Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Not quite like Dame Edna, but drifting in that direction...

New glasses season!!! :+)

When you go without vision insurance for five years or so, you learn to relish every trip to the eye doctor. And to milk that cash cow for all it's worth!

Monday, March 28, 2005

Happy Feaster!

Today, I raided the Maison Cleary (aka Kevin's parents' house) with Emily, Kevin, and Owen, where we commenced with our 2nd Annual P. Diddy Pool Party. There was hot tubbing...there was television viewing...and there was even a bathrobe sighting (in true Diddy fashion).

But first--there were eggs to be dyed!

The cool thing about those old-fashioned PAAS Brand™ egg dying sets is that they still come with those weird little illustrated plastic sleeves that you can shrink-wrap around your eggs. Of course, it's far more fun to shrink-wrap stuff you find around the house, rather than the eggs. Here, Kevin shrink wraps one of his parents' salt & pepper shakers.

And here's the finished product!*

*Not pictured: shrink-wrapped wine bottle, shrink-wrapped can opener, shrink-wrapped scissors, and shrink-wrapped Tabasco bottle.

More finished products--some of our voluptuous eggs. (We decorated them with phrases such as "Big Nuts," "Santa is Risen!," "Owen Loves Pappy," and our perennial Easter favorite, "Balls!")

I failed to get pictures of us in the hot tub, and I have to admit, I forgot to bring my bathrobe this year...but fortunately, Emily kicked it up a few notches at suppertime while she got the grill ready to rock! It may look a little more like The Dude than P. Diddy, but dammit, it's the thought that counts.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

60 degrees and dropping...

To quote Nancy Kerrigan, "WHY, GOD, WHY???" very cold. Even Flannery's cold. She keeps coming up and standing by my legs, like she's trying to siphon off some heat. If the cat's cold, I think the indoor temperature may have dropped just a smidge too low.

Judging by my downstairs' neighbors inability to operate our house's sole thermostat, they're either not home, or we have the most complicated goddamned thermostat in the history of humanity.

A little Helena shout-out.

If you're at all into The Decemberists (they're a band), there's a long, interesting interview with the lead singer/songwriter (Colin Meloy) on right now as part of promo for their new album (which comes out today, 3/22). Colin Meloy is from Helena, Montana, and he gives a nice little shout-out to the Grandstreet Theater...

And if you like sprawling, intrinsically-woven songs about sailors, trapeze artists, and other eccentrics, you should check out his band's music sometime. It's really good. And, if you live in Helena, they'll be playing here on April 12th. Anybody want to go with me?

Poor little croci.

Well, actually, the little croci are pretty hearty buggers, considering that they've survived "Winter: Part Deux" so far. This picture was taken last week, a few days after the other croci pictures I posted...we've gotten quite a bit of snow in the past week or so, for Helena anyway. The flowerbed's melted off again, though, and now there's a few more tulips and other unidentified things popping up. Good news is, maybe we won't all burn up in wildfires this summer after all. :+)

Saturday, March 19, 2005

But what'll happen to Phil Johnson's "Big Book of Weather"?

Last weekend, my younger brother Whitey informed me that our local CBS affiliate was, basically, no more. The company that owns the local NBC affiliate (KBJR) had taken over the local CBS affiliate (KDLH), and that they'd fired almost all of KDLH's news staff and were broadcasting Frasier reruns instead of the old 10 PM local news.

Now, I like Frasier reruns as much as the next person--maybe moreso--but seriously? Sitcoms instead of local news? What idiotic little braintrust came up with that?

This all comes after the FCC approved a quasi-merger between two separate out-of-state media conglomerates (one from NYC, one from Florida)...which has essentially now resulted in the silencing of one of the three major television voices in the northern parts of MN/WI/MI, where I grew up. The three stations in Duluth (not to mention the local PBS affiliate that broadcasts from there, too, which rocks) cover a pretty big geographical area--everywhere from the Iron Range over to the northwestern areas of the U.P. of Michigan. It's a large territory to cover. Without them, all we'd get is either national stuff off of cable television (an option that's not readily available in most of the communities in that area), or stuff pumped up to us from the Twin Cities or southern WI--which, quite frankly, is of little relevance to "The Northland." (Hey, they treat the northerners like we're unimportant to them except for as a tourist dropoff, so it's natural that the sentiment goes both ways. haha)

So, a bare nipple is cause for the FCC to prompt the entire western hemisphere to go into a collective Puritanical hissy-fit. But unchecked corporate media consolidation that leads to monopolies, limits the number of perspectives given airtime in a community, and that values profits over product & purpose, that's all A-OK?

This kind of bullshit is why any faith I ever had in the government is steadily, painfully, eroding away. If the FCC was truly about protect the media and the people, if they were really about doing what's best for the people, this kind of thing wouldn't have been happening since media deregulation started in the 1980s. They wouldn't be valuing the "bottom lines" of companies with NO personal interest in what's going on in the areas whose media outlets they own. Some jerk in Florida has NO FREAKING IDEA what a Duluth winter is like. Some moneygrubber in NYC has probably never met somebody from the Iron Range whose job has been jeopardized by the mills forever closing and re-opening. They don't know us--so how on earth can they be trusted to tell our stories?

This kind of bullshit is also why I love the internet so much. Thank heavens the FCC hasn't managed to muck this place up yet. At least on here, you can still hear a billion different perspectives--some of them better reasoned than what I hear on the news, some of them completely daffy--but at least I have the freakin' freedom to still hear them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Beware the Ides of March!

It saddens me a little to know that high school sophomores in Wisconsin no longer have the privilege of reading Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in their English classes, nor do they get to share the wonderous experience of re-enacting the murder scene with cut-out paper knives.

E tu, school curriculum board of Wisconsin?
E tu?
*wipes a tear away*

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Okay, now the poncho thing's REALLY gone too far.

From an e-mail from the Lion Brand Yarn Company that I received this evening:

"Martha's Poncho! Martha's Poncho!

After receiving the largest number of requests ever for a pattern, Lion Brand is creating a Homespun® pattern to match the poncho that Martha Stewart wore for her return home this week.

Our newsletter and web site next week (we’re working as fast as we can!) will feature the pattern and picture of the new poncho. We’ll send an email as soon as it’s ready."

Now, even though I desperately want to distract people from the fact that I'm subscribed to a yarn website (hush now, I hear enough of the "Grandma Mary" comments already!), I'm putting a little slice of my dignity on the line here to point out how utterly insane this is. Are people seriously clamoring for a poncho pattern because Martha Stewart wore one? For real? People really give a crap about that stuff? Martha Stewart, a woman on her way out of prison, shows up in a poncho and that alone merits sending yarn dorks into their trenches, feverishly puttering away at creating lookalike ponchos? Honestly? Is this what it's come to?

Isn't the whole point of crafting and general craftiness, to some degree, to express individuality? To create something that could only come from the uniqueness of your imagination, or from the individual quirks of how you hold a paintbrush/needle/pencil? Isn't this sort of poncho-emulation kind of the antithesis of it all?

I guess I should have realized I don't fit in with the other crocheters when I saw this in another recent newsletter..."Man-chos." *shudder*

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Springtime, ring-a-ding-a-ding time...

No snow + warm temperatures = early croci! :+)

(Did you know that the plural form of "crocus" is "croci"?)

And there's more where that came from, plus some tulips on their way up...this, even after I thought I cleaned out the flowerbed last fall and pulled everything out. Um, guess I missed a few...

Friday, March 04, 2005

Three random things... help you start your weekend off right.

1. Yanni + boobs = a new tradition each time I go to Rockin' Rudy's in Missoula.
2. "Passed-Out Wookies" (thanks, David), which will also come in handy next time I'm in Missoula if I have a camera at the ready. (I think I could give them a lot of material.)*
3. Ketchup for the Gipper.

*Make sure the sound's on on your computer, but not too loud.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

High speed chase!!!

"In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate
yet equally important groups -- the police who investigate crime,
and the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders.
These are their stories."

So I was sitting at my computer tonight at about 9:30, when suddenly I heard the sound of police sirens approaching my neighborhood. As I've mentioned in the past, my neighborhood's a bit of a rowdy place, with a freaky little cast of characters--and well, we get our fair share of police visits & ambulance stopovers. (It's a rare week when some meth addict isn't hauled out of the Big Red Building on the corner, really.) So it's not that unusual to hear sirens, and thus, I kept going about my business.

Tonight, however, suddenly I was no longer noticing the typical Doppler Effect I get in here when the sirens zoom past--instead, they sounded very steady and un-undulating. Curious, I stepped over to my front windows--where I saw FIVE, count'em, FIVE cop cars stopped in disarray all over the street in front of my house, sirens going full-tilt, lights flashing, and two biker guys on the ground next to an overturned motorcycle. HUH?

Nearest I can figure out is that the cops had been chasing these two bozos on the motorcycle, they came around the sharp corner by my house, and the bike got unbalanced & boom--they slid on their side a ways down the pavement. I am thanking my lucky stars that they didn't hit my car (in the picture above, it's the white one on the bottom right side)--now that would have sucked.

Funniest part of the whole circus outside my window: there was this really young-looking girl there with the cops...and I'm wondering if it was a high school/college student out for a ride-along with the police. She definitely wasn't a cop, and geez, she looked way too young to be a reporter with the local, they never let her out of the squad car until after the ambulances with the injured bikers left, and then she just came out for a second to peep around. That has to be the best ride-along story to come out of a Helena squad car in some time! haha

As usual when these things happen around here--is it sad that it's starting to seem "usual" to me now?--the cops did a great job, kept the area under control, didn't let any of the neighbors freak out. Then again, maybe we're all so jaded on this block that it's hard to freak us out anymore. Sure, we don't have Jerry Orbach here to handle the crime investigations, but what we've got is pretty good, too.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

The ambulances have arrived for the perps, the coppers are taking photographs of the crash scene, and the high school kid on the ride-along with the police has one HELL of a better story than most people get on a ride-along.

I guess this is the point where the story'll move on to that other equally-important group, the district attorneys.

Bart: Take him away, boys.
Chief Wiggum: Hey, I'm the Police Chief here. Bake him away, toys.
Lou: What was that, chief?
Chief Wiggum: Do what the kid says.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Have we passed that moment in history when filmstrips were a tiny speck in the zeitgeist? Do high school A/V storage closets still have small armies of projectors lined up against a wall, standing at the ready, waiting for some frazzled teacher to come in looking for something to fill a few desperate minutes of class time (particularly in the days immediately preceding a holiday break or the last day of school)? Do science teachers still roll one of those carts down to their classrooms about once a month, park it in the middle of the room, aim it at a white wall, and pop in a spool about the solar system? Do the teachers and students still get to breathe a mutual sigh of relief as they sit in the dimmed classroom, staring at a blend of still photography & crackly audio accompaniment the likes of which makes mid-afternoon public television programs look positively Bollywood by comparison?