Thursday, March 31, 2011

Two things:

I can't vote for someone who wears Dwight Schrutte glasses.

First, I don't think I fit your target demographic, since I don't even own a gun, let alone many guns that would necessitate an entire rack.

Second, and maybe this is shallow of me...but I can't vote for a guy who wears Dwight Schrute glasses. I just can't.

Before they find me buried alive under a mountain of string.

I'm making a concerted effort lately to burn off some of my ridiculously large yarn stash. Seriously, it's embarrassing. An embarrassment of yarnly riches.

First up: some baby hats. The white one is the first I've ever attempted, and I decided it was worthy of my friends Elizabeth & Peter's new baby, Elenore. The second, I'm not as sold on...same pattern, but I used two yarns at once (mmm, creamsicle-y) and the end result proved a little stiff. Maybe a little too stiff. There's a charity bin for hats like these at one of the yarn shops in town, so I might drop it in there sometime.

Baby hat for Elenore. Orange & white baby hat.

Next: a bunny for my friend Emily's kiddo, Elliot, whose 2nd birthday was earlier this month.

Bunny for Elliot. Bunny butt.

I can't recall the last time I crocheted a stuffed animal like that...the last one might've been for the county fair when I was about seven or eight. I've got a pattern book for some amigurami critters, and a lot of little balls of leftover yarn from previous projects, so maybe I'll whip up some more of those, too.

Also coming up: baby sweaters! Granted, none of these projects is using up a particular large amount of the aforementioned yarn heap...but I figure baby steps, right? Start small, and then kick it into high gear. Sure, that's what'll happen.

I'd like to blame my inner ear problems, but I think it has more to do with a total lack of physical coordination.

Or, a chronological list of things I've fallen off of/down/out of, or been knocked over by in spectacular fashion:
  • walked in front of big brother on the swing set and got kicked in the head, age 1

  • went too close to the dog house and the dog wrapped its chain around my neck, age 2

  • off the arms of a chair and down onto the sharp metal edge of a canister when big brother threw a pillow at me, age 2 (my parents being of the "oh, you don't need stitches for that" school of parenting, I've still got a scar by my eye from that one)

  • down the basement stairs when I tripped on my blankie and rolled head-first into a cement wall, age 3

  • off the deck stairs on my tricycle, age 3

  • while playing in the wading pool, obeyed big brother's command to go change the record on our record player and got electrocuted, age 4

  • shoved into the gym wall in kindergarten, age 6

  • down a hill too fast on my sled and straight into a tree, age 8

  • my next-door neighbor running me over with his bike, age 9

  • off my bike into a bramble of thorn bushes & barbed wire on my first successful ride down my driveway, age 10 (I was a late bloomer with the bike riding - maybe the tricycle-off-the-deck incident and/or getting run over by one had something to do with it)

  • tripped over a curb walking into the homecoming football game, sprained my ankle, and had to call my mom to come pick me up, age 12

  • off my bike (over the handlebars & everything) in my friend Melissa's driveway the day I got my first pair of glasses, age 13

  • down a ski hill into a barbed wire fence on the 8th grade ski trip to Mt. Ashwabay, age 13

  • during a play rehearsal, had a tri-folding wall fall down on top of me, wrapping me up like I was in a wall burrito with only my feet left kicking freely, age 16

  • during yet another play rehearsal, had a moon fall on top of me, age 17

  • and during yet another play rehearsal, had someone drop a box of Milk Duds on my head from the catwalk above the stage and the sharp pointy corner of the box stabbed me in the scalp, age 17

  • off my chair in band class one morning for no discernible reason, age 18

  • down the stairs in Kirby Student Center at UMD one morning during my freshman year while walking to class, age 18 (I shredded the leg of my pants and had to hobble back to my dorm looking like I'd been mauled by a enraged ferret, but dagnabbit, I went to class first!)

  • tripped over nothing and fell flat on my face outside of the student recreational center while walking back to my apartment with my roommate Laura, age 19 (Laura: "it was like the ground had reached up an invisible arm and yanked you down by the neck")

  • blacked-out and fainted during the Methods of Literary Study final, fell out of my desk, came to about five seconds later to complete chaos in the classroom ("the test was too hard, it killed her!," "call an ambulance!", "get her some Sprite!"), age 20 (all because I'd stayed up too late the night before going to the first Star Wars prequel when it opened at midnight...but I got back in my chair and finished, and I got an A which I was assured was "NOT a sympathy A")

  • down my friend Andy's basement stairs the night of our big Y2K party, age 20

  • off a horse in Red Lodge, Montana, when it suddenly decided to lay down on its back & tried to crush me, age 24

I don't know if these technically qualify as "urban" legends, but...

Legends that I heard about first-or-second-or thirdhand whilst growing up in Ashland (aka, things I haven't bothered to actually
research but which I'm going to write about anyway):
  1. There are tunnels underneath Main Street and between some of the older buildings downtown.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact. I think. Maybe I'm half-imagining this, but I recall there being a summer school class offered once or twice when I was still at Beaser Elementary where kids got to go downtown and tour some of the subterranean "tunnels." I'm not sure if they were literally tunnels, per se, or just some passages between buildings (did they actually go underneath the street?), but I do think that they existed (and maybe some continue to exist?).

  2. If you jump into the diamonds out on the oredock, they'll suck you down to the bottom of the lake and you'll drown.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fiction. (I hope.) The diamonds, as they're referred to, have something to do with the engineering of the dock...but I don't think falling into one would mean an automatic trip down to Davy Jones' locker. (I've seen too many beer cans floating in them over the years to believe otherwise.)

  3. A former mayor had...relations...with his livestock.

    FACT OR FICTION: I lean toward fiction on this one, but then again, maybe I don't really want to know. It's ultimately a case of he-said, sheep-said.

  4. When they run out of meat at the Chinese buffet, they serve seagull and turtle, according to the senior citizens in my grandma's apartment building.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fiction. I mean, the buffet's right next to the grocery store - if they were in a bind, it would be easier to just walk over and buy some chicken than it would be to drive out, find some secluded spot along the lakeshore, and go to the trouble of hunting turtles & seagulls. Right? Right.

  5. One time, Chubby Checker was supposed to come & perform at the Supergold Sock Hop during Bay Days, but he drank so much during the limo ride from the Duluth airport to Ashland that by the time they got him to the civic center, he was too drunk to get out of the car.

    Fact. I wasn't there, but I distinctly remember this rumor going around (and heard it from a number of reliable sources) because it was right around the time "Kokomo" was popular and my 4th grade class was forced to perform an elaborately-staged lip-synch performance to it at a school board meeting. Which, admittedly, is a story I'm bringing up just so I can post this unfortunate picture of me in my poodle skirt:

    Even at 10 years old, I knew it was dubious for them to call this "educational."

  6. During a Halloween haunted house in the old Ashland High School building on Ellis Avenue, a kid ran into a nail and impaled himself (and/or died).

    FACT OR FICTION: Although the version of this story I heard as a little kid varied depending on who was doing the telling - sometimes, it was embellished to the point where the kid's brains were falling out of his head in gruesome fashion, other times he was being chased by Freddy or Jason or Chuckie or Michael Myers or gremlins - it wouldn't surprise me if some kid did run into a nail at one point, but I don't think he, like, died or anything.

  7. In other old-high-school-building and tunnel-related gossip, there was a tunnel that ran between the former high school building (torn down in the early 90s) and the "new" building (now known as the Latimer Building, the three-story one in the middle of the complex).

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact! I saw it with me own two eyes, I did, the summer I worked for the school district, cleaning classrooms & such. It's off-limits nowadays, but when we did some cleaning in the basement area underneath the stage in the gym, the janitors let us walk back there to take a look.

  8. The Pizza Pub used to employ a little person as their pizza delivery guy.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact. He worked there in the mid-90s, and I remember seeing him driving around town like a bat out of hell.

  9. Santa used to fly in for the Christmas parade.

    FACT OR FICTION: Fact. Santa and his "elves" would come in on a little prop plane, make a few loops around the airport, then land. Then, after a short meet & greet and candy cane distribution, he'd be escorted down to Main Street where he'd mount his majestic sleigh-shaped float. I don't know why he quit doing that - maybe fuel got too expensive, so he went back to just using his reindeer & sleigh to get here?

    Santa at the airport.

    When Santa flew in.

"P.S. Pianos don't spontaneously combust."

People who don't know The Onion is satirical, pt. 1.

Round Two:

People who don't know The Onion is satirical, pt. 2.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Highlights from "Ferrets: The Pursuit of Excellence."

"‎They smell like corn chips when they're sleeping. And their tails smell like grape Kool-Aid."

"Ferrets do a happy dance. It's a sheer dance of joy. I call it the 'Weasel War Dance.'"

"It seemed like as my children got older and grew up and moved out that I sort of replaced them with ferrets."

"There's a line of shampoos for women based on their hair color. I bought the blonde one for my lighter ferrets, and the brunette one for my darker ferrets. I'm very careful not to get it in their eyes or anything."

"We'll have Japanese judges at the show, because ferrets are huge in Japan."

"You're proud that your kid got an A in school. You're proud that your ferret won a ribbon. It's a pride thing."

"Ferrets accept whatever is happening in the moment. They accept whatever there is to play with, they accept whatever there is to eat. They accept it if they're sick, they accept it if they die."

"If a ferret nips or bites a judge, they can disqualify them. And you can't really blame 'em."

"Anybody should know not to put their pet up to somebody else's face. I just can't believe how much blood comes out of someone's nose."

‎"She's a sweet girl. She doesn't realize what she did. We're trying to decide if I need a stitch or might just be my battle scar."

"327 ferrets attended the show. 400 ribbons were awarded."

In closing:



And Here's the Kicker: Conversations with 21 Top Humor Writers on Their Craft
by Mike Sacks - Not as "laugh-out-loud funny!" as some of the reviewers on Amazon made it out to be, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I bought it because I recognized names like Bob Odenkirk and Stephen Merchant on the cover, but found myself particularly enjoying the interviews with some of the older writers who got their start in the golden age of TV - Larry Gelbart's and Irving Brecher's, especially.

Let's Panic About Babies! - I'm childless and single but this cracks me up. Check out this parody of that whole Battle-Hymn-of-the-Tiger-Mother kerfuffle that was all the rage a few weeks ago.

Yogabeans! - Plastic action figures demonstrate yoga poses, with silly results.

Fake Criterions - Pretty much exactly what it sounds like.


Soap: The Complete First Season - I've caught reruns of this here & there over the years on Comedy Central (and maybe Nick at Nite at one point?), but never more than an episode at a time so I really didn't remember much about it. It started off a little slowly, but got rolling by the end of the first disc and I'll be moving on to season two shortly. I wish I'd watched this when I was in high school -- it would've given me good fodder for one-act play season.

An Idiot Abroad - Instant favorite. I go back and forth between laughing at Karl, and sympathizing with him when he gets overwhelmed by all the "new" stuff. I've definitely hit that wall a few times when I've been traveling...the novelty can wear off and sometimes it gets pretty hard to stay open-minded when all you want is a sandwich and a quiet place to take a nap. Here, Karl talks about dolphins.

Next on my Netflix queue: The Ricky Gervais Show. Which I think I probably should've watched first, but oh well.

A Town Called Panic - As one reviewer put it, "Toy Story on absinthe." Another instant favorite.

Sarah Vowell on The Daily Show - Two of my favorite things, together!


- It's a good thing I got that cross stitching done last week, because on Friday, little Elenore got impatient and insisted on coming out a few weeks early. She & her parents are over in Duluth, waiting for her to gain a little weight before she comes out of the NICU, but it's looking like she'll be released in the next day or two. Not enough time for me to finish the baby blanket I'd started crocheting a while back, but well, she's just going to have to learn to be more patient!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Police blotter.

Sunday, 6:19 P.M.:
Report of woman locked out of house with food cooking unattended.

Monday, 7:53 A.M.: Report of woman driver striking snowplow on Stuntz Avenue.

Tuesday, 10:56 A.M.: Report of female receiving "mean" phone calls concerning her past.

Wednesday, 12:59 A.M.: Caller reported a gas or onion smell coming from resident, said the dog also smelled. Update: officer determined it was the smell from a wood stove.

Thursday, 4:51 P.M.: Report of teens on top of shed, urinating on compost pile.

Saturday, 10:36 P.M.: Report of hockey team kids from Eau Claire area being unruly.

Sunday, 6:14 P.M.: Report of large pieces of asphalt in lane of traffic. Update: Chunks were actually packed snow which did resemble asphalt.

Bonus: extra credit to my friend Nick for finding this one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Welcome, tiny overlord.

Welcome, tiny overlord.

Made for my friends Elizabeth & Peter from a pattern by Subversive Cross Stitch, in anticipation of their impending bambino/bambina.

Also made for Elizabeth & Peter, as an homage to our favorite "Real Housewife"-performed "song":

"Money Can't Buy You Class."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Castle Greyskull is under new management.

Last summer, me & my brothers helped our parents sort through our stash of old toys out in the garage. It was, as I said at the time, funny and bittersweet and wonderful and exhausting.

Of the three of us, I have the hardest time letting go of things. I'm sentimental, almost paralyzingly so. I can stand there and rationally know it's just stuff -- stuff I haven't had any practical use for in twenty-odd years. But it was really, really difficult to be rational about what came out of those boxes. My brain knew it was pieces of molded plastic; my heart recognized them as objects that I used to make come to life. I lived vicariously through those toys & books -- they were never "alive," but for me, at the times and ages I needed them, they were friends. The thought of sending some of them scattering out into the unknown felt like a betrayal, as idiotic as that sounds coming out of a thirty-one year-old.

So when we started making the "discard" pile, oh, that was hard. Sometimes, a little prodding from my brothers or my mom would be enough to convince me to let something go. The baby buggy & shopping cart we used to race around the house when Dad wasn't home? Those went without any fuss. Our (well, okay, primarily my brother Nick's) collection of Ninja Turtles? Those went to a nice guy we found on Craigslist just before Christmas. Overall, I'd say we shrunk our heap by roughly 45%.

On the other hand, I wouldn't (and may never) budge on the Fisher Price stash, nor the My Little Ponies, and I feel better knowing that my Babysitter's Club books are currently resting comfortably inside a waterproof Rubbermaid bin next to the Playmobil people.

One casualty of our epic cleaning binge was the big pile of He-Man action figures and playsets (or, as my mother referred to Castle Greyskull, "the He-Man dollhouse") that had been taking up valuable garage shelf space since about 1990. I think all three of us agreed pretty quickly to letting those go, but I was immediately concerned with where they might go. Sure, we could give them to the local thrift shop, but would kids nowadays even know who He-Man was? Would our meticulously-archived collection (okay, not all that meticulously, since we had multiple Skeletors and quite a few broken bits & pieces) be sold off in 25¢ increments at a rummage sale? It seemed a shame to break up the band (so to speak). It also seemed a shame to wonder if they'd ever actually get played with again.

And then: a solution.

Here lies He-Man.

Barbie's crazy chesticular region's got nothing on He-Man's.

Fisto and Evil Lynn.

Motley looking crew.

I'm happy to report that Castle Greyskull is under new management out in Helena, Montana, where my friend Emily's kids have given our old toys a bonafide Toy Story 3-style ending.

Now comes the good part.

Life imitates art. Evil Lynn gets a new lease on life.

Elliot confuses He-Man and Godzilla. Happy ending.