Still exploring around in the kitchen. It's daunting to approach dinner with a cookbook because you need to have a lot of key ingredients to begin with. Having virtually no spices (aside from salt, pepper, and basil) -- I've started to approach meals completely from scratch, and it isn't half-bad.
Last night I had bow-tie pasta with chicken and a basil lemon-cream sauce, fruit salad, and french bread with olive oil. Orange juice on the side.
This is the hardest I've laughed since a night long ago in Koon Dorm.
It was just another evening after a full day of work. Vanessa was napping. I was eating her lightly salted organic veggie chips from the bottom of the bag. Before I knew it, they were all gone; her special treat and I had finished them off. She woke up from her nap and I felt compelled to break the news to her. "Oh," I said, "chips are all gone." She was standing in front of the mirror in the bedroom, sleepy eyed, in her underwear. "They better fucking not be!" She said, and she let her bra fall off to her elbows. I collapsed on the bed, laughing silently, shaking, tearing up. It took her a few moments to realize that there was a dime stuck to the underside of her left bosom. She explained 'she had no where else to put it.'
In this part of Arizona there's a very defined line of separation between Phoenix and Tucson. Aside from the obvious college rivalry that exists between ASU and UA, people squabble over authenticity, aesthetic, atmosphere, even the superiority of geographic location.
Tucson is hippy/artsy. Phoenix is more cosmopolitan. Tucson sits at the foot of mountains. Phoenix is in a valley. Tucson's nightlife looked dead. Phoenix is alive at night.
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
I learned a lot about these mindsets during my recent trip south to Tucson to see Sunset Rubdown perform at a sweet nightclub called Plush.
I'll concede with the locals, there are obvious differences between the two cities. But, I think there's another problem Arizonans need to solve. Of the two concerts I've attended here (The Handsome Furs and Sunset Rubdown), both crowds were (in the words of Dave Frank) "offensively lame."
Here are some examples:
At The Handsome Furs:
One of the openers, The Cinnamon Band (consequently, from Staunton, Virginia), was playing...and then turned to the crowd and said, "Hey guys you can come closer to the stage." And it was true, the nearest person was probably 6 feet away from them.
People hesitated, but before long one man broke the silence, yelling, "Yeah but your box amp is too loud!"
Not only did the crowd refuse to move forward, creating an awkward tension between the band and the audience...but some idiot came to a concert and complained about the volume. Needless to say the Cinnamon Band was pretty sarcastic throughout the rest of their set...and rightfully so.
The Handsome Furs were playing. By this time everyone was packed in and it was pretty lively. Dan Boeckner stopped between songs to talk about how much he loved the desert and the cacti and such. He said he was really wowed by the "Jumping Cholla" cactus, that seems to attack people.
But a guy in the very front row, shouted and began to explain, in excrutiating detail, how they don't really attack people, but the biological reaction their spines have when they brush up against something makes them appear to attack.
Someone in the audience yelled an obscenity about the explainer and assured Boeckner of the cactus' danger.
At Sunset Rubdown:
So the band is playing, the crowd is alright. Between songs Spencer Krug looks up, obviously excited to be in the desert, and says, "Do you all ever just find yourselves driving through the desert and listening to The Doors? Because that's what we did today."
And some idiot (about 4 feet away from him) says, "Why would you drive through the desert -- and why would you listen to The Doors?!"
Oh Jesus. Mark Perkins and I exchanged horrified glances, him ashamed of his hometown, me disgusted by the Southwest. Even worse, Krug looked just as mortified.
To add insult to injury, the crowd barely cheered for an encore. They just sat there, occasionally shouting something (i.e. Mark and I)...it was clear the entire band was put-off. But they were feeling forgiving, I think, and played one more.
Even still, the show was a lot of fun:
I'm trying to nail it down. Maybe it's regional? Certainly not. How could that be possible? Does the entire southwest suffer from this lame-crowd syndrome?
There are amazing things about Arizona. The desert is as cool as people who've never seen it imagine it to be. The art scene in Phoenix is consistently rated among the top ten in the U.S., and the number of things to do forces me to make tough decisions each weekend.
Still, when I introduce myself, I'm always thinking of ways to slip my regional background into conversation. There's still something about the locals that make me proud to originate from a separate region. When it comes down to it, the offenses at these concerts would never happen in Detroit.
Some sound advice: beware Glenstone Ave. in Springfield, Mo., especially between the hours of noon and 1 p.m. Central Daylight Time. You might have an ACCIDENT!
Well, shit. If only I'd known. It was totally his fault though (the guy behind me who pushed me into the car in front of me). Maybe I'll make a diagram later.
Really, though, all this does it pull the City of Springfield even further down a notch. It's been on my "On Notice" list ever since my Bob Barker fiasco.
I have to go back to that godforsaken place tomorrow (in my spiffy new rental Jetta) to get the crap out of my car at the barbed-wire lot on Commercial Drive. Yeah, it's as shady as it sounds ("Floyd's Wrecker Service"— the card the guy gave me had only a number and no address...no surprise why).
Maybe I can find the Springfield Cardinals there after my harrowing experience and they can single-handedly pull the city into my top five (top five cities in the Great State of Missouri, that is...later I'll compile that list, too).
Doubt it, though...they're still the freakin' Cardinals.
Perhaps deceiving, this image shows the crashwagon in peril, perched at the edge of a ditch better described as a cliff.
It was 9 a.m. when I arrived at a train bridge to photograph volunteers repainting a mural. With the 55 mph highway in mind, I strayed far onto the shoulder before parking. Forty minutes later, my rear-wheel drive was coaxing the back of my wagon over the edge of a 15-foot embankment full of vegetation and trees. I paused, reoriented my wheels and made one more effort. I envisioned a barrel roll into the bush: a foolhardy destruction. And I called it quits and called a tow truck.
The Comedy of Lynchburg Katie's new N-V position (which comes with an office) is not without its share of new never-seen co-workers at the printing press some 60 miles away. But before today -- a day featuring the Comedy of the Cliff and chicken burned by crock pot -- she had never made clear how awesome the faceless pressman might be.
Known only by voice, they are: H.T. Bear, Allen, Larry, and Larry (who goes by Allen).
I know that Katie and I make two, but we're not sold on the idea that cooking for one is too difficult or too expensive. Disagreement is welcome.
In the meantime, here are a few dishes that have become staples (and please share your suggestions), mixed in with our tips about stretching ingredients:
1. Veggie stretch Your veggies don't need to go bad. In a given week, we'll come home with three bell peppers, an onion, and a X-factor veggie (tomato, scallion, cucumber). We'll use those in a salad (which stretches over multiple lunches/dinners), then in quesadillas, and to bolster a simple pasta. No waste.
2. Salad boost A salad is so much better with a dash of fruit, nuts, or croutons in addition to the core lettuce and veggies.
3. Bulk section Everything in the bulk section is cheap. Good for snacks: banana chips, craisins, dates, and non-pareils chocolates. Also good for nuts for salad and oatmeal.
4. Menu planning Even with our staple dishes, we still let veggies turn to garbage (compost) if we don't plan out a weeklong menu before heading to work Monday morning. With all the bonus wedding paper around, we write out fancy little menus and try to stick to them. Mixed among ambitious meals are super simple pastas, frozen pizzas, baked potatoes, or other non-recipe items.
5. Katie's suggestion "Bake lots of cakes because they taste good."
Sort of a fluff post, but I'm in serious need of diagnosis. I had three disturbing dreams lately, each more disturbing than the next. Help me here:
1) The big spider that I may or may not have seen crawling on my wall attacks me after getting in my food. I still am not convinced that I actually saw a spider. Could have been the shadows. Or my mind playing tricks on me. But the other day, I could have sworn there was a light brown spider crawling on my wood paneling. Thing is, only saw it out of the corner of my eye. I was deep in a book. By the time I looked squarely in that direction, it was gone. I grabbed a News-Leader and lifted the curtain, expecting it to be hiding behind it or in the blinds or on the windowsill. It was not there. I gave up, but the dude showed up in my dream later, only it was fist-sized instead of quarter-sized. I think I woke up before I died.
2) I dreamed that I cut my hair and trimmed my beard. This isn't disturbing in itself, however, the disturbing part is that it looked good. When I awoke from the obvious dream, I looked in the mirror and was confused as to why my hair was still long and my beard was still there. Or, maybe I dreamed the part where I was confused about why they had grown back. Most of the stuff you dream seems to be that way.
3) Lastly, and perhaps most annoyingly, my last dream for some reason contained Rod Blagojevich. I don't know how he got there. I don't know why he got there. I don't even quite know what he was doing in the dream (maybe I was a political reporter? or maybe he just showed up at my house in my room...it's all hazy now). But he was there. And he was scary.
These are all way more disturbing to me than that time I was dreaming solely in footnotes for a few days.
Has a baseball team ever so deftly merged its sporting logo and the age-old "baseball as sex" metaphor as seen above? Perhaps not. That, friends, is the logo of my town's collegiate summer league baseball team. It is, in fairness, the outgoing logo. A simple letter G with a swooshing baseball is gaining currency in town.
I went to their home opener this week, finding an atmosphere a notch below minor league baseball, but far more enthusiastic than high school games. And the players are mostly Division I college behemoths. No shrimps or fat guys to be seen. Probably not five dollars good, but my initial ticket was a freebie.
With teams like the Turks, Lumberjacks, and Luray Wranglers, the VBL can't go wrong.
And the fans, oh the fans! Within sight on opening night: a woman reading a "Nauti Nights" novel; a man sporting a forearm tattoo of a naked women wrapped in the Confederate flag; and a little old lady dangling baseball bat and baseball jersey earrings.
Recently, it has become possible for man to chemically alter his mental state and thus alter his point of view (that is, his own basic relation with the outside world which determines how he stores his information). He can restructure his thinking and change his language so that his thoughts bear more relation to his life and his problems, therefore approaching them more sanely.
It is this quest for pure sanity that forms the basis of the songs on this album. -quote from the liner notes of Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators
Not freaky as in the stupid, vague sense of "oh man, that's freaky good." I mean that, literally, "You're Gonna Miss Me" is the sunniest song on the album. You'll have to poke around YouTube for some other audio-only recordings, but I think I now know from where the Black Angels got their material.
It gets somewhat "happier" when the bonus tracks begin. And by "happier" I mean, more bad ass. Look at the list of covers: "Everybody (Needs Somebody to Love)," "You Really Got Me" (which is, in all honesty, a minute and a half of song followed four and a half of crazy soloing), "Roll Over Beethoven," "The Word" and "Gloria." And then a song called "We Sell Soul". Which is obviously awesome.
I arrived in a 106-degree Phoenix, Ariz. Wednesday night. The trip west was long, but totally good. I left with the intention to run a series of updates on my blog with pictures and description of the trip. If you're interested in checking out those posts, see the following:
One of my favorite pictures from the trip was of this one car at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo:
My apartment here is pretty nice. It's located 10 minutes away from the office and about the same distance away from a cool night-life part of the city. There are two pools and a newspaper stand about a minute's walk from my front door.
I'm already sun-burned.
When you enter the apartment you step directly into the living room.
My roommate, Jenna, and I have a decent-sized kitchen. I'm already making a lot of my own food out of a cookbook Tony recommended.
My bedroom resembles the average hotel room, minus the Gideon Bible in the drawer of the night-table. I like it though.
I have a huge desk, but a small number of posters on the wall. Within the next week or so I'll be adding a lot to the wall. I've started clipping out cool advertisements and art events from the paper and adding them to the wall. Sort of a visual calendar...I guess.
It's pretty tough to be bored in this city. Juggling club meets Wednesday. Swing club meets Thursday. Art walks and neat Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art events often occur on Fridays (plus a good nightlife scene about 10 minute south of me). And plenty of little hole-in-the-wall stuff to see in between.
The music here might be a little hit-or-miss. Besides the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the only groups coming through this city that I'm interested in seeing are The White Rabbits and The Bowerbirds. Later this month I'm driving a couple of hours to Tucson, Ariz. to see Sunset Rubdown with Mark Perkins. Tickets for that show rang in at a very affordable $8.
I'll be finished reading Kurt Vonnegut's Palm Sunday tomorrow, and plan to forge into the following works next: