next bar with us?

Other guy: No, man I have to work tomorrow.

Russian guy: You work where?

Other guy: Costco.

Russian guy: You doctor?

Other guy: No, a pharmacist.

Russian guy: Good. You get us Viagra?

True story, folks.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Good people and bad, they're all moving on...

I was just talking to Mike down in Texas. He was expressing displeasure at Michigan's new trend to send our undesirable materials down there. You see, Detroit's "beloved" former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, now out of the slammer, has taken up residence in Dallas.

The man who helped wreck the city financially has been ordered to pay the city $1 million in restitution and has no job, yet managed to leave the jail with an entourage of bodyguards in SUVs and fly to Dallas on a private jet.

I have a feeling the city shouldn't hold its breath waiting for that money.

Kilpatrick joins Ted Nugent, another Michigan export, in Texas, but I doubt they hang out together that much.

I got some sad news this morning. Lux Interior, the lead singer of the Cramps, died yesterday. He was 62.

I saw them in 2003, and this guy was ageless.

His death marks the one celebrity death that has bothered me the most since Joe Strummer I think.

Man, it's a sign when all of the punk idols start dying from old age, innit?

I wrote my full thoughts on it here.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

News Flash - It's still too cold outside

Music for the moment: Danzig – “Devil’s Plaything” (Explanation to follow)

Wow, could it be? Another post wherein I bitch about the cold? Yep.

Seriously, this winter has been a particularly brutal one. The snow continues to pile up, and it just hurts to be outside.

We had a beautiful reprieve last Sunday, when, out of the blue, the weather rocketed to the balmy 40-degree neighborhood. It was so nice that we went grocery shopping, extending the trip to four stores in order to: A. get the best bargains, and B. maximize the time spent driving around in the nice weather.

Of course, the bottom dropped out on the mercury again, with a wind chill of 15 below today, but this weekend is promising a few 40-degree days again, so we can thaw out a little more.

Medical attention... Evil medical attention

On Saturday night, I had an odd dream. I dreamt that I went to go stay at a mental hospital for a while. I’m not sure why, only that it was a self admission, because the staff kept saying that I could leave whenever I wanted.

It was a nice place, where I stayed in a little room that was tastefully furnished, and they let TFN come stay there with me, too. It was an important part of my treatment.

Here’s the most integral part of the dream, though. Danzig was my therapist (although he insisted I call him “Dr. Danzig”). And you know what? He was really cool.

So cool that, even though the staff kept telling me I was free to leave anytime I wanted, my reply would be, “Why would I want to leave? Dr. Danzig is a really cool guy.”

Oh, also he dressed just like in the video (black pants, no shirt, inverted cross), but with a white labcoat.

More Pork

Another aspect of Saturday involved making a marinade for the rest of that giant pork loin that the mean butcher made us take. I only bring it up again because the recipe was awesome, and after marinating for two days, we made the loin on Monday night.

This piece of pork is in contention for being one of the best things to have ever come out of our tiny little kitchen. Seriously.


Now for a nice segue to a discussion of a disturbing news story. In one of the abandoned buildings downtown, a man was found frozen to death. Unfortunately, that's not all that uncommon for winter in Detroit, so that wouldn't generate extensive coverage normally.

This story was more odd, though.

The man was found encased in ice, after having fallen into water more than a month ago. The only indication that there was a man in there was that his feet were sticking out of the ice.

And he lay there, ignored, despite the fact that homeless people lived near him and scrappers walked past him, for over a month, until some "explorers" found him and made an anonymous phone call.

What causes us to become so self-absorbed that other people don't get the simple courtesy of a 911 call when they die?

The full story is here.

Free Music Chaser

I assume you now could use a bit of light-heartedness. If you, like me, think that The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is one of music’s crowning moments, then go here and download this free Bowie remix album. Seriously, it’s good, and I’ve been loving it all morning.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day One is Done, and the repairs have already started

I think I may have stumbled upon the one job that is recession-proof, and indeed may be quite the opposite.

Working in the unemployment office.

As Michigan’s unemployment rate rises to the double digits and continues to climb, it seems that our unemployment offices don’t have the staff or resources to accommodate all the people trying to get their benefits, and they are beefing up there.

I wonder how many people are trying to get into those jobs?

I truly feel sorry for Mr. Obama, because he has truly inherited a rundown amusement park. I watched the inauguration (as we all did), got excited, got hopeful, and then when it was over, got realistic. Now it’s time to get back to work.

No matter what you think of the guy (and I think very highly of him), he’s probably not a superhero or a miracle worker, and fixing this mess is going to take a lot of sweat and hard work from him, his staff and the rest of us.

If I only knew what to do, I’d start working on it right now.

In the first few days of his administration, though, I think he has already started to prove whose side he’s on - ours. On day one, the new president sent out a memo to all federal agencies telling them to commit to an era of open government. This means they need to start following the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

This overturns one of the actions of our internal axis of evil, John Ashcroft, who, in the wake of the big nine-one-one, ordered all government agencies to disclose information only after they looked for every possible reason to not disclose it, essentially shutting down the FOIA.

Obama’s administration is already looking friendlier to the public, and a transparent government is a government that (in a democracy) is one that is held to a high standard and an obligation to protect the interests of its citizens. It gives me hope in that sense. (Link to more)

Obama also ordered a suspension of a ton of 11th-hour regulatory changes that the Bush administration pushed through in its last days – with good reason (He didn’t have our best interests in mind throughout his presidency, why would he start at the end?). Among those was an order to remove wolves from the endangered species list in Michigan. Hopefully, scrutiny of that order puts them back on the list, because, let me tell you, we don’t really have a thriving wolf population here. Coyotes, yes, but that’s a whole different story.

So, yeah, I am hopeful based on what he’s already done, and I’m ready to do what I can to do my share. Who knows what it will be, but I’m realistic in the knowledge that state of affairs for the past eight years have left us needing a bit more than a fresh coat of paint.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snowmen on a smoke break

Snowmen on a smoke break
Originally uploaded by alpharat
It's cold here, and we're buried in snow.

But people seem to having fun anyway.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Bad asses, warm hearts.

I love this photo.

It's from a story about a group of bikers who rescued a neglected bunch of kittens in New York.

That alone makes for cool enough story, located here.

But that story made me want to research it more.

The guys are part of a group called Rescue Ink.

Rescue Ink is an animal welfare group composed of big tattooed hot rodders, bikers, bodyguards and other people associated with positions that call for the big and badass. They perform animal rescues.

How awesome is that?

These guys know they're intimidating looking, and rather than simply use that to get ahead, they use it to help the ones who can't help themselves.

Seriously, these guys probably can perform an easier animal rescue action than your average 90-pound scrawny vegan animal rights activist.

No offense intended to the 90-pound scrawny vegan animal rights activists. Animals need all the help they can get, and you're important too.

It's just nice to have these guys in the corner of the animals as well.

Also, the guy in the photo?

He's 74.

I hope I look that good when I'm 74, facial tats or no.

Link to Rescue Ink.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The World's Largest Car Showroom

I was at the North American International Auto Show yesterday, and like everything else associated with the auto industry, it's hurting.

Gone are the big elaborate multimedia displays that make up most of the glitz of the thing. Instead, the automakers are simply displaying their new cars. Granted, that's what NAIAS is supposed to be about, but the end result is that the whole thing simply looks like a giant showroom.

For a "car person," I'm sure the allure is still there. I am not particularly a car person, though, and I like the spectacle of it all. At least the spectacle of what it used to be.

There were some fun funky concepts and new electric cars, but I can't wait for the car companies to recover so we can see more flashy lights and interactive displays again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


This is Amani. Amani is a baby aardvark who was born at the Detroit Zoo in December.

The zookeepers are waiting on blood tests to find out if Amani is a boy or girl yet, so don't feel bad if you weren't sure either when you looked at this little bucket of cute.

Amani is more important than you realize, because this little lump of snuggles represents Detroit making national news with a story that has nothing to do with a failing auto company or the worst football team of all time.

Any time we can get that, we're blessed.

Welcome to the world, little one.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Winter Reading List

I just got the preliminary list of bands that will be at SXSW, and I am stoked. Among the list is Futomomo Satisfaction, and I have to say I am quite interested in seeing this Japanese band’s… live show. I hear their music is pretty good too.

Don’t worry, we’ll get photos.

With the enforced hibernation that the weather has created lately, I’ve found myself getting a lot done in the house. Of course, it’s not the stuff that needs to be done; my office, basement and kitchen cabinets are still a mess, but I’ve accomplished a lot of reading, and some video games.

As for reading, I plowed through two books this week, and am just about finished with a third.

First up was Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which is one I’ve wanted to read for a long time, ever since I heard an NPR story on it last year. Now, with a movie in the works, I really thought I should read it.

The Road is post-apocalyptic fiction, focused on a father and son as they travel across the country, trying to stay alive. It’s a realistic version of Mad Max; rather than all of the road warrior stuff, you have a dad and his kid scrounging for canned goods to carry in a shopping cart. It’s frightening in its realism; if a bomb ever gets dropped, this will probably be what it’s like afterward.

Following that was Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book. This was lighter reading than The Road, but still rather dark. Essentially, The Graveyard Book takes the idea of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book and moves it, you guessed it, to the graveyard, where a little orphan is raised by ghosts rather than wolves. It’s a lot of fun. Really, it is. Share it with your kids.

Apparently, I can’t stray too far from heavy topics, though, because right now I am finishing up Aron Ralston’s Between a Rock and a Hard Place. You may not recognize the name, but you know the story: Ralston was the guy whose arm was pinned by a boulder in a climbing accident, and he ended up amputating his hand with a pocketknife in order to escape. It’s a really good story about self-evaluation and the choices we make and why we make them. Also recommended.

During my reading binge, TFN also read The Watchmen, which I had read a long time ago and recommended to her when I saw they are making a movie (if it ever comes out). She agreed; it's probably the best comic ever written, and I hope she forgives me for outing the latent geekiness in her love for comics.

The reading has been due to the cold combined with a lack of snow. The lack of snow is of course our fault; we haven’t gotten decent amounts of snow in these parts ever since we bought our cross-country skis, and it's too cold to bike right now.

This is going to change, though. We are due to get four or five inches tonight, and skiing is on for the morning.

Wish me luck that I don’t get my car stuck in the snow out there this year (last year was a close call). I’d hate to have to perform a car part amputation. It’s paid off.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Wicked thoughts about dressing up

Saturday, we went to see Wicked at the Detroit Opera House. It was amazing.

If you haven’t read the book, Wicked is the story of the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz. Her story, like most when you look into them, is complex, full of ambiguities.

That’s one thing I liked about the whole story – it has no villains. There are a bunch of characters, some less likeable than others, but they’re all three-dimensional, like in real life. There rarely exists someone who is truly good or truly bad.

There are also a bunch of underlying themes, dealing with politics, xenophobia and racism. It’s a complex bit of musical theater.

It was cool to catch it at the Opera House, too. It’s a beautiful building, and they had it all decorated for the holidays still.

One thing I do want to pick apart has to do with some of my fellow patrons.

I’m not a snob by any means, especially not a clothing snob. I’ve worn cut-off fatigues and a punk rock t-shirt to business meetings. That being said, the theater is a special place, it’s a dressy occasion.

You don’t wear jeans to the theater.

You don’t wear tracksuits to the theater.

Now, I’m not talking about the little arthouse theaters. We have one that’s BYOB, and the environment is more relaxed. You can wear what you want to those. But a spectacle like a Broadway musical at the Opera House calls for a little more decorum. Suits are not essential, but would it kill you to put on some khakis and a sweater at least!?!

Then there are entire families; parents and kids all dressed like slobs. If dads wearing jeans and a t-shirt, it’s no surprise that little Timmy looks like he just rolled out of bed. Perpetuation…

Then, while we’re on the subject of kids, there is a certain age at which it becomes OK to take a child to a musical. That age isn’t set in stone, but it’s once the child is past the point where they’re old enough to be entertained, rather than flailing about in the seat next to me and talking to her mother. I didn’t blame the kid; she was just bored. And she was bored because she didn’t want to sit still and listen to singing, no matter the subject. Then, mom made the stellar choice of feeding her candy so she was bored and wound up.

I know what the tickets cost, and know that Mom could have hired one of the best babysitters in Detroit Metro for the cost of that seat that her little one occupied. Seriously, if the kid is too young to care, don’t bring her to the theater.

All my bitching aside, we had a wonderful time. The play was amazing.

Afterward, we scoped out a little Cuban place that just opened up, and we went for a BIG pitcher of sangria and some topless tapas dining. Among the fare was a dish that consisted of shrimp, cream cheese and jalapenos, mixed into a little ball and wrapped in bacon, then deep fried.


We became so inspired that on Sunday we cooked Cuban Pork with mago papaya salsa and some Cuban rice. I think we are definitely fans of Cuban food now.

To buy the pork loin, I went to a different meat shop than the one I prefer (Holiday Market). At Holiday, the meat guys are friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. The meat guy at the other place we happened to be at was not any of these things, and refused to cut down a pork loin for me, leaving me with four pounds of pork for the two of us. As we were standing there while he wrapped it up, TFN asked why he wouldn’t cut us one down. I just looked at her and audibly said, “because he’s not very nice; surely not as nice as the folks at Holiday.”

The recipe came out wonderfully, but now I’m figuring out what to do with the rest of this pork loin. I’ll let you know.

One more note: the salsa recipe calls for fresh coriander. I could not find this. At home, I consulted the interwebs and found out what the recipe calls "fresh coriander" is more commonly known as cilantro. I'm not a fan of cilantro, and usually substitute parsley, which is what I did here and it was good.

But yeah: fresh coriander = cilantro. Now you know.

Elsewhere, Ron Asheton of the Stooges was found dead today. I saw the Stooges on a reunion tour in ’03, and they are still a rock and roll powerhouse. This is the show I was at:

RIP, Ron. We'll not see the likes of you again.