Attic Full of Static

January 17, 2010

She’s Crafty: Ceramics I

Filed under: Craft-tastic, Family & Friends — Tags: , , — bavarianerin @ 1:24 pm

Every once in a while I get a hankering for being crafty. For the most part I lean towards the “soft arts” of crochet and needlepoint. After this cold, hard winter we’ve been having, what I really wanted was some cold, hard, breakable ceramics to decorate.

My history with ceramics was limited to whatever Linn-Mar provided in school art classes and one instance when I was six.

My mom took my sister and me to a local ceramics studio. It was a multi-visit process. First, we picked out our pieces, then we sanded and cleaned the edges with weird shaped tools. Then we glazed the pieces and returned at a later date to pick them up. My Mom picked a large pumpkin and my sister and I each picked out small Jack o Lanterns. For several years these items were our staple Halloween decorations…until the day I dropped my sister’s Jack o Lantern. For some reason I was carrying the Jack o Lanterns outside and dropped hers on the front step. It broke. Into many, many pieces. Given that my sister and I were sworn enemies, it was assumed that I had done it on purpose. I didn’t. At least, I don’t think I did. Maybe I did. No, I don’t think I did. Let’s go with that. In any case, the loss was really mine because when my Mom decided to get rid of her pumpkin, like, 20 years later, guess who got it…that’s right, my sister. Now she has Mom’s giant, perfectly glazed pumpkin that she can display in her home year after year. And since it’s just a pumpkin, it’s suitable for displaying from mid-September until after Thanksgiving.

Here’s what I get to display:

Lucky me.

So, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at ceramics again, if only to redeem myself from my previous clumsiness.

I didn’t have to go far to sate my ceramic appetite. Potters Obsession (1941 51st St NE) is Cedar Rapids’ only ceramic studio (or the only one I could find anyway). My crafting accomplice, Mos Steph, and I arrived at 11:00 am on a Saturday morning. On a previous solo scouting trip to Potters Obsession I had discovered a hand written sign on the door with their hours for the week. It appears that during the week their hours vary, but on the weekend they do not. Either way, it’s best to call ahead.

When we arrived we were greeted with the not unpleasant faint smell of paint and a chipper employee who offered to show us the ropes. The “studio” is large and bright, with about a dozen 4 person tables already set with water dishes, paper towels and a “helpful hints card”.

The first step is to pick what you want to paint. The west wall of the studio is lined with shelves stocked with unpainted bisque items. Bisque is a term used to describe a greenware, or type of clay item, that has been fired in a kiln at about 1000° C. This firing causes a chemical (and physical) change in the clays composition, but leaves it strong, durable and porous enough to be glazed.

The variety of items was impressive and ranged from the practical (dinner plates, platters, ice cream and cereal bowls, sushi trays, tiles of various sizes, cookie jars, utensil holders, vases, candy dishes and trinket boxes) to decorative (frogs, unicorns, dogs, cats, cheerleaders, football helmets, magic wands, penguins, turtles, horses, Christmas ornaments, Halloween items and many more).

The prices of the items varies, but were clearly posted. The small animals, quite popular with children, are $6.00 while the cookie jar is $28.00. Not included in this price is a $7.00 “studio fee” which covers the glazes and other materials.

Unlike my previous experience, all the bisque pieces are ready to go. There is no sanding or fixing rough edges involved, simply wipe the bisque with a wet sponge and glaze away!

If you find yourself in need of inspiration there are many items displayed all over the studio, and samples on the shelves of undecorated bisque too. Also, a whole array of idea books and an entire wall of finished items waiting to be picked up that could help to ignite your creative juices.

Also available are hundreds of stencils, in case you don’t want to try free handing that bunch of red peppers on the expensive platter.

The glazes for painting the bisque are displayed on a large magnetic board, in their finished and fired form. Glaze goes on matte and sinks into the bisque, but when fired in a kiln turns a deeper color and hardens to a glassy finish. There is a significant difference between the color of the glaze out of the bottle and the color it will be after firing. All the glazes that Potters Obsession (P.O.) uses are standard undercoat glazes but there are dozens of other glazes and glazing methods. For undercoat glaze it takes about 3 coats to become opaque.

The suggested P.O. process involves writing down what glaze colors you want to use by their number and keeping that handy. Then you grab a tile with 6 little circles on it and squirt the glaze from the bottles onto the tile. P.O. highly discourages the wasting of the glaze and a small sign even warns that you will be charged for wasted glaze. Mos Steph likened it to many of the local Chinese food buffets who like to post passive aggressive signs regarding food waste.

Initially I picked a horse, a small unicorn and a small octopus to paint. Mos Steph picked a large chair shaped bank and a T-Rex.

Right away I could see the importance of writing down the glaze numbers. On the horse and on large chair we both quickly ran out of glaze and had to refill our trays. Even after a few minutes of drying the glaze color radically changed and with about 5 different shades of brown offered I would have been screwed had I not noted the number. Also, this is where the rule about the amount of glaze you start with was worthless. Steph had to fill a whole tray with little green dots many, many times in order to cover the bisque chair three times.

Now, I want to make a few things perfectly clear. I don’t really like horses. I’ve only ever ridden a horse once but over I have developed a highly technical socio-anthropological classification called “Horse People.” I can usually pick them out just by looking at them. It’s a gift. More than once in conversation I have said someone looks like “a horse person” and this has nothing to do with them looking *like* a horse (unlike my sister’s “horse dance” in which she does look like a horse prancing) but more that they look like the type of person who would enjoy and own horses. An excellent example would be:

She looks like a horse person. If you are lucky enough to *not* know who that is, it’s Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Ron Howard.

On the Dotzenrod side of my family tree there are many horse lovers, horse owners and horse riders. My stepfather owns a horse, Memphis, as do several of my uncles and cousins. I couple of them even look like “horse people” and it suits them very nicely. Last November my Mom was riding a horse, lost control of it, fell off and broke her back. I thought it would be funny/cute to paint a ceramic horse for my Mom and stepfather. I tried to paint it to look like Memphis but my memories of him a vague so I just winged it, giving my horse a white patch on his chest and on one foot, just like my sweet pug Paxton has.

It very quickly became clear, as I worked on the horse, that I was being entirely too ambitious with my bisque choices. Given the detail that I would want to give the octopus and the unicorn, along with the 3 coats they would require for each glaze color I knew that I’d be there until closing time. I decided to abandon the other animals in favor of a large cereal bowl.

Throwing caution, and possible dirty looks from the employee, to the wind, I brought my glaze choices to the table. For the outside of the bowl I picked pink and for the inside I picked the same pink color morphing into green. I found it easiest to squirt the green glaze right into the bowl and brush it around. After my 3 coats I decided to jazz the bowl up a bit by pouring the black glaze directly over the rim of the bowl and letting it drip organically. I used a brush to even out the glaze around the rim and to give the drips additional coats.

One cool thing that P.O. offers is the use of tiny little bottles of glaze with pin sized applicators. These can be used for very find detail work, making near perfect polka dots and lettering. I used one of these little bottles to help with my drips.

Mos Steph had picked the big comfy chair bank for her husband who is OCD about his own big reclining Grandpa chair, and she used 3 colors of glaze to create a plaid pattern on the chair. She did all the stripes by hand but only gave them 1 coat so that they would be more subtle than bold.

She got a little creative with the T-Rex, making it more like a T-Steph, complete with signature headband, cardigan sweater, flip flops and pretty painted toenails.

After all the glazing comes the hardest part, the wait. P.O. keeps your piece to fire in their kiln and a pick up date of about a week later. We had to bid farewell to our masterpieces and hope that our layers of glaze were adequate. We assured my horse and T-Steph that they would not end up abandoned like so many of their brethren.

Seriously. Somebody picked these babies out, glazed them, paid for them, then never bothered to pick them up. What kind of person would do that?

Probably a horse person.

Feeling extra anxious, when Friday rolled around I gave Potter’s Obsession a jingle, hoping that maybe, just maybe, our pieces were done early. Score! They were! Superfro and I hightailed it over there and I was stunned to see how awesome all the pieces turned out. They were shiny and bright and I really enjoyed showing them to Superfo.

Here is the horse. The white patch on his chest came out really nice, as did his ears and hooves. The dark spot om his face wasn’t quite as blended as I would have liked but the rest of him makes up for it.

I like everything about the cereal bowl except for the blending from the pink to the green on the inside. I won’t be trying that again. I love the drips though. I think I’ll be making some matching items on further trips to Potter’s Obsession.

And in case you were wondering just how big that cereal bowl is…well, it’s big enough to hold a horse.

Mos Steph was equally pleased with how her ceramics turned out. The plaid on the chair looks great!

If any of this ceramics thing sounds fun to you and you would like to check out the Potter’s Obsession, please let me know, I’d love to tag along!

January 8, 2010

Oh, That Pelvis

Filed under: Music Musings — Tags: , — bavarianerin @ 1:21 pm

I’m trying to imagine what Elvis would be doing today, if he were alive, to celebrate his 75th birthday. Part of me worries that had he lived that long he would be a graduate of the Wayne Newton College of Aesthetics and have gone under the knife in an attempt to keep his youth around. Then again, he was not so vain that he was afraid to wear polyester pantsuits when he had some extra poundage…so who knows. I bet he’d still wear scarves though.

No matter, he is beloved by billions to this day and his influence on music, and pop culture in general, is pointless to argue.

Customers at Alter Ego have often heard me play Elvis and many times I’ve caught shoppers tapping their feet or even singing along. Since I try to keep the store “family friendly” Elvis is a good choice, using subtle innuendo instead of frowned upon four letter words. Listening between the lines though, the sexuality is palpable. The difference between Elvis’ innuendo and the sort popular these days is that it’s wrought with wholesomeness. The swooning girls in Elvis’ audience were mostly fully covered, minimal cleavage at best, maybe a tight sweater on the more “Rizzo” of them. Their idea of a good time was holding hands and necking. First base, maybe second.

As Elvis matured, so did his fans and clearly he helped awaken the sexuality of a whole generation of women. He didn’t even have to exploit them. Not in the modern sense anyway. No slapping of thonged asses with champagne pouring over them. Not in public anyway.

Still, no subject is more fully explored in Elvis’ catalog than love. By explored, I mean nearly wholly focused and concentrated on. From near begging for love (“Little Sister”), apologizing for love but still begging (“Suspicious Minds”), angry at love (“I Got Stung”), regretful of lost love (“Are You Lonesome Tonight?”), and completely obsessed- borderline-stalker-better-get-a-restraining-order (“Stuck On You”). He is thankful (‘Wonder of You.”) He’s jilted (“Marie’s The Name of His Latest Flame”). He’s settling for second best (“She’s Not You.”) He’s trying everything he can possible think of to get you back (“Return To Sender.”) It’s making him sick (“Burning Love.”)

He fluidly vacillates between every possible stance one could have on love and relationships. He’s lonely. So lonely he could die. Love him tender, love him sweet. Never let him go. One night with you is all he’s praying for. Put a chain around his neck and lead him anywhere. Just let him be your teddy bear. Even he knows that he loves you too much. He needs your loving all the time. He’s in love and he’s all shook up. And baby, don’t say don’t. He ain’t asking much of you, don’t be a stingy little mama, you can spare a kiss or two. Look, it’s now or never. He can’t help falling in love with you.

Dozens of songs about love, inspected from every angle. I certainly hope that he actually felt true love at least once in his life.

A few of my favorite Elvis songs don’t seem to have anything to do with love, or sex or wanting. “In The Ghetto” chronicles from birth to death a man who never had a chance, exploring the socioeconomic ramification when we “turn our heads and look away.” “King Creole” and “An American Trilogy” don’t have a lick of sexy to them. “Bossa Nova Baby” features a lady too busy dancing to worry about being wooed – “Keep on dancin’ cause I ain’t got time to think!” “If I Can Dream” could be considered a gentle protest song meant to inspire and “Daddy Please Don’t Cry” is more about the child than the lost loved one.

In the end, Elvis will be most remembered for shaking his pelvis and making women(and men) quiver under the power of his performance. He stirred something in humankind, and continues to do so to this day. Legions of Elvis lovers flock to Graceland every year, many of them not old enough to have ever seen him live, even on TV.

Happy Birthday Elvis, you still got it.

January 2, 2010

The (Belated) 12 Drinks of Christmas

Filed under: Food Related — Tags: , , , — bavarianerin @ 1:13 pm

One of the things I love most in life is a cold bottle of soda. If that bottle happens to be glass and the soda of a variety that isn’t Coke or Pepsi, then the feeling is all the more sweet. And I mean sweet like the kind that can cause a diabetic coma.

Last year I was introduced to the website for a store in Los Angeles that specializes in bottled sodas of all kinds. I treated myself to a dozen different sodas and a tradition was born.

It took me a little longer than usual to get through all the sodas, usually I try to drink one a day but some nights I just wasn’t in a soda mood so…well, that’s my excuse. I know it’s already the 2nd day of 2010 but let’s just deal with it OK?

Moving on…

This years 12 Drinks of Christmas arrived in mid-December. When I saw the box on my porch I felt an instant psychosomatic sugar high. In the warmth of my kitchen I unpacked the goods.

The Soda Pop Stop has a tried and true method of sending glass bottled sodas. Of course the consumer pays for this. A fee of $5.00 is added to the shipping cost for the very special styrofoam container they use. It’s worth it too, none of my bottles have ever broken in their cross country trip.

Each soda is nestled into it’s own little compartment so glass never touches glass. OMG! Aren’t they beautiful? Even their caps are cute!

All of the sodas were just starting to freeze. The temps here in Iowa have been in the single digits for several days. Thankfully, the sodas were insulated enough to prevent a full freeze.

This first set is Captain Eli’s Root Beer, Strawberry and Orange. This is a brand I have been long wanting to try so I went for a variety of flavors.

Captain Eli’s Sodas are made by the Shipyard Brewing Co. in Maine, a place I have long considered too cool for the rest of the United States. This soda just might provide the concrete proof. Shipyard has been brewing since 1994 and makes lots of nifty sounding beers. But this blog isn’t about beers, it’s about soda so you beer lovers just mosey on your way now, OK? In addition to the 3 sodas I picked Shipyard also makes Ginger Beer, Lemon Lime, Blueberry Pop and something that sounds delicious, Parrot Punch.

The root beer was exactly what I expected. A hint of bitterness, pretty strong, totally made me belch. I sincerely wish it was a diet root beer so I could fit it better into my daily consumption.

The orange pop reminded me of Orangina (which I like to pronounce like it rhymes with ‘pa-china’ which is what I called my lady business when I was a wee lass). Imagine taking some orange juice and adding in a little carbonated soda water and… voila! No hokey candy orange flavor here.

The strawberry pop….where oh where do I begin? Have you ever eaten right out of a tub of strawberry frosting? Or eaten the batter of a strawberry cake mix? You know it’s not real “strawberry” flavor but you don’t even care because it’s so sickly sweetly perfect that you forget the little taste test might give you the trots later? Yeah, it’s like that.

If I ever find myself in or near Portland, Maine I will be visiting the Shipyard folks, just to shake the hands of the bottlers of these fine sodas. And to try some Parrot Punch.

This is Red Ribbon Grape, Green River and A.J. Stephan’s Lemon & Lime

Red Ribbon Grape is made by the Natrona Bottling Company in Pennsylvania, who have been bottling since 1904. They make a fantastic array of drinks, including a favorite from last years 12 Drinks of Christmas, their sublime Cherry Supreme. You can see all their flavors here. With high expectations I cracked open the Red Ribbon Grape and I rode the satisfaction train home from Sugar Blissville. It was so good that my salivary glands made that aching twangy feeling. It wasn’t too carbonated so it went down nice and easy. I didn’t notice any funky chemical aftertaste and the bottom of the bottle came way too soon.

Green River has been made in Chicago since 1919. It’s got natural lime oils in there but the dominate flavor harkens more towards a lime candy. Superfro called it “liquid Smarties” which is rather accurate. It’s a funky bright green color, I’m hoping it doesn’t turn my pee green. (Editors note: it didn’t.)

Another banner drink from last year was the A.J. Stephans Lime Rickey. I was quite tempted to repeat it but settled instead for the Lemon-Lime. Their
website doesn’t offer much in the way of history. The labels say it’s made in Boston with pure cane sugar. If you got a chance to try either the Pepsi or the Mt. Dew throwback sodas this year (or the Kosher Coca-Cola) you well know that drinks with pure cane sugar, as opposed to high fructose corn syrup, offer a different kind of sugar high. By “different” I mean fast and furious. It also leaves a coating on my teeth that makes velvet feel like silk.

In any case, the flavor of the Lemon-Lime is exactly what you would expect, without any carbonation sting. It sort of reminds me of those old Brach’s round sour balls that I so very dearly miss. The Lemon-Lime didn’t thrill me like last years Rickey, but it’s still a very, very good soda.

Next up: Nesbitt’s Strawberry, Manhattan Special Black Cherry and Thomas Kemper’s Oregon Marionberry

Nesbitt’s of California started making orange flavored soda in 1934. In 1946 they hired a pretty lady to be their soda “poster girl”, that lady was Marilyn Monroe.

Nesbitt’s was also the official orange soda of Disneyland for a spell. They were pretty much the top dog in and around southern California for several decades. The Nesbitt company has changed hands many times over the years and their soda is now bottled by the Orca Beverage Company, who also bottles Moxie, Dad’s and Americana brand sodas. Nesbitt’s Strawberry is less “fake” tasting than some other strawberry sodas (like Crush). It has a unique flavor that reminded me a little bit of those strawberry candies that come in the wrapper that looks like a strawberry. I approve!

Manhattan Special makes lots of bottled iced coffee and espresso drinks, plus 5 bottled sodas. They have been doing this since 1895 and really pride themselves on their history of making the “American Dream” come true. Their black cherry soda was rather exotic. I felt like instead of drinking just “soda” I was drinking some sort of adult concoction. A little earthy and a lot awesome. I’ve never actually eaten a real black cherry but I bet they taste like this.

I’m a fan of Thomas Kemper’s sodas, especially their root beer and black cherry but I had never even heard of a Oregon marionberry, let alone tasted one. I gotta say, in all honesty, I didn’t finish this drink. It was way too strong and woodsy for me. I felt like I was drinking some sort of weird forest cider made from the berries of shrubs that house nests of woodland creatures. I’m not sorry I tasted it, because now I know not to order it again. Really, it’s just a personal taste thing, TK Sodas is a top notch company that I would buy on a regular basis if I could. You should check them out at TK Soda.

And last we have Fitz’s Grape, Sparky’s Root Beer and Dr. Browns Black Cherry.

After the Oregon Marionberry I went to a taste I was well familiar with, grape, specifically the Fitz’s Grape Pop from St. Louis, Missouri. Fitz’s webiste, is a treasure trove of history chronicling their sixty plus years as a restaurant and soda bottler. Now that they are officially on my radar I may have to road trip just to try their other flavors, including diet sodas! The Grape Pop was really smooth and not too biting. I appreciated being able to taste the flavor of the soda over the sensation of the carbonation. That sensation is one of the reasons I like drinking certain sodas at a warmer temperature (like Dr. Pepper). When a soda is too cold I feel like I can’t taste it as much as when it’s just cool….in any case, I’m rambling…Fitz’s Grape Pop is top shelf soda, they should sell this stuff in the finest establishments, charging over $3.00 a bottle for it.

Sparky’s makes root beer. They ONLY make root beer. It’s a family run operation, and from the taste of it, I’m sorry I’m not part of their family. They have only been around since the 90s so they are quite young when compared to some of these other companies. Frankly, it doesn’t matter, Sparky’s tastes like it could have been around for decades, refined over the years until perfected…which it is…frickin’ perfect. So good I even think my friend Paul Horn, root beer aficionado, would like it. (Editors Note: Paul and his wife Darlene were the ones who introduced me to the SodaPopStop!) Sparky’s Root Beer has all the things I’m looking for in a root beer; a creamy taste and a deep and hearty flavor. I would certainly buy Sparky’s for special occasions if it was available locally. Also, I would like the Sparky’s family to know that I am open to being adopted again.

Dr. Brown’s isn’t so rare or hard to find, in fact, you could find it in cans here locally back in the 90s (perhaps because it’s bottled by the Canada Dry corp.). They are mostly known for their Cel-Ray soda, yes, that’s “celery” flavored soda. I didn’t pick that, I picked the black cherry to see if it was as good as I remembered. It totally wasn’t. Not even close. It tasted like Dr. Brown had just grabbed a bunch of crappy samples from his pharmaceutical rep and dissolved them in some rancid cola. Dumping that drink down the drain was a sad, sad moment in the 12 Drinks of Christmas 2009, but a necessary one.

So, overall, mostly good sodas with a few surprises. If you come across any of these drinks when you’re out and about I suggest you give them a taste bud test drive, and then hop on back to let me know what you thought!

January 1, 2010

Eyes In The Back Of My Head

My sweet friend Mos Steph posted this survey in lieu of a New Years blog, and I’m following suit. Because I’m a follower. But I only follow her. And not just because of her sweet tukus, but that doesn’t hurt either.

So, as I sit here listening to the 80s on 8 on XM radio I will indulge you in some totally tubular “too much information”!

In 2009 did you….
Not unless you can count pork belly as friends.

fall in love with someone that was just a friend?

fall in love at all?
I fall in love with Superfro more every day. So there. Be jealous!

lose any friends?
Yes, but it was only a matter of time with those people.

make any new friends?
I re-connected like a operator!

make any new enemies?
Most likely.

get older?
Yes, and it shows.

do anything you regret?
Only probably a million things. Here’s one, I didn’t see my family nearly enough.

go to any parties?
Only the ones that had cake. Or cookies.

accomplish anything?
Read a buncha books, got some long overdue junk tossed out…but really, hardly anything of importance.

make much money?

attend a wedding?
Only one.

attend a funeral?
Sadly, yes.

get any new family members?
OMG! Stop with the babies already people! My sister-in-law and 4 of my cousins all had babies, and all 5 of them were girls.

move away?
No. Still here.

gain any new perspectives?
I suppose….

get into a verbal fight?
Indeed. Mostly with complete strangers.

get into a physical fight?
No but I had several dreams about it. It’s always the same too, where I’m beating the crap outta of someone as hard as I can but doing no damage. Sometimes they even laugh at me. It’s very disturbing.

get arrested?
No. Not to say I wasn’t “detained for questioning” though….

wreck your car?

get a new car?
No, but we paid off the Matrix and almost have the Lunchbox paid off…so…you know. Smart car here we come!

make any big purchases?
Mostly just airfare and hotels costs…a condo rental in San Diego…new T.V….a few little pieces of art…nothing too big.

get kicked out of a store, restaurant or any other kind of business?
No. Jesus, I’m 35!

get fired from a job?
No, but I did get to fire someone and that was mildly stressful. Not the firing, but everything that comes with it, the hiring of someone else, the training, the extra hours, etc. All said and done though I’m so so so so so much happier. My new employee, Cory, is funny and attentive and the customers really like him. And I trust him.

get offered a job?
No…not unless you consider…well, have you seen Indecent Proposal with Demi Moore and Robert Redford? That wasn’t really a “job” per se….

get a raise at a job?
Not really. My income depends on how good or bad the store does…and for the most part the store stayed steady…so yeah, I got paid, but no more than the year before.

learn anything?
So, so, so, so, so much. About myself, about Japan and their ever so funky ways, that women rule the comic book and other pop culture media, about compression fractures and my own limits of care-giving, about the power of viral marketing, the joys of Twitter and that Crocs don’t have to be the ugliest shoe ever, and oh man, so much. You don’t want me to keep going do you?

develop any new health problems?
No. My doctor likes to call me “boringly healthy”, which I’m sure if one of those phrases he says all the time so that when the nurses hear him say it they cringe. Even with as fat as I am I still have good blood pressure, a good heart and no diabetes. That’s no reason for me to stay fat though, it’ll have to be addressed eventually.

change as a person?
Probably. I realized that I can’t get involved in politics on a deep level. I can support a party but I won’t ever again work for the advancement of a specific candidate.

get any new piercings?
No, why? Because it’s not 1998.

get any new tattoos?

attend a concert?
2009 was certainly a banner year for shows for Superfro and me. HOWEVER, I just realized that it might be the first year in a long time that I didn’t see Splitsville live. Instead I got to see Mika with Mos Steph in Chicago, we dodged death to see Superdrag in Rock Island, went to the very first ever Them Crooked Vultures show on a sweltering night in Chicago, Silversun Pickups stunned me in Des Moines (that was the show where the guitarist hand moved so fast it became blurry) and hit the jackpot in Las Vegas with Muse. 2010 already looks stellar with TWO Muse shows planned, in March and April. So, no, I’m not likely to shut up about them anytime soon.

travel out of state?
Yes! Illinois! Florida! Georgia(just the Atlanta airport)! California! Nevada! Texas(airport again)!

read any books?
I read like an autistic person who compulsively reads. From the entire Little House on the Prairie series, the Anne of Green Gables series, the genius Boilerplate, the incredible Tokyo Vice plus about 90 more…I was a reading machine, and a better person for it. Except for Parallel Play by Thomas Rayfiel, I hated that book.

travel out of the country?
No. Don’t even get me started….

spend much money?

download any music?
Yes. And bought CDs. And bought some LPs too. One of my favorite albums this year was the “Glitter and Doom” CD from Tom Waits.

try out any new looks?
No, not really. I got some of my hair cut off, but still wore it in a pony tail all the time. It’s really time for me to get a style. I still wear the same old clothes…but I did become a fiend for the Right Fit jeans from Lane Bryant. So much so that I bought about 6 pairs on eBay, and made 2 of them into capris for summer wear.

sign up for a myspace?
Ha! Actually I deleted my MySpace account after I got a Facebook one. Facebook is much easier to look at using a dial-up connection which is what I have at work.

sign up for a facebook?
I can’t remember if it was before or after the new years….

eat a food that you had never eaten before?
Please see the pork belly, referenced above.

go golfing?
I don’t think I even went mini-golfing and certainly not real golfing.

go bowling?

start to resent something or someone that you used to like?
Most likely. It’s a natural cycle for me.

In 2009, how many….

different places did you work?

times did you have health problems?
Uh…never? Wait. I had a cold…and my feet were sore once or twice.

times did you go to the movies?
Not that many…compared to other years. I just can’t deal with the people anymore. My tolerance level is so very low.

concerts did you attend?
I saw 11 bands in 5 shows.

“rough nights” did you have?
Pretty much every Tuesday night when I know I have to wake up early on Wednesday would be considered “rough” for me.

In 2009, what was?
Wow. I have no idea. Probably Thanksgiving. I got to see both sides of my family and it was the first time after my Mom’s accident that I really felt like she was on the mend and that everything was gonna be “a-ok”.
Also, seeing Mika in Chicago with Mos Steph. It was the first time we had ever been on an adventure together and everything sort of fell in place to make it a really great trip.
Also, the day I ate that pork belly.

your favorite day of the year?

your favorite band?
My band of the year is probably Muse….My Zune would tell you that the top artists played on it this year were Tom Waits, Muse, Mika, Splitsville, Johnny Cash, Tegan & Sara and Elvis Presley.

your least favorite day of the year?
The Day That November Came and Went

your favorite movie?
Holy cow…wow…um…shit…I have no idea. The last 3 I was were Inglorious Basterds, Public Enemies and Extract. All were decent.

your favorite song of the year?
“Uprising” by Muse maybe? “Happiest Home In These Hills” from the Pete’s Dragon soundtrack?

the biggest event you attended?
I suppose it would have to be the San Diego Comic Con. 125,000 people every day peeing their nerd pants.

Misc. questions about 2009
Yes, 2 of them.

were you in the hospital this year?

were you in an ambulance this year?

did you make any big confessions in 09?
No. And to make that true, I’ll say here and now that I started seeing my old therapist, the one I saw when I was 15. There. I’m in therapy. Happy?

embarrassed about anything you did this year?
I’m sure there are many, many things….I probably farted in polite company more than once.

what’s the best thing to happen to you this year?
Have you not been reading this whole thing!?!??!?!

did anyone you have no feelings for confess to having feelings for you?

did you vote this year?
Yes, there was a little thing called a LOCAL OPTION TAX put to a vote and clearly not many people paid attention, hence why we are paying 7% tax in Marion.

was 2009 a great year, an average year or a bad year?
A great year with a few lows…the problem is that the lows were really fricking low. 2009 was for sure bi-polar.

what goals did you set for 2010?
Must we? Really? Can’t we just enjoy the time we spend together?

December 28, 2009

2009: The Year Math Made Cooler

Filed under: Interwebs, Personal (Not Confidential), WTF? — Tags: , — bavarianerin @ 12:07 am

2009 was not a banner year…but it didn’t suck balls either. It was sort of ho-hum in parts, disappointing in other parts, terrifying in others and exhilarating in others.

The only thing 2009 was consistent in was it’s speed of delivery, somehow going from Valentine’s Day to Halloween in the blink of an eye.

I know this phenomena isn’t exclusive to me, and it’s one of those things that as a child adults always talked about and I never believed. Until about 7 years ago, which, if you asked me, really only took about 17 hours to pass.

In addition to a brand new year, people are talking about the start of a brand new decade. The interwebs is chock full of “Best of the Decade” lists, in every conceivable category (Best commercial? Best sports team season?) which puts extra strain on my already addled brain. I can’t even tell you my favorite book of the year, much less the decade. Wait, scratch that, my favorite book this year was totally Boilerplate. Never the less, decade lists are far beyond my ability right now. Try me next decade.

So, what good am I, you wonder? What kind of “end of the year” blog is this, you’re asking yourself (maybe)? Well, using my barely above below average math skill I have matriculated my year into events that add up to the sum of 2009.

Let’s begin

1607 –Number of miles driven round trip to and from Chicago

0031 –Number of blogs I published

0001 –Number of haircuts I got

0008 –Number of nights my Mom spent in the hospital after her accident

0115 –Amount in dollars I lost while gambling in Las Vegas

0026 –Number of “Signed In” podcasts Superfro recorded

0000 –Number of times Superfro asked me to be on his podcast

0022 –Number of nights I spent in a hotel or other paid accommodation

0011 –Number of bands I saw play live

0004 –Number of babies born/adopted into my family

0080 –Amount in dollars of the most expensive meal I ate

0104 –Number of books I read (excluding single issue comic books)

I’m pretty sure I could have kept going until the year 2525 had I factored in the number of pieces of cake I ate(12), the number of times I saw Dennis Miller in a random crowd of people in San Diego(3), number of times I wet my pants in public(4), number of Facebook friend requests I declined(2), number of people who declined my Facebook friend request(1), number of trips I made to UPS in Hiawatha(51) and the other 200 things I listed on my first draft…but it was 2009 so I had to stop where I did.

You’re welcome.

Happy 2010!

December 18, 2009

Imaginary Christmas List

Filed under: Personal (Not Confidential) — Tags: , , , — bavarianerin @ 11:57 pm

There is not much gift exchanging going on in my family this year. For the most part we all buy what we want; we’re all a bunch of spoiled brats with no concept of waiting for something.

“Making a list” was becoming a chore for everyone and we’d all just put things on there we really didn’t want or need just to give people options. While the lack of shopping has made the season relatively stress free, I’ve been plagued by thoughts of things I could have put on my list, had I made one (which I did, right here, curing my plague).

The Swatch Infinity Watch. A camera. An mp3 player. A watch. Swatch. This watch is still in the prototype phases so I’m S.O.L., at least until next year!

A delightful little cottage in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. A/C, plunge pool and western style toilet a must. Outdoor bathtub and rice paddy views a plus. Yes, it takes 26 hours of flying time to get there but it’s WORTH IT. I’m WORTH IT!

The PiCross 3D game for the Nintendo DS. Really, this is more for Superfro. It’s supposed to be out here in the United States eventually but he’s getting pretty tired of waiting. The Japanese edition would be just fine.

LeSportsac bags. I’d pretty much take any style or pattern; so long as it’s not fake I want it in my filthy hands. And because they are 100% washable I’ll be able to clean off whatever filth I get on it. Which makes LeSportsac the ideal bag to use when stealing food from a buffet, which I would NEVER do, unless it was a donut buffet.

Just what the picture says, laser hair removal. Legs and armpits, thank you very much.

Tickets to see the Elvis Cirque du Soleil at the new CityCenter in Las Vegas. Not front row though because I don’t want to strain my neck look up.

Tickets to see Muse in Phoenix, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and/or all points east of Chicago. Also, their entire catalog on 180 gram vinyl. Also, a little sit down with the guitarist Matt Bellamy where I will ask him very important things like “Seedless watermelons…how do they do it?” and then we will laugh and smile and become the best of friends. Then I won’t need tickets to the shows, so really, this might be the better of the 3 Muse related gifts.

A tuba and some refresher lessons. And a promise from my sister that she will not try to throw it at me.

Adidas Stan Smith sneakers with the triple velcro. Size 9 womens, 7 mens. Color unimportant but I do already have them in pink pearl and baby blue velour, so keep that in mind. These shoes are second only to all my Keen Mary Janes.

A “round the world” ticket from the OneWorld Alliance featuring American Airlines. A R.T.W. ticket can take me around the world in one direction with as many stops as I want, so long as I don’t double up on airports. Any of you jerkstores who don’t think I could make the most out of a R.T.W. ticket, so much so that I would break the system and they would have to cease selling them, well…you can go suck a butt.

Of course I still want a smart car. Nevermind the fact that I don’t even have a driveway and could not get a smart car serviced within 3 hours of here, I still want one. I want to drive it right up to Manchester Iowa and onto my father-in-laws lawn, honking and knocking over his birdbath and his stupid blue glass globe thing and yell “Hey douche bag! I didn’t get run off the highway!”

And a very merry Christmas to you too.

December 17, 2009

Lost Vegas

Filed under: Personal (Not Confidential), WTF? — Tags: , , — bavarianerin @ 11:52 pm

In Las Vegas bars are called “night clubs”, they have curtains and velvet ropes and one syllable names like “Oval” and “Purge”. Suited nightclub reps stand at attention outside, passing out coupons for free admission or free drinks. If you spend less than a minute watching them the level of style profiling becomes thickly plain. The woman with the 4 inch heels and the mini-dress, already tipsy at 3:00 in the afternoon, she’s a target. Me? Not so much. At one point, while Superfo and I were walking through the MGM Casino, a nightclub rep eagerly handed vouchers to the couple in front of us and also behind us. Loudly Superfro said “Oh, They don’t want us in there?” to which the woman nearly choked and said “Oh no, no, I didn’t mean…here…” pushing the vouchers our way. We laughed at her and kept moving. I’m sure the irony was eventually lost on her, but not on me. They don’t want us in there.

SIDENOTE: When the fuck did pairing an untucked dress shirt with a pair of jeans become “dressing up” for guys? Just because your jeans cost over $100 does NOT mean they are “dress pants”.

Almost immediately after the encounter with the nightclub rep I started seeing the rampant incongruities of the casinos, the city itself and the people visiting. I can’t call them tourists because they aren’t there to tour anything, or to even see anything, they are there to be seen.

But it boggled my logical mind. Do people really come to Vegas so that they can impress a casinos with the money they spend, in the hopes of getting something they won’t have to spend money on? It sure seems like it.

Does the $50 I spend on a meal get me the same service as the same amount spent by a skinny woman in designer clothes and a trophy handbag? No. Simple answer, no. We both might put a twenty into a slot machine and we both might come out empty handed but one of us is getting free drinks while shaking hands with the one armed bandit, and it’s not the one wearing adidas sneakers.

How do I know this? Because I felt the look of the women working at Wolfgang Puck’s Grill, the intense distaste when they realize that one of them HAD to help me because it was their job. If it was up to them they would have both let their eyes glaze over and continue looking past me at some imaginary point on the horizon. But there I was, invading their domain, looking to be seated at a table at their restaurant, maybe order some food and even eat it. How. Dare. I.

Las Vegas made me feel too many emotions all at the same time; hopeful, excited, worthless, invisible, rich, centered, tired, poor and sometimes even a little ill. It wasn’t my first time there, but it was the first time I saw the city for what it really is; a cesspool of well perfumed mannequins riding skateboards of other peoples dreams.

December 12, 2009

Muse in Las Vegas – 12/12/09

Filed under: Adventures, Music Musings — Tags: , , , — bavarianerin @ 11:49 pm

Superfro and I took a quick trip to Las Vegas last weekend to enjoy the musical stylings of the band Muse. Jeremy took a few short videos during the show which I will now share with you via links to them on YouTube.

This first one is from the end of the opening number, “Uprising”.


Next is “Hysteria”. Watch for a special cameo of yours truly at the end of the song when Superfro pans over to show the crowd.

Hysteria With Bavarian Erin Cameo

Next is a partial clip of “Plug In Baby”.

Plug In Baby

And last was “Knights of Cydonia”, a song which has been called “a spaghetti western space opera”. There’s a big finish, don’t miss it!

Knights of Cydonia Face Melter!

The show was part of a local radio stations “Holiday Havoc” concert series. It was held at the Hard Rock Hotel’s venue called “The Joint”, a new and very modern place that offers ample floor room as well as box suites, reserved table seating around a balcony and reserved stadium seats for 4000 or so attendees.

December 7, 2009

The Sweet Smell of Christmas Cookies

Filed under: Food Related — Tags: , , — bavarianerin @ 11:44 pm

I’ve done a wee bit of baking this year, including these sweet little snowmen. I saw a picture of them in a cookie magazine but I made a few adjustments on mine.

The photo had larger cookies, and used Life Savers for the ear muffs. For mine I used gumdrops that I cut in half. For the noses I used orange gumdrops cut into triangles and then shaped by hand into pointy noses. I used chocolate chips for the eyes, the original photo used brown M&Ms. Red licorice was used for the ear muff bands and the mouth.

For the cookie itself I used store bought Ready to Bake Pillsbury cookies, which, in my opinion, are the greatest invention in the last decade. I did roll them into more uniform balls and flatten them slightly before baking.

The frosting is also store bought vanilla.

I don’t make things any harder than they need to be. Sure, I want them to be pretty, but they are going to end up a mess in your belly, so you might as well take every shortcut you can!

December 4, 2009

Mobile Masterpieces I

I just realized that I have some awesome pics on my cell phone and that I can upload them here for all to see. Some are old, some are new, all are pointless.

This first one is of some sugar cookies that Superfro decorated. He decided to get creative with the Rudolph decorations, in an untraditional way.

This is Paxy relaxing under the counter at Alter Ego. She’s showing off her laser eyes. She wants everyone to know that “laser” is actually an acronym, but can’t remember what for. Perhaps Licking And Sniffing Every Reader?

This is Paxton, in the same spot, but looking much less menacing!

This is a happy little note found on the menu at Loraine’s Diner in Chicago. I really appreciated their honesty.

This OBVIOUS time machine was spotted in Rochester, MN. My sister and I were there for my mom’s back surgery and I wanted to remember their phone number in case my mom wanted to go back in time and never even get on that horse.

Speaking of horses, this cutie was a soft, furry friend that I bought for my mom as a “Get Well” gift. Before I took it to her we made sure to check all the rules regarding animal visitors.

One of the things about Paxton Rhubarb that always cracks me up is that she can’t see when things are sticking out of her mouth, especially if it’s lightweight. In this picture Paxton has been caught ripping apart some toilet paper and then tried to use her puppy dog eyes to act innocent.

Here I’m sporting the whole spectrum of plastic “Green Lantern” rings. Green Lantern wears a ring that is the source of his power and I guess so do all the other “Lantern” people. Really, I have no idea, I just know that the rings are comic nerds version of “bling bling”!

Another excellent reason I don’t drink alcohol is because I’d be susceptible to ridiculous things like this, just because of it’s name.

This picture goes all the way back to July, on a flight to San Diego. This bitch sitting in the bulkhead seat thought that THE WALL was a good place to put her legs and feet during the entire descent process. For the first time ever I was hoping for a rough landing just so she would break her hips.

This last pic is also from July. The condo we rented in San Diego provided us with prime dog spotting opportunities. Our neighbors were 2 adorable pugs who spent much of their days on the shaded balcony, looking down on traffic. It was a real treat to see their faces when walking home after a long convention day!

I hope you enjoyed my little picture show, I’ll try to be more timely with them next time!

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