Thursday, September 23, 2004

I Got the Moon, I Got the Cheese, I Got the Whole Damn Nation on its Butt

I have little to say today, but I feel the obligatory nature, intrinsic to the debate season, to announce that we are oot of here for the weekend. Luckily the Pack's contest against the evil Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts is on national tv and hence will be waiting on tivo for me when I get home. We are going back to Wilkes-Barre, PA, the Kings College Tournament which we also attended last year. This time, luckily, most of our expenses will be paid for by Rochester, since Katie works for them officially. Anywho, it shouldn't be difficult or anything, so at least the money we make juding will be helpful. It comes right at the point where we are starting to get paid on a regular schedule anyways, but a couple extra dollars to waste on psychoanalytic literature, J. Crew payments, and truffles never hurt nobody.

My classes today were both hella good, the type that remind me why it is that grad school was actually something I wanted to do, that made sense. The second course obviously should, since its titled and focused around one of Lacan's seminars I know almost nothing about and have not read. That said, the seminar has enough "famous moments" in it that I had heard of most of its important elements, many of the Lacanian aphorisms, but lacked any real comprehension of their surroundings. That gives this seminar the potential to be especially interesting and Steven Miller is exceeding my, fairly high, expectations. The other seminar, which I expected to be interesting, but not necessarily useful, is looking like it may fulfill the first expectation and defy the second. I have read a couple articles by Irigaray in the past, but for the most part I had no serious knowledge of her writing. One of the things I find fascinating at this point is her ability to adopt certain conventions, pretty explicitly, without naming them. Before class I could have told you that she does this with Lacan, since I can pick out the moments she is obviously building on or playing off the statement that "Woman does not exist" or the idea of multiple being, but it was indicated to me this afternoon that she does the same with Hegel and Meleau-Ponty among others. She acknowledges when she is criticizing Freud or Marx or whoever and it appears that there are times when she will mention that she is entering into dialogue with Lacan, but nonetheless, this appropriation, which is a fairly common tactic of contemporary literature, and especially feminist literature, is something I have never encountered in theory before. I'm sure will have more to say about her in the future but for now, we wll leave it at that.

My friend Erin Anderson is in Japan and posting all these crazy pictures of Tokyo. I will admit that I have never had the pizzazz my brother and a number of my friends do for all things Japanese, from anime to sush and ridiculously packed cities. I was enthused at the fact that since my brother is more than likely going to end up in Japan for a while after he graduates, I will likely get the chance to visit him. Though I obviously would not exclude the possibility that I would go to Tokyo without there being a family member in residence, I would say it is much less likely. Regardless, there are some things the Japanese seem to have a passion for which have got their ups and downs. Lets take vending machines: the Japanese have vending machines that kick it where you stick it but also vending machine stores!! Vending machines should take credit cards, you should have some ability to do crazy shit like buy a certain number of quantities or select amongst hundreds of options or...well I can't really think of anything else you can do with a drink vending machine, but I haven't even really put much thought into it. I mean, there are people who fucking design vending machines, I know this because there are new ones out there, new ones every year or so, what the fuck are they doing, just sitting around like "how bout this, instead of having the little buttons all in a row ont he side of the machine, we could make them really big and put them in the middle!!!" Seriously, no other designer gets off with such minor innovations over the course of like 30 years. Despite this obvious super-ability of the Japanese attitude, the vending machine store is the dumbest idea of all time. What the fuck would you bother to rent a store for if you are just going to fill it with vending machines. How bout just rent one wall of a store or a FUCKING SIDEWALK!!! or THE SIDE OF YOUR FUCKING HOUSE!!!

I have more to say on the subject of Japanese plus and minus, but now I am tired and have to get up early so I can go to class and shit before I head to the PA that does not go with Puffy.



Sunday, September 19, 2004

We've Got the Right To Choose and There Aint No Way We'll Lose It This is Our Life, This is Our Butt

I will start right out by a brief complaint at how badly the Pack sucked it up this afternoon. By sucked it up I mean entirely failed to score, turned the ball over at exactly the wrong times, and played horrible pass defense against a team whose QB-receiver combo is arguably the worst in the NFL I mean, I guess you've got the Ravens, but thats not really a fair comparison. Anyway, the Pack hopefully learned this afternoon that they need to take some of this more seriously, because turning the ball over twice in the red zone against a decent team will kill you as well. Anyway, we need more work, even though Ahman Green had 100 yards of rushing in the first half. Brett threw a couple beautiful passes, but a couple that sucked. More notably we still had Driver drop at least 2 balls and Ferguson let one go through his hands, hit him in the stomach, and fall on the ground that would have sustained a seriously necessary drive and may have even gone for seven. Regardless, I will let it go.

Katie and I were away for Friday and Saturday, we headed over to Rochester for a big work weekend on the Rochester debate squad. I think Katie got a good amount of work done and it was nice to see other people, hang out, and get my smoke on. On Friday I didn't accomplish very much, but Saturday allowed me to roll through thank-you notes which are right on the edge of being ridiculously late. I think we will get all of them sent out by Tuesday or Wednesday, which means less than three months from the wedding date, which I consider acceptable. Anyway, I wrote for like three solid hours and have a gigantic sore on my thumb to show for it. This afternoon at Damon's I got them all addressed and licked shut, which is awesome. On a somewhat related topic I heard someone mention that their goal was to "Lick breast cancer" which, although I obviously agree with the anti-breast cancer message, boo breast cancer, etc., seems to need reconsideration as a slogan. Maybe Andy, Sanjay, and I are the only ones for whom this is a problem, but whenever you put "lick" and "breast" next to each other, I am not going to be in a reverant mode of respect and determination to fight disease. But thats me, that's, how I roll.

I remember where I saw this, it was on the webpage for the Miss America competition, which was on last night. I won't spoil the non-stop suspense for those of you who tivoed the extravaganza that is the pageant, but let me say this, Minnesota gets fucked again, right in its proverbial pooper (I would officially like to submit "proverbial pooper" for consideration in the alliteration of the year department). Anyway, Katie loves these competitions and I like making fun of the things that happen, so we were tuning in. While doing so Katie was reviewing each of the candidates platforms online. I don't have to go into a big shpiel about how fucking limp it is that the competition makes it so almost all of these people choose a cause which, while worthy and interesting, is not really a platform, rather its an accepted social goal. Maybe I am the only one who considers the term "platform" to indicate the thing that someone is standing for AGAINST the opposite viewpoint, ie: a political platform. I'm against "child abduction" and all, but I wouldn't consider it much of a platform. Anyway, while we surveyed the long list of non-controversial causes I quickly became much more interested in the final question on each Ms. America's little bio, "Three Nouns You Would Use to Describe Yourself." First of all, what a stupid question, why select nouns; if you aren't going to just use adjectives like normal, if you want to mix up your part-of-speech questionaire-ism, why don't you go with "Three Adverbs You Would Use to Describe Yourself" or "Three Past Participles You Would Use to Describe Someone Else." That aside, let me note two things about answering these questions: 1) you need to choose if you are going to describe yourself explicitly or in a more round about fashion, because it sounds fucking stupid when someone puts "Runner, Determination, Stick-to-it-iveness" 2) I think you should be officially disqualified from the Ms. America pageant if you get this question wrong, think that isn't possible, check out Miss Montana or Miss Oregon (who I think should have listed "Boning Andy and Sajay" as her platform). That is all I have to say on this subject.

The Emmys were on tonight. James Gandolfini got fucking robbed by James Spader, Martin Sheen got robbed by James Spader, for the most part, any lead actor in dramatic television got robbed by James Spader. This isn't even really anything against James Spader, but rather that there are so many good choices and they picked the Practice. On the plus side, Sopranos won both the supporting actor awards and best drama, Angels in America literally cleaned house, and CJ won best dramatic actress. I love television, and am so glad to actually be watching HBO original series these days. I didn't see as much of Deadwood as I would have liked and I have not been able to get into Entourage, but the stuff they do well they do hella fucking well.

I cannot think of anything else to blather about, and there is still football, so I shall bid you a fond farenight.



Thursday, September 16, 2004

So Easy, But Nothin Seems to Please Me, It All Feels So Right, When I Fade Into the Butt

My favorite thing for the week: my Glade Wisp. If you haven't seen the Glade Wisp on television or become lucky enough to have one it is a magical air freshening device, which is just a little plasticy thing that sits on the table. You might respond by telling me that there are many air freshening devices which are made of plastic and sit on tables. You would be right. The cool part about this one is that the way it freshens the air is by taking this bottle of fragrance oil (perfume) and poofing out a little poof of it into the air. The reason I wanted this particular air freshening device was because you can actually see the little poof it kicks out into the air. I mean, if you watch the little thing every couple seconds you see a little Wisp (creative fuckers huh) of smoke-like stuff come out of it. Every time it does that I get a smile on my face. I don't know why that is, but it rocks. I have named mine The Poofer. I think Katie is getting sick of hearing "The Poofer just poofed!" every couple minutes that I am not absolutely absorbed in either a book or a television program. At some point I am going to try to die the perfume-stuff blue and see if my poofer will poof blue. If your house smells bad or you like things that do really simplistic but neato actions every now and then my poofer came with a bunch of coupons for three bucks off a new poofer, so I can hook you up.

The worst coincedence ever happened tonight, we were coming home from debate practice and decided that we needed ice cream. This was not a bad decision, in fact, it was a very good decision, because we technically had custard, and that custard was hella good, and I liked it. Anyway, on the sign at the Andersons, where we got the custard, it said something like "Come See the Tigers and Wolves." That didn't mean anything to me at the time, I assumed it was some joke or something that I didn't get, but we walk up to the door and there was a little flyer which indicated that on Saturday the 25th and Sunday the 26th there would be baby siberian tigers and baby wolves at the fucking Andersons. There are going to be baby tigers, quite arguably the cutest fucking things on the entire fucking planet, within like 2 miles of my house. I could walk over to see the baby tigers. Unfortunately, I will not be able to take that walk. Instead, I will be at King's College, in beautiful Wilkes-Barre, PA at the first debate tournament of the year. I mean, I have no problem going to the tournament and since Katie is going to be there I obviously want to accompany her rather than sit here alone except for the couple hours or so each day I would spend with the tigers. Regardless, I will be missing the baby tigers right down the street. That is too bad. I need to find some tigers. I suppose zoos are good for that.

I know the previous two topics were not entirely related to each other, but this one is arguably entirely less related. When we were back home in Minneapolis and sitting at Katie's rents place watching a baseball game, Katie found this article in Gourmet magazine. It was ostensibly a reporter covering the Maine Lobster Fest, or MLF. It did that, of course, it discussed the world's largest lobster cooker, the main eating tent, the cooking contests and the like. That was a couple solid pages. The other 5-7 pages were a discussion of the ethics involved in the cooking and consumption of lobster. Of course the article, written by David Foster Wallace I should mention, seemed to recognize the obvious problems involved in his covering this event by going off in such a fashion, whether the ethical questions were really under the purview of the readers of Gourmet magazine, who for the most part, are probably l-oo-bster fans. I would imagine that anyone who has read this blog can probably imagine what I thought of his argument (which I should mention, ultimately concludes that lobster is murder, at least concludes that in a mild fashion with several caveats etc.) and anyone who has watched the Good Eats on lobster would undestand that in this I am especially convinced. Nonetheless, I won't go into the fact that the closest living relative of the lobster is the cockroach or the grasshopper. If you are willing to crush a bug in your house or not get upset that the shit you clean off of your windshield after a long drive is fucking millions of various species of insects then you should have no problem at all killing a lobster in order to eat it. Maybe you wouldn't want to deal with the act yourself, but again, this is not the subject of my discussion.

The thing I wanted to mention concerned a tangential part of the essay, his comments on the tourist nature of the event. I haven't explicitly read this argument somewhere else, but I get the idea that it does exist in some form or another. Since the MLF is pretty much the best reason to come to Maine. I mean, I guess technically just loobster is the best reason to come to Maine, but the MLF is the king of all lobster eating occassions. Wallace's concern (I will see if I can find this article and paste the link, heres a link to an article about the article there are a bunch of other ones, apparently this was a much bigger deal than I realized) is about the authenticity of the event, whether the locals actually come, whether it is part of Maine and part of lobster culture. (THE POOFER JUST POOFED!!) I guess the substance of the argument was that Wallace didn't understand why anyone would want to participate in tourism, and (in this respect I may be either boiling him down too much or putting a philosophical slant to his essay which wasn't there, I don't have the original in front of me, you can check it out yourself) since your presence at the event as tourist automatically destroys that event in its authenticity. Its like the Schrodinger's cat "indeterminacy" argument, (the best description I've ever heard is written by Douglas Adams in one of the Dirk Gently books, but the jist is to imagine a cat is in a sealed box with a radioactive particle which has exactly a 50% chance of decomposing into a compound which will kill the cat and a 50% chance of simply remaining neutral, the argument is then that the cat is both alive and dead until the moment we observe the result, you can find a better and certainly more scientific explanation with a quick google search, but I will leave that to your personal taste) once you are there to see it you aren't just an observer, your presence alters things.

There are a couple problems I had with this part of the argument, primarily the whole notion of the authentic event, I've never really gone for the romanticism that accompanies this attitude towards small town rituals. Like these fisherpeople, who are just fucking people who happen to live where the lobster do notably, they aren't a different species of homosapiens, have some innate connection to the waters of the Northern Atlantic. Regardless, the response I wanted to mention came up in another piece of reading I was doing before class one morning, Don Delilo's White Noise . I am referring to a section wherein two characters go to an old barn which is a tourist trap entitled "The Most Photographed Barn in the World" and is always surrounded by people with cameras taking snapshots. The argument presented there is that you are there precisely not to capture the barn in its authenticity, because that barn no longer eixsts. The most photographed barn in America depends on the fact that you are there to photograph it. In contrast to the authenticity of the event that Wallace is out to protect, Delilo sets up the "aura of the barn," which is a consequence of its popularity. The aura envelops the barn, whatever might be underneath it is never seen, you are there to experience the aura which is the common element of anything "tourist." Anyway, thats why I love Wisconsin Dells and the State Fair and rest stops and the twine balls and the like, at least thats part of it.

Maybe some unity next time.



Sunday, September 12, 2004

Once There Was this Kid Who, Got Into an Accident and Couldn't Come to Butt

I will have a hard time giving explicit detail to the extent that I did about the fair, so I won't even really try. I will mention some highlights of the drive that occurred after my morning in St. Paul. We drove to Chicago, Katie slept, we got there around 8 o'clock-ish. After some getting lostedness on our way to their house, we met up with Katie's aunt and uncle and their children. The kids were a little on the hyper side, as children I think tend to be. We watched the olympics between reading books and playing games and such until they went to sleep. We watched another hour or so of the Olympics before we hit the sack for a good nights sleep. Those are all the details I can really provide about Chicago, because thats all there were. We were on the road by 10:30 or so the next morning, after some coffee, some more books, and the like.

We drove pretty much uninterrupted until the early evening, when, after suffering the mild rush hour annoyance of Cleveland, we arrived in Mentor, Ohio, the town which features both the site of our unfortunate alternator failure of about a while back and the nearest Dillard's to Buffalo. We had some gift cards to use, some things to return, and some crystal to buy to round out our Waterford. Anyway, we made that stop, we went over to the Dillard's men's store (perfectly positioned on the opposite fucking side of the mall) and failed to find any fitting dress shirts, even at the fat-guys section, which goes to show that even if I fit in double-x clothing, my neck has some freakish relation to the rest of my body. I think I need like a 20-21 and since even big'n'tall doesn't even think that counts as reasonable, we ended up buying some quality t-shirts. There was one more thing we needed to do in Mentor, besides stopping at Wendy's which I don't think really counts, which was pick up a Baker's Square pie at the nearest Baker's Square to Buffalo. I can't explain to you how much it sucks to get serious French Silk cravings and have to settle for Perkins. I mean, its not a bad pie, there is just something about the composition of the silk, the velvethy smoothness of that combo of whipped delicious creaminess on top and silky chocolate goodness, that can't be matched. Regardless, we brought a pie home.

When we arrived home there was pretty much nothing to do but watch the olympics, turn on the air conditioning, because it was getting so hot, I was gonna take my clothes off. It was nice to be home with a full two days to get ready for Katie's birthday and school, which were pretty much the events of late summer. School didn't take much since I already had the basic set up of the course I was teaching under control, it really just took a couple hours of syllabus fill in to be ready to go. Katie's birthday had been being prepped for a week or two however, everything from menu and cake design, to the every important Katie's birthday shopping spree. I made stops at Kohl's, J. Crew, Herbergers, and Daytons over the course of my return to Minnesota and had all the various items wrapped by Katie's mom. This meant that on Monday morning Katie got to open two pairs of jeans, a pink sweater, pink suede shoes, Yves St. Laurent perfume, and two pairs of earings. I think she dug it. I did the cooking and preparation while she was at Rochester for some debatey practice and by the time she returned my chocolate mint cheesecake was cooling and the shrimp was ready to go in the wok.

Andrea, the first guest of our wedded life, had arrived a half hour before Katie did, since she was crashing with us on her drive back to Boston for school. That made her the fourth in a line of illustrious visitors that features el Dobas, Ben Kantor, and Wilking and Jen (who count as one, I guess, at least in visitor succession, not in personhood). Since we have been in this apartment over two years, I don't find that very impressive, but it was nice to have her here. We drank some good wine, ate some good food, and hung out until fairly late in the evening. I love Katie's birthday, to be honest, its much more enjoyable than mine. She is really pretty easy to shop for, running contrary to the female stereotype, and really appreciates the presents. Good times all around, though I had to start classes in the morning.

So far those classes have been alright. I'm teaching boring shit yet again, but I have the stuff so engrained in my mind now that I can spew it without even thinking. The other class I have on Tuesday is with Gasche, yet another close reading of German philosophy. This time its Gadamer's Truth and Method, a book I still know almost nothing about, besides its relevance for hermeneutics and its interesting revision of Heidegger. On Wednesdays I have a couple afternoon/evening sessions, which is annoying to be there so late, but otherwise very cool. Both are shit that is for the most part explicitly related to what I typically, one reading Kristeva and Irrigaray, who I desperately need to know more about than I currently do, and the other reading Seminar XVII, which has now been "about to be" published for 2 plus years. Anyway, its a really cool opportunity to do what is essentially a close reading of Lacan's text with Steven Miller, who seems a pretty fucking smart dude and is filling in for Joan this year. That is enough about school for now, since I am sure I will be blabbering about it in the future.

I love football so much. I don't know if I can explain it, i fucking love this game. I like college football and there are some collegiate match-ups that I fucking will not miss. Those tend to come up later in the season, but I fucking love a Michigan-Ohio State shootout or a Texas-Oklahoma. I mean, not like those games aren't loved by everyone, but still. My real love is the NFL which kicked off with one hell of a game on Thursday night. The NFL has set up some badass QB showdowns in the first 5 or so weeks of the season, Payton, Brady, McNair, Favre, all coming up against each other. I have never really thought Tom Brady should be considered one of the best 5 or so QBs in the NFL, but at some point I will have to admit that when you win 2 Super Bowl MVPs and now 16 games in a row, you've got something going on. He looked pretty good on Thursday night and I think there is probably a good argument that the Pats are the best coached team in the NFL, because no one saw any of that coming. The biggest hype of the offseason moves is either TO to Philly or Dillon to the champs, and the first offensive series for New England empty backfield. I know Al and John commented on this, but it was fucking glaring, no one saw this coming. That said, Corey Dillon turned out to have a pretty solid impact on successive drives and the Pats D fundamentally won them the game. The Colts have alot in common with the Vikings of years past, where the strategy pretty much rests on the idea that we can score more and faster than you. It sucks that you have to count on scoring 30 or so to win, but I guess when you have 3 of the best 10 or 20 offensive players in the AFC you can try for that.

Last night did feature a college game that entirely disproved my typical attitude towards the University game, as Miami came impressively from behind to defeat FSU in an OT nailbiter. The college OT format is one of the few things I really enjoy more than NFL football, especially when I get to cheer for a team I love like the Caines against the Dallas Cowboys of the BCS. Those results were matched by a couple great games today, including, for the most part, Marshall v. Ohio State and Michigan v Notre Dame. The result of the Notre Dame game was pretty surprising, but it was a quality contest for the most part, some pretty solid talent on both sides of the ball. I don't think Michigan should ever have been ranked that high without a really viable running game at this point, but, admittedly, I am not a coach or sportswriter, which disqualifies my vote in the polls. While I did enjoy today's footbal schedule, I must say to the folks at CBS "Go fuck yourselves" for not showing me the Miami v Tennesee game instead of the tennis. Why didn't you just move the tennis to some other station and show the fucking NFL. Now, there may be some sort of tv contract thing which prevents them from showing the game nationally, which I understand, but at the point you are already moving the date of the contest, I think that can probably be altered too. I just think that at any time there is an NFL game on, absent it being blacked out, I should be able to watch one. Maybe I won't be able to watch the one game I want, but I will be able to watch A game, if that makes sense.

Anyway, Katie and I had a phat turkey dinner tonight, which I may describe more manana, but for now the triptophen has gotten me. John Madden would be proud.



Thursday, September 09, 2004

Talk To Me Softly, There's Something in Your Butt

It was two weeks ago, well, two weeks ago today now, that one of the greatest events of the year occurred. I mean, you've got your holidays and your birthdays and the like, but this is different. This was the Great Motherfucking Minnesota Fucking Get the Fuck Together! Its the State Fair slizuts, get it together. I should briefly contextualize why it is that I mention the fair in such high esteem. I don't mean to brag necessarily, but I think I have as good an understanding of State Fair dynamics of about anyone on the planet. There are things that need to be done, that can't be done, that are optional. My parents started taking me to the fair when I was very young. I was born about a month after the fair ended in 1979, so I didn't make it that year. But as a one year old I first experience the joys that occur for the two weeks leading up to labor day, in between Snelling and Cleveland, Como and Larpenteur.

I obviously don't remember the early years, but I attended every year of my life from 1980 until last fucking year, 2003, when my living out here made it impossible for me to get back. From the very beginning we would pretty much make a day out of the experience. We would go early and head straight to the world's greatest mini-donuts, the Tom Thumb booth next to the food building, right next to the Old Mill ride, a couple booths down from the original Sweet Martha's. You must understand, I remember going to the fair when it was still a much smaller operation. I've seen the booth explosion continue year by year. I mean, it was never a pristine Minnesota wilderness or anything, but you used to be able to DRIVE down these streets. Literally, you turned off of Snelling directly into the fair grounds, through the giant blue and green State Fair gates. You didn't just park on Judson Ave. or anything, but you could make your way to back behind the grandstand or up on machinery hill. If you take at some of those areas now you will notice that alot of important booths have sprung up direcly where the traffic used to operate. The deepfried candy bars would be run over by the first Yukon in the joint if the whole situation hadn't changed. There are still alot of wide open expanses, boulevards in the French sense of the term you could say, a promenade of sorts. But those are really just in the areas where excessive first and last weekend traffic would make it impassible otherwise. Anyway, I am not going to blabber on a whole lot further but to say that I have always loved the fair. Many of my fondest memories are of mini-donuts and cookies for breakfast, pronto pups and cheesecurds for lunch, random shitty all afternoon, and a show at the Grandstand before cotton candy and caramel apples for the ride home and for a top-of-the-fridge snack the day after.

Since about mid-end of high school the whole family up at the crack of dawn to the fair tradtion has sort of given way to my trips with mi amigos and the like. I have probably regailed ya'll with the tale of Wilking and the pot-butter, but if not I will save it for another time. This year I was pleased on a number of levels: I got to go with my new-wife (who has very few experiences of the fair whatsoever, certainly, not of my style of fair-going), one of my groomsfolk (whom had never accompanied me to the fair, though he is obviously a lover of the fine eaterizations and sublime beauty presided over by Princess Kay as well) , and his son (whom went to the fair last year, but not with me, not with such phat hair, and was the first younger folk to accompany me). Basically, I'm talkin' Katie, AJ, and Kaya.

We had to be home at some point before school started, but also had some fair lookin priority. As a result we decided to get up early Thursday, hit up St. Paul's finest, and then drive to Chicago and stay with Katie's Aunt and Uncle, since I fucking hate driving the whole mofucking drive in one sitting. We picked up the A, the J, and the K about 8:30 and despite my failure to get into the turning lane, were on machinery hill just moments after 9:00. The first weekend of the fair is a madhouse, but the weekdays leading up to it, especially in the morning, it is pretty calm. We took advantage of this fact and while we did glance at the tractors on our way down, we pretty much made a bee-line for donut city. I believe we started by going for the fair special, three bags for 8 bucks. I love these things, and who doesn't but I actually think that the Big K may have me beat here. I mean, he didn't eat more than me and if we were competing I would fucking hope I could roll even the world's finest 3 year old competitive eater, but if you go donuts per-pound of eater, I got smacked. We ended up having at least 4, maybe 5 bags total, and based on the sugar accumulation on his face, I would estimate he ate at least 2 of them. We decidded that we needn't go far to hit on the days finest culinary accomplishment. Its in the food building, no, I correct myself, it is the raison d'etre for the fucking food building. If you don't know what I am referring to yet: 1) I feel so bad for you, we will talk next summer 2) you will have to wait just a couple sentences.

I noticed, before we even walked in, that one of the big changes which occurred in the two years since I was last on the fairgrounds was the basic structure and composition of the joint. That includes the exterior, which got a nice paint job and some neon lights, the plaza outside, which got some new picnic tables and a general cleaning, and the interior, which is all but unrecognizable. I will explain. For the most part the food building was a wide open warehouse of a place. Back when the fair was little more than an livestock and 4H thing, the food building contained almost all the confectionary in the joint. As the occassion grew into something for the general populace, far and wide, the food building became a locus for some classic specialty foods. Now it is apparently one of the hardest tickets to get on the grounds, its expensive and there is a long wait-list. For the most part the places in there (the cinamon rolls, the cheap drinks and footlong booths along the side, the lefse, the thai food, etc.) have been there about as long as I can remember. Once you are established somewhere as a legit component of the state fair I think there is little risk that you aren't going to turn a significant process. The real reason that those businesses have been able to go so hardcore and the reason getting a spot in the food building is such the nuts, is due to the king of all the specialty food stands, which I mentioned a few moments ago. For a long time the middle 40% or so of the food bullding was devoted to this booth, and often more importantly, the lines for it. There were many times I can recall those lines being upward of 20 minutes long, this is for fair food notably, not a sit down sushi joint. Its also not like this was a small time operation, there were probably 15 people working there at busy times, a couple selling, a couple handing out, and the rest working the manufacture. Your average pronto pup stand has 2 tops, sometimes just a kid working the till and his/her mom/pop on the patented Pronto Pup turny-frier. My dad and I almost got in a physical altrication with a group of people who obstinantly refused to understand the basis of line formation in this situation once, and though I doubt I would have actually resorted to physical violence in light of snack food, if there was anything I was gonna smack someone about, this product would probably be it

The manufacture of what you ask, you ignorant prick, cheese baby, cheese. Cheese curds to be technical about it. They are the most delicious and unexplainable thing on the planet earth. Deep fried cheese curds, they have a mild cheddar cheese flavor with a beautifully stringy consistency and just a hint of twang. They are incredible. They are the foundation of the food building and I must admit that the geography of the place post remodel recognizes this fact. The cheese curd booth is no longer a free standing entity, but more like one wall of the building, where lines can form without completely shutting off the traffic around the area. The traditional cute little mouse guy standing atop his cheese has been accented by some neon Deep Fried Cheese Curd lettering high atop the wall in the classic sublimity of the state fair. The process of ordering and receiving the curds has been accented by an ordering procedure which takes obvious cues from the Corn on the Cob stand next to Bayou Bob's Gator Snax on the front-East side of the Grandstand. The dude/tte who you order from prints out a little ticket, qua the movie theater ticket spitter device, which you move down the line and exchange for a tub 'o' cheese. Two orders, two tickets, etc. There are still two or three different ordering and receiving stations, but there seems to be a much better flow.

I suppose I should return to the actual story of our Thursday, rather than just rambling on the general topic of the food building. I should admit, with my commentary on the food building, that we weren't gettin curds at prime curd-eatin time, it was only maybe 9:45 or 10:00 in the morning. Nonetheless, it was good. I bought two orders and grabbed a couple of Cokes from the soda and hot dog thing that lines the South wall of the joint (I should note, it is not exciting, but this booth does provide one of the best deals at the fair, considering your average 20 oz bottle runs at least 2 bucks, the 1.75 32oz-er is well worht the cash and since it is literally the entire length of the building there is never a line to speak of) before we found a spot to rest and munch outside. I think that this particular morning featured a particularly good batch of curds, they were as tasty as they have ever been. So tasty in fact, that though Kaya continued to chow the donuts he ad recently fallen in love with, AJ went back for another two tubs of goldeny yellow deliciosity.

We left the food building to do some walking and checked out the livestock. We didn't do much checking, but I remember that when I was a kid I liked to see cows and horses and stuff, at least a couple of them, so we took K over there. He seemed to enjoy the big moo and I always enjoy checking out the yearly installment of Boarzilla (this year he was 1200 pounds I believe, which is a good dose of bacon, but doesn't hold a hog-fat-candle to the original two-ton boheomoth (to be read "bo-ha-wee-moth" as per Stephen Wright qua Resevoir Dogs, tribeuce) from years back. We also made fun of the alpacas and beefalos, but just glanced around before heading towards the giant slide. We got pronto pups, padre and son made their debut voyage on the giant slide and we walked, people watched and just chilled for a while. We eventually got a bucket of Sweet Martha's and checked out the All-You-Can-Drink Milk booth (another remodeling highlight of this year, instead of the shabby white roughly octagonal structure with a tanker truck parked alongside there is now a classic red miniature dairy barn) which now features chocolate (a high quality addition, though I only tried one glass) and has undergone what I believe is the number three worst example of price inflation I have experienced in my lifetime (smokes and gas being the bastards ahead of the pack). Fucking thing was a quarter when I used to go with the rents, its a dollar now. Next thing you now you won't be able to enjoy a bucket of cookies and a couple cold tall-boys for less than a 20 spot. Regardless, we relaxed for a while, I drank 7 or so glasses of cold moo juice and hung out with Kaya as he explored the fish pond and general wildnerness of the DNR setup. By this point the K man was a little tired, Katie was a little exhausted from dealing with my mix of excitement and voracious unsatiable appetiteosity, so AJ and I directed the crowd over to the dairy bar for a tasty chocolate malt, a glimpse of the opening day's butter sculpture, and the long walk back up machinery hill. Kaya checked out some tractors, which may have been the only truly disappointing development of this year's fair experience. I mean, Kaya had fun, but he didn't know what AJ and I did, that back in the day they used to have big honkin things up there. I mean, I'm not exactly your agricultural equipment expert, but there are fucking lawn mowers with seats and then there are tractors, big fucking thresher things 20 feet high. When we were kids we didn't go on any rides, we just climbed on the gigantic tractors for an hour or two. We sat in the cockpits (are they called cockpits on a tractor?) pretended to drive them through major cities during rush hour (at least I did, maybe I was a little fucked up) and generally dicked around. Those are gone, not a trace. The biggest thing we could find would still fit in the average suburban garage (maybe not alongside a car, but it wasn't huge). Regardless, K enjoyed himself, though I think a majority of his pleasure was derived from directing his father onto a tractor at least a line or two beyond his own. We hit the pet building (cute chocolate colored mini-badger-dogs, which I had never seen and were hella cute) but no pug dogs or St. Bernard's to be seen. As a final tribeuce to my mom I grabbed a bag of cotton candy on the way out and it made a delicious snack for the drive home (loves it). Overall we were there for about 4 hours, and we were on 94 towards Chi-town by 1:30.

It was not one of my longer state fair experiences, but without question it was one of my favorite. Next year I hope to get there a couple times and try out some differnet snacks, though I think the only thing there I haven't had were some of the exotic animals, Safari Snacks, they were called, wild boar and the like. Anyway, we should make plans early and often. If there are those of you who have never experienced the fair ( I mean really experiecned it) we should get together. Maybe we can have a pre-fair planning session in the early summer, head out there some June afternoon for a dry run, map out a food route which will maximize an "appetizer-entree-dessert-dessert-snack-appetizer-entree-dessert-etc." rotation. That can wait. Right now, there is football. Fall rocks.



Friday, September 03, 2004

When I Wake Up, Well I Know I'm Gonna Be, I'm Gonna Be the Man Whose Going Home With Butt

Ah Friday night. I didn't get enough work done today, but that is sort of the story of my days. Hopefully it will not set a tone for the semester, something I plan to establish by actually doing some work tomorrow. Then again, I am a motherfucker, so we will have to wait and see. So we are sitting around, enjoying a bottle of wine after a tasty dinner, and playing on our laptops. Katie technically is not playing, but rather writing a T file, which is a pretty exasperating experience. Anyway, not the case for me.

I woke up Sunday sometime after going to sleep on Saturday. I say that only because I was so intoxicated when I got back to Katie's parents place that I pretty much laid down on the bed and fell asleep instantly. Apparently Katie told me some of the results of the big brother website, but it is the one thing that I don't remember. Anyway, when I did wake up there was no one in the house, Katie and her mom were at work. I drank a bunch of water and swallowed ibuprofin like it was going out of style. By 2:00 or so I was feeling up to snuff and headed over to my mom's place via a ride from my sister. My mom has only been in her place for about 3 weeks longer than my dad but has pretty obviously put some more work into furnishing the place. Its a very cute St. Paul style house, though not very large. It reminds me in in many ways of the house Katie's parents used to live in on St. Clair. There are a couple bedrooms on the first floor, along with a kitchen, a living room, and a bathroom the outside of which has some "artistic expression" the former owners wronlgly thought didn't lick an asstitty. There is a nice little master bedroom type thing on the top floor and a partially finished basement. Apparently my mom and Deb have a good friend who is a contractor and intends to help them fully flesh out the basement along with doing some work to the top floor, adding a bathroom and stuff. The back yard is surprsingly roomy for the location, with a decent sized deck, a fair amount of room for the Geez-man to run around in.

We all hung around and watched the Olympics. Melia and my bro had stayed there the night before so they didn't need a ride back to the burbs. Everyone else had gone home with Mr. and Mrs. Wilksteady, another in a long line of things that they have saved us in, qua moving out of the house. Melia went and played with our legos for a while, though I am not sure if she got anything cool built or just fucked around with multicolored houses without roofs like I used to do. Nonetheless, we did that until Katie and her mother came over after work. Tom also came about that time and we ate some pistachios and veggies to warm up for the barbemacue. My mom and Deb made spareribs and potatoes and corn and Deb made a couple of tasty summer pies, including a very respectable chocolate creme. The woman really knows how to bake and while my mom is perfectly able to whip up a batch of Special K bars, I think she may be with Deb largely for the cookies, cakes, and the like. Anyway, we ate dinner and relaxed for a while. It was a nice place and I think my mom is happier then she was in the burbs.

At some point we all went to Arcadia, a coffee shop in Minneapolis, which at least at some point was owned by Maggie's dad Tom Berthiaume. I don't know if he still has the place or not, but there is a performance place in the back and Karly and Heidi were playing there, so we all headed out. For anyone who has spent much time around the women of the Kauf household or attended our wedding or reherasal, the fact that Karly has some skizzills likely comes as very little of a surprise. Anyway, she and Heidi played some pretty good original stuff and a bunch of covers that I kind of know, including a Mellisa Ferrick (sic) tune I thought went over really well, with the exception of Tom's growing discomfort. It was fun to watch, even though the place was a bit on the warm side. I don't know when or where they are playing again, but the Purple House Project is currently strongly in the lead for the official band of my blog. A designation I'm sure they are fighting desperately for.

The blow by blow gets a little old I know, so I will just hit the remaining hot spots. First was the pick up of our photos, which occurred on Tuesday afternoon. We spent a little more on our photographer than we would have necessarily liked to, but these people were skillled and it paid off pretty strongly. The pictures were gorgeous, we looked at them, talked about them with Wendy and went over all the relevant options from here on out. Then we met up with both of our mothers for cake, coffee and a looksidaisy (I think looksidaisy is a word and a concept which has never quite gotten the props which it deserves. I will admit that it does fall into the category of words which it is nearly impossible to say while sounding straight, but at the same time, its just a good thing to take. Having a peek or a glance is so plain, so nondescript, but a looksidaisy is just the right combination of sass and pizazz.) I think they all enjoyed the pics and we left the book of 800 million proofs with them so they could do any relevant purchasing or ordering. At some point maybe I should post a couple selected shots, but I will get there when the time is right. For now I am going to watch a movie and finish my wine, like uno bueno perro en la mesa a la izqierda.



I'm So Happy, Cause Today, I Found My Friends, They're in My Butt

I now have my laptop back which roxors for a number of reasons. To begin with it means that I will be able to sit on the couch and type on my blog and babble and google random pieces of information as TV makes them "relevant" to my life and existence. It also means that Katie and I can start some sort of laptop war, a game I have not yet involved rules for, but which I feel simply must be played when two people sitting on the same couch are each hacking away on their personal computadora. Regardless, things are back on track. So some brief props to CompUSA for fixing my laptop in reasonably efficient fashion and returning it to me without wiping the harddrive, even though you tried to get me to back it up for like 70 dollars, which is I believe the computer equivalent of a transmission flush, which my mechanic assures me is the automotive equivalent of your doctor telling you it wouldn't hurt to take a quick enema at a charge of 200 bucks, not covered by your insurance, when you came in to get your cast removed. Irregardless.

I believe our story left off in Rosemount. My brother came in Friday night, I saw him only very briefly, but we had scheduled to have lunch that Saturday with all the ninos, the relevant significant autres, and mi padre. My dad had been playing golf, but my sister stopped by around 12:00, and the lot of us went to McDivot's. I like McDivot's, though I don't have quite the attachment to it my dad has always seemed to harbor. I guess it is pretty much the closest thing possible to his house and if one did not have to drive directly past the fucking popo to get back home, it would be kinda sweet. Not that my dad is going to do anything besides a little speeding that would make him weery of the policiaca, but its still a little disheartening. We ate and hung out, caught up with my dad. He has some interesting plans and ideas, stuff I think is not a surprising reaction to the divorce situation. For the most part it is work things, including applying for a job with the UN prosecuting war crimes in the former Yugoslavia, which is one of the few times my dad and I end up even remotely near each other in questions of international relations. I guess its not surprising that my dad, who loved his job in the first place and went back to school in an enormously difficult environment just to get it, would put even more energy into his practice with alll his kids late in college and living on his own. We talked Pack football and are trying to work out a situation whereby I could make it to a Monday night game, but we shall have to see.

Then we had to rush around and do a couple errands, picking up cigarettes for my bro, wrapping paper and a hairbrush for Katie. We made it back to the house 2:30 ish and needed to leave sometime around 4:00 to get to the wedding on time. My brother was actually the only person who wasn't on top of the timing of the situation, since Katie, Melia, and I were in the car at 5 minutes till 4. We had to pick up Wilking and Jen, since we were trying to minimize the cars going into St. Paul and hence minimize the drivers. That meant my brother and Melia got to share the backseat with the stead-bomb and Jen-ification. It was the latter of these two individuals who was forced to sit aboard the lap of the former, and let me tell you the intense amusement it provided for all of us except the woman whose butt was positioned in exactly the relation to Wilking you do not want your butt positioned. That is true even in the situation which someone may not always mind some Wilk-related butt attention, (Jen, Nikki, Andy, I'm looking at you), you just don't want that going on in front of a crowd while your head is smashed against the ceiling so profusely burned by one APK on your way to a wedding.

The wedding itself was to be held at Macalester's Weyerhouser Memorial Chapel, a place I believe I have entered more times since graduating from Macalester then I ever did while attending. I guess that is not surprsing given that the chapel is primarily an experimental theater facility with an altar, but thats neither here nor anywhere fucking else. It was neat to see the different possibilities for using what is really a fantastic space, much warmer and much more intimate than a traditional forward facing facility like St. Joes. Even modifications of what I conceive as traditional church design really can't capture the near circularity that is in question here. Anyway, there were some ceremony notes worth mentioning, including but certainly not limited to: Moody was a groomsperson and not only has that motherfucker started to look way and way better with every passing week, but he had it going on in the tux-sweet-o as well. Lives up to its name in his case. The other surprising attendant related question was the existence of Ms. Nga Chiem, which was throroughly surprising to me. I guess I can't or shouldn't say that its surprising in any way that Nga was either there or involved in the whole dilly, but to be honest I just haven't given Nga a second of thought since high school. Thinking back on it I am pretty sure that I was a dick to her in high school, but since I was fundamentally just a dick for alot of high school, its not a surprise.

I can only think of one Nga story off hand, it didn't really involve me, I'm pretty sure that it borderd on offensive and the person in question receives enough abuse by me in this here blog. Anyway, lets just say we weren't the best of friends. I'm pretty sure Nga hasn't given any consideration to the existene of any of us since the day we graduated. Anyway I was surprised to see her. No one from our table talked to her, I don't know if she had any convos with Cort, Joe, etc. from the debate community. I barely saw her at the reception, but to be honest there were some mitigating factors. I should also note that I have no idea what kind of person Nga is, if she parties, if she spent more of the evening in the bathroom doing blow, or maybe she is secretly involved with the Dobs. We were near or on the dancefloor at pretty much all points when we were not at the bar so not seeing her there suggests no on the party front, but since the women's bathroom was way down on the first floor and the Dobs was no where in sight, I can't rule out any of those possibilities.

The reception was over at the University Club downtown, a beautiful classic St. Paul joint. Katie and I had looked at the website and I think most people who focus on St. Paul extravaganzas do, but I had never actually been there. The floor they were working on had a bar-loungey place and the ballroom. The bar was classic Dillenger area St Pizzle, with dark wood everywhere and, most importantly, free Summit baby. We pounded a couple back in the bar before dinner and moved in there before anything started. I doubt most of the people there were tetotaling, but it seemed that Table 7 was representing in the alchohol zone like no one else. We grabbed a set of drinks and sat down, munched our salad and bread and shit, ate dinner, which was very tasty, drank some wine, and ate some cake, which roxored. At some point Andy said we should slam a glass of wine, I had already decided to get as hammered as reasoably possible without destroying anything around me, so I agreed. Andy went electro-weak style on the bit and did not slam his glass of wine unless I put another one down. Katie then recruited me to pound something else down in order to get Andy to eat some flowers or something stupid along those lines, which we probably could have just watied for his intoxication later and gotten for free, but whatev. By the time we reached the cake I was fairly far along in the world of non-sobriety. We had to pull some techniques to make sure both Katie and I got the cake variety which was necssary, but the choco-sweets came strong.

There were some neat things that James and Cassie did at the reception. There was a little digital slide show with pictures of Jimmy and the Cassinator as children. I could have told you, from my experiences with James since my first year in highschool, that he hasn't changed much, facially, follically (relating to hair, which may not be a word, but is cool), but it was funny to see exactly how long that had been in existence. Katie's estimate was that James became James around age 3, but my guess is that he had the same part before he even heard the first verse of Baby Beluga. Cassie surprisingly did not look that much like she does now and I probably couldn't tell you which of the Doll-sisters was which, if I didn't know their respective ages. James said some nice words on behalf of the couple. There was a Macalester picture taken, I believe I knew James, Katie, and Joel, out of the whole bunch and at least one person insinuated that I did not go to Mac. Not unreasonable I suppose.

You will notice that my level of detail drops dramatically as the evening progresses. I think this can be pretty safely linked to the fact that I somehow spent about 15 dollars at an open bar. Since I know for a fact that I got more than one Summit on several of those trips I will avoid estimating how many drinks were involved. We talked with Cort and Carol and Joe and Lynn and Pete and Meg for a good long while, making fun of old debate weirdos who are no longer involved with the activity, good times style. Joe and Lynn left somewhat early, but I suppose that having a kid sort of makes that understandable. Cort and Carol partied hardy however as they have done at each of the three weddings I have attended with them. We did some dancing, we did some sitting. Katie managed to dance with almost everyone she wanted to dance with, including a very memorable one with my brother which involved country line dance style galloping to "Boot-Scootin Boogie", a talent I was not aware that he possessed. Anyway, it was good good times the whole night long.

I missed having the Sanj there and Pete and I were discussing that the last several weddings have made us strongly associate a wedding reception with an opportunity to hang out with TLT (she's dynomite). Overall, out of 5 stars, I give James and Cassie's wedding a "supergreat." Good times, St. Paul beer, and good peeps. Congratulations to the newlyweds (who probably are not reading this because they are still in fucking Paris those lucky ass fuckwhores), a long and happy life to you both. James and Cassie Hart. I'll get that down, I swear, even though I think they should have gone with Doll-Hart just for the kitsch baby. Since I have no obligations external to the home manana, I hope to update again. We've got my mom's house, Karly's concert, and the phat Thai restaurant coming up next time on "Shitty I Babble About."