Sunday, May 31, 2009

Self-cleaning robins.

There's a pair of robins that nests in the same spot every year in our yard--a nest built on top of a birdhouse on the side of our garage. Which is kind of ridiculous, obviously (why not build it inside of the birdhouse?, but if that's how they want to do it, who am I to criticize?

Robin's nest.

I also took a little bit of video, including this delightful snippet...

Who knew mama robins ate their babies' poo? You learn something new every day...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Police blotter.

Monday, 1:32 A.M.: Peeping tom reported.

Tuesday, 3:47 P.M.: Caller would like an officer to pull over his wife because she doesn't buckle up the kids.

Tuesday, 8:42 P.M.: Caller reports two males walking down an alley in Washburn looking "guilty as hell," one wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood up; when asked if the caller witnessed them doing anything, caller responded that he did not, but that they "look guilty" and he wanted an officer to check them out.

Wednesday, 7:21 P.M.: Caller would like to see an officer as she feels someone was in her home today; states a whole roll of paper towels is missing.

Thursday, 1:29 A.M.: Report of attempted break-in at residence; "perpetrator" was caller's roommate.

Thursday, 4:46 P.M.: Container filled with "suspicious liquid" found at the library.

Friday, 9:13 A.M.: Complaint of someone writing their names in wet concrete.

Friday, 3:20 P.M.: Dispatch received a 911 call stating that there was a bear on Beaser Ave.; caller stated they were chasing the bear; dispatcher advised caller to stop chasing the bear.

Friday, 9:27 P.M.: Caller reports a group of girls spit all over his Hummer parked on Main Street in front of the movie theater.

Saturday, 1:17 A.M.: Anonymous male caller reported the bass was too loud at the Office Bar.

Saturday, 10:28 P.M.: Intoxicated person calls and says that he just arrived home and realized the gas pump and hose were still attached to the vehicle.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Top 10 Movie Music Moments.

After reading this great list director Cameron Crowe compiled of some of his favorite movie music moments, one of my friends made his own and listed a lot of stuff that I hold near & dear, too (stuff from High Fidelity, Wes Anderson flicks, Once and others)...but in an effort to not duplicate what he already said, here's ten of my (other) favorite movie music moments:

Caution: there may be some salty language/naughty bits in the video clips.

10. "Il Mercenario" by Ennio Morricone - Kill Bill Vol. 2. This is one of my favorite scenes in the Kill Bill saga because it's so harrowing and surreal at the same time--it's a crucial moment in the arc of the two movies, and the music is a perfect compliment to what's happening onscreen and such a grand throwback to the spaghetti westerns the movies are modeled on. It's a song for a hero, someone a little larger than life, and this is one of the moments when The Bride becomes someone way beyond mere mortal.

9. "Belleville Rendezvous" - The Triplets of Belleville. I remember going to this at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena when it came out--some parents had brought their kids (I love how people automatically assume animation = for tiny children), and when the part with the "banana skirt" lady came on the screen, there were audible gasps and shielding-of-children's-ey
es (if you watch the clip, you'll know what I'm talking about). I had this song stuck in my head for two weeks afterward and still get it lodged in there from time to time.

8. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" - Elf. One of my favorite Christmas movies of all time, and a scene that always makes me sniffily.

7. "New York, New York" - Gremlins 2. I love Gremlins 2. I really do. And I'm not ashamed!! It's big and silly and completely insane. And this musical montage may very well be the biggest, silliest, most completely insane scene of them all. Tony Randall as a singing gremlin? How can you possibly go wrong??

6. "Wig in a Box" - Hedwig & the Angry Inch. It's weird, because I don't so much remember the plot of this movie as I remember the scenes & songs along the way. And there's a lot to like about this song, but I'm particularly fond of the follow-the-bouncing-ball bit.

5. "Stonehenge" - This is Spinal Tap. It's funny, and then it gets funnier, and then the midgets dance.

4. "Exile" by Enya - L.A. Story Latter-day Steve Martin is pretty hit-or-miss, but man, when he was on back in the day, he was on. It makes me wish I had a freeway sign watching my back.

3. "Staralfur" by Sigur Ros - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. People didn't like this movie as much as Wes Anderson's other movies when it came out, but I did and still do. Maybe it's a little more awkward and unwieldy, but for this scene alone, it'll always be one of my favorites. According to my in-depth Google research, "staralfur" means "gnome" in Icelandic, but that really has nothing to do with anything. (Best part: the fireworks sounds.)

2. "Just Dropped In" by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition - The Big Lebowski. One of several movies on this list that my friend Emily introduced me to--there's a lot of great musical references in it ("I hate the Eagles!"), but the majesty of Gutterballs really takes the cake. There must be, like, a dozen Halloween costumes I could come up with based on this five-minute sequence alone.

1. "Twist & Shout" by the Beatles - Ferris Bueller's Day Off. An indisputable classic. Remember when movies showed all kinds of people, not just the super-pretty? I love to watch the crowd shots in this scene--there's a little bit of everyone in there. There should be more of that in movies.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The blame game.

I posted a few days ago about the Oredock's demolition starting this summer, which is very sad, but ultimately not very surprising given the debate that's gone on for the past few years about the deteriorated state it's in. The sad fact is, it's been sitting idle for forty years; it's crumbling before our very eyes, and at this point, it's just not realistic to save it. It sucks, but when you break it all down, the City can't afford it, the owners of the structure aren't interested in paying to preserve it, and there doesn't appear to be any foundation or preservation group out there that's willing to fork over millions of dollars to make it safe again. The best-case scenario at this point seems to be that after demolition of the portions above the dock's base (the pillars, chutes, and top), the base itself might be left behind to be used as a City park/fishing pier, provided that the pilings down below the water's surface are deemed stable enough to remain.

It's perfectly understandable that the community is upset and depressed about this chain of events. The Oredock is what people picture when they think of Ashland. It's a huge part of the town, literally and figuratively. The school sports teams use it as their mascot; it's a tourist attraction, even though people haven't been able to get within eighty feet of it for the past few years (for fear of concrete chunks falling off and hurting them). It makes sense that people are bummed-out about it. They should be bummed-out about it.

Here's what gets my goat: having read the comments sections on the local newspaper's website, I'd estimate that over half of the people who comment on the stories about the Oredock's demise blame the City for this. "I have a really hard time believing you did everything you could to save it." "What a colossal failure of civic leadership." "Not enough was done to save it!!!"

Uh...are you kidding me? Have you paid no attention to the articles that have been in the paper about this for, oh, the last ten years or so? Did you read about how they tried to get historical preservation groups from around the Great Lakes to contribute to preserving the dock, but no one had any money to give? Did you attend any of the numerous public meetings they've held about the state of the dock? Have you read the studies they've done about how the chutes on the sides are a hammer's tap away from falling off? Do you not grasp the basic idea that even if the City had taken possession of the dock from the railroad for free, that they couldn't afford the liability of having a huge, crumbling concrete edifice slowly collapsing into Lake Superior? Most importantly: what did you do to help?

After I moved back from Helena, one thing that struck me about this place was how negative people are around here. There's always going to be pockets of that no matter where you live, but it seems like around here, the default setting is to complain about everything -- and I mean everything -- but to never offer up any ideas on how to change things. There are some pockets of "idea people" to counterbalance some of that, thank goodness, but it seems like the naysayers have got us caught in a self-fulfilling prophecy. "No businesses want to move here." "All the young people go off to college and never come back." "Everyone goes & shops in Duluth instead of buying local." You know what? Some of that is true. But have we ever thought about why
that's true? That maybe this cycle of blame-whine-repeat might be part of what drives people away?

I've spent a lot of time down on Water Street, next to the dock -- my grandmother's family grew up down there -- and it's shocking how much the dock has deteriorated in my lifetime. We've watched as chunks disappear off the sides; the buildings on the top (one at the end and one in the middle) have both collapsed. Trees have sprouted up along the pillars and up on the top where the rails used to be. Full-grown trees! It may be coming to a head now, but this situation has been building since before I was born.

What troubles me more than the failure to preserve the Oredock is the community's failure to see it coming, and the failure to rally together to do something about it. If we couldn't unite behind this, the symbol of the town, then what can we unite behind?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The pickings were slim...

It had to go & downpour on Friday night--the night of my annual dumpster diving trip to UMD (on the last day of finals' week, when all the kids move out)--but, well, at least I didn't come away entirely empty-handed.

The only prize from this year's dumpster diving adventure in Duluth...

It was a little damp, but an afternoon out in the sunshine made it good as new.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It begins...

So long, oredock...demolition to begin this month

"Take your pictures, paint your paintings, do everything except walk to the end of the former Soo Line oredock (that's illegal), because demolition work will begin this month.
...Canadian National (CN) has hired Minnesota-based Veit & Company to manage the demolition, and the company will begin this month prepping the site, encapsulating what's left of the lead-based paint in a protective foam and disassembling the wooden trestle on shore. The entire project is expected to take 18 months.
All material on the oredock would be removed down to the concrete base, which city officials and many local residents hope still can be utilized for public recreational purposes."


Now I'm really glad I recorded the fireworks last year.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What I want to do on my summer vacation:

1. Finally go to Fred Smith's Concrete Park in Phillips after talking about it for, like, ten years.

2. Get back out to Montana, if buying a plane ticket won't require me to auction off my internal organs for cash.

3. Go out to the races one Saturday night, where I have it on good authority that they'll sell me the whole seat but I'll only need the edge.

4. Finally go to Split Rock Lighthouse, another place I've lived within an hour & a half of most of my life and have yet to visit.

5. Go to Minneapolis/St. Paul to see my roommates from college, and to trick one or more of them into taking me to craft stores which might otherwise prove too confusing for this poor country mouse to find. (I have an excellent sense of direction--drop me in the middle of nowhere, and I'll find my way out--but I can never make heads or tails of where I'm at in the Twin Cities.)

6. Go to da U.P., eh! (Oh my god, there's so much to see!)

Friday, May 08, 2009

Please leave a message after the beep.

"I had to let you know, I have to get new windows. And the Communist party is at war with America. Have a good day."

(on the answering machine at work, 5/8/2009)

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Police blotter.

Monday, 11:32 A.M.:
Report of lost hat.

Tuesday, 7:34 A.M.: Report of dog chasing kids at bus stop.

Tuesday, 6:47 P.M.: Caller reports that an individual was following him around and kicked him in the hind end and in his front end.

Tuesday, 8:21 P.M.: Report of smoke alarm going off; subject forgot to take biscuits out of oven, no fire present.

Thursday, 1:40 P.M.: Report of a man selling meat & seafood out of a van who became verbally abusive when caller wasn't interested in buying anything.

Friday, 3:54 P.M.: Caller states someone has been knocking on the door.

Friday, 6:12 P.M.: Report of repeated thefts of beer.

Friday, 11:05 P.M.: 911 call received from intoxicated person stating "a man went down" who then hung up; upon callback, bartender stated a man fell off his bar stool and everything was fine.