Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chowing down on smoking sushi politics

About a few weeks ago, we booked a sitter for tonight just to force us to keep going out -- which is easy to forget to do when you've got two little kids int eh house. However, we didn't have specific tickets for anything, so we winged it. We had some free tickets to any Marcus theatre, but we looked in the paper and there's absolutely NOTHING we were at all excited about seeing. So we decided to independent theater it, and actually PAY for our tickets. Saw "Thank You For Smoking" at the Oriental Landmark theatre, and that was money well spent. Perfectly on target satire about the world of Washington DC lobblying -- told from the perspective of a tobacco company lobbyist, "the most hated man in the country." Good abdominal laughs and spot-on jabs at both sides. I think the last time somebody nailed down perfectly the whole look and feel of the Beltway Culture was DOA and Jello Biafra's "Full Metal Jackoff" (known to many as "Washington DC Beltway"). It was perfectly cast, as well: with sprinklings of characters played by Robert Duvall, William H Macy (whom you only need in small doses). Rob Lowe also puts in a fine performance as a Hollywood operative, trendily embracing Japanese dress zen and culture to suit his character. It whetted our taste for the sushi we enjoyed at Ichiban after the show.

It was exactly the movie I needed Saturday night, as during the week I came across some news about a political player in my former life as an activist that underlined why I moved out of DC, why I moved out of the political/activist arena, and why I'm bitter about the whole "process." I'll write about it later because I need to do more research. It involves somebody going to jail, bounced checks, and people who blur the lines between the means and the ends. (Oh, what a setup! I'd better deLIVER, eh?) Anyway, "Thank You For Smoking" really nails down that in Washington DC, its not about the issues at hand, its about the game, the process, winning vs losing, and explains why James Carville and Mary Matalin aren't divorced and probably never will be.

Afterwards, we stopped into the Y-Not-III to catch another evening of Dr. Chow's Love Medicine. You didn't know there was a Y-Not-III, did you? Well, apparently it just opened, round the corner from Beans and Barley, in a little space that I believe used to be occupied by a Japanese restaurant. (The Japanese influence seemed to be all over our evening.) As directed by the signs, we walked upstairs, and they'd apparently JUST got done fixing up the place to have bands. New wood paneling was on the walls, and I asked Dr. Chow's guitarist, Paul "The Fly" Lawson, "Is it me, or is this the smell of freshly milled pine that's knocking me over?" Fly replied, taking advantage of a glorious opportunity to lay down one of his puns "No, it's the smell of freshly milled-dew." As in mildew. I didn't smell it, but apparently the booths (one of which hadn't been nailed down yet) were brougth up just this morning from the basement of Club Garibaldi, where they'd been sitting for years. Great. I'd been sitting in one of them until this conversation, but continued to sit there because if I was going to get whatever one gets from being exposed to mildew, I'd already gotten it. Besides, these weren't just benches we were sitting on. This was Milwaukee Musical History! Club Garibaldi, people! Club Garibaldi!

Dr. Chow played two sets -- we had sitter time booked for one, and it was chock full of (albeit not fully rehearsed) psychedelic-era garage standards. Yes, they hit a few clunkers, but made up for it with a wonderful new song, "My Evil Twin From a Parallel Dimension." And lead singer Frank Chandik made full use of the pole in the middle of the stage area for "I've got a Hard-On" (a modification of the old country tune "I've got a heartache, and it won't go away…"). Singing that song takes balls as it is; doing a pole dance while doing so takes balls of steel. No wonder his heartache won't go away.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Made it through Gallery Night under $100 ...

So, its been awhile since I've gotten out for a Gallery Night. I just didn't feel like dragging the kids around in the winter, but this year, Brian's noticed that an old friend of his from 'Tosa, Todd Graveline, has a showing at the M-80 Gallery, which is what Luckystar is morphing into now that the Luckystar folks are moving to Chicago. Graveline has some fun stuff, its right up our alley and if we weren't on the thin side of the month, we would probably have laid down some cash for one of his pieces. We ended up getting a Bridget/Gene Evans thing (since they're moving) of Sid Vicious and Sinatra mug shots, captioned "My Way" for $40. It was either that or the Elvis Presley toilet seat, but we'd actually use it as a toilet seat. We've always liked their work, but always assumed they and their affordable art would always be around. So we grabbed a small piece, and we already have a spot picked out.

Since we were next door, we checked out what Elaine Erickseon Gallery had and we're glad we did. A surrealist by the name of Erica Spitzer Rasmussen had wonderful sculuptures, waaaaayyy out of our price range, but I'm glad I saw them. A bustier with matchsticks poking out of it all around, beautifully done, got my attention. Very neat stuff, all around.

Although not on the official tour, we popped into the basement of Rubin's furniture and checked out a show of their employee's artwork, and its good. Photographer by the name of Sarah (forgot to write down her last name) is really nice. Again, no money for this, but made a mental note of it.

Gallery Night is always nice to hit, but you can only really do about 3-4 galleries tops with a toddler, and driving around just doesn't cut it. So we reluctantly had to skip the latest Francis Ford show at Kmart, partly because we had a crankly little kid on us, but also because going there is hazardous to our wallet. The first time we ever spent more than a token card we spent it at KM Art. And the second, as well. You get a receipt that says "Thank You for Shopping at KM Art." Kent always has stuff there we want to buy. And he's staying put in Milwaukee. Ford is too. And so are we.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Marlene Dietrich, Pixie.

Well, if you want to hear what I sound like when I'm trying desperately to evoke Marlene Dietrich in The Blue Angel (but more likely approaching Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles,) click here and download Episode 5 of the Frank Black.net podcast, and listen carefully as, late in the podcast, I und mine liebchen und mine friends attempt to transport you to some disgusting hovel in Berlin, 1932, populated by a bunch of absinthe-sipping degenerates, whilst crooning a cover of the Pixies' Mr. Grieves under the name Leidergeist.

No, really.

You should know that Sammy was only about three months old while we were recording this in a basement studio, and we didn't have a sitter that day, so, yes, I was in the process of nursing him while belting out "Do You Haff Another Opinion?!?!?!?!?" It was the only way I could guarantee he would shut up for the whole take. If he had another opinion, he was too busy to voice it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Iconic Easter Sunday

This morning, I got up early and, watching the radar, found a window of opportunity between the rains to go out on my annual Easter Sunday Bike ride. I do this every year no matter what the weather. It wasn't the bike's shakedown cruise for this year; I took advantage of last week's gorgeous weather to do that. But it’s the first looooong ride I always take, and its destination is the lakefront. Its sort of like going to church for me. I ride past the city, then into the parks, and see the beginning of spring poke out: the geese and ducks returning (no babies yet! Some years I see geese followed by little dirty yellow puffs of goslings, but not this year), daffodils opening up, smaller trees budding with bits of green against the brown bare branches of the older trees. Sometimes its sunny, this year it was dreary and cold. But that's nature: it doesn’t always coincide with a calandar. Nevertheless, I bundled up, got on my bike, loaded up on water, and rode for almost 2 hours. I can feel the cold air filling and leaving my lungs, I can feel my legs pumping, I'm thankful that I can see and hear and feel. As I get close to the lakefront, with the sun trying to peek out of the clouds, I stop and just stare at the water all the way to the edge of the horizon while being absolutely conscious of my heart beating, my lungs filling and exhaling the brisk air, the sweat dripping on my face, just drinking in all the physical and conceptual rebirth. Its that moment every year that I see and feel God. That's my Easter Sunday.

Yesterday, I made my contribution to today's Easter ham dinner at the husband's aunt and uncle's house: a couple of loaves of Tsoureki, a greek Easter bread. I'd seen the recipe inSaveur many years back and I make it every so Easter. It's a very sweet bread, braided like challah, but with a red dyed egg in the end, that symbolizes the blood of Christ or something like that. Gotta love the Greeks -- everything's an icon! The recipe called for the steeped essence of makhlepi (the seeds of mediterrian wild cherries), and this was the first year I sought out that ingredient. Of course, the Spice House downtown had it, and as the recipe mentioned "it just smells real nice" I was finally going to use it. It DID smell real nice, but frankly, I couldn't taste it in the finished product, and I didn't even smell it. It was sort of like omitting the bay leaf in recipies that call for a bay leaf: does it really change the flavor all that much? Still, there was something iconic in and of itself of going to search for a special ingredient for a special bread, and I'm glad I did it. But does anybody out there have any other uses for maklepi? I doubt if it's going to maintain its potency until next year. Anyway, after that brutal but satisfying bike ride, I'm looking forward to the ham dinner: Hey, let's celebrate the resurrection of the King of the Jews by eating pork!

Babs' Uvula Who?

Well, what to do for Saturday Vigil Mass answered itself when Stella came down with a nasty infection of something or another. She was complaining of a sore throat, but with a giant "log" in her throat as well (that's her term for a huge wad of snot or booger that's stuck in your nose or wherever). Uh-oh, I thought to myself: I had a look in her throat and there it was: her uvula was all inflamed! I HATE it when that happens! Stella calls it "the punching bag" which is infinintiely easier to say than "uvula." And every time somebody in the world mentions the uvula, all I can think about is that sketch on SNL from the 70s about the National Uvula Association and their slogan: "Itt'l behoove ya… to care for your uvula!" Then I went through the bit for Stella, making her hurt when she laughed:

Chevy Chase (as the Uvula Specialist Who Makes House Calls): Knock Knock!
Gilda Radner (as Babs, who "must've stupidly glossed right over my uvula"): Who's There?
Chase: Babs' uvula.
Radner: Babs' uvula who?
Chase: I don't know, Babs. But I do know this: your uvula is really on the fritz.
Stella: Mommy! Stop it. It hurts when I laugh!

Saturday night with Charlton

So anyway, about the closest we came to a religious service was watching Charlton, Yul, and Vincent and Edward G. Its an important enough story anyway, so we filled in the blanks for Stella as we watched along, commenting on what a lousy military mind Rameses must've been: if some supernatural force was going to part the Red Sea for your opponent, did you really think it would keep it open for you, too? Dumbass. You deserve to lose your entire army for such a bonehead move. Now you have no army, no slaves, [deniro mode] you got nothin'. You hear me? You got nothin'! [/deniro]

Anyway I was bummed out that Stella's uvula kept me home from a Saturday Night Vigil with Archbishop Dolan. I'm liking him and I think he's good for the archdiocese, as if the archdiocese gives a hoot about a lapsed catholic like me who turns up for mass at the cathedral once or twice a year for the pomp and circumstance. At least it spared me from difficult questions, which I wasn't in the mood to deal with. Last year, before mass began, Stella was looking up at the cross and I had to explain to her why that was a particularly grisly way to be executed, which prompted her question "Why didn't they just kill him the normal way?" I had to put aside for a minute that it's kind of sad that we can expect a politically-motivated state-sponsored execution could be done in a "normal" way, and I had to think for a minute. But it really brought it home for me: "Because the Romans wanted people to be afraid. They wanted to do this extremely publicly and painfully so that people would see 'This is what we do to people who talk like this.' " She kind of understood. "But," I told her, "it backfired. Instead of being afraid, people realized that if Jesus was willing to go through all this, than his message must've been really important. Instead of being afraid, they started talking to each other and trying to following his teachings." And as though I'd been overheard, the theme of Dolan's homily that night was Christ's message after he'd risen "Do not be afraid." It was perfect, and Stella seemed to have gotten the point.

Friday, April 14, 2006

"Good" Friday? Uh, don't think so!

I know its because it's that this is the day that resulted in "good" for all of us, but really, I never really got into why we call this "Good" Friday. Let's look at this from Christ's perspective: Even though you knew it was coming, you get up after dinner with your friends. One of them narcs on you to the government, and even though you sort of asked him to do it, he does it with a kiss! Couldn't he have just discreetly said, "Uh, that's him. Later, guys." And on top of that, he only gets $30 for this! So of course you get arrested, and while they're taking you away, one of your best friends claims he's never heard of you. After a fruitless talk with a clueless magistrate who doesn't get it, you get sent away with a bunch of soldiers who beat the living crap out of you. They shove a bunch of thorny sticks in your head, calling it a "crown" because you're supposedly the "king" (even though you've said a hundred times that your kingdom is not of this world, so don't worry, Ceasar, nobody's stepping on your turf). Then they pile a heavy cross on your back and make you schlep it across town (and this is the cross they're going to nail you on, literally) while everybody throws crap and spits on you. You go up a hill, they drive nails through your hands and feet and leave you to die. While you're hanging up there, even the other guys dying are giving you a hard time about all this like you or they haven't got bigger fish to fry. Meanwhile, on the ground, they're betting over who gets your clothes when you finally do kick. About the only "good" thing about this is since you're not dying fast enough, they slice open your abdomen -- but its not like they do this to put you out of your misery, it's so they can all go home and have dinner already. All in all, this just isn't my idea of a "Good" Friday. This isn't even a Bad Friday. No, this is a flat-out crappy Friday as best as I can see.

All around, we Catholics apparently aren't supposed to take this from Christ's perspective, as best as I can tell. We're supposed to just be glad that he took all this crap so we don't have to. Take the Friday services at church. At least they admit that even though this is "Good" Friday, they don't "celebrate" mass. No communion, no music, not even incense. I remember as a kid, going to the Friday service, and its like you're acting out the play of everything that went down that fateful day. The priest plays the part of Christ, some deacon becomes Pilate, a few chosen parishoners act as Peter, Judas, and The One Whom Jesus Loved. And who did we all get to be, including us little kids? The angry mob! Maybe it was some kind of lesson about the evil lure of mob mentality, because while we were supposed to yell "We Want Barabbas!" and "Jesus? Crucify him!!!" I really wished I had the balls to yell out "No! Let him go! You don't have to kill him!" butI didn't because I was afraid to get in trouble. I knew it was just a play and all, but I really felt bad about having to either choose between Jesus and Barabbas, and as part of the chickenshit angry mob, condemn the Nicest Guy Who Ever Lived to death. Like Pilate even said: "He's done nothing wrong." I knew that "now Barabbas was a robber," and I really didn't want him to die, either. I've never really been for the death penalty anyway. Couldn't we just make him give back all the stuff he took? So maybe that was the point: That we all are too chickenshit to do the right thing for fear that we'd get in trouble, that we're next on the list if we speak up. And that maybe God understands this and is ready to let it slide, because even though Peter was too afraid to tell the Romans "Hey, I DO know the guy, and he's allright with me!" Jesus still made him CEO of the church once he left for bigger and better things. Maybe that's why they make us be the angry mob. Because we are. We're the same angry chickenshit mob that stood by and said "Its not my problem" a whole lot during history. The Romans. The Inquisition. The Nazis. The Taliban (before they hit our own turf -- did anybody really give a crap about the burqas before 9/11?). Are we ever going to learn from this? Are we ever going to learn that in the long term, it pays to speak up and do the right thing?

Really, its "Good" that we can be forgiven like this, but how many times is God going to put up with our angry mob mentality crap? How many more good people have to be tortured and die before WE FINALLY GET IT?

Wow, I didn't mean to get all preachy and all. But it is Good Friday, and if you can't get preachy on Good Friday, then you might as just well play The Ten Commandments Drinking Game.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bucks season: too darn short

Ah, our last Bucks game last night, and a satisfying one at that. By now, we've all heard about TJ Ford's great steal in the last few seconds, followed by the foul, followed by the game-sealing successful free throws. That's really how the whole game felt. It was a good, exciting game all around, very satisfying. I have to admit I hate blowouts. You're like, OK, whatever, we're winning, hey I wonder who got kicked off American Idol tonight? I'd rather be on the edge of my seat right up until the end, which is how this game went. It reminded me of good old fashioned high school games, fans yelling, leads changing, the whole bit. This is why people who love basketball love basketball. I'm not ready for the season to be over yet, but it is for me, as we have no more tickets. They should really make the playoffs, but I saw too many games this season that explain exactly why that's still in question. Tood darn short.

Speaking of American Idol, tonight's anthem was delivered by one of a bazillion local American Idol ripoffs, the winner of "The Rockstar Project." His name was Terry DeWitt, and hopefully he'll get more experience performing in front of giant crowds soon enough, because he started out flat on key words like "proudly" "gleaming" and "o'er the ramparts". I think he even forgot a few words. "Rockets Red Glare" was a little iffy, but that's also about when he found his voice -- which turned out to be a combination of Elvis' vibrato and classic heavy metal, in the style of Ronnie James Dio or any of those British Metal bands, very Cold Blue Steel. It’s the kind of voice that really soars on "Laaaand of the Free" and for a moment there, brought to mind the city's best Elvis impersonator, Tom Green. Total reworthification from a very weak beginning. Still, this was the winner of "The Rockstar Project"? I think Milwaukee needs to stick with the great underground stuff it's produced and try to figure out how to duplicate the success of, say, the Violent Femmes.

I've never mentioned this before, but there's one promo they do for the Valvoline Instant Oil change during a timeout. Two contestants have to 1) dress up in NASCAR-style racing jumpsuits 2) ride tricycles across court 3) shoot a layup 4) get back on the tricycles and race back court. The winner gets an oil change. An OIL CHANGE? A $29.95 Oil Change?!?! No, dude, if I'm going to humiliate myself by doing all that crap, I want -- minimum -- round trip airfare to Tampa/St.Pete.

Energee Girls do a routine to some song that couldn't decide what it was: lots of tempo changes, some rap, some hip hop, and the sound system at the Bradley Center is so bass-dependent that if there was a melody, I couldn't pick it out. The routine was great -- it was like an advanced aerobics class, and they kept up with it, but I think that's the Energee Girls' problem, whoever's designing their bits needs to listen to some better tunes. They did a routine later to the Black Eyed Peas' "Pump It" (which is really Dick Dale's Miserlou with lyrics), but in my quest to find out what the Black Eyed Peas were all about, I downloaded the iTunes exclusive mix, which is inifnitely preferable to the "hit" version. They actually *sing* on it, and Fergie and Will.I.Am can *sing*, though you'd never know it from the "hit" version. Energee should have used that, it would have really completed the package nicely, with Fergie's voice mixed up, you'd have this general powerful girl cheer thing going. So that's my final verdict on Energee for the season: get some better music. You have all the other pieces down great.

Junior Energee All Stars come out and do a pretty good thing to "Whoop There It Is." Are there no songs besides Whoop There It Is to do cheerleading/drill team routines to, though? Is Whoop There It Is even a song. Until I got these Bucks half seasons tickets, I don't think I'd heard "Whoop There It Is" maybe three times in my life, (not including those commercials for those chocolates shaped like a pringles thing). Now I can't get that damn chant out of my head.

For one of the timeouts they had these guys come out -- I didn't catch their name but it sounded like "The Super Flys" and the best way to describe them would be "Irish Break Dancing." Really. First they start out doing amazing regular old-school break dancing (including one of them spinning on his head like he were a figure skater upside down) and that was incredible in and of itself. But then they start throwing in these Michael Flatley flourishes and we were in awe and we wanted more. Sometimes a timeout is just too darn short. Just like this season. Too darn short.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Gardening Zone 4 Update: Daffodils

OK,technically, I'm in Gardening Zone 5, but I'm close enough to the lake that I'll err on the side of coldness, and go with Zone 4 when buying stuff. However, I've never seen a plant/bulb that survives in zone 5 but not zone 4, and whoa, I'm going on a tangent here, let's get to the point:

My first clump of daffodils bloomed yesterday!

Now, these are old daffodils, in fact, I'd better dig them up at the end of the summer and divide them because they're getting small, and the new ones I planted this fall should be good and big, but nonetheless, the daffodils are up! That makes sense because yesterday was warm enough to go bike riding. ITs rainy and crappy today, but April showers do bring May flowers.

My last Bucks game of the season is tonight. Taking Stella, because our babysitter fell through. Sitter just remembered that tonight is Passover and "That's one of the biggest holidays in the Jewish calendar." Oh, I may be a goy, but I knew that was important! I just always thought it started on a Friday, to make it all easy for all of us to get the same days off work. Technically, we all ought to be celebrating Passover, because Jesus himself didn't even blow it off. At least they're running the Charlton Heston version of The Ten Commandments this Saturday night. Its going to conflict with Easter Vigil Mass at the Cathedral. Oh, what to do?!?!? Moses, Moses, Moses!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

We'll miss you, Gemma!

I just read this morning that one of the few music/pop culture writers/critics in the local MSM that I can read without throwing up is leaving, and I'm seriously bummed about that.

We'll miss you, too, Gemma. We'll miss you every time we go to see a concert or show and pick up the paper the next morning, wishing it was you who wrote the review, and not some blowhard who wants to impress us all with his knowledge of obscure references. (Seriously, can anybody read one of Jon Gilbertson's reviews without putting your fist through the paper and going "OK, OK, Jon, we KNOW you know who Lou Reed is and the Velvet Underground's impact on alternative culture already. Now, could you PLEASE spend a paragraph or two talking about the artist at hand?!?!?! At least when Tianen drops a name or two its like a friend referencing a common bond, but when Gilbertson does it, its so clearly to show off that He's More In Tune Than You. Go back to Milk Magazine and be self-important there, buddy.)

When Lisa D'Acquisto, one of, at the time, the last music writers who knew how to describe something without referencing something equally obscure left Milwaukee for Seattle (none of the larger media in town had the sense to publish her), I was just as bummed out, but then the Journal-Sentinel hired Tarlach who clearly knew her underground and pop culture, and knew how to write it for a mainstream audience. What a breath of fresh air she was! And over the years, she became the preferred reviewer in our house. She analyzed the shows fairly, but with the eye of a fan, and let us know in advance when her personal feelings might be clouding her judgement. Like when Joe Strummer passed on, and she shared with us the time she managed to get backstage as a teenage fan to meet him, happy and honored to be in the same room with somebody whose music shaped her life. That's the kind of person we want to bring us our concerts, not somebody who's too jaded to care anymore.

Not that Tarlach was all happy flowers and sunshine. I still forward her piece on battling cancer to friends, with her "I am not a pink person" declaration, reminding people that taking on breast cancer isn't all about new age music, pink ribbons and smiling oncologists. (Although I could picture Tarlach in pink -- a New York Dolls pink t-shirt, but that's about it.) She wrote about what it takes to beat it, something that only a person like her could write.

So, we'll miss you too, Gemma. As someone who spent some time on the East Coast, loved it, but jumped at the chance to head back home, I totally understand. You gave us 8 fine years here -- thanks. Here's to hoping they find somebody of your caliber to replace you.

Hey, at least Blaine Schultz is still around Milwaukee, writing for the alternative rags. Schultz so clearly loves the music that he can analyze it with critical eye, but a loving, constructive critical eye, a balance most musicians attempt but fail at. They're either too nice, or bitter failures who can't find beauty in anything anymore. Schultz is neither: he tells it straight like the Neil Young fan that he is. He kind of looks like Neil Young these days, and reading him gives you that feeling that you'd get if Neil Young were a rock critic. (Full disclosure: Schultz is a friend of our family's, and he's written positive things about both mine and my husband's bands, and our friends' bands, and our friends' friends' bands, and he lent me his band, the Aimless Blades, for me to front for the time I appeared at Trash Fest as "Patti Nicole Smith" and I must say, they rocked. You didn't even have to teach them "Land" or "Dancing Barefoot." They just knew how the boy looked at Johnny.) Hey, Tina Maples (remember her? I miss her byline too, but these days she's just editing) -- give Blaine Schultz a call. Heck, give ME a call! On second thought, don't. Yet. I'm not ready for the pay cut.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Where's Your Moses Now?

I'm sorry, I normally enjoy a new take on a classic, but I have to agree with the Milwaukee Journal's Joanne Weintraub on this on: Its just not The Ten Commandments without Charlton Heston. Now I'm just as pinko as the next tofu-sucking Eastsider, but I put politics aside for Charlton Heston's performance in The Ten Commandments. It's like being a feminist and still liking the music of Ted Nugent.

But normally, while I'd want to write forever defending the aesthetics of Mr. DeMille's grand production, I have a more important reason for wishing that the Heston Moses was the Moses we're getting, and that is: How are we going to play The Ten Commandments Drinking Game without it? Its my household's biggest Easter Tradition and I'm holding to it. They'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands.

Anyway, here's how to play The Ten Commandments Drinking Game:

Get yourself the wine or beer of your choice (make sure its kosher!), along with some shots, gather 'round the TV, and get ready to take a drink whenever:

  • Anybody exasperatingly says "Moses, Moses, Moses."
  • Whenever Vincent Price's Master Builder looks laviciously at some Israelite girl he wants to fuck and calls her "my little swamp lily" or some variation of "my [diminutive] [disgusting filthy place] [pristine floral reference]."
  • You see a cheesy special effect. Have a sixpack ready for the succession of plagues.
  • Moses comments on some God-induced miracle with an odd analogy: eg. "God parts the waters with a blast from his nostrils!"
  • Any time any Egyptian says the word "Hebrew" with disdain
  • Moses turns down an opportunity with da laideeeeeez. Again, have a sixpack ready for the scene in the Bedouin's tent, when ol Chuck just doesn't get it that they don't want any money, they just need somebody to help freshen up the gene pool.
  • Whenever the music swells to imply that God is having a hand in the proceedings.
  • Whenever Moses gets preachy. Have a whole beer ready to chug during the "All right, get out of Egypt" scene, where Moses leaves, still lecturing on his way out about God's Glory and all, and Yul Brenner's Pharaoh is like: "Will you shut up already?"
  • Every time Edward G Robinson's greasy Dathan switches loyalties: "OK, I'm done with this firstborn dying stuff, so I'm following Mose here and getting the hell out of Dodge..." A few scenes later: "Where's your Moses now?!?!?"
  • You hear "So let it be written, so let it be done"
  • Anytime you feel like exasperatingly saying "Moses, Moses, Moses."

The first one to pass out (either from drinking, or drowning in postmodern irony) wins.

Friday, April 07, 2006

I've been tagged!

I've been tagged by The L who was tagged by Prof. GQ so OK OK, I'll play. I'm not sure who I'll tag next, as it took me awhile to come up with fashionably pithy answers to the tag questions.

If you were to be the opposite sex for one day, what would you do?
The L says "Pee standing up and write my name in the snow!" I can already do that. You think I let my pristine ass ever touch any of those disgusting port-o-lets? Summer festival season is coming, people, time to strengthen those glutes. Oh, the question at hand? Geez, I'm already working in a male-dominated industry, always have, I'm into sports, I like cars: shoot, I'm already a gay man trapped in a woman's body. (I say 'gay' man because my sexual preference is men. So if I became a man, I'd have to be gay.) Maybe that's why I'm so passionate about defeating that ridiculous gay marriage amendment this fall! Thank god I don't have that high-maintenance thing between my legs, tho. Penis envy my dupah.

If you had to name the most difficult thing about being a teenager today, what would you say?
Has the difficulty of being a teenager today really changed from when we were teenagers? I mean, the stupid stuff has different names and places, but its all the same stupid teenager crap, perhaps a little more intense. So, I think learning not to sweat the small stuff (and trying to figure out exactly what the 'small stuff' is) is probably the most difficult thing.

If you had to name the most embarrassing moment of your life, when was it?
Like the L said, which time? I'm a Sagittarius, and thus and prone to clumsiness. So let's just go with the time I was about to make my grand entrance at the reception at my wedding and wiped out.

If you had to name the most overrated actor in Hollywood, who would it be?
Instead of naming the most overrated actor in Hollywood (because I agree with the L's answer of Tom Cruise) I'll name the most overrated musician in the Midwest today, and that would be Liz Phair

If you had to name the one personality trait that you have tried the hardest to change in yourself, what would you say?
Doing things 90% instead of 100%. But I think I might find a way to take it down to 75% instead.

If you could go back for one minute to the Garden of Eden and give Adam advice, what would you say?
Those fig leaves don't do a thing for you.

If you were to name the best "I told you so" you ever got to deliver, what was it?
I never get to deliver them. I always have to be the bigger freaking person about these things because unfortunately, my "I told you sos" usually involve bad things that were going to happen, and I don't want to rub the salt in the wound.

If you were Madonna, what would you do for your next publicity stunt?
I remember a poem that Henry Rollins once wrote about Madonna, with the line in it: "She makes me want to shop at Sears." There you go. Shop at Sears. Oh my god, would the blogs be analyzing this forEVER.

If you could have a lifetime 50 percent discount in any single store at your local mall, which store would it be in?
Hmmm. That's tough. Pottery Barn is tempting, but you only need about five things from Pottery Barn, and I have four of them. Let's go with Sears. Remember their ads from the 70? "Sears --- has everything." And they do. You need power tools? You need attachments for your KitchenAid stand mixer? You need a new fridge? You need a winter jacket for your 8 year old? You need the Land's End No-Tug one piece swimsuit? You need a pair of jeans? You need some cheap clothes you can wear to work? You need parts for your lawn mower? You need to not shop at WalMart? Sears, people. Sears. You don't realize this until you're in your 40s, but suddenly Sears becomes cool and a lifetime 50% discount would be useful all around. Just ask Henry Rollins. Or Madonna.

If you could have one more pet, what kind would you get, and what would you name it?
I would get a big ol golden retriever and name it Lamont, and then my husband would promptly file divorce papers. He's not into the whole 'having a pet' thing at all.

If you could have God perform one miracle today, what would you want it to be?
Make Wisconsin drivers actually install and use their turn signals. Plenty of other people will ask God for more important altruistic things like curing AIDS, stopping the war in Iraq, making everybody's cancer go into remission, etc. But I'll betcha more than a few lives would be saved (either immediately, or via less road rage) if people would actually use their freaking turn signals. Could somebody else put in a word with God about making retail people put the coins in your hand BEFORE the paper money and the receipt? God, how I hate when retail people put the coins on top of the paper. It makes me crazy. That would save a few lives, because on the wrong day, I'm liable to kill the next drive through clerk that puts the coins on top of the paper in my hand so they can promptly slide off and fall onto the ground before I can crumple my hand around them into my car.

If you could spend next New Year's Eve doing anything, what would you do, and with whom?
I'm like the L here, I'd spend it in our house with our best friends with great food and drink, not drinking like amateurs, and kids running around getting away with murder and feeling special because they get to stay up late.

If you were to set your country's immigration policy, what would it be?
Well, it wouldn't be Senslessbrenner's bill, that's for freaking sure. Have some heart, people.

If you were given the power to settle the issue of gays in the military, what policy would you set?
I would hope that everybody in the military could be well adjusted, happy and gay. This is what you're talking about? I dunno, they're running out of men in this war, they're digging into the National Guard because they're running out of troops, and they're still worried about stupid shit like what people do in their own private time behind closed doors? Get over it, guys.

If you could have one person you have lost touch with call you up tonight and invite you to dinner, who would you want it to be?
Nobody. I have other plans for dinner tonight and I'd have to feel bad about turning them down.

If you could change one thing about your love life, what would it be?
I will quote the L on this one: "What love life, we have two kids, I would change the fact that ever since the thunderstorm the other night that the little one seems to think that her bed is only for naps."

If you could have prevented one book from ever having been written, which book would it be?
On Becoming Babywise. Turning your kids into mindless, unquestioning automatrons who have no thoughts of their own just so you can get a fucking night's sleep is exactly why this country is in the mess its in: "Shut up. Be happy. We will tell you when you will eat, when you will play, when you may laugh and cry. We will think for you and we will schedule everything. Shut up. Stop crying. Be happy." That's Jello Biafra with Ice-T I'm paraphrasing, and thus that's me meta-paraphrasing Gary Ezzo, whether Jello realizes it or not. Seriously, you won't find one peer-reviewed person in the medical community who has anything good to say about "Babywise" and even Ezzo's own church kicked him out in sheer embarrassment. "Raising Kids God's Way" -- hmmph. I doubt this was God's way: his own kid pretty much grew up and became a government-defying revolutionary who was put to death for advocating that people who think differently that the "authority" figures still have a better chance of getting into heaven. The baby isn't crying to "manipulate you." The baby is crying because he needs something and unfortunately he's not fluent in English yet to specificy exactly what. Anybody who has a Windows-based computer and gets "General Protection Fault" errors understands this. When the baby cries, it's "General Baby Fault." Deal with it or else remember that condoms are on sale this week at Walgreens.

If you have to name the best music album ever recorded, which would you select?
Oh no. Oh no. I'm not holding to one. No freaking way. My desert island list has about 30 albums on it as it is. You want me to commit to one? Today it's "There's a Whole Lalo Schifrin Goin' On." Tommorow it will be "The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars" and the next day, let's go with "Never Mind The Bullocks Here's the Sex Pistols." Don't worry, George Clinton will make an appearance on this list soon followed by other Americans. But I'm in a Britpop mood lately, along with incidental film music. Bring on the Bourne Supremacy soundtrack!

If you could have one thing made out of pure gold, what would you choose?
Hmmm. How about some Elton John style bifocals?

If God were to whisper one thing in your ear, what would you like Him to say?
Again, I'll defer to the L: "They're all idiots, its not just you!" That's the kind of thing John Lennon, who was shot on my 20th birthday, would say.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Bucks: Two Great Tastes that .... uh.... whatever

Once again, the Bucks give us the kind of game we pay to see. Great, tight game all the way through. Tony Kucoc was kind of cold tonight, kept aiming for 3s and missing them, but when he went in for lay-ups, he was fine. And actually, there were a bunch of shots that should have gone in but didn't. Too many missed shots that should have gone in and would have gone in if Jupiter was correctly aligned with Mars, but maybe it was just odd physics and dumb luck kicking in for the Bucks. But the Bucks won, and I'll take it. One thing that slipped right by me until the end was the lack of turnovers -- only 2 the whole game! Turned out to be an NBA record, but I guess that's one of those things you don't notice until it gets out of hand.

We had different seats than we usually do. We're normally in seats that are lit up by the court lights, but we were up in the side high enough that it was a bit dark, so the huge introduction of the team seemed sparklier than ever. Dark room, spotlights, strobes flickering on and off, sometimes they break out a giant mirror ball that spins around, really high-energy gay dance club music cranked to the max, all just to introduce the team in a regular season game. We have the Chicago Bulls to blame for this out-of-handedness, don't we?

And now that I've seen it in both lights, I am now certain that when Andrew Bogut cut his hair a few weeks back, he was in the hands of a cut and colorist, because that hair is not just black. Its blue-black. Its Elvis and Priscilla On Their Wedding Day Black. This isn't a diss. Looks good, but I wonder if we'll run into him at any of the goth clubs soon.

But the rest of the night at the Bradley Center was this series of things that don't necessarily go together. To wit:

  • It started out with a very strange, surreal anthem brought to us by the Slinger High School Choir. It sounded like the kind of arrangement you'd hear on the Lawrence Welk show, or maybe "Bing Crosby Sings The Anthem At Christmastime." I think "Protestant" might be an accurate description for this arrangement. It was the whitest white-bread jazz arrangement, very late-50s soothing kind of thing. Technically, it was ambitious, I'll give 'em that, but they had a few sopranos who weren't ready for that kind of ambition and you could hear them, sticking-out-like-a-sore-thumb-flat. Normally it was the kind of flat that would make me cringe, but I was so intrigued at this choice of arrangement that I kept listening. It was like witnessing a colossal car wreck in which nobody was injured, so you don't have the guilt that normally goes with rubbernecking. I have to say, I didn't like it, but I was still intrigued that they attempted this odd arrangement. It's just that, if you're going to work on something challenging, it shouldn't be challenging for the sake of challenging. It should work with the song, not against it. This kind of arrangement doesn't work on an anthem, much less a NATIONAL anthem, much less a national anthem that has roots in an old barroom drinking song about trying to be able to tell if we're still winning the war by whether or not you can see the flag in the distance. You need to evoke General Eisenhower for that, not President Eisenhower. So, coupled with the horribly flat soprano or two (it was only two voices wrecking it, but that's all it takes) I'll grade this an intriguing flop.

  • Energee girls come out early in the first quarter and they're wearing these swingin' 60s purple and white cubic VINYL outfits smack out of In Like Flint, and did this really calculated angular dance to it. It was a great look and a great routine. It required some Swingin London/Soho/Carnaby Street jig like (to keep it contemporary) that remake of "I'm a Believer" --or anything by Smashmouth, for that matter. Instead, we get a 70s disco queen's last hurrah in the form of Donna Summer's "Bad Girls." Bad, girls.

  • Even the food was incongrous, but in a positive way: BBQ Pork Nachos from the "Nothing But Nachos" stand. This should be wrong, very very wrong, but they were wonderfully wrong. Standard nacho chips, topped with fresh fixin's** like olives, tomatoes, onions, a dollop of pulled pork that's been sitting in barbecue sauce for forty days and forty nights, but then topped with that same old watered-down Velveeta-with-jalapenos nacho sauce. On paper, this was vile. In my mouth, it was delicious.

  • I should have known the halftime entertainment would be wrong, as well. They did the Chevy Supershot (the gig where two fans go at it freethrowing and the winner gets to try for a new car by sinking one from half court) during a 2nd quarter timeout -- and the guy hit the rim to the gasping of the crowd. But the fact that it wasn't at halftime like it usually is should have been a red flag. And they bait us by telling us that the lights will be down for a special halftime performance. So what do we get at a sports event? A fashion show! Featuring three of "this season's hottest looks": all white ensembles, the jungle/animal print look, and basic black. Hey, Boston Store, that's not "this season's hottest looks." That's "every season's old standbys." Especially at Boston Store. When have you NOT been able to get an leopard print poncho at Boston Store? There's racks of them there, all the freaking time! Plus, the lighting was such that you couldn't really see the outfits. The spotlights were only on a few people, and they were in them briefly. The most interesting thing was the little urbanista break dance squad that was in the center court, which was totally the opposite of any of the "hottest fashions" presented here. Again, another car wreck in which nothing was injured, except my already jarred sense of aesthetics.

  • Does anybody know the correct pronunciation of Indiana's Sarunas Jasikevicius' name? Our announcer kept changing it himself. You'd think he would get some kind of cue card with correct pronunciations, like Bob Costas at the Olympics. But apparently not, because he just kept experimenting -- every time Jasikevicius did something of note ("Jasikevicius for two" "Foul on Jesikevicius, his first") his name changed. I'm somewhat embarrassed, with my Eastern European lineage (Polish and Czech/Slovak), that I couldn't give you a definitive answer myself. My best attempt ends up sounding like "Jessica Vicious," as in "What would happen if Jessica Simpson married Sid Vicious?" So I left the Bradley Center last night with one final wrong pairing in my head, and now you are silently casting the remake of Sid and Nancy in your head, too. Ciao baby!

** Grammar question: How do you properly punctuate the plural of fixin'? I ask this because I want to make it perfectly clear that I know that the apostrophe is used before the letter "s" to denote the possessive, not plural. The fact that there's a lot of signmakers out there who don't know this is one of my all-time pet peeves. And the word "fixin" is not really a word. It’s a contraction of the word "fixing", but instead of it being a verb, it’s a noun to denote condiments and other sundry that go with a particular food, in this case, nachos. To denote the dropped "g" to account for the generally accepted pronunciation, you add an apostrophe. But then, to make it plural, you add an "s". So now, what is the correct thing to do: violate the apostrophe s rule by spelling it "fixin's" or violate the apostrophe to denote missing letters rule, as in "fixins"? Inquiring minds want to know.