Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A million little pieces.

This one cracked me up.

My mom saved nearly every toy and book that my brothers & I ever had when we were growing up. We had the luxury of having plenty of space to store stuff like that, as well as the luxury of having a mother patient and sentimental enough to box everything up "for sometime down the road." We recently started hauling boxes out of those nooks and crannies, and began sorting through their contents, deciding what we're ready to part with, and what merits keeping.

I don't think words can fully capture the scope of what's out there. The stuff I'm pulling out of these boxes should be dead to me - I haven't touched some of this stuff in over two decades - but the minute I lay eyes on it, I'm six years old again, and remember this dragon? I got that when I was in the hospital getting my tonsils taken out, I can't give that away. And oh my god, there's a box full of ninja turtles, and a heap of Little Golden Books, and then I spot my Babysitter's Club books and I'm an incredibly awkward eleven year-old again, and oh, I can't get rid of those, I just can't. I'm not ready.

Part of ye olde Babysitter's Club stash out in the garage.

I've been trying to start writing this for a few weeks, but I'm having a hard time figuring out how exactly to get it out, how to articulate it all. Every time I think I've got a handle on it, I'll unearth something new out in the garage and suddenly, my mind's flooded with a whole new set of words and ideas and feelings it wants to get down before they evaporate, and before I open up another box and a new tsunami of memories comes roaring in.

Behold: the Fisher Price stash.

It's funny and bittersweet and wonderful and exhausting.

And it's pure happenstance that we started this project right before Toy Story 3 came out, but still, given my current state of mind and the fact that I don't think I've ever gotten through the following clip from Toy Story 2 without crying, I'm preparing myself to go in and have my heart broken into a million little pieces.

"It's pretty much my favorite animal."

A week or two ago, a box arrived in the mail. A magical box. For inside, there was this:


Holy freakin' Ashland summer school unicorn painting circa 1991. Thanks, Emily. I think we might've taken the same painting class, because I distinctly remember painting a stirring tableaux featuring some woodpeckers on a similar piece of plywood one summer. Art!!

The Wrestler.

The Wrestler.

I really should've put the mullet wig on him for the full effect.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Police blotter.

Tuesday, 9:30 A.M.: Caller reported that someone tried to steal her pond last night.

Tuesday, 3:02 P.M.: Report of a white duck in the road that won't move. Update: Duck was reunited with its owner.

Wednesday, 11:21 P.M.: Report of female caller stuck under bed.

Friday, 12:18 A.M.: Request for officer to tell caller's daughter she has to stop yelling and start listening.

Friday, 7:22 P.M.: Report of people yelling. Update: subjects warned.

Saturday, 5:22 P.M.: Report of two boys asking for a dollar from homeowner, saying it was charity week.

Saturday, 6:31 P.M.: Report of large cow on County A.

Sunday, 11:45 A.M.: Report of ram in yard playing with owner’s dog. Update: Report given to another officer as sheep would not fit into first squad car.

The only thing at the casino that could possibly tempt me into developing a gambling problem.

Last night, I went to a casino to watch a boxing tournament. Random, I know. (My friend Peter helps coach the high school track team, and one of his charges was boxing in the tournament last night so Elizabeth & I went along for moral support. And, uh, the people-watching.) The boxing was interesting; I don't know if it's something I'll ever rush out to see again, but it was obvious that the kids (and adults) involved take it very seriously and it's cool that someone's taking the time to teach them and give them an outlet for that sort of thing.

The casino, on the other hand...good lord. Lock me up in the psych ward if I ever start going to one of those on a regular basis. I've never understood what people get out of those places - they're dark, they're loud, they're smoky, no one looks happy to be in there, and people act so weirdly territorial about which slot machines they sit at, it's like dealing with a bunch of zombies. And to top it all off, the thought of just blindly putting money into a blinky, shiny machine for hours on end...I can't imagine doing that. It's like flushing money down the toilet. I can think of about a billion ways to waste my money where I actually get something out of it, so I don't understand how anyone can get any long-term enjoyment out of gambling.

But then, I saw this:

"Kitty Glitter."

Maybe I should start saving rolls of quarters for when I'm a crazy old cat lady with lots of time on my hands.

Thursday, June 24, 2010



I'm book-less at the moment. I was feeling guilty about it, too, until I realized that I read pretty much all day, every day at work. Plus, I'm slogging through three or four thick, wordy magazines per week, trying to stay ahead of magazine monsoon season...so it's not like I'm not getting my daily recommended allowance of mental fiber. It's summer, and I'm allowed to slack off a little, right?


Two reliably funny streams: BPGlobalPR and FakeAPStylebook.

"The Truth About Your Food"

The only reason this stuck with me is that it explains why I'm helpless when faced with an open bag of Doritos. To paraphrase Stuart MacKenzie, "They put an addictive chemical in their chips that makes ya crave it fortnightly, smartass!"


The Real Housewives of New Jersey
This show is my guiltiest of pleasures, primarily because I've always been so vocal in my dismissals of the other Real Housewives franchises - why would I want to watch a bunch of rich people go shopping all the time? Isn't there enough of that garbage on TV? Aren't there better things I could be doing with my time? There are, there really are - and I rarely get caught-up in this kind of reality TV nonsense, which makes my love for the New Jersey ladies all the more perplexing. And delightful. I don't know why I've fallen so hard for this show, but I have, and what I originally cloaked in irony ("I can't believe these people, let's watch it and laugh at them") has turned into open adoration ("I can't believe how much I miss Dina and her hairless cat!"). Take away the money and the fancy houses, and I'd still watch this. Oh, and they can take away Danielle, too, while they're at it. "Prostitution WHORE!"

Mall Cops: Mall of America

If you aren't already watching this show, tonight's episode would be a great place to start: "'No Pants Day': A group of revelers board trains and plan to run through Mall of America without pants. Taken by surprise, Director of Security Doug Reynolds assembles arrest teams to deal with the onslaught of potential streakers before they can disrupt the mall."

The best part about Mall Cops is how a lot of the incidents featured on the show get blown out way of proportion - either by the cops themselves, or by the show's narrator. A guy walking around with his hands in his pockets MIGHT BE A TERRORIST! Or he's probably just a deaf guy leaning against a wall, waiting for his wife. There's a FIRE AT THE MALL! Only the fire's in an ashtray outside, and all it takes to put it out is a dixie cup of water from a fast food stand. To be sure, the cops deal with a lot of shoplifters, fights and disorderly conduct, too - but the real meat & potatoes here are the moments when the bike cop inexplicably goes out riding in a deserted parking ramp during a blizzard, or when the cops chide teenagers for throwing ice cubes at a neighboring kiosk, or yell at people not to throw paper over the railings because "it might hurt somebody." We all have a tendency to take ourselves a little too seriously at work, don't we?

The Room
Truly awful, and yet, awfully entertaining. I'm not even going to attempt to describe it - go read this instead. The Room was clearly intended to be a taut, sexy thriller, but after it was released and became a cult hit due solely to its utter crapulence, the filmmaker decided to try to squeeze some lemonade out of the situation and has now rebranded it as a "black comedy." It's not a black comedy; it's a mess. A hilarious mess. The scene below, which I've previously posted here, should give you a good idea of what you're in for:

The A-Team
I plan on writing more about this masterpiece in the coming days, but for now, I'll just say that I loved it enough to see it twice.

The White Stripes: Under Great Northern Lights
This movie looks beautiful, and even as it made me feel like I was getting a peek inside the inner workings of the Jack White/Meg White dynamic, it still kept me at arm's length. I liked that. However, some of the editing during their performances was a little irritating - it seemed odd to cut out right in the middle of some of the songs, like a needle skipping over a record.


- City band has started up again. I've skipped one out of the three rehearsals so far...that might not bode well.

- I'm finishing up some more potholders right now, but after that, I hope to get started on some embroidery stuff at long last. I picked up a book last week with a bunch of different stitching motifs in it, and got some more iron-on patterns when I was down in Minneapolis a few weeks ago, so I should be able to find something to inspire me to get crackin'. It sounds a lot better than sitting underneath a big pile of yarn all summer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Police blotter.

Tuesday, 4:32 A.M.: Report of unknown intoxicated male in caller’s home. Update: Subject dropped off at home — he didn’t realize he was in the wrong house.

Tuesday, 10:16 A.M.: Traffic complaint of a speeding dairy truck on Range Line Road.

Tuesday, 1:11 P.M.: Caller reported a turtle trying to cross the road just east of the ‘T’ on U.S. 2, stating the turtle was a couple feet long. Update: Gigantic turtle not located.

Wednesday, 2:09 A.M.: Caller believes someone came and took her lawnmower and was using it to mow her lawn at this time, wanted officer to check it out.

Wednesday, 8:59 A.M.:
Caller reported that his neighbor’s bull is allowed to run loose and has taken up residence in his shed and does not allow him to get his mail, on Pratt Road.

Wednesday, 6:32 P.M.:
Caller reported an adult was arrested for yelling at little children and calling them names.

Meat Loaf would approve.

My college roommate Laura got married over Memorial Day weekend. And it was awesome.

Just married!

Not only did I get to catch up with a few friends from college who I hadn't seen in nearly ten years...but we got treated to a show, too.

"Don't Stop Believin'."

The O'Show!


Still shots really don't do it justice.

If I
had to pick a favorite moment from the day, though, it was toward the end of the night when Laura's dad jumped out of his chair, said "This is my impression of the last time I saw you," and plopped down on the floor.

God, I missed Laura's dad.

Note to self: put Laura's parents back on the Christmas card list.

Former Ricky Martin Appreciation Club dignitaries.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

"Mullet with headlights?"

A few weekends back, I finally got off my butt and went down to visit my friends Melissa & Daren at their house in St. Paul. We've been talking about doing that for, like, three or four years - I don't know what's come over me, but it seems like ever since I moved back here, going anywhere outside of a 60-mile radius of Ashland sounds incredibly exhausting. When I was in Montana, a three hour drive was nothing - heck, even a ten hour drive didn't seem all that daunting. What happened to me? Are my parents rubbing off on me or something?

Anyway - I've known Mel since we were in middle school, and Daren since our second year of college in Duluth, so we all go way back. They're two of the funniest people I know, and we share an appreciation for the finer things in life, like dumpster diving, secondhand shops, and really bad movies. We speak a common language of silliness.

It was graduation weekend for most of the colleges in the area...we didn't have any luck locating the dumpsters on some of the private colleges' campuses (fancypants!), but we scored some finds around the U of M. Unfortunately, in addition to it being moving-out weekend for the students, it was also moving-out week for the tentworms - they were all over campus, swarming over trees and sidewalks and at times, they seemed to be raining down from the sky itself. Also unfortunately, at least for a hobbit like me, was the U of M's decision to rent the tallest damn dumpsters I've ever encountered in all my years of collegiate dumpster diving. At least Mel & D stood a fighting chance of peeking over the tops to survey the treasures hidden inside. (To stretch the Lord of the Rings references further, if I'd be cast as a hobbit, they'd be cast as elves or those really lanky tree creatures.)

Dumpster diving with Mel at the U of M.

Creepy crawlies.


Where Ikea futons go to die.

This is where Ikea futons go to die.

Also on our agenda: a trip to Ax-Man Surplus in St. Paul, which is pretty much one of my favorite places ever. The first time I went there was over a decade ago - I've wanted to go back ever since, but couldn't remember the name of the joint or how Daren got us there back-in-the-day. I don't even know how to begin to describe their stores - they're junk shops, I guess, but it's awesome junk. And the signs...their signs are legendary. I took 75 pictures in there, and trust me, that's only a drop in the bucket. I could spend days in there looking around. If you're ever in the area, go! (I've only been to their St. Paul branch, but the other three look like a lot of fun, too.)

Prince Charles' personal surplus pockerchieves. "Soon I will eat you just like I did those C battery holders!"

"MTV's Kennedy here, via time travel, from 1991!  Just to bring you...very dim bulb flashlights!" Starving artist?

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that we watched...The Room. (Despite Mel's repeated efforts to shield me from it. "Oh, god, are you going to make her watch the whole thing?") I was unfamiliar with The Room before Daren queued it up on his computer...life will never be the same. I've watched a lot of bad movies in my day, but this one takes the cake. It takes a whole bakery's worth of cakes. Many of my friends are familiar with the MST3K classic, Manos: Hands of Fate. Let me tell you, this movie is sub-Torgo material. A sample:

And last but not least, to cleanse the palate - Daren and Mel introduced me to Literal Music Videos on YouTube. These two are my favorites.