June 29, 2008

Lee Friedlander

The Lee Friedlander exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts will likely rank among the top five most simultaneously humbling and inspiring "performances" I have ever seen.

"Baffling," Katie said of photographs that mix windows, reflections, and self-portraiture, like this one.

"Hey whoa," we agreed about the rest.

Some can be seen in this slideshow and more at this selective site. In short, Friedlander seems to have photographed everything I would want to photograph. Street stuff, portraits, quirky compositions, odd signs, and lots of driving. It's like watching Jay Gilligan juggle or Adam Boehmer dance (Mpls clip). It makes me want to quit.

I won't quit; we bought the exhibit book for $59.

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June 27, 2008

Vicarious Screenings

A new documentary floats around the country, and I want to see it. Heard of Young @ Heart? Someone needs to see this and let me live vicariously through you...because Charleston, SC and nearby cities don't show it.
Young@Heart is an entertainment group created by and for the elderly, and which is comprised at present of people at least 70 years of age. Some have or had prior professional theater or music experience, others performed on the amateur level, and some had no experience whatsoever.

+ Some of the songs they sing come from: The Ramones, The Rolling Stones, Sonic Youth, The Talking Heads, and Lou Reed.
+ Take a look at the trailer here.
+ Interested? |Minneapolis||Chicago||Columbus|

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June 26, 2008

Q: Are we not men?

A: We are DEVO! (And we're suing your Hamburgerlerin' ass.)

No, seriously, they really got these things trademarked. (The technical term is "energy dome.") And McDonald's apparently tried to pilfer the energy dome without asking Devo. I mean, look at the thing. It's pretty apparently DEVO. And it's pretty atrocious.

But that really begs the question: does DEVO really want to be remembered for that? I mean, in the span of things I guess they got a few things right, and sure, the energy dome made "Whip It" instantly recognizable, no matter who's preforming it But really? "Energy domes"? You're really gonna try and bust balls on this one?

Although, I guess now that I think of it I'd rather have energy domes as a legacy than other things:

OK, I take that back, everything about DEVO is awesome. But I still don't get the potatoes.

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June 25, 2008



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June 23, 2008

Fewer traffic signs can lead to fewer casualties

I'm intrigued by the policy of Verkeersbordvrij (Dutch for "free of traffic signs"), the idea that eliminating excessive traffic signage can bring improvements in traffic flow and safety through reliance on spontaneous order. In one experiment, the Dutch town of Drachten noted a vast improvement in safety at one of its busiest junctions: it suffered 36 casualties over four years, but this figure plummeted to two over the two years following the change.

It is suspected that drivers are less passive, and thus more attentive and alert, when they have to hack their own way around, without instructive signs micromanaging the details. This is certainly in keeping with the driving habits I witnessed in Jamaica, where cab drivers blitz around grazing goats and kids on bikes, and honk first and hit the brakes later. Jon O. shared similar observations from his experiences in Mexico City.

The Wikipedia entry for Hans Monderman, the engineer who pioneered the idea of “shared space,” links to a lecture from Monderman and a video tour of Drachten.

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Who's that a writin?

It seems like we all tend to not post anything for days, then all at once we all choose to write something on the same day. Which is convenient for me, actually, since who's writing makes a nice (albeit loose) segue to my reason for posting tonight: (found on my favorite former Stylus writer Ian Mathers' blog):

I've been trying to get into more sweet stuff like this...usually I do so by listening to the aforementioned Rice radio's Monday evening Americana show. Like I said, it's a pretty good station. Today I heard a Jens Lekman song I've never heard before, and yesterday afternoon I rose around Houston to the sounds of the "Africana and African Diaspora" show (but I have yet to listen to their Funk hour).

-I'm not sure if I've posted these before, but the commercials that ESPN is (at least, was using - I haven't seen them since before the tourney) using to promote Euro 08 are pretty good pieces of advertising. It got me wanting to watch soccer, at the very least.

-And finally, because I couldn't resist: how about those White Sox? (C'mon! It's entertaining! Although, admittedly, is almost, but not quite, as bad as this).

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June 22, 2008


Balls Cabaret is likely the longest running midnight cabaret in the history of mankind, says Leslie Ball, weekly emcee. Held in the well-lit, spooky, and awesome Southern Theatre basement, Balls has kept up its weekly shows for 16 years, and was once a hangout for Jay Gilligan.

Last night I took a crack at it with Mpls friend Nick Laffey. Here's the video, in one take:

I've posted a number of other juggling videos, some of them totally bizarre, relatively old, or involving TV appearances, at my Youtube account.

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June 18, 2008

Good Cop, Bad Cop?

WARNING: Mildly Controversial

I recall Central Park in fall... and also many discussions of institutionalized crime fighters and their uses throughout my college experience.
Well, although I am still more for uninstitutionalized vigalanty justice-doers, I now respectfully tip my hat to the local law enforcement.

I was broadsided today by a middle-aged beldame right in the middle of an important lyric of the Boss's "Hungry Heart." She was tolerable. But when we called a cop to report the accident, he confirmed my suspicion that the majority of us are in good hands.
Three examples, (lists are more fun than paragraphs, so suck it up, journalists):

1) My insurance card was expired. Before I found the new one in the glove box, the chipper officer asked if I could call home and have someone bring an updated one to me, because he didn't want to write any tickets.

2) When he asked how fast I thought I was going, I was too honest, and answered uncertainly, "About 30, I think." To which he promptly replied, "About 25?" and looked at me. I nodded.

3) I could see myself in his shoes.

He was a good cop, and I have yet to be profiled by a bad one.

June 17, 2008

big day coming

When our Target wedding registry goes live around 2 a.m. the first thing on the list is a big can of Bush's Beans. Not far below, and sure to be expunged before the joke can register: Roboraptor and Hulk Hands.

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June 16, 2008



Today I discovered a table in the newsroom with all the tossed aside items the paper chose not to review. Movies, books, music...nail polish. So today I decided to take advantage.

In the bag:
+ Heavy Load -- A new documentary about a punk band called Heavy Load, whose members include some musicians with learning disabilities.

+ The Tenth Circle -- Just for fun I picked it up. "The Stone family's seemingly idyllic lives are shattered when their daughter, Trixie, is the victim of a date rape." A Lifetime Network movie. 'Nuff said.

+ The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death, by Laurie Notaro

+ The Definitive Guide to Stuff White People Like, by Christian Lander

+ Daring to Look: Dorothea Lange's Photos and Reports from the Field

+ In the Heights winner of The Tony's Best Musical Award
Also it looks like I'll be reviewing Outlaw Journalism a book about Hunter S. Thompson. Sweet.

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June 13, 2008

All's Well That's Dontrelle

Mcsweeney's, although for certain a pretentious hipster comedy outlet, has some hilarious sports-themed lists and pieces, for example:

-Underwhelmingly titled hypothetical sports video games from the early 90s
-Verbatim biographical highlights from the 1987 Topps Baseball Cards Series (highlight: "Moose has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is an amateur magician and a certified locksmith.(413)")
-Baseball knowledge will nothelp you pick up girls
-This is Tim's life (if he played fantasy baseball)
-Shakespeare's baseball plays
-Archaic disease or former football coach?
-Fake Sumerian god from Ghostbusters or hockey player?

I've been watching Astros games in Spanish. It makes watching baseball as exciting as watching soccer on Univision. Home runs are an event, anyway.

Also, Rice University has an awesome radio station that I just discovered. They play whatever the hell they want. It's kind of sweet. You should give it a listen.

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June 11, 2008

I saw it (that especially huge YIELD) coming

Then I took this picture. Edit: this picture.

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Crashwagon: fair condition

The Crashwagon R.I.P. post was haltingly but inevitably forming in my mind about this time 20 days ago. I say haltingly because it wasn’t obvious Sadbearblog material at first; I was unaccustomed to being separated from friends too, and didn’t know how to break the news.

For a day, the Crashwagon had died. The throttle body had sprung a leak, allowing coolant to wash across the engine, and one day it wouldn’t start.

I got word, ironically, while on the road with Katie. My mom asked me to pull off the highway to call her back, then she broke the news. The diagnosis was $500 to $1,000 repair work. Only my family’s personal mechanic spoke on the Crashwagon’s behalf, but all other advice streaming in was advising that I pull the plug.

I took this news hard. We had dumped $800 in for catalectic converters a month prior. The move to Minneapolis was days away.

I spoke a night later with my mother, who gave me until morning to make up my mind. Based on all the advice, I acquiesced. I decided to call it quits with the wagon.

Then Juan, my brother, changed his advice. Having trolled around the Bonneville Club online, he concluded the coolant hadn’t had time to do serious engine damage.

He asked me for the Crashwagon.

So I pitched the idea of a Crashwagon Repair Project to all involved and gave over responsibility to Juan. Now, days after it was towed back to the driveway, the Crashwagon runs. Juan drives it to football practices. He vacuumed the interior and is repairing the side paneling and a host of other dilapidations. Which all keeps hope alive that he and I will be able to parody our favorite Roadmaster video someday soon.

He even ordered a new emblem for the hood.

“That’s going to be pretty sweet,” he said.

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June 10, 2008

Google Trends is fun stuff

Associated Content has an article about using Google Trends to come up with story ideas that will generate attention on account of their trendiness.

Google's graphs reflect the frequency, throughout a specified time span, with which a particular term has been searched for on Google. Google News articles can also appear as pushpins on the graph.

Google Trends is also, not surprisingly, useful and cool for non-writers. For example, there have been claims that political and media pressure on Barack Obama to name his running mate is wildly disproportionate to the pressure on John McCain to do the same, especially considering that the Democrat secured the nomination a week ago, and the Republican has been presumptive nominee for months. A graph of these two trends corroborates the discrepancy.

Many insights wait to be discovered in the patterns: rise to prominenceannual cyclesarbitrary spikes, demise, tepid careerrevolution and retreat.

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June 8, 2008

This just in...


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June 6, 2008

Contact Us

Want to make a suggestion for a post, or get in touch with one of the Sad Bear crew?

E-mail: thesadbear [at] gmail [dot] com


June 5, 2008

there are no old people in Minneapolis

We live near one of the hundreds of "share the road" signs in Minneapolis at an address easily confused with its eight other versions (SE 8th Street, SE 8th Ave., 8th Ave. SE, S 8th Street, 8th Ave. NE, 8th Street S, N 8th Ave., 8th Ave. N).

Birds tweet and busses rumble down the street. A squirrel, surprised by our arrival at the front door, flipped over a stack of phone books, tried to climb the brick wall and the glass door and finally zipped, legs wide, into the freedom of the parking lot.

We jimmy the key to get into our apartment, which has too many chairs and not enough good art for the walls. But demo derbies, dinos and the Detroit News will suffice for now. We have a rolling chair, a wavy mirror, a futon, a lime green shelf, and a coat rack from our three trips to Ikea. They sell good 50-cent hot dogs there and we ate them once. Everything else we own came from Target. We didn't spend a cent at the Mall of America (but we window shopped at every store).

We've been here for six days and we're already bragging about our library and our radio station. We got our library cards, but our 89.3 The Current shirts are on hold for lack of funds. We almost get to brag about seeing Barack Obama in St. Paul, but this line deterred us (we drove up at 7 p.m., two hours before he spoke, but the line was more than a mile long already).
Music side note: When I visited the office today and met the music critic he asked what I liked. I told him indie rock, Tapes 'n Tapes, Wolf Parade, etc. So he handed me the new Wolf Parade album and offered me the chance to cover a concert in two weeks which features Andrew Bird and The New Pornographers (and I haven't even started working yet). Although I told Katie she would need to sit by the radio and phone to call and win tickets for the sold out show, it looks like we may land a pair as it is.
Katie and I started a budget in a GoogleSpreadsheet, then quickly broke the bank by choosing a recipe which calls for "about five handfuls" of basil. Today we braved a downpour for two tubs of ice cream. We're limiting ourselves to two restaurant meals per week and we're meeting that so far by making simple stuff at home. Basic pastas, salad, and old-fashioned oatmeal. Tonight we made roasted red pepper and leek soup with feta cheese "crostini" on the side. Katie busted out the housewarming champagne, but that bread I made really stole the show.
Music side note #2: Since arriving, Katie and I have really been digging 89.3, the NPR/MPR music station. They mix super new stuff with local music and old classics, for example, new Weezer, new Tapes 'n Tapes, classic Wilco, Ramones, Talking Heads, etc. New finds already: The M's, Sun Kill Moon, new LCD Soundsystem track.
Although Drew called us "purveyors of mass consumer culture" when we went to THE MALL, a few stores deftly avoid that label. First, we had a good time scoffing at poorly designed wedding invitations (while grabbing some good ideas) at Papyrus. Second, I got to see real live juggling equipment in a real-world store at Air Traffic. Third, (although maybe a gimmick or a consumer culture thing) we discovered "the bean bag chair that becomes a bed." Fourth, we found out that Click & Clack put out more than one CD at the Lake Wobegone NPR store. Besides selling The New Kings of of Nonfiction and This American Life CDs, it had a nice pop-up book and a shitton of Garrison Keillor garbage.

Before all this Minneapolis activity, we took a little roadtrip last week starting from Charleston, north through the mountains to Pittsburgh, over to Zygote Press in Cleveland ( where Katie's letterpress professor had an exhibition), through Hillsdale, and eventually stopping off in good ole Lake Zurich for a few days. We took some photos along the way (click here for bigs):

And we store my bike in the bathroom, Youch the Cactus on a frisbee by one of our our three windows, and our monster microwave on the dining table (in front of where Katie sits).

There are plenty of functional bridges in town and it's been especially warm.

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June 4, 2008

(more) Interesting shit

A few interesting articles I've found of late:

-Cubicles, in original theory, weren't meant to keep office life boring
-The greatest manhunt of WWII (heard on NPR)
-A history of British stereotypes about the French
-How sweatshop inspectors work
-The history of the Indians' ill-fated 10-cent beer night
-Why Americans only care about three sports

EDIT: Also, in light of my recent hockey-watching binge (Wings win, Osgood is sweet), I'm glad that this domain name exists:


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Songs from Pandora

Here are some nifty bands I heard on Pandora that I hadn't heard before:

Leopold and His Fiction: Self-Titled
White Rose Movement: Kick
Fu Manchu: (Godzilla's) Eatin' Dust
Fat: Fat
Roosevelt Sykes
Jimmy & Joe Liggins
The Dandy Warhols: Come Down
Alejandro Escovedo: Real Animal
The Trucks: The Trucks
Jay Reatard: Blood Visions
The Wallflowers: Bringing Down the Horse
The Equals: Help Me Out Simone
Every Move a Picture: Sounds of Life
Diamond Night: The Girl's Attractive
The Sounds: Living in America

June 2, 2008

Bo Diddley, RIP

Bo Diddley, a founding father of rock 'n roll, has passed away, aged 79.

"I don't have any idols I copied after," he once said.

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