Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Outdoors is Open

Finally, the first outdoor meal of the year. We should eat all our meals outside year around, like the Indians did. They had it figured out. Everything tastes better there. I could even eat grass outdoors. Like cows. Cows have it figured out too, I guess.

This here is a picture of the new fish taco recipe I made for C's birthday. I always make different fish taco recipes because I don't have any written down and always end up at different web sites looking one up. This one had me frying cod, and that is never a bad idea. Might be my new favorite.

I fry so rarely that I never know what to do with the left over oil. I let it sit out and then throw it away trying not to think about what I spent for the bottle. Could I fry donuts the next morning after making fish tacos at night? Probably not. C suggested the reverse might be possible, though.
This is a picture of the tree that I tried to fill with lights to make the night more festive. It looks cool in person. I think the summer rule will be that if you drive by and see the lights on in the tree, then you can stop by and we will grill something for you. Asparagus, probably, so I hope that's okay.
The family

And before I forget, I need to write it down that if I ever write a children's book, my pen name will be "P.J. Bottoms."
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Saturday, April 26, 2008

American Teen trailer!

I'm so excited for this movie. Filmed in Warsaw! Mrs. K just pointed me to the trailer, which I'd been waiting to see for awhile, and it looks so good.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

new sport: Brother Sport

My favorite of the new A.C. songs, but I like "Safer" a lot too. The title intro is a little dull, but when the actual song starts and especially when when the 3:40 mark hits, it becomes one of the most sublime moments since Loveless. I think, anyway.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Instead of Juno

Now that it is out on DVD, people are hearing about Juno again, so it's a good time to mention Rocket Science, which is better. It probably rates about the same on the plausibility scale as Juno, but the difference is that the liberties it takes are intentional and, more importantly, earned by its performances and script, whereas Juno loses its credibility points with the viewer (or this viewer) by accident. For me at least, it sounds like every word Diablo Cody put in Juno's mouth came from some revisionist or wishful-thinking diary she kept full of the things she wished she had said and done during high school. Just too clever.

One of my students had this great comment in his journal the other day about how all the girls at our school think that the character Juno is so cool but if she went to our school, they would all hate on her.

The two films' soundtracks are also similar, but again, in my opinion, Rocket Science wins here--the music feels more integrated and, I guess, "warranted" would be a good word to describe it, where in Juno the songs may be catchy but they're used like cans of energy drink, as a substitute for energy where there isn't any (just like Wes Anderson!).

Anyway, you should see it and then tell me if you agree or disagree. Or no, only tell me if you agree. The trailer:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Rugby Saturday

We got there too late to see my school's match, but whenever rugby is going on, it seems like there are always plenty of teams willing to drive to town to make a day of it. I got there just in time for this squad from Detroit to take on the local club. It was about the cruddiest weather imaginable: wind & sleet. A Detroit guy says to me "Thanks for saving the good weather for us" and I say "please, they invented this weather in Deroit." And then he punched me in the face. Actually, they were all super nice fellers. And they all look like contestants in a Bluto look-alike contest (Bluto, you know, the bully in the Popeye cartoons). I could have thought of a better comparison, maybe.Rugby really is one of the more confusing games to watch if you don't know the rules. I can't figure out any of it. From what I can tell, they only stop play when the teams aren't causing enough injuries. Other than that, they just run around and dislocate things that should always be very firmly located.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Record breaker

Without even trying, I think I am on the verge of breaking the world's record for the number of times listening to the (smog) song "Strayed" in one two hour period in front of a computer. I have not yet found the actual record online anywhere, but I have got to be close. Better listen a few more times to be safe.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Broad Shouldered Weekend

Chicago is not the same place when you have kids with you, but it's still Chicago. A friend loaned us her pied-a-terre at 777 Michigan Ave for the weekend, and it was not to shabby, as they say. This is the view out of one window, looking north. The kids spent a lot of time looking at it. B would start a game of I Spy with you but kept choosing cars. They would drive away, so you could never win. J reverted to some cloying language she must have gleaned from Disney, saying things like "I surely wish I could live here forever." She's five and fluent in princess.

It was mainly museums, then. No Damen Ave. book stores this time. Shedd Aquarium was my favorite except for the dolphin show, which is primarily a lecture. They should advertise it that way. But I could watch the Beluga whales for weeks. Unfortunately, the main attraction for me, the octopus, was balled up in a corner of his small box of a tank. But still, a live, large-ish, non-fried octopus. I could see one of its eyes, an intelligent eye, and I think we shared a moment.

Walking around some of the neighborhoods just northwest of the water tower was some of the more laid-back adult stuff we got to do. We spent about twenty harrowing minutes in a fabulous Anthropologie store. I was convinced we were going to buy some broken $200 bauble but we made it out okay.

In the particular beautiful brownstone part of Chicago where we were walking, you don't see a lot of families. It's just too expensive, I guess. You'd see a few local families out and about with strollers and it may have been me but the parents had these looks on their faces like "look at us! We're raising our family in downtown Chicago and we're doing great!" Maybe I was jealous, but I don't think so. Out of the other side of the apartment, you could see the Museum of Contemporary Art. On Friday night, they were having a late-night party thing with DJ's and hipsters, presumably, but I couldn't quite tell from the apartment. I watched people walk through the galleries for awhile and thought "I surely would love to sneak out and hang with the DJ's." But no, not this night.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Recipe for a Playlist

The Ruby Suns

Once again, I have the Animal Collective message board, "Collected Animals," to thank for finding me new music to dig. This time, it's The Ruby Suns, more kind of Beach Boys sounding stuff, which I seem to be into lately.

I was thinking about this today and I realized that I usually find myself patrolling a few places for new music:

(1) blogs like Gorilla vs. Bear and Stereogum and others
(2) The New Yorker's blurbs about bands playing in town that week
(3) The New York Times "Playlist" column in the Sunday paper.

Those last two sound stodgy, but they are actually pretty smart sources. By far, though, the AC board has the highest success rate for me.

Usually, it goes like this: mine a thread for suggestions and then plug them into The Hype Machine to stream songs it finds across the universe. After streaming them for awhile, it's a pretty simple decision whether I want to pay to download the album or not.

Anyway, I do this and think that I'm caught up with what's happening in the music world and then I read a few SXSW reports of all the bands who played in Austin and I realize that I'm not even close. I'm more than a little jealous of my friend Jim, who just took a job as photo editor of Wired magazine and got to go to SXSW as a result. Maybe some day I will be able to trade my two Masters tickets to someone for some all-access badges to that festival. That'd be a dream.

I've also been spending a lot of time this break reading Abu Muqawama, a pretty amazing Iraq war blog, which does so much more to explain the nuances behind what you read in the traditional media. It has helped convince me, for example, that recent reductions in violence have less to do with our increased numbers of troops, and all to do with giving al-Sadr the chance to participate in the political process and therefore an incentive to call his militia off.


Now I have to drive in to school to feed my fish, though they're probably all dead by now. My last shark, "The Kid," has to be a goner, just like at the end of Blood Meridian.