Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ready for his close-up.

The local animal shelter's having a contest - they're putting out a 2011 calendar that'll feature pictures of shelter/rescue pets from the area. Seeing as how Toivo's kind of a ham
and my family got him from that very animal shelter, I want to enter a picture of him into the contest...only trouble is, I can't decide which one I like the most.

What do you think? Cast your vote in the poll on the left!*

A. Playing dead.
Happy (Belated) Birthday, Toivo.

B. Hot dogs (or, how to get him out from underneath the bed).
How to get Toivo to come out from underneath the bed.

C. Sad chicken.
Dejected after finding his food bowl empty.

D. Toivo vs. tree frog.
Toivo comes over to investigate.

E. Default position.
Default position.

*I've tried to make those names as cheesy and America's Funniest Home Videos-esque as possible. You're welcome.

Clapton shreds.

I must spend much less time on YouTube than a lot of my friends do, because when they find out I haven't seen stuff like this, they're all "god, do you live under a rock?"

The saxophone licks get me every time.

Reading/Watching/Etc.: Fall TV Edition


This was my favorite new show last year - I liked the season premiere last week, but I liked this week's episode even more. Getting to tiptoe into Jeff's old world at his former law firm made me curious to know if the show's going to do more of that as this second season goes on - not that every week needs to turn into a "let's figure out what makes ____ tick" cliche, but there's still so much we don't know about most of the characters' lives outside of what they do on campus. I think that's one of
Community's biggest strengths: it fleshes out its characters without giving everything away, without spelling out every little reason why they are the way they are. Kind of like how it is when you meet new people at school or a job or wherever in real life; you can form a bond or friendship fairly quickly but still not know everything about them. Things leak out over time, drip by drip.

On the Road with Austin and Santino
They're like a modern day Laurel & Hardy. Only gayer. Seriously, why didn't someone give these two a show years ago? This is a thousand times better than that stupid
Models of the Runway they were pairing up with Project Runway the last two cycles! Sending them out on a road trip to make pretty dresses for blue-collar ladies in middle America was a stroke of genius ("I'm not surprised that she's a lady truck driver, but Austin doesn't seem to realize that you don't need a penis to drive a truck"); it sounds cheesy on paper, and okay, it is a little cheesy, but they're so charming (and talented!) & show such genuine curiosity and enthusiasm about the people they meet that it's impossible not to love them. One of the funniest un-scripted shows on TV right now.

30 Rock
To be honest, I got a little annoyed with
30 Rock by the end of last season - sometimes it seemed like it was just going through the motions. The first two shows this fall have won me over again, though; the guest stars have been utilized really well so far, the writing's snappier and it seems like there's a lot of plotlines to play with.

Running Wilde
I think this one's got a lot of potential - it's no
Arrested Development right out of the gate, but I like its energy and it's fun to see Keri Russell as a comedic actress. I've never seen Felicity, but I loved her in Waitress and I think she's a great foil for Will Arnett.

Mad Men
What a wonderful season so far - it's felt slow so far (until this last week's episode, which made me feel all clenched-up and anxious), but oh my gosh, that episode with Don and Peggy a few weeks ago? One of the best hours of TV I've ever seen. I think I watched that rerun every time I bumped into it in the week afterward.

Mike & Molly
I want to like this, because I feel very protective and affectionate toward Melissa McCarthy from her
Gilmore Girls days (and I like the guy who plays Mike, too)...but this show needs to decide what it wants to be. Does it want us to laugh with Mike & Molly, or does it want us to laugh at them? Because right now, its fat jokes are veering more toward the mean-spirited than anything clever or cute. Can't it just be a show about two people who meet and build a relationship, who also happen to be fat? Does it have to have "fatty fall down go boom" jokes? I mean, literally - in the first episode, they had a fat person lean on a table and it broke. C'mon. They don't have to go for the lowest common denominator, do they? Show the characters a little respect and don't make them into cartoon characters.

This one should set off my schmaltz alarm, but I watched it last season and liked it, and the same goes for season two so far. It's nothing terrifically groundbreaking, but it tells its stories well and the cast bounces off each other really well.

Project Runway
So far, this has been my favorite season since Christian won season 4. I think they got a great mix of designers & personalities this time, and while I was skeptical of the 90-minute format at first, I love it now. There seems to be more time to linger in the workroom, and having more time to see the runway judging has been illuminating, too. Those really are the meat-and-potatoes parts of the show - we want to see how and why the stuff is made, and then we want to see Michael Korrs make snippy comments about it. I've been rooting for Mondo from the beginning, but I must say, it's been nice watching Gretchen mellow since her epic psycho trainwreck bitchfest earlier in the run. I don't want her to
win, because I think her stuff looks like it came out of a Sears catalog in the 1970s, but at least she seems slightly more human now and less Machiavellian.

Flipping Out
Still awesome. Having Sarah in the office has added a nice new dynamic, too - it's fun to watch Jeff have to check himself whenever he wants to yell at her, since she's his sister-in-law's sister. And it's been nice to get more insight into his relationship with Zoila, too. He's still kind of mean to her sometimes, but there's clearly a deep reservoir of affection there, too.

Modern Family
Okay, I haven't actually seen any of the new season yet: but, I did get the first season from Netflix, and I think it lives up to the hype it got last year. I think it merits making it into the regular rotation...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I've been lame about taking pictures of the leaves changing colors so far this autumn. The little red mushrooms popping up all around the yard keep catching my attention, though.

Red mushrooms.

Red mushrooms.

Red mushrooms.

I wish I knew more about identifying mushrooms. Not that I want to pick them, really, but it'd just be cool to sound all smartypants and say stuff like, "Ah, yes, what a fine Hygrocybe coccinea* specimen, my dear Watson."

*my best guess, but who knows

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Police blotter.

Monday, 2:40 A.M.: Report of someone on a riding mower in a parking lot at 4th Avenue West.

Monday, 2:41 A.M.: Report of person riding mower in parking lot.

Monday, 8:03 P.M.: Woman stated that one of the FBI's top five fugitives was in her apartment with his girlfriend, stated they had been traveling across the country. Dispatch looked it up on the internet and found he had been arrested in 2009.

Monday, 9:39 P.M.: Report of woman shooting cars parked on her property. Update:
Woman was angry after her husband had been arrested at her residence.

Wednesday, 4:49 A.M.: Caller reported his neighbor is playing his radio loudly outside to deter wolves, in Drummond.

Friday, 8:00 P.M.: Report of wolf-type dog chasing kids.

Saturday, 1:43 P.M.: Report of intoxicated male walking along road and tossing highway cones. Update: Cones replaced and subject given ride home.

Sunday, 10:51 P.M.: Complaint of a group taking down a tent in a parking lot with what sounded like a chainsaw and very loud.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sour grapes (except they were red grapes from the grocery store so they were actually pretty sweet).

Last weekend, I went down to see my friends Laura & Nick in Morristown, MN (population: 981, although I don't know if they've updated that since Laura & Nick moved there so now it might be 983). It was so great to get to spend a few days visiting with them - we've bumped into each other briefly a few times over the last few years, but usually that's just consisted of me showing up in Minneapolis and crashing on their couch for the night. Having a little time to talk stupid and watch dumb YouTube clips and pick terrible songs off of bar jukeboxes (hey, if they didn't want to hear the theme from Schindler's List, they wouldn't have it on there) was magical.

Also magical: a winery down the way was having a grape-stomping contest.

"I got juiced."

The first heat in action.

(Thank goodness for the handlebars.)

Each team got a big plastic bin to stand in, ten pounds of grapes (from the supermarket, we discovered, gasp), and three minutes to stomp. We didn't have much of a strategy going in, other than "don't fall down."

Plotting our strategy.


Mission accomplished!

The next step was to pour your juice & grape entrails into a strainer, where a judge would let it drip for one minute. Whatever strained through the Official Strainer in one minute went into the Sophisticated Measuring Apparatus (aka, plastic thing you can buy at the dollar store), and that's how we were scored.

Onto the crucial judging portion of the competition. Tallying up the winners.

Sophisticated measuring apparatus.

It was shortly after our juice was measured that we realized, hey - if you hold back your grape entrails while you pour your juice into the Official Strainer, you get more juice in the bucket since it doesn't have to trickle down through the grape guts. Unfortunately, everyone waiting in line behind us seemed to figure that out right around the same time we did...and that's probably why we came in at 25th place (out of 40).

Next time, our strategy'll include long pants, plastic tubing and Juicy Juice boxes in our pockets.

Oh, well. At least we got to drown our sorrows in cupcakes. And wine. The two-buck chuck variety. Which we didn't have to stomp ourselves.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


When I think of my weekend in southern Minnesota, and I will think of it, I'll think of this.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Police blotter.

Sunday, 5:36 P.M.:
Report of small child in diaper running down middle of Main Street with no supervision or parents visible.

Monday, 2:28 A.M.: Report of plant in the street. Update: Plant was removed.

Monday, 11:30 A.M.:
Report of frying pan left at ex-date’s house, who said she gave it to thrift shop.

Monday, 4:42 P.M.: Report of woman turning BB gun over to police as conditions of her parole prohibited the possession of firearms.

Tuesday, 6:54 P.M.: Report of large group of girls in store "being rotten."

Thursday, 6:50 A.M.:
Report of piece of equipment turned upside down. Update: Fire department worker reported that’s how the equipment looks and there was no accident or damage to same.

Saturday, 6:53 P.M.: Report of teen making print of another person's ID in photo department.

Saturday, 7:07 P.M.: Report of basketball-sized blobs washed up on shore at hot pond.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Benjamin Franklin: Patriot, Statesman, Creepy TV Pitchman.

Is anyone else creeped out by those DirecTV commercials where people start turning into Ben Franklin?

"They're worth $100."


Weird, weird, weird. Especially the Lady Bens. Shudder.

Ben apparently also has some sort of stake in a national plumbing consortium. What, he's a busy guy! (Maybe they took "a small leak can sink a great ship" very literally?)

(That one's more amusing than it is creepy, though.)