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Bass Reverberates Most Materials

On Valentine’s Day I fully intended to post a round up of semi-romantic items but was too busy. First off, Thursday morning a strange howling sound awakened St. Paul. I was awake but somehow I didn’t hear it! Bummer. Friday I had a busy day of working from home, running errands, and getting my art hung for the evening’s show - all before the boyfriend came home from work. I attempted to wear my sparkly dress with the sequins but remembered how much the sequins chafe. I’ve got to figure out a way to mitigate that. Thankfully I found a back-up dress before it was time for dinner at The Craftsman. Two Cava cocktails with dinner and I could have easily gone straight to bed after. But I rallied and headed to the house show where my photos were hanging, along with some other pretty awesome art. But Saturday I was wrecked. I have rarely been hungover. I blame it on not drinking enough water before bed. None of my Saturday plans came to pass, aside from seeing The Secret Life of Walter Mitty at the Riverview with the guys and getting dinner at Vo’s. Still, not a bad weekend.

Not necessarily five good things this time. More like fascinating and/or bittersweet items:

The weekend before last my friend Luke put on his Drone Not Drones benefit show for Doctors Without Borders. I was there for roughly half of the 28 hour event and the boyfriend was there for an even greater chunk of it. I did manage to stay awake for his 2am set but I was too exhausted to take photos of it (though I took photos of other performers, when I was more alert). Not sure how many girlfriend demerits that’s worth. Anyhow, Luke plans to have streaming audio available soon. And donations are still being accepted here.

Bennett

Realm of Authority

Well heck. There may be more “no school” days ahead for my son, and not because of the weather. Or Presidents’ Day on Monday. Later this month St. Paul public school teachers will decide whether to go on strike. for the first time in more than six decades. I received the heads up in an email from the district. Letting me know that if a strike occurs our summer plans may be impacted, if the school year needs to be extended. But I just got our summer plans sorted! Figures. Oh and speaking of summer plans, I kinda envy the kids who will be having Adventures in Cardboard.

Five good things:

  • I enjoy a good palindrome. Like TACO CAT. But Paris-based graphic designer Yann Pineill takes it to a whole new level. Their “palindromic short film, Symmetry, is impressive because it succeeds in presenting a mirrored narrative that progresses organically whether watched from the beginning, from the middle, or reversed from the end.” Yup. Pretty neat.
  • Many years ago I was lucky enough to visit Morocco. But I didn’t see any badass all-female motorbike gangs when I was there! Thankfully there is photographer Hassan Hajjaj and his “Kesh Angels” series. So good. This winter has gotten me down but I was inspired by him, and his subjects. So I decided to host a “Middle East meets Midwest mezze brunch” soon.
  • Like many others I recently posted about that little from the gender neutral 1981 LEGO Ad. Well, someone found her and now she Is All Grown Up, and She’s Got Something to Say. She reinforces the message that children haven’t changed. We have. In the that way our culture has allowed gender segmented marketing to creep into the toy market. Sickening.
  • When I was a kid I remember all generations of the family gathering around to enjoy the Carol Burnett show. I got a little teary-eyed when I read An open letter to Carol Burnett. What a lovely response from the grand dame herself!
  • Old news, but I’m just seeing it now and it cracked me up: Guy Dresses Up as Facebook Users and Sends them Friend Requests. Silliness.

The winter Olympics - the most expensive Games in history - are in full swing and I am fully conflicted about it. The host country routinely violates human rights. Right now the IOC is acting on abuses directly related to workers who built Olympic venues and infrastructure. And of course Russia adopted that dreadful yet vague discriminatory anti-gay law. But the athletes involved in the games trained for years not knowing what countries they’d end up competing in, if they made it into the games. So I’m allowing myself to watch bits and pieces. Like this video, made by an athlete: Luge Olympian Matt Mortensen Takes GoPro On His Run And It’s Awesome (and terrifying). But I’m keeping my coverage balanced. As a die-hard Kids In The Hall fan, I could hardly contain myself when I heard that Buddy Cole is covering Sochi for The Colbert Report.

My son, in the green room at The Cedar

Like Two Flowers In One Pot

Valentine’s Day looms. The pressure is off a bit this year. It’s our second time through as a couple and we’ve been living together for nearly a year. But we will be enjoying dinner out, at a restaurant we’ve been meaning to try. And afterward hanging out with friends at an art/music show that will feature a display of my photos. Along with work by sixteen other artists. But I know how awkward this manufactured holiday can feel when not paired off. So I appreciate what the Swedish Institute’s restaurant, FIKA, is doing. They’re hosting a dinner for singles where “The only love you need in February is the love of awesome and adventurous food.” Right on.

Five good things for this chilly Friday:

It’s the dead of winter - and the beginning of the Winter Olympics - yet I’m already having to sort out my son’s summer plans. He is officially too old for the summer camp program he’s attended the last several years. Thankfully those fine folks have other options for him. He rejected the first outright. He does not want to become a Counselor-in-Training (and eventually a Counselor). He fears the responsibility. And all of the interactions with the young’uns. He’s a kid who would much rather go off and do his own thing. I get that. But I just learned about another option. It’s still on-site at the same camp, but it’s a program for special needs young adults. The little man has made huge strides over the years. But it’s clear that he has autism and may always need a little extra help to make sense of others around him and situations he will find himself in. I’m hoping this life skills camp will be just the thing. Though I’m pretty sure he hoped I’d let him sit home alone all summer, playing video games. Nuh-uh. Do as I say, not as I did.

Kitten Forever

Going Nowhere Slowly

There are ways to get through rough winters. Sadly we can’t afford the “flying off to warmer climes on a whim” option. Last weekend we embraced the winter instead, with a visit to the Art Shanty Project. It happened to be Intergalactic Tutu Day and our timing was such that we witnessed a marriage proposal on the ice! This year my favorite shanty is the one my son’s Dad and friends built - the Elevator Shanty. Very clever. And once again BoingBoing covers the whole shebang. Get out there one of these weekends before February 23rd.

Another way to cope with this weather? Basking in the humidity of a greenhouse. I plan to visit the Como Conservatory soon. But they are only open until 4pm daily during the winter. I may need to swing by on one of my work-from-home days. A little farther from home, I heard this piece on MPR about a ‘Deep winter’ greenhouse grows veggies year-round at Paradox Farm in southern Otter Tail County. I would love that sort of set up! But I’ve only just started growing my own sprouts from seeds. Baby steps. And much farther from home, London’s Newest Farm is an Abandoned Bomb Shelter Deep Beneath the City. Super cool. As the planet’s population swells we need to find more innovative ways to grow food.

Five good things and one sketchy one:

Last Saturday we were moving so slowly. Eventually we got the entire household to the Y (just the humans, not the cats), for a much-needed workout in the afternoon. Which we then ruined by eating treats from the Russian Tea House, just across the street from the gym. Oops. In the evening the boyfriend and I headed down to the 7th Street Entry for a sold out show. Saturday night dance party with the amazing JD Samson & MEN, and our friends Kitten Forever. Sunday we were supposed to do a great many things. But after bundling up and stumbling around on a frozen lake I just wanted to stay bundled up on the couch at home. We skipped our friends’ super bowl party, Irregular Readings at the Triple Rock and a show at the Seward. But polar artic vortices be damned! I need to force myself out in the world more often. So this coming weekend I’ll be spending a good chunk of time out there, at The Cedar Cultural Center, for the 28-hour dronefest put on by my friend Luke. Drone Not Drones is a benefit for Doctors Without Borders. And will feature musicians ranging from my all-time favorite band Low to…my boyfriend. I just need to stay awake for his 1:45 - 2:15am time slot.

Art Shanties 2014

The Long Night

Collectively we’ve had quite enough of this winter already. One can make only so many Game of Thrones “Winter is Coming” jokes. The reality is too harsh with these crazy cold snaps, school closings, record snow fall and snow emergencies. Too much all at once. But at least we live in an area equipped for winter, unlike Atlanta. And I am thankful we have a warm, safe home. And a landlord who pays for the heat and for a snow removal service. More than one friend has recently posted about the price of propane skyrocketing, or failing furnaces or struggling with shoveling sidewalks and digging out driveways. Homeownership was not for me. Nor was working for inflexible employers. Life is so much easier now. More often than not I work from home. But I haven’t been having any cabin fever. Yet. Instead I never want to leave. While home I’ve been cooking (even more) and I just ordered more board games to play with the kid. Last night we rediscovered The Tick: Hip Deep in Evil and that sure was fun. Tonight we could and should walk across the street to watch a Laurel and Hardy movie with the Freemasons. But the boy wants to stay put for the night. I don’t blame him.

Five good things:

Last Sunday was our annual Cat Show Brunch with friends followed by the Saintly City Cat Show itself. Fun, as always, but it seemed like the event was smaller this year. I do think it’s odd that the event is held in conjunction with the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. In that it means hauling all these felines around in severly cold weather. I need to take my two cats in for a vet check up but I’m putting it off until warmer days. This coming weekend will see the opening of the 2014 Art Shanty Projects (this time in my hometown of White Bear Lake). And I am so excited about another Saturday night in the 7th Street Entry - this time to see JD Samson & MEN, with my friends Kitten Forever opening.

Cate Le Bon

No Separation Based on Form

My weekend plans unraveled, partly due to the weather and partly due to illness. A lingering cold took up residency in my lungs the other night and I haven’t managed to evict it yet. Last night was meant to be spent at dinner with friends followed by a group outing to an art show. Instead my boyfriend worked late, to avoid a messy rush hour commute, while I huddled on the couch watching a newer movie. Yet another Hollywood offering starring conventionally beautiful stick-thin actresses. I am perpetually frustrated by the narrowly defined beauty standards in the dominant culture. Life would be so dull if we all really did look the same. I don’t know how parents of daughters do it, trying to raise secure young women. When there are tidal waves of negative messages trying to knock them down, clearly judging and devaluing them based on appearance alone. Of course these calls for conformity and unattainable airbrushed beauty are received equally by our young men - which has to affect how they view and relate to their peers and how they feel about themselves. And I can only imagine how young trans people feel. It’s all so discouraging! But wait. There are glimmers of hope here and there. Below are five good things.

This afternoon I wasn’t up to standing outside in the frigid cold for the annual Art Sled Rally. I’m bummed about it but my sad lungs are thanking me. Instead I’ve been resting so I have the energy to stand around tonight, when we check out Cate Le Bon in the 7th Street Entry. She is an incredibly talented Welsh musician. But our own local college radio station, Radio K, has been running a promo on air that devalues her talent by focusing on her eye candy appeal. It pissed me off but reminded me of this great satire bit The Stranger ran on “Men Who Rock

It’s that time of year again—time to pay attention to the men who rock, FOR A CHANGE! Everyone knows that there is nothing sexier (or more rare) than a man who knows how to rock. Being a gorgeous man in music is one thing, but add talent to the mix? That’s taking it to a whole ‘nother level. With male-fronted bands, male solo acts, and even all-male bands becoming more and more commonplace, 2012 has definitely been the year of fierce men in music. They’re starting to rock all the genres, too: provocative punks, steamy rock ‘n’ rollers, dashing cowboy sweethearts, hiphop hunks—men are even making it in the complicated world of electronic music! Guys everywhere are stepping to the front and demanding to be heard—and we’re ready to listen. And look! To show our appreciation for the strong males who provide us with satisfying doses of ear candy and eye candy, we handpicked six of Seattle’s hottest male musicians to showcase their ability… to turn us on!

Hats off to music writer/musicians Emily Nokes and Bree McKenna (of Tacocat) for making me laugh.

Ben's language

Cultural and Personal Nostalgia

Here we go again. Wind chill advisory. Dangerously cold. Cold enough to shut down schools in the metro area again. Yes, Winter 2014, we read you loud and clear. You hate us. When I was a kid we had the occasional snow day but it was usually pretty fun. It meant going outside to build snow people and snow forts while plows lumbered down the street. Then warming up inside with hot chocolate. There is no going outside today. Unless properly bundled and even then it’s still a game of beat the clock before frostbite or hypothermia set in. And the South is even getting in on the action, with their own sci-fi sounding Winter Storm Kronos that will turn rush hour into “some sort of nightmare.” Sucky. But I’ve gotten to remain warm and safe at home with my son today (while my poor boyfriend had to slog it way out to a third ring suburb). I am trying my best to remember the natural beauty of the region, even in winter. Like this: Lake Superior Sea Caves Open For First Time In 5 Years. But for the most part I’m ready to give it all up and move to Hawaii. Or the South of France.

How about five amazingly good things to warm you up on this bitterly cold day?

This weekend I would love to be in Los Angeles - to escape the winter - and to see this amazing looking Cat-Inspired Art Show. It features over 70 artists, including Shepard Fairey. Seems unlikely to happen but at least this Sunday is our annual cat show brunch plus Saintly City Cat Show event. Not to be missed.

cwunconf-kristi-whiteboard

Poke Him in the Weird Place

My poor little Mazda. Right now it’s getting its third replacement grill in three years. Two in the last two months. My son picked out our rental car - a bright blue Toyota Yaris hatchback - and, like him, I’d rather keep it. Not that we had the chance to drive it much. The turnaround time at this auto body shop has been like lightning. Last time it was a week and a half. This go around it’s been a day and a half. I’m off to make the exchange soon.

Five good or at least interesting items:

  • I hadn’t heard about Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee until Jerry Seinfeld picked up Patton Oswalt for a ridealong and they broke down in DeLorean, but went for coffee anyway. I like it.
  • When I was excessively pregnant with my son, like eight months along, I saw Cibo Matto play at First Avenue. I was crabby because it was hot and it seemed like everyone was blowing smoke in my face (this was in 1999, way before the smoking ban). And it was crowded so my pregnant belly was being bumped into with annoying frequency. I nearly snapped at one guy who slammed into me but he turned around and gave me a brilliant smile and I was momentarily stunned when I realized it was Sean Lennon so I didn’t say anything at all. Anyhow, the dynamic duo known as Cibo Matto have reunited, released a new album and are returning to the Twin Cities. I’m excited to see them at the Turf Club March 4th.
  • I love tales of rediscovered photographs. In this case, by Norwegian suffragist Marie Høeg

    “In the 1980s a box of glass negatives was found in a barn in Eastern Norway. The person behind these rediscovered images proved to be Marie Høeg, a Norwegian suffragist and commercial photographer. While Høeg was known during the late 19th and early 20th century for her conventional photography, typically landscapes and seated portraits, these rediscovered negatives showed Høeg and her partner Bolette Berg challenging normative notions of gender through private performative gestures. Produced at the turn of the 20th century, a period when women did not yet have the right to vote in Norway, the images are arresting in their anticipation of contemporary discourse around gender roles and performative identities.”

    More photos on flickr.

  • This is not a good thing but a good conversation. Plus size? We’ve really gotten out of control with body image bullshit. Something of interest written by this alleged plus size model on thigh gap. And related to gender and raising our young women, this LEGO Ad From 1981 Should Be Required Reading For Everyone Who Makes, Buys Or Sells Toys. And this ties in with Jezebel’s continuing crusade to unearth un-retouched photos of celebrities from the fashion magazines that try to make us all feel like crap for not looking conventionally flawless.
  • Another bittersweet piece. Goodbye cameras? Noooooo! But I do acknowledge we have become a broader culture of networked lenses much more so than actual photographers.

I’ve been even more of a hermit this winter than most years. But I blame this it on this “winter on steroids” with blizzard warnings and polar vortex, part two. No thank you. Instead of venturing out into the cold I’ve been curling up with the cats and reading more than usual. Though we did make it over to our friends’ Twin Peaks A Thon last weekend. We must have been there for nine hours’ worth of episodes. And I didn’t even have any strange dreams afterward!

Untitled

Better Than Something

My early Monday morning was a frustrating big bang of clusterfucks. Involving sprained or broken pinky toes (mine), a missed school bus (my son’s), a subsequent missed personal trainer appointments(mine), spilled coffee, cat puke and more. But I turned things around. By going for an angry stompy walk to Whole Foods for a small bag of healthy groceries helped. The walk home was a much mellower one. Doesn’t hurt that it was fifty degrees warmer yesterday than it was the previous Monday, when schools were closed statewide. Other items have improved my mood as well. See below.

Five good things:

Somehow I often end up in Duluth in the winter, though it’s much easier to get around in in the summer, obviously. Winter up North does hold a stark sort of beauty. As does the music of my all-time favorite band, Low. And they’ve just announced they will attempt to play their entire 10-album catalog in random order over the next seven Thursday nights at Fitger’s Brewhouse.

A Product of Difficult Times

During my recent cold weather confinement at home I got a whole lot of cooking done. Even more than usual. I played around with phyllo dough. Made an amazing shaved Brussels sprouts / squash / caramelized onion tart. And two kinds of baklava. And more baked pears with brown rice / almond milk pudding. And cabbage rolls. And paleo breakfast bars. And more. A few friends think I should start a proper food blog. I attempted that here once, in my forlorn recipes section, but I might just do that. I have sharynshoots.com for my photography portfolio. I might just grab sharyncooks.com but that doesn’t sound terribly clever.

Five good-ish things for this fine Friday:

  • Even we lifelong Minnesotans were shocked by our recent cold snap. But it could have been so much worse. I can’t imagine living like this: Russians Adapt to a Freezing, Dark, and Polluted Place
  • Fred Armisen imitating Ira Glass on an un-aired Saturday Night Live Weekend Update segment from 2011. It was filmed during dress rehearsal, but cut from the broadcast.” So good. Speaking of Fred, we really need to watch more Portlandia episodes before our upcoming trip.
  • And speaking of Portland, after discussing with friends who live there and poking around the internet - we’ve decided to stay in the Division Street area.
  • We’re looking forward to this trip for so many reasons. Seeing family and friends. Eating great food. Seeing nature. Seeing nerds in their environment (at the Emerald City Comic Con). And hitting my Fitbit step goals every day of the trip, which brings me to this interesting article on The Anthropology Of Walking and how we, as humans, move across the landscape.
  • So many good shows and things tomorrow night! One I’d like to stop by? The Hex, where friends are playing in their Siouxsie & the Banshees cover band called, wait for it, Fauxie and the Manshees. For the holidaze the boyfriend got me some lovely gifts. Including Nocturne, the live album from 1983, both the DVD and vinyl. Sadly the vinyl version reeks like moth balls.

Yesterday I broke my homebound streak. Ordered up an Uber car (first time users, grab my Uber code and we’ll both get a $20 credit) to retrieve my car from Worku, my mechanic. Had a nice chat with him and learned that he is also raising a vegan teenager. He even gave me pro tips on how he prepares tofu, Ethiopian style for her. Neat. Then I relished the feeling of freedom as I drove my car to the bank, TJ Maxx and Target. And later went out to Sakana Sushi for dinner with the boyfriend. Being out in the world wasn’t so bad! Later this morning I’ll even work from my company’s headquarters for the first time in a couple of weeks. Thankfully a wonderful friend there has been watering my sad desk plants.

New Year's Day 2014