Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Shiz-knit

I finally finished a project that's been in my knitting pile for a few months. I though I'd celebrate by sharing the last steps with you.

Knitting is complete with one large rectangle and two long strips, which when assembled. . .

are a large floppy bag.

Then, through the chemistry of hot water and wool, we achieve The Felted Bag:

The bag is smaller, but sturdier. Also soft and fuzzy. You should come over and feel it sometime. Cool!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Ehrenreich Calls Out Couric

Barbara Ehrenreich has a great post about John Edwards supposedly capitalizing on his wife's cancer for political gain:

Strangely, it’s not Coulter, but girl-next-door Katie Couric who’s hinted, in a 60 Minutes interview with Elizabeth Edwards, that the couple might be “capitalizing” on the disease. Can’t you just see them cackling over the bone scans, eagerly calculating what the results would do for them in the polls? Convening their children for the good news that, although Daddy’s been almost eclipsed by Obama, Mommy has a potentially fatal disease?

Couric also told John Edwards that some people might judge him “callous” for campaigning through what might be his wife’s last months. Is Couric forgetting that she was working as a $7 million a year NBC anchor while her own husband was dying of colon cancer? And just in case we do get a Gingrich candidacy: Recall that he had his first wife served with divorce papers while she was in the hospital with cancer. In contrast, campaigning with your spouse, for as much time as she will be able to spend on the trail, seems downright romantic.

Preach it, Barbara!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Muskie and the Fez

Alrighty. At last, you may behold the wonder of, as Al puts it, "the becostumed dead" of Vermillion, S.D. There are gold coins in Muskie's bucket and please note: the taxidermist made it so that his little paws swivel from the wrist like a doll's. Above, the lovely librarian fusses over the small details of their outfits. She likes to sing them a little song to the tune of "Chico and the Man."

Fez has a rainbow that may be because of Muskie's pot of gold, or may be because of the love he has for that muskrat—that dare not speak its name.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Going the Distance

News in from my brother in Omaha on the perfect intersection of life and pop music:

So the annual Boy Scout "Pinewood Derby" was held at Garrett's school today. This is where the boy scouts construct a car out of a block of wood and race them down a rather sophisticated track that times each car to the zillionth of a second or something. Short of the long is that Garrett's car took third place overall (after three years of rather tough luck). We attribute this to two things. First, the car's design was much improved over previous years (more specifically, I had no input on the design process). Secondly, we listened to this Cake song on our way to the race. It is now forever cemented as our Pinewood Derby theme song.

Take a listen and see if you can't picture it:

He's going the dis...

I know I can and it gets me ALL pumped up. Way to go Garrett!

Party Perms

I'm falling behind! Maria Bamford has posted three new episodes of her show:

Monday, March 26, 2007

Literary Spam

Today I received two spam e-mails that consisted of passages from Jane Austen's Emma. Now that's some spam I can get behind. Do you suppose some English professors are trying to get the word out?

Max Headroom

Exciting news via Fimoculous:

OMG! O!M!G! My favorite tv show of all time is finally available online. For reasons that still mystify and vex me, Max Headroom has yet to be released on DVD, so I'm so glad that AOL Video picked this up for online viewing.

O!M!G! what he said. I LOVED that show. In a bit of slacker-nicity, we were just whining this weekend about how it wasn't available. Woo hoo!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Dandy Pants

I had a divine weekend in South Dakota with these adorable people:
There was a bit of a hootenanny, some thrift store shopping, costumed taxidermy, and a couple of lovely meals with an up and coming British chef. Frankly, Minneapolis and St. Paul are going to have do a bit of work to keep me here. What have you done for me lately T.C.?
After all that bliss, Al's new favorite video "Candy Pants" was almost more than I could handle:

Be sure to stayed tuned for the interview at the end.

Friday, March 23, 2007


The first lady of crop art, Lillian Colton, has died. She did a ton of portraits in crop, which were featured prominently at the Minnesota State Fair every year. Dig her Prince:

Perhaps you've already explored the crop art link at right, but if not, you should behold the wonder that is Alan Carpenter's "Triptych. And check out these tours de force:

This is the one hanging in my house.

Every year, I hope for a continuation of "Vices of the First Ladies." Oh Alan Carpenter, why do you toy with me?

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Art is Good for Things

No time to post today so just blatant ripping off of copyrighted material. These are from Lynda Barry's book The! Greatest! of! Marlys! Click on the images to get them in a readable size.

Which other child of the '70s out there remembers the Big Daddy Roth cartoons? I seem to remember my brother Paul doing his own versions of them. They are all mixed up in my head with old copies of Mad magazine and its parodies that I didn't always get.

Sunday, March 18, 2007


This article in the San Francisco Chronicle about $275 Armani t-shirts was apparently written by Captain Obvious:

Armani, along with brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Marc Jacobs, have spent years cultivating a following not because of their overpriced T-shirts but because of their evening gowns, suits and handbags. Theirs are the labels on dresses worn to the Academy Awards.

"Value is not only quality, function, utility, channel of distribution," said Arnold Aronson, managing director of retail strategies for Kurt Salmon Associates and former chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue. "Part of that value is a customer's appreciation for the luxury connotations of that item or that lifestyle or the brand or designer who has developed over years a certain cachet."

Um, really? Did you just realize that now? How does this qualify as news?

The article's other groundbreaking insights: Armani will sell fewer $275 t-shirts than the Gap will sell of its t-shirt costing $14.50, people with money often like to buy expensive items they don't need, you could buy a similar, cheaper shirt at a discount store and many people wouldn't know the difference, and this final bit of insight from a fashion marketing consultant: "By and large, people will buy their garments based on what it looks like and what it feels like."

I think I'll try to get a job at the San Francisco Chronicle. My first story: "10 Signs Spring is Coming," with quotes from highly paid arborists about what we can expect from the trees.


Friday, March 16, 2007

Signs of Spring

Brother John's steer is shaking off the snow in my yard. He tells me the tulips aren't far behind.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Here's What I Don't Get

The entire history of popular culture is one of chipping away at restraint. Whatever else happens in media, religion, music, commerce, one constant is that the culture becomes more permissive and finds innocuous that which was once shocking. In the 1920s, flappers were shocking because they wore short skirts that showed their ankles. Now we're happy if starlets wear underwear, so we don't accidentally get to know them too well as they're getting out of cars. Preachers got all het up about the sinfulness of rock and roll in the 1950s, but now the music has been coopted by Christian bands and Stephen Baldwin: Extreme Sports Evangelist. Even the permissive '60s seem quaint and innocent from this distance.

The change is so ingrained—people don't seem aware that some things ever raised any hackles, even people who still might find them offensive if they could be bothered to pay attention. I'm thinking of the morning show guys at local radio behemoth KQRS. They go merrily on their meathead, homophobic way, but pause occasionally to rock out to "Lola" by the Kinks or "Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed.

But here's what I don't get: All along the way, we've had these conservatives clinging to doorjambs as they are carried through history ("Nooooo I don't want to goooooo"). Whether its evolution or feminists or gay marriage, every change threatens a) the fabric of society, b) the children, c) our immortal soul, and so on. Which, you know, change is scary and while I don't agree with them, I understand the urge to put on the brakes and stop things from moving so fast. But they seem to think that we're actually going to change direction. After the entire course of human history, with its steady climb in ever-greater freedoms and increasing personal expression and previously un-thought-of permissiveness, we're suddenly going to be all, "You're right. Women shouldn't vote and here's the First Amendment back." Sometimes the pendulum does swing back to the conservative side, but in the long term, their war with the culture is not win-able. (I'm looking at you O'Reilly, ya big jerk.)

What I see is that while the culture gets more permissive, people internalize the need for restraint. They work really hard, overschedule themselves and their kids, wish they had more time with loved ones, feel guilty about stuff they're not getting done and the self-improvement they don't have time for, and are generally very tightly wound. Popular culture is more permissive, but regular folks seems to be permitting themselves fewer and fewer freedoms. And they don't have much time left over for eroding their moral core.

Meanwhile, you can't turn back time and squeeze back out of the culture that for which you've already made room. And that is calming to me. I think George Bush is a terrible president, and I was certainly not pleased when he was "elected." But in the long run, he and his unpleasant reactionary ilk will be outmoded. You can't stop history, and we will learn and grow in spite of you.

Take deep breaths. You'll be fine.
(Ya big jerks.)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Awwww Robots

You should really go check out Eric Joyner's art. He's all about the robots, monsters, and doughnuts. Appropriately, he did a couple illustrations on the subject of workforce issues for our November issue. I also love this so very much:

It's not all so lighthearted, though. Some of it is weirdly dark:


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Erin Go Blah

Lookit: Can I hang out with one of y'all on Saturday? This area will be crawling with loud drunks.

Friday, March 9, 2007


I had a lovely couple hours with cK, tK, and the Muse at W.A. Frost last night. (cK, tK, and the Muse sounds like the name of a cartoon series.) First time I've met the Muse, and I hoping we can be all BFF -- she's the shiznit. Also, when she recommends either an alcoholic beverage or a dinner entree, listen closely. She can pick 'em!

Thanks y'all. It was the highlight of my week!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Halfway Love

Clarence walked five blocks home which he had been doing for a few weeks since he read an article about the heart, which his daughter Barbara Ann sent him along with a picture of a bicycle clipped from the Sears catalog. She and her husband were due for Thanksgiving dinner, and from the looks of things, they wouldn't make it. Nuts! Clarence liked it when she lectured him about his health, which she did now with every visit--"Daddy," she said in that sweet tone that led right into the legumes. Legumes, garlic, hard breathing, whole grain cereals, and no cigars and no red meat, plus whatever she had read about recently, maybe the benefits of eating raw cotton or the dangers of chewing on lead pencils. He argued with her only to stimulate further class discussion. "Your grandfather lived to be eighty-four and he lived on cigar butts, fried chicken skin, and as much Rock 'n Rye whiskey as he could sneak downstairs for without arousing Grandma's suspicions. He kept the bottle in the cellar in his tool chest. The last three years, after he went blind, it was pretty hard for him to explain why he needed a hammer and nails." Daddy.

He had been looking forward to her Thanksgiving health homily (maybe a tip on eating raw yams or some new data on cranberry sauce and how the pancreas feels about it). She made him feel like a well-loved man. That she would think a small-town Ford dealer could become Mahatma Gandhi. To most people, Clarence was Clarence, always would be. When he thought of her great faith that he might switch to grass and berries and grow young and run marathons, her fond hope of his longevity, he was moved to tears. As he was by her improbable gifts: walking shorts, kim chee, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. As he was by Arlene's choice of lilac wallpaper for their bedroom: amazing woman. His daughter Donna sent him Whitman's Chocolate Cherries and thought lilac was ridiculous.

I love that excerpt from Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor. I love how what could be considered pushy, graceless gestures are actually received as generous expressions of love. How wonderful to be met halfway like that.

I'm sort of amazed by what a polarizing figure G.K. is in this town. People either love him or hate him, but I feel like the hate is misplaced. I suppose people perceive him as someone who creates caricatures of Minnesotans, and folks can be a little humorless about that (Hello! Fargo). But I think his work is richer than caricature. He's a fine writer and obviously a skilled storyteller. He's also a big ol' liberal, and he just opened a charming bookstore in St. Paul. Shouldn't he be beloved, or will he need to be dead for several years before we warm up to him? What say you? Has anybody else read his books? Listened to PHC? Love him or hate him?

Hulles, I read your post about the newspaper v. laptop kerfuffle and you're right. That's just fogey-ism. Well, his precious newspapers aren't long for this world, so he best get over it.

7 Things I'm Trying to Figure Out Today

1. Whether or not to chuck the pen that's not so much writing as stuttering.
It would be wasteful to throw it out prematurely. There are also the five pink highlighters that will only work for three lines or less. What? They can do three lines!

2. If you're a company's in-house counsel, in what instances do you think about hiring outside counsel?
The fate of my article rests on the zzzzzzz....

3. What the hell does this "writer" mean by "'one-company' view"?
Jargon is the bane of my existence. The Bane! *shakes fist at sky*

4. Why does that one intern have so many hats?

Seriously. One for every outfit.

5. If I actually finished reading the backlog of New Yorkers stacked next to my bed, would I be better off?
Would it make me a better person, or would I just feel less guilty?

6. What the hell is wrong with Ann Coulter?
Is she really as horrible as she seems, or is she just insane and to be pitied?

7. What should I post to the blog today?
This is all I came up with.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Day-Old Banana Puddin'

I feel lots better today. I'm pretty sure it was this song that cured me.

"Somethin' funky with the skin on top. Somethin' funky that's what I got!"

If you don't own it, e-mail me immediately and I will help you out. It's better than Nyquil!

Monday, March 5, 2007

"Here's the Bad News: Thurmond's Involved"

I'm foisting more video on you, rather than not posting at all. Have you seen this?

Reality trumps fiction once again.

Stuffed Up

As usual, I had hoped to add a post yesterday, preferably one that displayed profound insight into the human condition. Perhaps something about our definitions of sin and the punishment for wickedness and incompetence (I'm very fond of punishment for incompetence). But I've got a cold and my sinuses are stuffed up. I "slept" semi-upright on the couch after having taken too much decongestant. There will be no profundities. Maybe you are relieved.

You're a shining star. No matter who you are.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Hey Heyyyy

This recurring Deep House Dish bit on Saturday Night Live just kills me. This is just one portion of one sketch with Scarlett Johannson: "This jacket's expensive." Hi. Larious.