Sunday, July 31, 2011

Just say no.


[After discussing the owner of a regional sandwich chain and his (alleged) fondness for the nose candy:]

Mom (sounding a lot like the secretary in Ferris Bueller's Day Off): Where do they get that cocaine?

Dewey: Drug mules.

Mom: Drug mules?

Dewey: Yeah, they come up from South America and they hide the drugs in balloons they shove up their butts.

Mom: Up their butts??

Me: Wow, you don't watch nearly enough Law & Order or Dateline, apparently.

Dewey: Uh-huh, that's how they sneak it around. And then they just hope that the balloons don't pop.

Mom: Oh my god!

Me: And if they get caught, the border patrol or airport security people have to give them body cavity searches.

Mom: Body cavity searches?

Dewey: Yup! They put on a glove, tell 'em to bend over and [mimes a hand going up someone's hinder].

Mom: Oh my god!! Like, right up their butt?

Me: Yeah.

Mom: [pause] Well, I suppose that job pays pretty well.

Me: Being a drug mule? I don't think so...

Dewey: Yeah, I think the drug mules are at the bottom of the food chain.

Mom: No, no -- the people who have to stick their hands up other people's butts. I'll bet that pays good.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Police blotter.


Sunday, 4:18 P.M.: Report of wheelchair taken while owner was in tavern picking up his girlfriend.

Sunday, 4:55 P.M.: Report of subject in wheelchair on highway. Update: Subject advised he was in highway travel lane.

Monday, 10:05 A.M.: Neighbor dispute: Complaint of a pile of mattresses and bikes lying around in the yard.

Tuesday, 10:50 P.M.: Report of ATV riders stopping for a cigarette and being surrounded by people with flashlights and tiki torches. They left the area and later realized they had been chased for a while.

Friday, 1:13 A.M.:
Report of unusual animal on kitchen floor. Caller said it looked like their puppy but she could hear the puppy barking outside. Update: Subjects called again saying that everything was fine at the residence. Both subjects sounded highly intoxicated.

Friday, 2:04 P.M.: Report of male lying in ditch. Update: Subject was fine, just needed a ride.

Saturday, 2:43 A.M.: Request for officer to check motel room that patron said had a fox in it.

Saturday, 3:56 A.M.: Request for officer to chase a bear up a tree so caller could leave for a funeral.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Art-O-Mat.


I want to give a special shout-out to something Georgia & I bumped into while we were walking around the Chicago Cultural Center (next to Millennium Park, home of The Bean): The Art-O-Mat.

Art-O-Mat.

"Sales of art to minors are not forbidden by law." Tiny robot caught my eye.

You buy a token.

Token.

You put it in the machine, and out pops the art of your choosing.

I chose a robot.

A robot of my very own.

He is adorable and he has many brothers and sisters out there, if you want one of your own.


The time I went to Chicago for the weekend.


Georgia's been after me (in a nice way) to visit her down in Chicago since...well, since she moved to Chicago. Before that, she was after me about visiting her in Milwaukee while we were in college, and before that, about visiting her in Eau Claire. The only time I've ever made it down there was for her wedding a few years ago -- and that, understandably, was a bit of a whirlwind, what with her being a little busy getting married. Given that she put in the considerable effort required to visit me in Montana back-in-the-day, I owed her.

Finally -- no, really, finally -- I got to Chicago.

Blues Brothers at the airport. El Beanarino.
To boldly go... Looking north up the shoreline.

We ate Greek food, we checked out The Bean, we hit up most of the Museum of Science & Industry (by the way, if you ever get the chance to see the touring BodyWorlds exhibit, go, it's awesome), we did the Sears Tower thing (I know it's not actually called the Sears Tower anymore, but c'mon, the new name just doesn't stick the same way), we visited her parents (my brother Nick says thanks for the tie pin, by the way)...we went everywhere, man.

We also paid tribute to the city's mighty overlord.

"The tower is 313 Oprah Winfreys tall."

BOW BEFORE OPRAH (if you know what's good for you)!!!!!!!!!

Art-O-Mat. Eek.
Beneath the Bean. Spit.

More pictures & observations over here.

Dick Tracy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Timber!


I went to Montana!

More on that later.

First: this is what the yard looked like before me & my mom left last week.

Before.

And this is what it looked like when we got home yesterday.

After.

Tornado? Typhoon? Michael Bay movie? Nope -- my folks hired some loggers to clear out the dead and/or dying trees from their ten acres, a process which had started a few weeks before our trip. They worked their way down from the back woods and made their way into the yard last week while we were gone. Frankly, I'm glad I wasn't here -- me & my mom are more sentimental about crap like trees than my dad seems to be, and I think watching some of these big ol' jackpines and maples come down would have been traumatic. As it is, it looks like a war zone.

(Of course, the week we need to pick up massive piles of branches around the yard, it's 100 outside with 88% humidity. Of course.)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reading/Watching/Etc.: Girl Power Edition


READING:

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell
Yeah, I'm still trying to finish this. I don't know what it is about it -- I love her writing, but every time I pick this one up, I'm having the damnedest time getting into it. It probably doesn't help that I've got so many other books stacked up on the nightstand right now, either -- flashy, shiny, syrupy books that require very little of me. This one's thicker and I have to actually pay attention. If my stack of books were a meal, those books would be hot, greasy tater tots, and this one would be a pile of cold peas I keep pushing around the plate. (That's not to say it isn't tasty, but I think I just need to wait for a craving to strike and not force it.)

A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
I liked it, but I didn't love it. I do wonder how they're going to make it into a TV series, though.

"The Tragedy of Sarah Palin" (The Atlantic)
I can't say that it made me change my mind about her, but it did give me some food for thought. Lots of fodder for "what-if?" scenarios.

"The Neverending Nightmare of Amanda Knox" (Rolling Stone)
Here's another one who I thought I had a pretty solid opinion of...but the details in article this about how the Italian justice system works are alarming. I guess it's comforting to know that America's not the only place with big, circus-y court trials. The Italians have got us beat!


WATCHING:

Easy A
Liked it quite a bit, though I did have a hard time buying the premise that someone who looks like Emma Stone would go unnoticed at her high school. C'mon, the girl's gorgeous! But it was fun -- snappy and cute. Liked all the digs it made at the Demi Moore-starring version of The Scarlet Letter that came out when I was in high school, too - "the one where she takes a bunch of baths." God, that one was ridiculous.

Whip It
If I'd seen this when I was a little younger, it might've convinced me to become a roller derby girl. As it stands, I'm 32, can't skate and have a poor sense of balance, so I think I'll leave it up to people more nimble than me. Anyway, this knocked my socks off. Great casting, and one of those coming-of-age stories that resonates no matter how old you are.

Drop Dead Diva
This show isn't out to set the world on fire, but it's a nice blend of a legal procedural, a soap, and a sitcom. It reminds me of those USA shows that give you just enough to puzzle-out so you don't feel brain-dead, but it goes down smooth and doesn't ask too much of you, either.

Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler
I first saw Amy Poehler on Upright Citizens Brigade on Comedy Central back-in-the-day -- even then, she was like a force of nature. I haven't spent much time watching SNL in the last few years (especially since we got the satellite and I have more options on Saturday nights), but most of this was pretty amusing.


ETC.:

- Once again, I broke my solemn oath not to buy any more yarn until I'd used up what I already have...shame spiral!

- But, I have been crocheting more of those little amigurami critters lately, so at least I'm using some of it up.

- Later today, me & my mom are flying out for (almost) a week in Montana. I just passed the 10th anniversary of when I moved to Helena, and haven't been back out for a visit since the spring of '07, so this is LONG overdue and we're both very excited. Now if I can just keep track of my mom in the airport (this'll be her first time on a passenger jet) and keep from skidding off the road in Glacier (Going-to-the-Sun Road is opening TODAY, the latest it's ever opened in its history, and we'll be there tomorrow -- they had a thirty-foot snow pack up at Logan Pass they were still plowing through last week, whew!), we'll be sitting pretty!

- Last but not least: The Jon Hamm Emotions Challenge. You're welcome, ladies. (And gentlemen.)


Friday, July 08, 2011

Pop culture moments of my generation that I refused to take part in, pt. 2.


(Part 2 in an ongoing series [that hasn't gone on for a while].)

It was the fall of 1998. Or maybe it was the spring of '99? It's gotten a little fuzzy. Whenever it was, I was in college, and I'd officially become an English major after a brief first-year detour in the communications department. (To this day, I don't know how I wound up there -- I came into my springtime orientation session undecided, but by the following autumn when I showed up for classes, I'd been shuffled onto the pre-communication track. Someone must have checked a box when I wasn't looking.)

Anyway. This may go without saying, but English majors read a lot. Like, a lot a lot. There were times I was reading five or six novels at once, plus keeping up with reading assignments for my non-English courses, and then there were the short stories and compilations for composition classes...if I hadn't already been wearing glasses when I got to UMD, I would've needed them by the time I left. It seemed like I spent the better part of my waking hours with my nose stuck in a book.

The thing is, I loved reading -- always had. From the time I was old enough to entertain myself, I was always reading, books stacked up in my room next to my stuffed animals and My Little Ponies. My mom took us to the library all the time, and I'd come home with heaps of books half as tall as I was, burn through them in a week or two, then head back for more. During junior high, I'd go through a book a day if I got my way, and even when I got to high school and got busier with extracurricular stuff (and an actual social life), I always had something on my nightstand that I couldn't wait to finish. Reading came easy -- it wasn't a chore.

But when I got to college, that changed. The pace and the sheer volume of information shooting into my brain on a daily basis really did a number on me. I mean, it just NEVER STOPPED. You try keeping track of five novels at a time (all of which you're reading in the span of a week or two)! And quite frankly, it didn't help that UMD switched from a quarter system to a semester system midway through my four years there. Suddenly, course credit values and graduation requirements were shifting, making it tough to stay on-track unless you managed to stay one step ahead of the school's trickery. Not only was I fighting to stay on-top of my schoolwork -- I was fighting to get out of there on-time in four years. Because I was HELL BENT on graduating in four years. Scheduling my classes was like something out of Patton -- I'd make meticulous charts in my notebooks, strategizing my schedule so every class I took not only wiped out an English course requirement, but one of my general liberal arts requirements, too. I was graduating in four years, OR ELSE.

Don't get me wrong -- honestly, I don't know what else I could've been other than an English major. I never questioned it or wavered in it, because it was the natural place for me to wind up. And as stressed-out as I'd make myself, even then I knew these were very much First World Problems -- "Oh, I'm so tired from reading all day." Boo-freakin'-hoo. Sure, I could've made life easier on myself if I'd taken some shortcuts here & there -- cripes, I only resorted to Cliffs Notes once (sorry, The Scarlet Letter) (and I still feel guilty about it) -- but really, it was the part I was born to play, baby.

Anyway. Right in the middle of this, the first Harry Potter book came out.

I was up to my eyeballs in ye olde British literature when I first heard of it. Like, old-timey British literature, the stuff written in Old English with all the thees and the thines that still make my brain go numb. "Have you read Harry Potter yet?" "Oh my god, you have to read Harry Potter!" "You read a lot, you must have read Harry Potter by now?"

No, I hadn't read it. I didn't have time to read it! I had the thees and the thines!

Someone well-meaning gave me a copy of it for my birthday. It sat on the shelf for months. When summer rolled around, it stayed there, because by that point I was so sick of hearing about it that not reading it seemed like an act of rebellion. (Nerdy, nerdy rebellion.)

And so it went. And so it continued with each new book's release.

I went to the first two movies in the theater, with friends who were really eager to see them. Not having anything personally invested in the books, I was lukewarm on the movies I saw -- they seemed long (I believe the technical term I used was "assbusters"), and even my Potter-obsessed friends Emily & Kevin had fun mocking the John Williams soundtracks. To this day, we compulsively sing "duh-duh-duh-PAAAAAAW-ter!" (to the tune of the Star Wars theme) every time someone mentions them.

Which brings me to now -- the summer that the last Harry Potter movie is being released. Suddenly, I find myself strangely drawn toward the franchise -- is it all worth a second look? By stubbornly ignoring it for all these years, am I missing out on some pop culture watershed moment?

Since I graduated from college, I haven't read novels the way I used to. I still read a lot, but after getting so burned-out, now I read more long-form magazines and blogs than book-length stuff. Really, I'm reading all day -- work stuff, online stuff -- but I don't sit down with books the way I used to. Should I give Harry Potter a try? Would reading them come easy, or would it turn into a chore? Stay tuned.