Tuesday, June 30, 2009

This bird wouldn't get off of my car this morning.


Staring contest.


I figured it was a fledgling from the robin's nest on the garage, and I didn't want to shoo it away too obnoxiously since I wasn't sure how steady it was on its wings yet. And so our dance began...

I walked up to the car: nothing.

I opened the door: nothing.

I sat down in the car: it just kept staring.

I slammed the door: still nothing.

I started the car: it didn't move a muscle.

I rolled down the window and turned up Hot Rock J96: it didn't even tap its feet along to the Skynyrd.



I was reluctant to start driving with it on the hood--I mean, what if it fell off and I drove over it or something? I don't need that first thing in the morning. Instead, I turned off the car, got out, and slammed the door again to see if that would finally do the trick. Nope.

Sensing that we were at an impasse, I went back in the house to get my camera. It was still perched there when I came back outside. I took three pictures, standing right beside the car. On the fourth one, the flash went off.

That did the trick.


Monday, June 29, 2009

I plan on having myself a merry little shrovetide.


I was talking with a friend of mine the other day who lives near Pennsylvania Dutch country, and he asked if we celebrate Fasnacht Day around here (since there's a lot of people of German descent in Wisconsin, too). My dumbfounded silence apparently speaking volumes, he sent me a link to Wikipedia and oh, mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the donuts!

I'm still sorting out all the details of this most delicious of traditions--there's a lot of talk of shroving and shriving and other crazy Lenten stuff I never managed to learn about in my 12+ years of catechism classes--but come next Easter, who's with me? DONUT PARTY!!

...Wait. You're not into donuts? Blasphemer! Well, I'm willing to give a little: there's a pancake variant. Oh, yes.
"...The day is also called Pancake Tuesday. In England, and perhaps elsewhere, the day is celebrated with pancake races. The contestants run a course while holding a griddle and flipping a pancake. Points are awarded for time, for number and height of flips, and number of times the pancake turns over. There are of course penalties for dropping the pancake."
Donuts and pancake races? This is sounding more & more like our old Feaster celebrations out in Helena...I think we could've easily squeezed in some donuts & pancake races between dyeing the eggs, making Boone's floats and having our P. Diddy pool parties down by the hot tub.

Dying Easter eggs, April '04.Boone's floats.
Our P. Diddy Pool Party, April '04.

Oh, it's on!


"We've gone on holiday by mistake."


1. How have I never seen Withnail & I before today??

2. Imagine my delight at discovering the inspiration for the funniest character in Wayne's World 2. (Mmm-hmm, played by the same guy and everything.)

Oh, here, have a taste.

(Attention: salty language ahead.)


Friday, June 26, 2009

Police blotter.


Sunday, 7:27 P.M.:
Report of kids climbing a ladder to knock on a window.

Monday, 10:54 A.M.: Report of male in black truck trying to drive on top of another vehicle.

Tuesday, 7:02 A.M.: Report of male wandering around near marina with pants around his ankles and seeming "out of it."

Tuesday, 10:16 P.M.: Caller reports a bull came and has its head in her car; states she was out for a drive on Wannebo Road and a bull ran up to her car and won't leave them alone or take his head out of her car.

Thursday, 10:05 A.M.: Report of woman feeding seagulls.

Thursday, 1:35 P.M.: Caller would like an officer to remove a male from her home; he has been drinking and is taking things off her clothesline.

Thursday, 1:38 P.M.: Anonymous caller requests an officer to check on a subject who is intoxicated and playing with swords.

Saturday, 5:59 A.M.: Caller reported a truck doing "pop-a-wheelies."

Saturday, 10:33 A.M.: Anonymous male reported a guy in a white tank top and black pants knocking on people's doors and asking for money to pay his cell phone bill.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

"You can’t swing a cat around here without hitting a place where they say Capone has been."


My cousin Kevin just got a story published in the travel section of the New York Times, which is clearly awesome. But wait--guess what makes it even more awesome?

1. It's about northern Wisconsin!
2. It's about gangsters! And their vacation hideouts!
3. It's tangentially related to Johnny Depp!!

Go check it out!


Crack is whack.


Citizens of Ashland:

I know it's hot out right now, but I implore you: please wear pants that cover your butt cracks when you're out in public.

Don't you roll your eyes at me. I know, it embarrasses us both that I'm bringing this up. (Although given that you're walking around with your asses hanging out, I suppose you might be less prone to embarrassment than some.) It should go without saying that one of the primary objectives of pants is that they cover your butt. And yet, it would appear that there's a communications breakdown somewhere between you and the Pants Council of America, because what I'm seeing out and about this week has made it very clear that maybe it doesn't go without saying.

So to you, hootchie mamas wandering aimlessly down Main Street, exceeding your short-shorts' maximum butt load limits by twenty pounds;

And to you, old guy with the shrunken undershirt riding up your back and pants sagging with pockets full of...coins? Marbles? Taconite pellets? What the hell have you got in there, anyway?;

And especially to you, guy trotting down Ellis Avenue the other day in scuba flippers, your nethers barely contained in the tiniest pair of swim shorts I've seen this side of Rio, your back hair trailing down into the blinding white abyss below;

HIDE YOUR SHAME AND PULL UP YOUR PANTS.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three things stickin' in my craw:

  1. The fact that somebody let Michael Bay make another Transformers movie. Although on the other hand, this alleged monstrosity has inspired some awesomely nasty reviews, my favorites so far being from CNN ("the most terrible revenge since Montezuma's") and Roger Ebert ("I find it amusing that creatures that can unfold out of a Camaro and stand four stories high do most of their fighting with...fists. Like I say, dumber than a box of staples").


  2. That Netflix keeps recommending Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip to me every time I log in. No. A thousand times, NO. That show was a train wreck. The cast had potential, but the tone was way too preachy, and far too smug; the characters' self-righteousness about their show-within-a-show was ridiculous, given that their skits were generally quite unfunny and not nearly as clever as the show wanted to convince us they were. The insertion of "issues" into every aspect of the plot was really heavy-handed and it sucked all the joy right out of the whole affair.

    Plus: a character who (essentially) singlehandedly writes an entire live hour-plus TV sketch comedy show week after week? That, in and of itself, was ridiculous. There's a reason why shows like SNL (and fictionalized versions of them, like 30 Rock) have a writers' room: no one person could ever tackle all of that! But then, on top of that, to have him be this quasi-celebrity who makes it into the gossip columns? Puh-leaze! Quick, name a late night comedy writer. Who doesn't star in their own show. Good luck with that.


  3. How much Year One sucked. I really wanted to like it--I did--but great googily-moogily, I was expecting something funny. And this only made me laugh out loud approximately 3 times in its 90-ish minute running time. That's a bad laugh ratio: one solid laugh every thirty minutes? Not good. The average episode of Maury gets better results than that. It's like it had all the ingredients to be funny, but something went horribly awry in the oven because the comedy cake fell flat, my friends. Flat as a damn pancake. (Am I mixing too many baking metaphors here?)


Everything must go!


I spent a good chunk of the weekend out in the garage, sifting through a few years' worth of junk. And when I say "a few years," I mean stuff dating back to...oh, high school? Freshman year of college? The other three years of college? I'm a packrat, but a fairly reasonable one--I have a hard time letting stuff go, but it's like all of a sudden something snaps in my brain and it's like I must purge things.
Immediately. If I don't follow the urge when it strikes, lord knows when it'll come around again, so it's the sort of impulse that makes me drop everything and get cracking.

Purge.

I made a healthy dent in the mess this weekend. I went through all my boxes of stuff from when I moved back from Montana--sorted out the useful from the useless, the sentimental treasures from the sentimental ready-to-part-withs, the keepers from the Bargain Hut offerings. I re-packed things and emptied about six or seven boxes' worth of stuff.

It feels fantastic.

Now if I can just make some more headway at chipping away at my yarn stash in the basement...


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Zinger.


When I opened an envelope from my friend Jamie last week & these fell out, I cracked up.

Thanks, Jamie!

Thanks, Jamie.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Reading/Watching/Etc.


READING:


"Crazy Talk: Oprah, Wacky Cures & You" / Newsweek
Oprah turns me off--she seems like a nice enough person, but I'm not one for fads and really, what is her show but one big fad after another?

Lucky Man and Always Looking Up: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist by Michael J. Fox.
I liked both of these--read them out-of-order (the newer one first, I mean), but they dovetail together nicely so it didn't really matter.


WATCHING:

Up
Beautiful, quirky, funny and heartfelt. It made me cry. Three times.

I think I've figured out why I like Pixar's movies so much better than, say, DreamWorks': when I watch Pixar movies (especially the newer ones), I'm not watching the movie thinking "Ben Stiller is the lion!"--I'm caught up in the story. Sure, they cast some famous actors in their movies, but the stories are so damn good that the stunt casting becomes secondary to how the story is being told. That's the way it should be. DreamWorks gets too bogged-down in the big names on the marquee, and on making sequels, than coming up with anything that really stretches the mind/imagination, or that has any lasting emotional reasonance with the audience (I mean, seriously, has the world really demanded another installment of Shrek?).

Young @ Heart
Poignant and charming without being exploitative or cloying.

JCVD
Totally out of left-field and totally awesome.

Star Trek
I was skeptical when I first heard about the Star Trek franchise getting a re-boot, because re-boots in general are kind of hit-or-miss as far as I'm concerned, but I was really pleasantly surprised with this. The casting was great, the story was engaging and well-paced, and I love the way they opened up a whole new universe of possibilities for the franchise by finding a plausible, clever way to wipe away the previously-established history of Kirk & crew. Bonus: Simon Pegg's in it!

Dick Tracy
The story/acting/stunt casting grabbed my attention a lot less than the color-coordinated sets. Those were almost sort of mesmerizing. But the movie itself? Kind of a big yawn. I remember liking it when I saw it as a kid, but in retrospect, I don't know how Flattop didn't give me nightmares. He looks like a bloated Garbage Pail Kid.

Obsessed
Quite terrible on all fronts...but hilarious in an unintentional sort of way. Favorite line: "She's not a temp, she's a temptress."


LISTENING:

Eels - Hombre Loco
R.E.M. - Lifes Rich Pageant
Stubbs the Zombie soundtrack
Wilco - Being There
Loudon Wainwright III - Strange Weirdos...


CLEANING:

- My room. I hope the patrons of the Book Nook at the Vaughn Library enjoy my bumper crop of old magazines.

- All of my worldly possessions, stored out in my parents' garage. Well, not all of them--some have migrated into the house. But next weekend, I'm going out into the garage, I'm opening every single box and drawer, and I'm getting rid of the non-essentials. Or the unsentimental non-essentials, at least. (I'd have a hard time parting with the Pez dispensers & rubber ducks, I think.) I was out there a few weekends ago looking for something, and found a box from Montana containing things like half-empty rolls of toilet paper, used kitchen sponges, and a baggie full of twist ties. I don't know how that crap got packed in the first place (especially in light of how we were scrambling to fit everything into the truck & car when I moved, to the point where I left things behind on the curb when we drove away), but it's high time it got the boot. A little purging sounds fantastic right about now...

Friday, June 05, 2009

Stay of execution.


How cool is this??

Oredock gets reprieve
The Daily Press, 6/5/09
"Don't let their relatively small size fool you: Napoleon and his mate are two of the fastest animals on Earth, with an efficient hunting method akin to that of a great white shark.

But the Ashland home choice of these two peregrine falcons will allow locals and tourists alike to enjoy the city's beloved oredock, slated for demolition, just a little bit longer.


The peregines have set up a nest in the massive oredock and their behavior suggests Napoleon, a 3-year-old male, and his unknown but adult female companion, are incubating eggs...


The birds are considered endangered in Wisconsin. Although they were removed from the federal Endangered Species list in 1999, they do receive some attention and protection as a migratory bird. So the fact they have nested within the chutes of the oredock means Canadian National, which owns the dock, and its contractors will have to wait up to 11 weeks before any demolition work can begin...

Tom Doolittle, a supervisory wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Alaska, said Napoleon and his mate are the first recorded pair of peregrine falcons in the Chequamegon Bay area since the late 1930s. Doolittle...said he'd even proposed in 1988 that the oredock be used as a hatch site for peregrines because it has high 'sight tenacity' making it suitable year after year as a nesting site."


(Photos are featured with the Daily Press article and are from the Wisconsin DNR--not mine!)