Friday, December 29, 2006

My mom always said you learn something new every day

Whoops. You know, I really would like to have at least one other post between each Friday Five, but as I spent the first half of this past week mostly away from a computer and the second half pretty much chained to a computer (but for work, not fun), I've had to neglect the blog a bit. I would say that I'm sure none of you missed me too much, but rumor has it I might be the only one who actually has work to do this week, so perhaps a lack of more regular diversions around here actually was disappointing to a few of you. In that case, I am sorry.

Anyway, moving on. I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. (If you celebrate Christmas, that is, of course. If you don't, then I hope you had a lovely and leisurely Sunday and Monday.) My own Christmas was fine--pretty much same old, same old. My dad didn't need a CAT scan like he did two years ago, so that's a plus as far as I'm concerned. I suppose it's a bit strange that, in my family, the bar is now set at "any holiday without a trip to the emergency room is pretty OK," but that seems to be the case. We're Midwesterners, after all. We don't have a lot of drama or wellsprings of emotion to separate one day from another, and I guess that's the way we like it.

I suspect that since I told you all about us nearly having tacos in a biker/sports bar on Thanksgiving, you are likely just dying to know what my family planned for Christmas dinner, right? Well, OK, I will tell you. We had KFC. Again. Day-old KFC, of course. It seems the Colonel is becoming a holiday tradition for my family, and I can't decide if that's delightfully quirky and whimsical or just plain shameful and sad. Since I have never been mistaken for a "foodie" (in fact, I don't even like the word "foodie"), I'm actually not going to think about it too much. I will say this, though. The Colonel's biscuits are delicious little lumps of starchy heaven when fresh-served from the restaurant. A full day plus a half-minute or so in the microwave later, though? Not so much.

So. Day-old biscuits = not good. That is what I learned this Christmas. Here are a few other things I learned as well.

  1. My older sister has a crazy, anal-retentive neat-streak of which I was entirely unaware. Saturday night I unwittingly mortified her, and I'm afraid to tell her that the comment that provoked her revulsion doesn't even scratch the surface of how animal-like I really am. I didn't tell her about the mildew in my water glass or about how infrequently I scrub my bathtub or vacuum my living room. No, what she found so unbelievable and disgusting was my admission that I sometimes go to bed in the same shirt I wore the previous day. Only my basic knit-type pullovers, that is. Not any fancy button-ups or scratchy wool sweaters or anything. And I do pull my bra off first, so I fail to see the big issue here. "I don't wear it again the next day or anything," I explained, but this did not matter to her. In fact, she was actually more at ease with the scenario of re-wearing the shirt she slept in than with letting the dirt particles and dead skin of the day into the [presumably hermetically sealed] comfort of her bed. So. Me: Devil-may-care, fall-into-bed-wearing-whatever Girl. My sister: quite the opposite, it seems. Who knew?

  2. Eggnog has nine grams of fat per serving. Nine. A serving, by the way, is half a cup. The mug I drank it from held far more than half a cup (even after I added the rum). Perhaps I should combine this with something else I learned recently, which is that it really is possible to say "I've gained a full ten pounds in the past week" and truly, actually mean it. Ugh.

  3. Home Alone 3 featured both bitchy Caroline from Sixteen Candles ("Chug-a-lug, Pooh Bear!") and a preteen Scarlett Johansson. Also worth noting (though not really something I can say I "learned," as I've been aware of it for quite some time), my father will watch any movie, regardless of target demographic or cinematic quality, if it in any way features Christmas and if the calendar is currently turned to November or December.

  4. The ancient Santa my dad got as a child is just as terrifying now as he was 30 years ago (and even 30 years before that). And yet, my mother insists on displaying him at least once every five years to remind us just how horrible he is. See? Gah! Nightmares... (Metalia, I say this dude is every bit as frightening as the gigantic chocolate Santa near your office. Don't even try to tell me otherwise.)

    Family legend says that, when my father received this Santa as a gift some 60-odd years ago, he was so displeased that he punched Santa's nose. As you can see in the photo, it never popped back out. I am convinced Santa still creeps around the house at night hoping to one day exact his revenge. I do not intend to be there when this occurs.

  5. Where gifts are concerned, it truly is the thought that counts. Maybe saying this means I am undoubtedly a full-fledged adult, or maybe I just recognize this fact when it's clear that a gift really involved true and meaningful thought. Case in point? Even though I got a new pair of Danskos for Christmas (a ridiculously expensive pair of shoes that I can't believe my mother actually purchased for me without having a heart attack or going to Confession to ask forgiveness for such frivolity), the gift that meant the most to me was a set of magnets that my little sister designed and assembled herself, based on long-running inside jokes between the two of us. Don't get me wrong; I love the Danskos.* But every time I see "Good Morning Egg" on my refrigerator door, I am going to smile and think of my little sister. (It's OK, by the way, that you have no idea why.)

* As if the lesson in #5 weren't proof enough that I'm an adult, I think wanting a pair of shoes that cost more than a month's worth of groceries, but wanting them for their comfort and arch support rather than their designer name or trendy style pretty much seals that argument as well.

Friday, December 22, 2006

All I want for Christmas is a Chia Elephant*

Since Christmas is on everyone's mind (well, maybe not everyone's... sorry to any Jewish or Pagan or otherwise-oriented friends out there), I've been thinking about gifts, of course. For today's Friday Five, I thought I'd list a few of my favorites from the past 32 years.

Five of the best gifts I've received

  1. My last year of college, I lived in an off-campus house with two women who I was not super-close with before our time as roommates, but whom I got to know better and better and had immeasurable amounts of fun with in the year that followed. In the first few weeks that we lived there, I taped a sheet of legal paper to our refrigerator to keep a record of all the amusing things we said to each other. I labeled it "Quotable Moments at 304 1/2 Fifth," and, though we were well aware that those moments were likely quotable and hilarious only to us, the list still amused us no end. We kept adding more sheets throughout the year, and, the weekend that two of us graduated, our remaining roommate photocopied each page, painstakingly cut each quote onto a separate sheet of paper, and pasted each quote onto a page in a blank book she purchased somewhere and presented it as a graduation gift to me. The inscription she wrote in the front was gift enough in itself: "To the wittiest woman I know. May your life be filled with quotable moments," she wrote. But even better was the fact that she preserved for posterity all of my memories in that house--memories that will mean nothing to any of the rest of you but that still make me laugh nonetheless. Memories like...

    "I'm not going to suck your jug."
    "It's an adventure of the mind and spirit, so maybe it will be fun!"
    "Are my pants coming with me, or are they staying behind?"
    "We pride ourselves on clean, well-maintained units."
    "You could never be Miss Wisconsin."
    "What do you mean 'naked'?" "I mean naked!"
    "I can't drive if I'm lumpy."
    "It's not tuna, but it's not apples."
    "Not my Honeynuts!"
    "Oh my gosh... These beans have good flavor!"
    "The last thing I want to think about doing is going on a creative excursion with my authentic self."
    "They're growin' arms... They're juicin' out like mad!"
    "Woah. There's not a seat there."
    "You jug-suckers and dust-blowers. Now you can see what I do!"
    "I am not responsible for all mold!"
    "I got a sliver from the library."
    "The yack was there when I got home."
    "You should never see a professor's feet."
    "They're like... Petroleos."

    Like I said... meaningless to most of you, but entirely priceless to me. (Thanks, Erin.)

  2. When I wrote that "What I think of first" post a couple weeks ago, I missed a really important one. I should have included, "Dale and Jenny give perfect gifts." Case in point, this trophy I received for my birthday four years ago. I had a bowling party that year (it was the year and the night I somehow claimed Shaniqua as my official Bowling Name), but I don't actually think the trophy had much at all to do with that event. For some reason, Dale had dubbed 2002 "The Year of Stef," which I suppose had something to do with including the year upon my trophy. I think, of course, that it would have been better to receive a "Best. Stef. Ever." trophy (those words, of course, individually punctuated just like Comic Book Guy but with less sarcasm and desperation). But it was a fine gift nonetheless, and I cherish it to this day.

  3. I already mentioned the lip balm my ex-boyfriend once bought me as being probably more significant than it should have been, but I still remember it as a sweet and (at the time) meaningful gesture nonetheless. I could name several other times when he got a gift "just right" as well, but I'd rather not go down that path just now.

  4. I am known among my friends for several things. "Not a cook" and "Not good with plants" are two of them. I think that, with the latter, I've gotten a bit of a bum wrap. I've been given a few plants as gifts that are apparently near-impossible to care for under anything less than the most ideal conditions, so I hardly think I should be held accountable for their demise. In my kitchen at the moment are two plants I have kept alive for a solid four years at least, but no one points to those in my defense. In any case, Dale and Jenny (the perfect gift-givers) brought me a plant for Christmas a few years ago, and, accompanying the plant was a Last Will and Testament for me to fill out. I named that plant (she was called Lily); I looked up care instructions on the Internet; I put her in sunlight and watered her on a regular schedule; and yet still, she lasted only a few months. That last will and testament might have been a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts, but it amused me anyway. Oh, Lily; I hardly knew you, but you were a fine gift.

  5. I am having a hard time filling this last slot... I feel like I should go back further than four years and consider the gifts I got as a kid that were particularly memorable in some way. When I open up the category like that, though, it's even harder to narrow it down. Was it the Matchbox Burning Key Car that I hesitantly asked for (and received--gender roles be damned) circa Easter 1984? Or maybe the giant, decapitated Barbie head for hair-styling and makeup-applying on which I learned to do a French-braid? Or possibly it was the electronic Battleship game that my little sister and I still wanted to play just a few Christmases ago but which died a sudden and disappointing death on her first fire that night. So many choices; I just can't decide; so I'm going to leave it at that.

I'm out of here for a few days, as I suspect many of the rest of you are as well. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it, and I'll catch you sometime next week.


* OK, this subject line really isn't true at all, but I have to admit to
someone (and therefore I will admit to the Internets at large) that, every time I see that damn "Ch-ch-ch-Chia!" commercial on TV, I think, "You know? That Chia Elephant is actually kind of cute. Would it be wrong to have a Chia Elephant in my home, if only for its kitschy sort of charm?"

I did
not put this on my Christmas list, despite the fact that I did actually add this little guy to said list and sort of do expect that one of my family members might have pity on my pathetic self and my poor plants and actually purchase it for me. But the Chia Elephant likely will not be found beneath my parents' tree, and I guess I am OK with that.

I promise this is very likely a one-time thing

I can assure you most whole-heartedly that this will never be a recipe blog. Plenty of people already have that whole "food blog" thing covered, and it should be obvious by now that the culinary arts are not my area of expertise. I cook a proper meal about as often as I change my furnace filter (that's about four times a year, for you non-homeowners out there), so I'm really not in any position to come here raving about some new recipe you must try. Pomegranate martinis? That I have covered. Canapes* and antipasto? Not so much.

In any case, I am compelled to share a recipe today, only because I just received it via e-mail from my lovely friend Simone as a follow-up to the party- and Norwegian-snack-related comments on two recent posts from the past week. I won't pretend the whole lot of you are dying to make a batch of Kringler (which is, apparently, the proper spelling for this mystery pastry known as "Kringla") on your own, but I thought at least one or two of you might be curious enough to try. (If you do, let me know how it goes, as I doubt I'll be testing this recipe myself any time in the terribly near future.)

So here you are. Norwegian Kringler. Just like Simone's aunt (and, presumably, -R-'s Iowan grandma) used to make...

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
1-2 tbsp. water

1 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1 cup flour
1 tsp. almond extract
3 eggs

1 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. half and half or cream
1 tbsp. butter
1-2 tsp. almond extract

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl, combine 1 cup flour. Using pastry blender or fork, cut in 1/2 cup butter until particles are the size of small peas. Sprinkle flour mixture with 1 tablespoon water while tossing and mixing lightly with fork.

Form dough into ball; divide in half. On ungreased cookie sheet, form dough into 2 (14 x 3-inch) rectangles.

In medium saucepan, heat 1 cup water and 1/2 cup butter to boiling; remove from heat. Add 1 cup flour; stir until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in 1 teaspoon almond extract.

Spread topping mixture over base. Bake at 375 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until lightly browned.

In small bowl, combine glaze ingredients. Drizzle glaze over cooled Kringler.

I would like to note that I cook and bake so seldomly and, consequently, have such a poorly stocked kitchen that my first thought upon scanning the ingredients was, "Wow. I could actually almost make this if I wanted to. All I'd need is some almond extract. I already have everything else!" And then I realized, "Wait. I don't have eggs." And then, "Or powdered sugar." And I have Half & Half only because I bought it to make White Russians at my party last weekend and then forgot and neglected to make them anyway. So basically I was excited and proud of myself because I had butter, flour, and water on hand. Yep. I'm a regular Martha Stewart. Don't even try telling me otherwise.


* I love that this is not in Blogger's spell check dictionary, but Cannabis (its suggested replacement) is.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Flow charts and liquor and hymens (Oh my)

I know I am not supposed to tell you people much about The Place That Pays Me to Get Dressed in the Morning (I am stealing that phrase from either Stacy or Poppy; my apologies to both of you that I don't remember who wrote it). I fully understand that whole First Commandment / Cardinal Rule thing and all. But right now I am actually busy at that place for the first time in many, many months, and frankly, I don't remember how to handle that. I have been trying to figure out how I'm supposed to get all this work I have to do done in the time frame I have available to do it while still staying caught up on my emailing and blog-reading, and then I remembered: Oh yeah. I'm not supposed to email and blog-read when I have actual work to do. Whoops. That's how that goes. It's been so long, I actually sort of forgot.

Anyway, without giving out too many identifying details about the place that direct-deposits my paycheck, I will say that a big part of what I do is write materials that teach people how to use various software on their PC. While I do not actually mind this line of work, it is not often particularly creative or exciting, and it comes without a byline of any sort. As such, I try to amuse myself and stamp my signature by injecting personal tidbits where I can. Any screenshot requiring a date, for example, will feature my own birthday. Nearly all sample names in my documentation will be mixed-up versions of the people I know.

I am having trouble coming up with appropriate examples for my current project, however. I am attempting to write a class that will teach people how to create flow charts in a popular diagramming program, but I have no experience whatsoever from which to draw. I don't sit in meeting after meeting each day, talking about process improvements and TQM and Six Sigma and all of that. I've never actually created a flow chart, so I'm not exactly sure what one might include. In fact, to demonstrate my lack of credibility on this matter, let me show you what I came up with when I began to practice with the available tools...

Unfortunately, despite how much this particular diagram amuses me, I do try to maintain a modicum of professionalism in my work, and since I do not work for It's Just Lunch or Together Dating, I am pretty sure this example will not fly.

As long as I am writing things that the people who direct-deposit my paycheck would not appreciate, however, how about a somewhat delayed recap of that party I mentioned last week? Why would the people who pay me care what I do in my off-time, you might ask? Well, normally, I suspect, they wouldn't, but this past Saturday was our annual holiday party, and for the first time in nine-freaking-years, I actually neglected to go. I gave a perfectly reasonable and plausible excuse: "I have another party the same night," I said. What I did not tell them was that the party was at my own home, and that I scheduled it that night deliberately, as a means of avoiding the company party I did not want to attend. Call me crazy; call me not-a-team-player, but I decided it was actually better for my sanity and well-being to be among close friends and supportive kindred spirits that night than to dine ten feet from my ex-boyfriend and his new, near-teenaged girlfriend. Shocking, I know. "The Bigger Person," I am not.

Anyway, I had a lovely time at my own private gathering. As usual, we had way more food than was necessary, and I have been eating party snacks in lieu of proper meals pretty much consistently since Saturday afternoon. For lunch, I had the infamous Chris's dip, and tonight's dinner was cheese, crackers, hummus, and carrot sticks. (At least I incorporated vegetables this time, which is more than I can say for most meals not comprising party leftovers.) Also, I am mainlining seven-layer bars and will, apparently, continue to do so until they are gone. Or until my jeans no longer fit. Whichever might come first.

Aside from the food (and the liquor... we mustn't forget the liquor! Pomegranate martinis--Mmmm... Red wine--another Mmmm...), there were a few other highlights and memorable moments as well. We did not take The Magical Boy's suggestion and play Spin-the-Bottle, but we did have a fine White Elephant gift exchange, which resulted in one lucky lady taking home a copy of The Best Women's Erotica, a gift that I can only hope and assume will be put to good use. And speaking of The Magical Boy, he may actually be magical in some way, as he apparently needed to leave before 11:00 to avoid turning into a pumpkin at some late hour. He actually left before the world's cutest baby, and that was after an explosive Code Brown that required a two-man effort on cleanup duty. She's a trooper, that little Megan; I'll give her that for sure. In fact, the party didn't really start breaking up until someone turned the topic of conversation to born-again virgins and surgical hymen reconstruction. Because really, that's where all good parties (and some mediocre blog posts) end; is it not?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A is for Awkward. (And also for Adam, coincidentally.)

It was only a matter of time, right? In a city that, despite its fairly sizable population, is feeling smaller by the day, I was eventually bound to run into one of many men I've met during the Great Date Experiment of 2006. I figured it would happen at a concert or some outdoor event or other. I'd be with friends, I'd wave a hello, and that would be the end of it. Hopefully it would be one of the guys with whom I had a completely amicable but clearly defined "Thanks, but I don't think so" conversation and not one with whom there'd been just a slow and slightly awkward drifting-away sort of vanishing act. Life doesn't all that often work out the way we hope, though, does it?

I shouldn't preface this too dramatically, as the event that just occurred was really not all that big a deal. It's not like I found myself seated behind one of these men at a movie theater, where he was making out enthusiastically with his new, hotter-than-me girlfriend. It's not like a friend set me up on a blind date with a guy who turned out to be someone I'd already rejected. No, it was nothing at all like that. I just ran into one of them at Target.

The guy I ran into was the one mentioned in this post back in May (the one in item #3 of that post, not the infamous sheep testicles guy). I initially thought I might really actually like this one, but after three dates I realized, "Hmm. We have a hundred things in common, but we're really not connecting in any way beyond that." I think he felt the same way, as after some half-hearted and tentative planning for our would-be fourth date, he just sort of dropped off the radar. I'm sure it had nothing at all to do with my stellar move of saying, "We'll have to work on that" after what was, by I'm sure both of our accounts, one of the worst first kisses ever. He went right and I went left, so we bumped noses in a most awkward way and it was clear that it just wasn't a smooth maneuver. I wasn't too put off by it; I'm a firm believer that one bad kiss with someone does not automatically mean there are no good ones in your future, but it still probably fell into that category of things you're just supposed to think and not actually say out loud. I have a bit of a problem with that category, as anyone who knows me is aware.

Anyway, so I walked into Target today and turned right to veer towards paper products when I passed someone I immediately knew I recognized. I did a double-take and turned to look back, my auto-pilot thinking, "Oh. That's someone I know. I should say hi." Thankfully, my auto-pilot has a bit of a lag, because a second later, I remembered the following: (1. Yes, I know that guy. His name is Adam. But, (2. I haven't actually spoken to him since my last unreturned e-mail several months ago, and (3. I really have nothing in particular to say to him now. Also, (4. I have not yet showered today, and my ponytailed hair has a slight greasy sheen that is not particularly attractive at all.

I kept my mouth shut and continued walking down the aisle. Whew. My brain filters do still work on occasion. Thank God for that.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Five jobs I sometimes think I would like (and the reasons I actually probably wouldn't)

Since I already mentioned one of these (#4) in that last post of mine, I figured I might as well think of four more and make it a Friday Five...

  1. Mail carrier. I think this would be an excellent job for many reasons. I would get to take a lovely walk alone with my thoughts every day. I would not have to go to the gym after work, because I would have excellently toned legs and arms simply from strolling along my route and lifting bins and packages. I would get all government holidays off. Wouldn't that be lovely? But then I remember that I live in Minnesota. Taking a long walk outside sounds appealing during only about five months of the year. The rest of the time, being outdoors for any length of time sort of makes me want to cry. I think that means I need to scratch this idea.

  2. Librarian. I love the idea of libraries and what they represent. I love going to the library. I love the library's online reservation system. Nancy Pearl is one of my heroes. I am a big fan of the library is what I'm saying. But I'm not what you might call a People Person. In fact, I sort of hate people a whole lot of the time* (hence, the "alone with my thoughts" bonus of career idea #1). I'm pretty sure talking to people is a rather sizable portion of a librarian's job. And not just any people. Stupid people. Shady people. Internet porn-viewing pervert people. In other words, the general public. (Gah!) Maybe the library has a nice office job for me instead. Hmm.

  3. Bookstore owner. Again with the books. Wouldn't it be cool to be with books all day long? But even if owning your own bookstore were still a feasible idea in the age of Borders and Barnes & Noble and Amazon, there's that whole "business" side of the business. Numbers and bookkeeping and all that. No thank you. I'd veto "yarn store owner" as an option for the same reason, of course.

  4. Lexicographer. Ooh! Or maybe instead of actually working on the dictionary, I could create those word games on the dictionary's web site instead! That could be fun, too! Um, not that I have any skills in this area or any idea how to create web-based word games... Hm. Tricky.

  5. Movie critic. See, now in theory this sounds like something I would enjoy. I like movies... I like writing... And then I remember that I haven't written a well-thought-out analysis of anything since my last literature paper of my college career. Maybe someone would just pay me to watch movies and say "Yep" or "No" on each. You think?

Um, yeah. Guess I'll stick with the tech writing and editing gig a bit longer. That's probably the best way to go.


* Not any of you people, of course. I'm sure I'd like all of you!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

L is for Loser, but that's not going on the list

Malia is perpetuating a meme, and I said, "I wanna play!" Thus, I have been assigned the letter L. Now I am to list ten things I love that start with L. If you want to join the list-making fun, leave a note in the comments and I'll toss a letter your way. Off we go...

  1. Layer Bars. Specifically, Seven-Layer Bars*, which have become my standby item to make for any group outing or bring-a-dish party in recent years and thus, are apparently now my baked-goods trademark. I used to shy away from making these for groups, mainly because an old boyfriend turned his nose up at the fact that coconut was involved and I thought perhaps the world was more teeming with coconut-haters than I realized. I have since decided that that is just plain foolishness. Layer bars are delicious, and boys (or, boys like that one, anyway) are stupid.

  2. Long-length pants and jeans. Damn-near every store carries petites. No where near damn-near every store carries long-length. This is an unfair and heightist situation that must be remedied. I remember one of the first times I realized what a true genius and a visionary Maliavale is was the day she called for an International Size Tribunal. I submit this request to the Tribunal for consideration. Thank you.

  3. London. During my semester in Scotland, I spent a long weekend in London (as most other students in our program did as well). I remember a friend telling me that, when he relayed his adventures from the weekend to his host mother, she smiled and sighed, "Ah. When you've tired of London, you've tired of life, my love." Yes, yes, I fully realize that is a famous quote said by someone I can't recall just now, but I'm pretty sure the original version didn't have the "my love" part, and really, that was the part that seemed so charming to me. Anyway, if ever I were to get all bold and brave and fully impractical and just pick up and move across the ocean, London is where I would like to go. I have fantasies of simply stepping out of a tube station on my first day there and meeting the fabulous British love of my life. This fantasy probably comes from the opening scenes of Closer, which, now that I think about it, really isn't the best model for the sort of relationship I'm after. Regardless, London is lovely, and I should like to return there sometime soon.

  4. Lip balm. I knew that my last boyfriend really knew me and paid attention to me the day he wrapped two tubes of my favorite lip balm along with my birthday present for the year. I thought this was ridiculously sweet at the time, but it probably shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. I am a lip balm addict, and nearly everyone who knows me probably knows my favorite fix. It is a harmless addiction, I say. Until they have a Lip Balm ward at Hazelden, I'm not going to dwell on this too much.

  5. Lexicography. I love words. I love word games. My tremendous inner nerd secretly thinks it would be hopelessly fun to work at the place where they read and discuss dictionaries all day. (My inner normal person knows it's probably not actually as fun as it sounds.) Even the word lexicography is fun, though. Say it with me: lexicography. Sigh.

  6. Lattes. Flavored, please. Yum.

  7. Love Actually. I know it was cheesy and contrived and ridiculous. I don't care. I love that damn movie anyway. Perhaps I'm not fully bitter and dead inside after all. Yay.

  8. Liquor. Wording it that way is totally Klassy with a capital K, but I can't think of any favorite brand or recipe of spirited beverage that starts with L, so the catch-all term will have to do. Oh! As long as I'm talking about alcohol, let me tell you a little story about my visit to the liquor store tonight. (Shut up; I'm not a drunk; I have a party coming up.) Like most liquor stores, this one clips little tags in front of various wines they want to highlight. Some are printed from the winery; some proclaim the awards and accolades the wine has won. My favorite, though, are the ones hand-printed on bright posterboard by the store employees, describing just why one particular wine is worth your while. Tonight I saw one for an allegedly "dark and dirty" Pinotage that is, apparently, "like licking a chocolate bar off of a blacktop parking lot." Admit it. You're intrigued. So was I. I will be opening that one Saturday night to see just how well that description holds true.

  9. Lazy Saturdays and Sundays spent lounging in my living room. (I tried to work a few more Ls in there for a little more alliteration, but really I should just wrap this up already, I think.)

  10. Lists! Duh. I have a category for them in my sidebar, and I partake of all sorts of them in meme form, despite my ambivalence about memes. I have shopping lists and to-do lists and, as I mentioned recently, I sometimes add already-done things to my list just so I can cross them off. Clearly I'm a list girl; I just never realized it until now.

There are other Ls I love as well, such as losing weight**, and Lucy Kaplansky, and laughing, and live music, and lunch breaks, and my lovely lady friends. The instructions called for only ten, though, so I'll stop enumerating these now.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Edited to add: And libraries! How on earth could I forget libraries?! I should really bump something from my 1-10 and plug this in instead, but that might be taking the letter list game just a bit too seriously, I think.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Before I close, though, I thought I'd also mention some L things I do not particularly love. These include Lutefisk***, Los Lonely Boys, Lindsay Lohan, leeches, and Legionnaires' disease. Oh. And lettuce laced with e.coli. I actually pulled the leaves off my Bruegger's sandwich today because I'm just that paranoid, I guess. As if I need one more reason not to eat my vegetables. Thanks for that, produce growers of America. (And thank you, letter L, for today's post.)


* This is not my precise recipe, but it is close enough, I think. If you make these, the secret is to pour the condensed milk over the graham cracker crumbs, then add the remaining layers, and finally drizzle a bit more milk on top. Most recipes call for pouring all the condensed milk on top, and that is a bad, bad move, in my experience.

** Not something I am doing lately, but wouldn't it be nice if I were?

*** Two fun facts from this Wikipedia entry: 1. Lutefisk is more prevalent in Minnesota than it is in its native Norway (a fact that doesn't actually surprise me at all), and 2. Norway has a National Information Office for Meat! I find that entirely more amusing than I probably should.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The one in which I help you with all your holiday shopping dilemmas

So. Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? You have? Oh, well that's nice. No, really, good for you. What about you over there? And you... in the back... No? Cool. Me neither. Mind you, I am almost done. I just need to find a gift for my older sister (who for some reason is almost always the last one scratched off my list), pick up a book of stamps and some Pirate's Booty for my grandma (Why are you looking at me like that? What are you getting your 95-year-old grandma?), and I'm done. I'm sort of wishing I weren't so close to done, though, because my mail today was just filled with additional fabulous gift ideas. Because I am all about being helpful and giving, however, I will share these ideas with you.

First up, for the budget shopper, Family Dollar has some excellent values of which you might want to partake. The 50"x60" fleece throws, for example, are a real bargain at $3 each. Toss in some $4 creepy kitty-faced slippers and you have yourself a nice little combo gift for the always-cold girl on your list. You may want to warn her to keep both items away from open flame, as the fire retardancy of the somewhat sub-par poly-blends may be a bit suspect, but who doesn't like to live life a little bit on the edge?

For the style-conscious man on your list, Family Dollar has a snappy-looking leather jacket, which you can take home for the low, low price of just $15. If you really want to splurge, another $15 gets you a matching roller bag to tack on as well. I truly wish I had a scanner at my disposal, because the quality materials that went into these items is simply too much not to share. The crinkly texture? The unexpected sheen? It really must be seen to be believed.

But enough about Family Dollar. Frankly, despite the fact that they addressed their mailing to "Neighbor" at my address, I'm really not even sure where the nearest Family Dollar might be. Besides that, I am all about Internet and mail order at this point, and I suspect you might be as well. It's ugly out there in the brick-and-mortar shops right now--the places where you actually have to fight for parking and battle other disgruntled shoppers as you struggle your way through the last difficult names on your list. Flipping through a catalog or browsing around on Amazon is really the better way to go, I say. Lucky for me (and you!), Hammacher Schlemmer is here to help.

I am not generally much of a catalog shopper, and, as such, very few catalog companies have my name on their list. Until a few months ago, the only catalog I received regularly was from some place whose name escapes me. I thought it was called Willow Creek, but a quick Google search tells me that can't be right. (If it is, Willow Creek the clothier really needs to work on its meta tags and search terms.) Whatever the correct name, it is a company that sells what I think might best be described as "Mom clothes." I say that with no offense to any mothers out there--I'm sure you're hip and youngish and would never wear appliqu├ęd vests and elastic-waist pants. "Mom clothes" just seems like the best descriptor, particularly since my own mother is the reason I am on this mailing list in the first place. I ordered something from Not-Willow Creek one time--a sweater that my mother specifically pointed to and indicated a desire to own. I placed that order over nine years ago, and still, every time I return to my parents' house, there is a recent catalog from Not-Willow Creek waiting for me there. I could just throw them away, but I prefer to play a fun little game first, called "Would I wear anything at all on this page?" (Hey. There's not much going on when I'm at my parents' house. Any bit of diversion is a welcome one, I say.) The most amusing thing about the Not-Willow Creek catalogs, however, is they are addressed not to Stefanie [LastName], but to Stepitote [LastName]. I can actually tell which additional mailing lists Not-Willow Creek has sold my name to based on the junk mail addressed to that same lazy and incompetent typist's version of my name. (At my first apartment in the Twin Cities, I tracked companies Ticketbastard sold my name to in a similar way by noting all junk mail addressed to Stesfanie Nepf [also not my last name].)

But I digress. Back to Hammacher Schlemmer. I got on their mailing list unintentionally a few months ago, when I ordered something from the Solutions web site. Solutions' privacy policy apparently grants them the right to share my address with various partner sites, as I've received mailings from Land's End, Sahalie, Signals, and/or Hammacher Schlemmer approximately every 17 days since.

For anyone not familiar with the Solutions catalog, I want to describe it as essentially SkyMall for the non-traveler, as it is equal parts "Now why would anyone need that?" vs. "Hm. That's actually a pretty good idea." I settled on that description before I found Hammacher Schlemmer, however, and I've since realized that the true levels of extravagance and absurdity found in Skymall are matched only by H-S, not by the far more practical counterpart from whom I've actually placed an order.

I have strayed a bit from my original Christmas-shopping theme, but I will quickly now veer back. Courtesy of the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog, I present to you the gift guide to end all gift guides. If money is no object, if your list includes that special someone who already has everything, then I am here to help, courtesy of my friends at H-S. Here we go.

  • First up, we'll start with something marginally practical. Do you know someone who lives in a slightly shady, unsavory neighborhood? Are the thugs in that neighborhood easily deceived by tiny, essentially meaningless blinking LEDs? Then this faux security camera might be just the thing he or she needs. Unfounded feelings of safety come at a price, my friends, and in this case, that price is a mere $59.95.

  • What if you're looking for a more traditional gift? Perhaps you want to recreate the Biblical magic taught to Christian children the world over. In that case, the original Christmas gift just might be the gift for you. That's right; you can get chunks of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, all packed in a keepsake wooden box, for the ever-so-reasonable price of $69.95. Order now; I'm sure these babies will go fast.

  • Know someone with a near-empty rec room that's just waiting to be filled with an over-the-top conversation piece? Is that someone also a fan of mid-80s Tom Hanks movies? Then the classic animatronic fortune teller Zoltar may be the perfect gift for him or her. Frankly, for $8,999.95, I'd expect it to come with more than 23 potential fortunes, but who am I to judge the true value of Zoltar's magic?

  • The Clear Image Night-Vision Monocular is apparently the perfect gift for boaters, campers, hikers, astronomers, and nature hobbyists, but to me it just calls up images of the ever-disturbing Jame Gumb. I sincerely hope you have no would-be Jame Gumbs on your list, but if by chance you do... don't tell me.

  • The Back-Saving Child Hip Seat seems the perfect gift for newly posture-impaired parents. Forget that awkward leaning; just strap a shelf around your midriff, prop your toddler on, and go. Unfortunately, due to the apparent popularity of this item, it is currently sold out. Expect to see these on parents everywhere in the coming months, I presume...

  • I personally hit a bowling alley approximately once to twice each year. (Since I was just there last Friday, I think I'm set for quite a while.) I'm guessing, however, that there are people out there with an unfightable urge to bowl, and perhaps those people can't be bothered to actually leave the house to find some lanes that aren't monopolized by league play. For just $6,999.95, the at-home Arcade Bowling Game can be theirs.

  • Know anyone who thinks pulling out a laser pointer in an unsuspecting crowd is still amusing? If so, have they found ordinary laser pointers to be just not annoying enough? Well good news--you can get one with a five-mile range, for just $159.95. Whoo.

  • Let's move on to culinary items and housewares, shall we? I've actually found several fine items in this department, so you can take your pick. For the lazy camper who loves s'mores but can't be bothered to twirl their marshmallow stick themselves, the marshmallow rotisserie might be just the thing. Also, I think Nabbalicious shares my disdain for novelty single-purpose kitchen appliances, but I'm too lazy to search her archives for the appropriate related post right now. Regardless, I think she and I would agree that the pop-up hot dog cooker is very wrong on many levels, but if it's right for someone you love, then who am I to judge? Finally, I have one more item to point out in this category before I move along. If you're particularly picky about your butter temperature and consistency and neither the fridge nor the cupboard meets this need, then perhaps the cordless temperature-controlled butter dish deserves at least a look.

  • I found several other appliances as well... appliances that might be particularly well suited to anyone with fond memories of college dining halls or an affinity for the Old Country Buffet dessert bar. That's right: you can get a professional rotary waffle maker just like we had at Hilltop Cafeteria, or an automatic soft-serve ice cream maker that presumably rivals the best sundae bars. Frankly, I'm hungry just thinking about it, and I'm sure both would make fine gifts.

  • I know this is getting pretty long, and I intend to wrap things up pretty quick. I can't forget the perfect gift for Guinness Girl, though. GG, fill this goblet right on up to the top and then tell Wilman, "What? I only had one glass!" I've got your back, GG, and if I knew your precise address, I would send one of these post-haste.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

What I think of first, when I think of you

(Stolen from Mighty Girl, who I can only assume actually sanctions such idea-lifting, since she wrote a whole book of them for us to use)

Jamie has an unwavering conviction that all shoes and purses must be black.

Mike can grab onto a street sign, lift up his legs, and hold his body perpendicular to the ground. He has several undoctored photos to serve as proof.

Sena once told me that she "collects people." But not in a creepy way.

Amy is the tallest woman I know, and she has never looked the slightest bit self-conscious about it.

Lisa is an amazing parallel parker. And she can do restaurant math, too.

Carrie flies in the face of convention with inexplicable grace and confidence.

Doug didn't believe it really does rain nine months a year in Seattle. Oh, how unfortunately wrong he feels now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

A particularly surly and cranky Friday Five, for which I apologize sincerely

I don't mean to keep harping on the evils of man and the prevalence of jackassery seemingly everywhere, but at the moment, I cannot help it. My mood this week can best be described as "surly, with a side of bitter." It's rare for me to relate very strongly to anything Rory Gilmore says anymore, but at least nine times in the past week I have heard her voice in my head scowling, "I really do hate everyone today!" I don't even fully know what's wrong with me; all I know is I am tired and I am cranky and I am wondering what it is about the supposedly warm and wonderful holiday season that turns presumably otherwise normal people into selfish and inconsiderate creeps.

I have been trying to will myself into a happier mindset; I have even tried "paying it forward" in the hopes that a bit of goodwill might be contagious and end the cycle. This has not worked. I held the door open for an elderly woman, and I was rewarded by someone cutting me off towards a parking spot. I smiled patiently and politely at the woman whose cart was blocking an entire grocery aisle, and when I got home, the bag tore as I lifted the handles, spilling my purchases onto my dirty garage floor. I know that the latter is not an example of any person doing anything to me directly and intentionally, but it does illustrate that my karmic payback is decidedly out of whack.

I very much hope that I can shake this funk and write something more positive soon, but right now seems like a good time to call up a topic I considered stealing from -R- weeks ago already...

Five ways to get on my "Bad" list*
(a.k.a. Five signs that you are not a very good person and I probably just wouldn't like you very much)

  1. Run red lights.**

  2. Don't recycle. (Particularly when the can-recycling bin is a mere half-inch away from the regular garbage bin and you still insist on tossing your empty Diet Coke into the trash. Are you illiterate and cannot read the sign that says "Cans here," or do you just not care at all about the planet? Neither seems a very good or reasonable excuse to me.)

  3. Publish something in a professional mailing or Web site without proofing it or figuring out the not-too-complicated difference between its and it's. "Its" is possessive. "It's" means "it is." Learn it; live it; get it right, OK?

  4. Have bad concert etiquette. (But I've already covered that, I suppose. I should really limit this list to things I haven't already complained about in two of my last four posts.)

  5. Charge me for all three of the items I ordered in the drive-thru, but give me only two. That's right, Taco Bell*** lady, I'm looking at you. Where's my caramel apple empanada? And fill my nachos bag all the way to the top next time, too. Sheesh.

    And finally, just because the headache I've had for damn near a month now is raging yet again, I have to add a sixth item to the list...

  6. Expect me to work at my desk for several weeks while the men you hired for an office remodeling project next door pound hammers and drill drills and run various other loud and persistent power tools mere inches from my head (separated only by a single layer of drywall and support beams). As if I don't already have enough reasons I'd rather stay in bed than come in here, you've given me yet one more. Joy.


* In case you think I already did this topic, you are mistaken. The last time I wrote a list of things that annoy me, it was things that annoy me for admittedly no good reason. These items, on the other hand, annoy me for perfectly understandable reasons!

** The original version of this list included one or two other traffic offenses as well, but in a list of only five ways to piss me off, it seems wrong to allot more than one to the same topic. Besides that, I already explained
all the ways to piss me off in traffic once before. That list is all still valid.

*** No crap about this from
you two, OK? I'm in no mood, you hear? ;-)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Prize Shmize

It is December 5, and for some reason, only now did it occur to me to investigate whether all that superfluous November posting had managed to win me a prize. As you might imagine, it did not.

So no turkey painting to find a place for on my walls. No free psychic or Tarot card reading for me. No herbal tea sampler, sock monkey, gourmet jelly, or "I fuck like a girl" t-shirt will be making its way to my home.

On the up side, I have earned the right to place this lovely and festive banner here for all of you to admire. So there is that, anyway, I suppose.


Birds of a feather

I was showing a friend of mine the profile that Guinness Girl created for me...

Friend: "Bad spellers need not apply?" Better just make that "Those with bad grammar."

Me: Hey! I'm not that big a snob. I can try to allow some leeway...

Friend: No. Trust me. I've known C students. You wouldn't like them.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

I really have no title for this, aside from "slightly self-absorbed and somewhat directionless rambling"

If somebody could please tell me why Sunday night keeps coming so damn quickly after Friday night, I would really appreciate it. Monday night to Wednesday night? Not reached at lightning speed. Friday night to Sunday? Zips right by. It’s not fair.

I suppose this shortening of the days could have something to do with getting up when the day is half over. If I were able to try that on work days, perhaps those would fly by as well. Anyway, this morning, when I arose at the crack of 10:40, I made myself a list--a useful and productive list of all the useful and productive things I was going to do today. Unfortunately, it is now 9:40 p.m. and I have scratched only four items off that list, and one was something not even on the list originally, but which I added to the list after accomplishing it just so I could scratch it off. (Oh come on; I’m not the only one who does that; am I? Admit it; some of you do it too.)

One thing I did scratch off the original list was to call T-Mobile Customer Service and get their crack team of technical support specialists to figure out why my shiny new blue cell phone was being all coy and neglecting to tell me when a new voice mail was awaiting me. That problem is now solved, thank you very much, T-Mobile. Annoyingly not solved is the question of why my new pre-paid T-Mobile-to-Go service does not permit me to use the impossibly handy Google SMS feature I’d so enjoyed with my previous post-pay account. (Seriously, if you are not aware of that feature, check that link. If I can’t use this anymore, at least the rest of you should freely partake of it. You will thank me later; I promise.)

Since apparently spending a full hour playing with my cell phone was more important than spending any hours writing my Christmas cards or cleaning my bathroom, I also learned how to use T9 mode for text messaging (Maliavale was right! It is an amazing invention! I should have known a smart girl like Malia would never steer me wrong.), and I also got all bold and adventurous and figured out how to download a new ringtone despite T-Mobile’s web site telling me it simply was not possible with my plan (or rather, new lack of a plan). Since that achievement, I have subsequently called my cell phone from my home phone no fewer than three times, just to dance around my kitchen to the MegaTones version of Bizarre Love Triangle. Yes, I am a dork. It's not even all that convincingly recognizable a version of Bizarre Love Triangle, but it is so much less annoying than any of the default rings available to me (all of which make me want to hurl my phone into a vat of boiling oil just to make it stop) that I cannot help but be relieved and excited by my accomplishment. (I'm not even near a vat of boiling oil very often, so this is undoubtedly a better solution.) Incidentally, I am certain that all phone makers now do this (make their phones void of any tolerable ringtone options) on purpose simply to support the downloadable ringtone industry. This may be one of my bizarre conspiracy theories, but I am convinced that it is true.

Would you like me to stop talking about cell phones and T-Mobile now? OK, I can do that. Let's talk about whether my apparent newfound aim to rid the world of injustice one rude concert-goer at a time is a sign that I've finally grown a pair or a warning that I'm one button-press away from going all Frances McDormand and losing it in a register line at Old Navy. I think I was a little drunk with power after successfully booting an inconsiderate group of wedger-inners at the DeVotchKa concert on Thursday, because last night after the Bob Schneider show at Fine Line, I channeled the inner bitch again. This was the first truly cold weekend of the winter, so the coat check line was ridiculously long and slow moving, but I waited as patiently as possible for the half hour it took to move ten feet within the semi-orderly mob/line. This is why I was in no mood, when I was finally within six people of the window, to see a half-drunk stick-insect of a twenty-something casually sidle on in right beside me. She looked ahead pretending to be unaware of her offense, but I tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Um, maybe you didn't notice, but the end of the line is back there." "Oh," she smiled, barely moving in her place at all. "We've all been waiting a half hour," I continued. She held back a bit. I know she just passed her claim ticket to her boyfriend, who refused to budge from his spot, but I elbowed in front of him too, determined that I would get my coat before them. I'm sure they laughed and eye-rolled at my crazy, high-strung, bitchy self as they left with their unjustly prematurely retrieved coats, but I really don't care at all. Um, yeah. I could be channeling this energy and anger into solving world hunger or bringing peace to the Middle East, but no. Coat check lines and concert crowds are apparently where I find my calling. Go figure.

All righty then. Moving on. What else did I do this weekend? Well, yesterday (before I got all passive aggressive and borderline confrontational at a club show), I went to the No Coast Craft-o-Rama (which you might have heard about if you clicked the link in that post about my media debut). It was a lovely event with all sorts of clever and interesting things made by impossibly creative and talented folks. I got a bunch of my Christmas shopping done, which felt wonderfully productive, and I also ran into and chatted with no less than seven people I actually know (not even counting -R- and the Incredible H, who I made plans in advance to meet there). I'm not used to being all connected and recognizable Girl-about-Town. Usually in public I revert to the spaced-out daze of inward reflection, barely aware of my surroundings. Last week at Cost Plus World Market I about jumped out of my skin when I heard someone call my name from the next register over. I don't live anywhere small enough to run into friends and acquaintances while shopping, but there my friend Tricia was nonetheless. Suddenly Minneapolis feels a bit like Stars Hollow, and I really never thought that'd be the case. Then again, my neighbor three houses down actually does remind me a bit of Taylor Doose, so maybe I should have been expecting this for a while.

All right. It is now well after 10:00, shortly nearing my bedtime, and my bathroom still isn't clean. Apparently I thought this would somehow happen magically while I typed, but alas, it was not the case. Is that a feature in the new Blogger Beta? If so, I should really switch to that post-haste.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Five: Hand stamps, burlesque dancers, and the prevalence of jackasses everywhere

I'm rocking the smudged remains of a bar hand-stamp again this morning, and feeling a bit weathered and hungover... not from the mere two drinks I had at First Avenue*, but from the late-night mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, and enormous plate of onion-filled mashed potatoes I for some reason decided were a good idea afterward. Well done, Stefanie. You're going to start that sensible eating plan when now? Soon, I'm sure.

Anyway, DeVotchKa was brilliant, and I mean "brilliant" in that charming British way of saying it was an excellent and enjoyable show, as opposed to "brilliant" implying they were showing off their intellectual prowess by doing long division in their heads and reciting the answers on stage. Did I really need to explain that? Probably not. I'm tired. Too little sleep this week. So sorry about that.

Since the lively and fun klezmer-like stylings of everyone's favorite Denver-based Slavic/Bolero/Mariachi/punk band are still rolling around fresh in my brain, let's go with that for today’s list, OK?

Five things that were awesome at last night's DeVotchKa show

  1. Not every rock band successfully (or even unsuccessfully, for that matter) incorporates a tuba into their live act. I imagine fewer still deck that tuba out with strings of red Christmas lights to make it look all sparkly and festive. I have to appreciate that kind of extra effort and showmanship.

  2. I love that every member of that band looks like they also have a day job at Initech. I decided that the drummer was clearly an accountant, the bassist/tuba player is a marketing director or project manager, and the violinist/accordionist was surely an IT developer. I was stuck pegging the lead singer at first, but my friend Jamie helped me out by suggesting he's the sales guy or customer service rep. Good call, Jamie. Good call.

  3. I also love that, between songs, the lead singer took swigs not out of a beer or water bottle, like most musicians, but out of a full-sized wine bottle. Awesome.

  4. Mid-set, a roadie guy pulled a rope from the rafters to release two long, flowing, heavy sashes hung from hooks on the ceiling beams. At that point, two tiny, barely-clad brunettes worked their way out to the floor and proceeded to climb and perform aerial dance maneuvers on said sashes. I'm thinking this is a carryover from the days when DeVotchKa was (according to Wikipedia) a backing band for burlesque shows, and I think it is a fabulous little extra to retain in their act. And now I totally want to find out where I can learn to climb and flip around on sashes like that. It's an entirely impractical skill (not to mention one with limited venues in which to practice or showcase), and I know I'll never have the ass or the flexibility to work it like those girls did, but I still think it would be tremendously fun to try. Not to mention that it would make an excellent conversation piece to impress strangers with my unique and astounding talents. I will probably entirely forget about this plan within 48 hours, but for now it is a fun little fantasy to imagine.

  5. Towards the end of the show, when a threesome wedged their way in between the six inches of space between me and the couple in front of me and then parked themselves there as though they were oblivious to their rudeness, I did not simply seethe inwardly as I usually do, trying to burn holes through their skulls with my eyes. No, instead I immediately and fearlessly called up my inner bitch and said, loudly, "So you have no concert etiquette at all then? No? Well, that's nice." Girl #2 turned and gave me a sheepish look and said, "We'll keep moving." My friend Lisa, beside me, piped up and said. "Good. You do that." Yay me. And yay Lisa. Bad concert etiquette is one of my biggest peeves in life, and sometimes the jackasses just need to be put in their place.

Filed under things that were NOT awesome at the DeVotchKa show last night? The couple who performed a similar wedge-in maneuver a few steps to the left of me and then groped and made out with each other, so wrapped up in their own little world that they did not notice the girl behind them making vicious stabbing motions at them with an imaginary knife. (That air-knifer, on the other hand, does make the "awesome" list.) Also not awesome were the two dirty, burly guys who shifted into spots in front of us right before the first encore. It's bad enough when strangers touch me at concerts--when they bob around in a way that far exceeds the normal and acceptable bubble of personal space around them. But when those strangers smell like cigarettes and patchouli and look like they haven't washed their hair in a week? Yeah, that's even less cool with me. One of these guys wore a metal band on his left ring finger that I'm really hoping was just a fashion ring of some sort. If there's actually a woman out there who lets that skeeve-master crawl into bed with her each night, then the world's a more frightening and unsettling place than I ever imagined.


* One more reason I love Wikipedia: Who else was going to tell me that my mayor apparently crowd-surfed at a "Rock for Democracy" event in 2004? Actually, that's one more reason I love Minneapolis's mayor as well.

This is for Darren

I like olives.

That is all.
Thank you.