And now for something lighter: I can’t believe I’ve never shared a list of pet peeves before! Roughly in order, then, from most annoying.

Fingernail clipping. I don’t shave my legs at the office, please have the courtesy to at least go into another room if you must spontaneously groom in the middle of the workday.

Open-mouth chewing. I get that you’re enthusiastic about your baby carrots. But I have started leaving for my lunch break when you make your lunch because I can’t take another half hour of your open- mouthed chomping. Crunches carry. To twenty feet way.

Smokers in front of building entryways. This one particularly gets my goat when I get to work in the morning. I am all freshly showered and optimistic about how much ass I’m going to kick today. I get immediately cranky when I have to walk through your cloud of fumes and smell it in my hair for the next hour. Thanks for ruining my day before it gets started, chump. Move your stinky habit a few feet away from the door.

People in front of me walking more slowly but not in a straight line so I am unable to pass. I know I’ve ranted about this before. Walking in public throughways would go ever so smoothly if only people observed the same conventions when walking as they do driving. Stay on your side of the road, slower traffic to the side.

People in front of me walking three or four abreast so that I am unable to pass. Please have some awareness of yourselves in the wide world. You are not the only bodies in motion and some of those other bodies would like to get around you.

People walking toward me two, three, four abreast who don’t break rank and expect me to give way. I don’t. I’ve bumped into people. Why should I flatten my solo self against the wall because you’re too self-important to have common courtesy?

Fellow bicyclists who blow through red lights and stops signs. You are breaking the law. You are a safety hazard.

SUVs on the road. We live in Minnesota and we have snowy winters and you want to feel secure on the road. I get that, especially since I have a little gnat of a car and often feel very insecure in winter driving conditions. But so often it seems like you drive with an air of entitlement and complete lack of consideration toward your fellow road warrior. It is not all about you. We’re all rushed and trying to get somewhere.

Not saying please or thank you. I might have told this story before, too. One night at closing time in my youth, I barked a command at the night manager. He completely stopped what he was doing, turned to me with his full attention, and say, “You know, I would like my job so much better if you guys just said ’please’ and ’thank you.’” That has stuck with me for these last thirty years and I try very, very hard to abide by it every time. Every time. It’s not hard and it does make things so much nicer for the party on the receiving end.

Litterers. Show some respect for the neighborhood at small and the world at large.

Other people’s toddlers and small children, usually. It most often happens at the farmer’s market or other crowded gatherings such as the State Fair. Your child is not the most precious thing to the rest of the world and nobody wants to hear it badgering you until you give in because parents these days are afraid to say no and mean it. If it is so young that can’t self-locomote, leave it and your double-wide stroller at home.

Please, was that eleven things? Thank you.


There are a number of reasons why I’m a bit manic right now, but what it probably mainly comes down to is that this afternoon I finished a phase of a work project and that was a big relief. But there are other reasons why I’m a little goofy tonight and I am not necessarily listing them in chronological order.

Charitable giving. Today, as promised to him, I donated to my friend Todd’s Movember men’s health fundraising campaign. If you’re reading this during November 2012, consider making a donation on behalf of Todd, or his team, or somebody else you know.

This evening, when I was feeling a gush of gratitude toward my local PBS station for re-airing (at least two episodes of) “Foyle’s War,” I finally signed up to be a sustaining member. And the same sentiment toward Minnesota Public Radio. I was particularly thankful for the (political) commercial-free news coverage in the forty-eight hours prior to the recent presidential election when I just couldn’t bear to turn on a television network (well, other than Al Jazeera English, which I have to watch online because Shitcast doesn’t carry it).

A couple of months ago I had a similar burst of generosity when I donated to the recovery fund of a group of co-habitating musicians who my Boston friend knows whose house went up in flames, as well as a micro-loan thing that my Nashville friend frequently contributes to, which allowed me to guilt-freely frivolously donate to The Oatmeal’s Wyndenhall/Tesla museum endeavor. I helped build a goddamn Tesla museum!

Guest blogging and beer. This morning, my first writing tiny project outside of work became public. And not only that, it was about beer. Not only was it about beer, but somebody other than I wanted me to write it! Concurrently, another friend chose me to guest-post on her wildly popular blog next week, and she said she wouldn’t mind if I wrote about beer there, too. I don’t know if I will, but I might.

Speaking of beer. I recently resumed working out and had good one tonight. Afterwards I dashed home, then dashed to my neighborhood awesome liquor store, Zipp’s Liquors, where aforementioned mustache Todd was dispensing samples of his Odell Brewing Company’s awesome beers. I mostly only intended to get Surly Abrasive (came out yesterday) and Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale but I ended up high a bottle of the Odell Woodcut No. 6, too. They are all beers of annual limited availability. And delicious.

Signing up for things. A couple of months ago I initiated my Hulu Plus subscription. Tonight I did the same at Netflix. Why did that take me so long? The first weirdo (non-American) TV series I searched for (“Spooks”) it had, and six of the resulting ten recommendations it foisted on me were series I already know that I like or love. Huzzah, $8 per month!

This might be the final straw on my want-to-ditch-Shitcast-TV camel’s back.

Cats where they do not belong. At first it was cute when my cat Dasie occasionally jumped up on the cabinet smack in front of the TV screen. She’d sit there for a minute or two then move around to the back where she’d curl up and snooze in the warmth of the heat sink.

About half the time these days, I have to guess what’s going on in the middle of the picture, you know, where all the action is happening, because my other cat CJ has become an ardent fan as well. From cricket to Kylie, they are both enamored of the boob tube (the head LED?). CJ spends more time blocking, and Dasie spends more time stabbing at what’s moving. Fortunately, there have been no expensive electronic topplings-over yet. It has become plenty annoying, but I’d also have a hard time saying that it isn’t still darned endearing.*

Exercise. I recently started working out again. I was very diligent for about a year and a half when I could easily drop in on my way home from work, but not only did that location close but so did the one I transferred to, which was less convenient to get to anyway. It’s been about two years since I went even sporadically, but I finally signed up with a new place which now, again, I can easily stop at on my way home from work. It’s a different brand and I’m not getting as good a workout, but a less good workout is better than no workout. Tonight I had a less bad workout and it felt good!

I’ve had worse days.



*For those who don’t know them, that’s CJ at the top with Kylie on Dancing with the Stars/Strictly Come Dancing, and Dasie sat the bottom with last months Champions League Twenty20 playoffs.

If you already know me, then these things are not so random. They should be fairly well-known facts. But if you have only just come across this blog, to quote NBC’s slogan from many summers ago, it’s new to you.

I love tomatoes. I learned how much during my first trip to Europe in 1989. My parents and I traveled the summer the iron curtain came down. We visited Germany, Austria, and Hungary. It was at our hotel restaurant in Budapest that my life was changed by the sweetest, most flavorful, excellently textured tomatoes I had ever eaten—and I’m quite sure have ever eaten to this day, twenty-three years later. 

It has been a minor quest to find tomatoes in my everyday life that measure up. I know the best way to satisfy this search would be to grow them myself but being an apartment- and now condo-dweller, I don’t have the real estate to make a real stab. Every summer since I’ve moved to my condo which has a bit of yard that I can make use of, I’ve dutifully grown tomato plants in large pots. Every summer, squirrels have predictably decimated my meager crop and I feel fortunate to harvest two or three workable tomatoes. In fact, it’s about time this summer for the squirrels to spring into action because the fruit on this summer’s plant are just beginning to ripen. Any day, I will come home from work to find several quarter-eaten fledgling tomatoes scattered about the yard. The squirrels are not courteous enough to eat all of one tomato. They eat part of many.

My desire for delicious tomatoes was a large part of the reason why I bought into a CSA this summer (Community Supported Agriculture). While I patiently await the appearance in my box of lovingly homegrown, organic heirloom tomatoes, I have tried new edibles such as kale and kohlrabi, and discovered that roasted radishes are a wondrous thing. I sauté weirdo greens, like radish, collard, and kale, in olive oil and garlic. A fabulous supper is topping a premium frozen cheese pizza with sliced radishes, chopped kale, and sliced onions.

I am also embracing the notion of “know your farmer,” which extends beyond the CSA farmers to joining the neighborhood grocery co-op to frequenting farmers markets, where I can learn the names of the goats that made the feta cheese I’m buying or marvel that guerrilla farmers have turned metro parking lots into farms of raised beds that produce produce that’s as delicious as anything grown in a wide-open field.

Food trucks
I love getting lunch at one of the numerous food trucks that populate the streets of downtown Minneapolis (and Saint Paul). They make innovative dishes with fresh ingredients whose names you recognize. Very many of them take pride in sourcing their ingredients from local farmers, the same ones whose CSA I joined or whose goats tweet lame jokes like, ‘Keeping it ALL in perspective: One of the goats just said, “Meh…”’ Sorry, but that cracks me up. Chain/franchise restaurants don’t stand a chance.

Enjoying free time
I don’t make the most productive use of my free time. But these days you will find me experiencing contentment when I am sitting outside, likely with a beer, perhaps with a book or something on the iPad, in the shade, in my eight-inch high lawn chair. It’s low to the ground and the perfect height to stretch out my legs and still have a fairly level lap for supporting my reading material. Or I might draw my legs in to make a reading stand. Either way, it’s a comfortable chair with a back to lean against and it only cost $2.49 plus tax. I have two. One is a bright blue that almost matches the painted wooden stairs of my building. The other is my favorite green color. I seem to love anything in the fluorescent green to lime green range. I didn’t set out to like that color, it just sort of crept up on me. It can be a little self-conscious-inducing when I find myself sitting in the green chair in my lime green sweatpants and a green T-shirt with my green-covered iPad. Oh well.

Usually at some point while sitting outside, I will have enjoyed enough beer that I won’t really care if people are judging me for all my green. And if I’m lucky, passersby won’t even notice me because I just blend into the chair. I probably also have my green Nalgene water bottle out there with me, too, because I am fanatical, religious, dedicated about drinking plenty of water throughout the day.

I should be less dedicated about the amount of coffee I drink. I used to only consume decaf, but in the last couple or three years I’ve embraced regular coffee with gusto. Consequently, most Saturday evenings I begin to go through the caffeine withdrawal headache. If I’m lucky, it’s not too severe and I can time it so that it mostly happens while I’m asleep. I’m weird. I drink coffee during the week at my desk, frequently very enthusiastically, but at home on the weekend it doesn’t occur to me to make any. And that’s okay. I guess I’d rather have a weekly mild headache than get to the point where I have a daily nagging headache and greater dependency.

I have a love-should relationship with both beer and coffee.

– – – – – – – – – – – 

This just scratches the surface. I was challenged on Instagram to share five random things about myself, so I looked backwards in my stream and grabbed the first five photos that caught my eye as revealing something about me personally. There are many other photos that reveal things, too.

Landlocked lobster love

July 17, 2012


We Minnesotans may be landlubbers but one thing is for certain—we have good food. I know there are many excellent restaurants around the area, but my personal focus on eating out for two and a half summers has been with our new industry of (mostly) high-end food trucks. Two summers ago there were just a handful on our streets. Last summer there were a few more. This summer there has an explosion of new food trucks, and I don’t mean in the combustible sense.

The chefs who run these trucks aren’t afraid to make good food. And I certainly am not afraid to enjoy it. In fact, in the last couple of weeks, I have had the pleasure of consuming three completely different lobster rolls. Yes, you heard me. Lobster rolls. Here in landlocked Minnesota. (I don’t count Lake Superior. There are no lobsters there. Delicious lake trout, yes. Lobsters, no.)

Here, then, is a round-up of the lobster rolls you could have been enjoying had you been around and, if you were around, chosen to eschew skyway chain restaurants and chew on some inspired food.



The original: Smack Shack

Smack Shack was one of the original food trucks in downtown Minneapolis, appearing on the scene that first summer of 2010. Lobster and seafood is what they do. If you observe their truck from above, say, in one of those skyways where you’re trolling for taco Tuesday, you’ll see the giant lobster painted on the top of the truck and perhaps be intrigued enough to leave your comfort zone and treat yourself to a truly spectacular sandwich. I don’t have the links to prove it, but Smack Shack’s lobster roll has been reviewed by many as rivaling anything found on the northeast coast. Chef Josh Thoma tosses globs of succulent lobster in a cucumber tarragon lemon dressing and stuffs it into tender griddled milk break made by local bakery star and bread provider to the food trucks, The Salty Tart. I can also personally attest that The Salty Tart’s beer bread is another amazing creation, especially if you toast it and slather it with fresh, local butter. But I digress.


Next up: Get Sauced

Chef Driven is the umbrella company for a few different food ventures, one of which is the Get Sauced truck. Get Sauced appeared on the scene late last season and made an immediate impact. Their menu is Latin-influenced and features amazing tacos and tortas made with seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Out of the blue last week, a Mexican lobster roll appeared as the special item. This version was a toasted bun (from the Salty Tart as well?) packed with more of a salady filling. There were nice, giant pieces of lobster mixed with shredded meat, sweetcorn kernels, cilantro, and spicy spices. Sweet, succulent, spicy, splendid. Chunky lobster, yes. Succulent, again yes. The same only different, definitely, deliciously!


Newcomers: SushiFix

This summer, 2012, has seen an exponential growth in the number of food trucks on the streets both in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Do I exaggerate about the exponential part? Of course. But as more trucks join the scene, it becomes harder to stand out from the crowd. SushiFix does not have that problem, because they are the first truck to serve fresh, amazing sushi. Or sushi of any kind. And while you’re finishing rolling your eyes about the notion of a mobile food truck serving sushi that’s anything less than disgusting, let me disabuse you of that notion. Food trucks are licensed and inspected like any fixed kitchen and, amazingly, they employ modern techniques such as—wait for it—refrigeration. The proprietor is a well-experienced sushi chef previously of a respected restaurant in town and I’m pretty sure that I read that the fish is overnighted daily from Japan (I’m not doing much research-linking tonight but I’m 97% sure I’ve read these things to which I’m referring). But if you’re still skeptical, hey, go back into the skyway and enjoy that sodium-bomb chemical sub. 

Today in the pre-lunch Twittersphere, SushiFix announced that their special was a lobster roll. A sushi lobster roll!  I suppose sushi is often made with lobster, but because we were dreading the forecast high temperature of 100°F/38°C, a fresh roll with lobster, tempura shrimp, avocado, and strawberries—strawberries!—seemed like just the thing. And so it was. My only “complaint”? The outer strawberries made the pieces a little slippery to pick up with my chopsticks. First world problem. And for the first time (except maybe that other time I had SushiFix’s spicy tuna roll) I didn’t even think about employing the soy sauce and wasabi. For the record though, I’m pretty sure the soy sauce is homemade or, as is currently the fashionable terminology, house made.

We are not deprived.

My family crest

October 19, 2011


A couple of weeks ago we were challenged to draw a family crest for ourselves. I scribbled mine out during brief interludes in the relatively autopilot production project I had going at work. Usually I like to hand-draw (as much as you can call what I do “drawing”) with my navy Sharpie, but I don’t have one right now. Nor do I have my other favorite color, the brickish-maroon (I’m sure I’ve horrified some Sharpie executive with that description). I used a lowly graphite mechanical pencil for the initial line drawing which turned out to be a good thing, in this case, because then I could get it right (as right as what I call “drawing” can be). Usually I like to do free and easy gesture drawings on which I don’t waste too much brain power, but a little more care was called for in this case. I had intended to color it with the bazillion colored pencils we have at the office, but they seem to have disappeared in the last clear-out, so I was left with fabric paint markers or crayons. Crude crayons it was!

It will come as no surprise what I included.

Animals. Crests often have some beast of valor. I used beasts of favor, the rabbit that has become my symbol, and the closest I could come to a cat in the same style. Interesting side note, I only ever draw the rabbit facing to the left, so it was utterly awkward to draw the cat the other way.

Activities. You will often find a weapon on a crest. I included my weapons of choice for the zombie apocalypse, a bowling ball and bowling pins. Oh wait, no zombies? Bowling is the quest upon which I embark twice weekly. Still appropriate for a crest. The pins give the animals a platform for sitting.

Foliage. What crest would be complete with some kind of viney, leafy thing sinewing its way around? You guessed it. I gave my crest a few hop vine leaves and hop flower cones, representative of the beverage that keeps me going strong, beer, in particular, hoppy ales.

Shield. The above elements will be arranged around a central anchor, usually some kind of shield shape. I decided to use a beer bottle, upon which the cat and rabbit can lovingly gaze. I took poetic license with perspective and had the thumb hole of the bowling ball double as the opening in the bottle.

Banner. Well, isn’t there always some wavy thing containing the family name? This is my least favorite part at the moment. It’s like a big old cummerbund around the bowling ball’s beer belly. And it’s my username not my real last name. But it serves its purpose.

I am mostly so pleased by how it turned out, and I fully intend to create a more refined version on the computer. Then I can adjust some of the things that bother me. 

It was a very fun little project. I challenge you to make your own family crest. If you do, post a link to it in the comments!


October 3, 2011


These two photos are the earliest and latest ones I have of myself. What has happened in between? Funny you should ask. Let’s take a look.

Ages ½–10

I’d swear I remember when the baby picture was taken. I have other toddler memories, such as what the kitchen in our first house in Manteno, Illinois, looked like. Yellow and floral.

We spent many summers in Bloomington, Indiana, while my dad worked on his PhD at Indiana University. He finished the work but his committee denied him of the degree.

To this day I have dreams that involve the house on Main Street in Ada, Ohio, where I grew up. I’d love to get back inside that house for a look. I remember listening to Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter and the Wolf records in the living room on our big, console stereo. It was a big deal when I got to operate it myself. We moved to a different house when I was eight.

Ages 11–20

Our new house was a block inside city limits. Most of the time I’d walk or bike to school, but if I wanted to ride the schoolbus, I walked over to Grandview Boulevard.

I spent countless hours in the city swimming pool. I spent countless hours playing Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids. I crashed my friend’s brand new bike that I rode around while she was inside eating supper. There was a horse at the end of the block, where the town suddenly turned into the country. There was a woods at the end of the block that seemed very big at the time. In it there was a treehouse.

We moved to Wisconsin two days before I turned fifteen. During the first year, my sophomore year in high school, it was novel and fun and not completely awful because it was to the small city where my grandparents lived and I already had a couple of friends. Then in my junior year, I grew to resent having been plucked from where I had grown up. I became a troubled teen. I stayed out all night one time without communicating with my parents. I broke up with my boyfriend which upset my parents who liked him a lot. Their reaction was very formative. I considered dropping out of high school.

I worked as a professional radio deejay.

I graduated high school.  I started college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house.

I went back to college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house. I still have nightmares that for one reason or the other, I have been forced to move back in with my parents at my current age with my youth issues, such as no boys in my bedroom.

Ages 21–30

I started technical college. I transferred technical colleges. I dropped out of technical college.

I moved out of the house. I went back to college. I dropped out of college. Rinse and repeat.

I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to go back to college. I finished college! My mom proudly told a friend that I was graduating at age twenty-six. Her friend asked what my PhD was in. Sadly, it was just my bachelor’s degree, in English, after eight years.

I went to Europe for the first time on a trip with my parents that was a graduation present.

I worked for a year at a job that was pretty dead-end but which got me lots of promotional copies of albums on cassette. I decided to go to graduate school.

I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to go to the University of Wisconsin for meteorology. I learned that a boy who had been one of my best friends growing up and who also went to Wisconsin for meteorology was, in fact, gay and that we’d never have that chance to get together that I had been denied when my parents ripped me away at age fifteen.

I flunked out of graduate school when I failed calculus for the second time. I began to get serious about bowling.

I went to the local technical college, Madison Area Technical College, and met Chris Gargan. I graduated with my commercial art degree and have been a graphic designer ever since.

Ages 31–40

I moved back to Minneapolis. I worked through a temp agency and met my two best friends, Jim and California Rob. I became employed at my current position which I’ve held for over sixteen years. Oh my goodness, I began to grow up!

I became a published author, though not in the way I imagined as a kid. But my name now appears in the Library of Congress, so that’s something.

I went to the United Kingdom for the first time and fell in love with it. I realized that London is my soulmate. I will live there someday.

I got more serious about my bowling.

Age 41–present

Along with other spending, all of my trips to England contributed to my declaring personal bankruptcy. I learned that it’s not actually that difficult, in the big scheme of things, to live without credit. Except for being deprived of more trips to England.

I kept getting more serious about my bowling. People think I’m joking when I say I take three balls with my to league. The people who are really serious take six or eight.

California Rob moved to California. Jim got married. Possibly in the opposite order. I began my descent into curmudgeonhood.

Oddly, still in my bankruptcy, I was able to procure a mortgage and buy my first home, a condominiumized apartment. Gotta start somewhere. The housing market tanked. I am stuck unless I want to take a significant loss in my selling price.

I began to develop my love of craft beer. I hate saying “craft beer” because it’s such a buzz-term right how. But if more people like it, more will be made and that’s not a bad thing. My gateway beers were Bell’s Oberon and the local Summit Extra Pale Ale.

I have slowly and surely been gaining weight.

Last night, I picked up a twelve-pack of Summit’s Silver Anniversary Ale. Then I went to the preseason meeting for my Monday bowling league. Then I stopped at a bar that had a firkin of a special, grapefruit-infused version of Odell Brewing St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale, a current favorite of mine. I was chit-chatting with the young patrons on either side of me about beers in general and India Pale Ales (my preferred variety) in particular. My bartender asked me—almost accusingly, as though I were a spy for a distributor—who I worked for. When I said a small graphic design company, he blinked and said, “You know a lot about beer.”

That made me feel really good.

Tonight, I enjoyed some of that Summit Silver Anniversary Ale.


I was all set to write a lame entry in which I whined about how my current cats snuggle only fifty percent as much as my former cats, and that neither of the newbies sleep on my head like both of the oldsters did. But that about covers it. 

Let’s move on to “The Piña Colada Song.”

I have previously extolled the virtues of Justin Currie’s (Del Amitri) lyric-writing prowess and I stand by that. He is an amazing conjurer of images. But my friend Kimberly reminded me of one of the great storytellers. She caused a few of us tonight to zoom back to the turn of the 1980s and Rupert Holmes.

I immediately dug out my two Rupert Holmes albums because I was determined to have a bit of nostalgia even though I should really be going to bed. Then I had a major anticlimax when, unlike six months ago when I played the eponymous only album by the British duo Metro, the twenty-year-old belt in my turntable decided that it couldn’t make it up to full speed. I’m pretty easy-going but even I have my limits. Seventy-percent of normal tempo just doesn’t cut it.

Then I remembered that last night I got my Spotify invitation. This afternoon my coworker explained to me that unlike Pandora (which I adore), Spotify lets you choose what you want to listen to, and lets you listen to whole albums. Spotify to the rescue! I’m having my Rupert Holmes fix.

I have never though of Rupert Holmes as a favorite artist, even though I like everything he does. Then, by the end of the first verse of “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”, I realized that the reason why I like his music is because, by and large, he’s one of those clever weavers of a tale accompanied by the perfect tasty melody. The entire “Partners in Crime” album is like that.

My other example of such an artist is Thomas Dolby, on his “Aliens Ate My Buick” album. Sheer genius, that one is. Every song is a story with an ironic twist that advances the plot. Even if there’s not much of a plot, there’s still some clever turn of phrase that is never in danger of being mundane. Not necessarily subtle, but reasonably clever.

As I write this, I’m realizing that Justin Currie is a great storyteller. What he doesn’t do, that the other two tend to, is thump you over the head with precious self-awareness. Justin Currie is just snarky and cynical—and also clever—but not particularly ironic.

When I was a college English major, in one of my classes we learned to think of “irony” as “a cruel twist of fate.” I don’t mean the above ironic like that. I mean it like Alannis Morrisette’s—you know, “like ray-ee-ain on your wedding day.” Obvious.

Quite a lot of the time, you end up wondering some time later if Justin Currie really meant that, or if he meant the other way you could think of it. Not obvious. If you want the zinger, look up the lyrics to “Plus Ça Change,” which he recorded as The Uncle Devil Show. He’s in a league of his own. 

There’s a lot of between-the-lines going on with Justin Currie. Rupert Holmes and Thomas Dolby put it right out there. Honorable mention goes to Dan Wilson (Trip Shakespeare, Semisonic), though he deals more in metaphor and double entendre. Honorable mention also goes to Bernie Taupin (Elton John) and Kate Bush and the kids in Nickel Creek. So on and so forth. I’m not attempting to be all-inclusive. I know there are many others. I’ve lost a little focus.

What all these folks have in common is that they don’t write the simpering “ooh baby you’re so fine I’m glad you’re mine let’s bump and grind” kind of lyrics to the bump and grind kind of beat. 

So thanks, Kimberly, I’ve had some fun music memories this evening. 


Learning to fly

June 6, 2011


I had occasion today to recall being brave enough to make my first bike ride without the training wheels. I don’t remember exactly how old I was, but I can tell you exactly where I was.

This might take a while and I might ramble.

When I was still a squirt (say, ages three through six), we’d spend the summers in Bloomington, Indiana, because my dad was working on his doctorate degree in music theory at Indiana University. It took a while because he only did summers. During the school year, he was a professor of music at Ohio Northern University. That’s a whole other topic, ONU.

There were a few kid milestones that happened during those summers at IU. I won’t claim to remember if they’re in chronological order. But they did happen. Oh blargh, now I’m calling my mom to check. Hang on …

Okay, it was during my ages three through seven that I went. My dad went one additional year without my mom and me.

The main milestone I want to focus on is learning to ride a bike, or more precisely, the day I ditched the training wheels. Because I do remember it. What I didn’t confirm with my mom just now was how old I was, but I feel like it was the summer when I turned six. (I was one of those fortunate kids whose birthday is in the middle of summer and no fuss was ever made in class during the year.)

I had a hand-me-down bike, an old Schwinn from a neighbor. I thought it was copper, my mom said it was maroon. On that momentous day, I was riding up the diagonal sidewalk between the two apartment buildings—the one where we lived, and the other one where my little best friend Angie M lived (Angie was a year older than I). Somebody, probably my mom, I guess, because my dad would have been in class, noticed that I wasn’t putting any balance on the training wheels and said, okay, let’s take them off. And we did. And that was it.

The other thing I remember about that day (and I’m sure it’s entirely possible that I’m blurring events together because, let’s face it, that was forty years ago) is that along that sidewalk, just about where it met the other diagonal sidewalk with which it made an X, I came upon a squirrel that wasn’t too frightened by people and seemed willing to let me walk up to it with outstretched hand. One of the other adults present sternly warned me not to interact with the skwerl because it might be rabid and if it bit me, I’d die. There was some other thing about stray dogs peeing in the sandbox where we kids liked to play. Yay, adults and their scaremongering.

Other things I remember about those years, definitely not in chronological order:

My mom and I would play Poohsticks on one particular little bridge over the Jordan River which ran right through the middle of campus. As you’ve learned, in addition to rabbits, I have a history of Pooh.

We did spend one entire year there, so I attended kindergarten. I got along well with my teacher. She’d walk me home sometimes. In class, I learned the classic “My Napsack on My Back” song (val-da-ree …) On the walks home, she taught me another song that had slightly naughty words, that her husband disapproved of her teaching one so young as I. Maybe she wasn’t my teacher. Maybe she was just a friend of my parents’.

I remember vaulting off a stone wall that I’m going to estimate was at least six feet tall. There were four or five of us kids doing it. We had no fear of mortality.

Angie and I came to be in possession of a shopping cart for a couple of days. We pushed each other around in it, and we turned it over and made a fort out of it.

Angie and I also set up a lemonade stand on the other side of the apartment complex on a busier street. We made a little bit. Angie figured it all out and I remember feeling like I didn’t walk away with as much as should have been my fair share, you know, probably $2.25 instead of $2.75.

IU might also have been where my interest in science kindled. For whatever reason, my dad the music professor had a class in a lecture hall in the geology building. In the lobby was what to me seemed a moon-sized globe, as well as a two-storey pendulum. I found them both to be fascinating. I attended class with my dad one day, and it was on that day that a rare earthquake occurred, the only one I’ve ever been witness to, thankfully. It wasn’t much, just enough to be felt and to cause everyone in the hall to look at each other in “did you feel that?” wonderment.

I think what this boils down to is that I really fondly remember my time at Indiana University. You know, and my childhood.



Post script:
My dad’s doctorate thesis was not approved. He did not get his PhD. Years later when I myself was in college, I took an editing class. We had to come up with a long manuscript to edit and I convinced my dad to let me use his thesis.

Top photo: me, by my mom.
Bottom photo: a youngster who freed herself of training wheels today and was the inspiration for this post but who shall remain nameless, by her dad Tyler, an acquaintance of mine. If I had one of myself peddling around at that age, I would have used it instead.

Evolution of a tattoo

June 1, 2011


A year and a half ago, I drew this marker tattoo of a rabbit on my wrist. As the day wore on and then it was still there, albeit somewhat faded, after my shower the next morning, I slowly decided that I didn’t mind it. It faded from my thoughts until six weeks ago when once again, the rabbit appeared on my wrist. And I really liked having it there. (Blog post / TT mission // Blog post / TT mission)


It was then that my friend Lauren (the same one who had us thinking about cover songs the other night) gave me the old peer pressure one-two. 

She lives in Philadelphia, but whenever she’d come to Minneapolis to visit our friend Rob (the one who moved to California, remember?), the two of them would always pay a visit to Saint Sabrina’s Parlor of Purgatory to get something pierced.


Lauren is coming to town later this month for a family thing on her husband’s side. She has made a case for me to take over for Rob in accompanying her to Saint Sabrina’s (looks like they’ve dropped the Parlor of Purgatory from their name). She has a new tattoo that she’d like to get, and I am just about sure that I will get the rabbit. I submitted a request for an estimate and if the price is less than the arbitrary cut-off point I’ve set, I’LL DO IT!

As I was looking back through my Tweak Today submissions, I saw how often this rabbit has made an appearance, and in what varied mediums. Its appearance has also evolved somewhat, from the kind of  pensive fellow in the original marker tattoo to the rather more coiled fellow in the second marker tattoo and the recent chalk drawing.

Here, then, is a gallery of  … The Rabbit.


Drawn in condiments. Hershey’s chocolate syrup and Readi-Whip, to be exact. (Blog post / TT mission)


Cut paper picture, recreating a way I used to make art as a kid. (Blog post / TT mission)


Connect the dots. (Blog post / TT mission)


Blaze orange duct tape 3D sculpture. (Blog post / TT mission)


Hopping mad. (Blog post / TT mission)


A woodcut I made, art for the sake of art. (Blog post / Blog post 2 / TT mission)


Carved on a zucchini. (Blog post / TT mission)


In a picture to hang on your refrigerator. (Blog post / TT mission)


Chalk drawing on the bike path. (Blog post / TT mission)


[Update: The tattoo price estimate did come in within range and I did get it. Read all about it in this later post.]



Tonight my friend Lauren asked about cover songs that are better than the original. The first one that came to mind was the Smiths “How Soon Is Now” covered by ????????. I know there will be those who question whether the cover is better than the original. Maybe not. But it’s at least as good. ???????? is my guilty pleasure act.

Then after a few minutes, I remembered a cover that I’m in love with because it actually does blow the original away, like a summer breeze. Oh wait. The Isley Brothers’ version of Seals and Crofts’ “Summer Breeze” is amazing. The original takes me back to my childhood, in a good way. But the cover makes me feel all funky and groovy and mellow. It’s out of this world.

I present them both below for your listening pleasure.


???????? “How Soon Is Now”—buy it here


Isley Brothers “Summer Breeze”—buy it here