Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holiday Post #4: Big Specials and Little Gifts

I spent the last couple nights watching holiday specials w/ my kids. We saw A Christmas Story on Monday, Charlie Brown on Tuesday & then last night we had the pleasure of watching Shrek the Halls & The Grinch. I have this ridiculous desire to watch A Christmas Story every year, particularly on the 1st snowy day... not as bad as a bath w/ candles & wine, but close. My problem w/ Charlie Brown is Linus' watered down X-Mas story. I've always been a fan of Chuck though. Afterwards, there was a new episode I'd never seen before... of course, by new, I mean new in the last 10 or 15 years. It might be new this year, but I really don't know, & I was on the phone so I wasn't paying enough attention to give a brief synopsis. Shrek the Halls was alright & the kids loved it, but the real highlight was the fully restored How the Grinch Stole Christmas. At 1st, I actually thought it was a new version. The color & clarity was so vibrant I didn't recognize it. Kudos to whoever restored it. Here's a link I stole from Jason for all of you who feel the need to watch these shows yourselves... Elizabeth & Daniel-san, this means you since you won't get much of the crass commercialization of X-Mas over there. if any of you dedicated readers of Visions of Ypsi have a good holiday special suggstions, feel free to make w/ the comments so the kids & I can watch more soon.In other news, I arrived at work today to find a Frazz comic strip from today's newspaper taped to my office door. I don't know who put it there... @ 1st, I assumed it was from a student (there are two who could have left it), but after asking both of them, it turns out I have no idea who put it there, but I'd like to send a little thank you to my secret Santa for leaving this on my door. Ironically, it was published a day or 2 after their 1st loss since April.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Holiday Post #3: Gary Peltier, All American

After spending way too much time on I-75 in Cincinnati while getting around a nasty accident (there must have been 30 cops & 5 ambulances) we finally pulled into Livonia around 10:00 PM. Again, thanks to some great suggestions from frinds, we had fun tunes for the road:

Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks
Emmylou Harris: Roses in the Snow
Willie Nelson: Teatro
Bob Dylan: Blond on Blond
Poi Dog Pondering: Greatest Hits

All in all, the trip South was great,although considering my parents left the directions at home we had to do a little reconnoitering to find Owensboro. Lots of fun happened; here's a brief overview:
We watched Live Free or Die Hard twice. It's a shit movie but the more we watched it, the more we enjoyed it. Oddly, Tiffany had seen it 6 times in theaters last summer. I never figured out why though. Lots of explosions & civilian death, but the lack of a plot seemed to hurt the overall film.
We played tons of Ping Pong. I hadn't played since The Detroiter in Jason's basement when we were n college. It was fun & even my dad got in on the action.We also introduced my parents to the wonders of the Wii. My mom enjoyed tennis while my father had his way w/ both tennis & golf before I smoked everyone in bowling. It may very well have been the 1st time they played a video game. He used to enjoy pinball, but that's just not the same.He also made his less-than-famous turkey soup. He doesn't cook much, but fancies himself a sort of sous chef. His 1st attempt came back in 1989 when he attempted some sort of dirt-ass Chinese stuff. he has definitely improved since then, but it always has meat in it so I can't speak directly to the quality.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Holiday Post #2: Live from the KY

1st off, thanks for all the recommendations. I had to avoid Patti Smith because I don't have any of her new stuff: just Horses. Here's what we did listen too though:

Paul Simon: Graceland (thanks Dan)
The Mamas and the Papas: Greatest Hits
Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash: live bootleg from 1968ish
Bill Monroe: American Traveler (Thanks Dawn)
Simon and Garfunkel: Greatest Hits

My father enjoyed the Mamas & the Papas & the Dylan/Cash sessions so much, he asked me to make him copies. A question to which my mother replies, "You can do that? You can just burn a copy of a CD on a computer?" No mom, I play the 8-track really loud and record it on my fucking reel-to-reel. She was so amazed by this new-fangled technology. Of course, my father's driving left a little something to be desired too. Although, I suppose I should commend him for his ability to use both lanes at the same time & his ability to simultaneously drive & sleep while basically staying on the road w/o killing anyone. Other than that & the driving rain all evening (& the fact that we left 2 1/2 hours late) the trip was nice. However, I've never heard of a state where one can't get from the biggest city (in this case Louisville) to the 3rd biggest city (in this case Owensboro) by expressway. It was a safe trip though & now the food is being prepared by Jean & my mom while I blog, drink tea, & watch the Bob Dylan marathon on VH1 Classic. In related news, before wee left yesterday, I dropped the kids off @ my ex-wife's place & then saw this crazy barn so I snapped a couple pics for y'all. Check it out:

In other Thanksgiving news, here's the WKRP in Cincinati Thanksgiving episode, Turkeys Away. My father has forced it into our traditional family Thanksgiving celebration & admittedly, it is pretty funny. This is posted here in 3 parts particularily for Dan & Elizabeth because I know that they're missing the celebration this year. I had to find it on Youtube because my dad was flipping out about the fact that he left his VHS copy in Livonia. Enjoy:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Holiday Season Post #1: Going to the KY

For those of you who have been living under a rock, or in a box, or stuck in an old refrigerator, or on walkabout in the Australian Outback, I'd like to announce that my little bro. has moved to KY. KY here refers to the state of Kentucky, not the lubricating jelly. He has in turn invited my parents and me for Thanksgiving so I'll be hitting the road for another road-trip tomorrow afternoon. The fact that I'll be in the car w/ my parents for 7 or 8 hours got me thinking about road-trip music. It's a tricky situation because not only does it have to be quality music, it also has to be w/in the realm of music my parents can tolerate. Here's the list I've come up w/... feel free to recommend anything else that might work.
Bob Dylan: Blond on Blond
It has that nice old-timey AM country station sound that works so well while driving through the Mid-West. It's also Dylan which means that my dad will be willing to listen to it w/o much complaint.

R.E.M: Eponymous
A nice retrospective of their early stuff that also has a flows together better than most compilation albums. It also has that same late-night AM sound that for some reason I just love while on long trips.

Son Volt: Trace
I was going to go for Uncle Tupelo, but I just realized my disc is skipping & I'd have to burn a new one which I'm not going to do by tomorrow morning. That's OK though; Trace has some quality stuff on it & it's really similar to his earlier stuff.

Gaelic Storm: Gaelic Storm
Their 1st album w/ fun Celtic stuff that I think my mom will dig. It's also a good thing to listen to now as we approach the Burns' Night festivities in just 2 short months.

Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison
Although people tend to overlook the fact that he has a lot of rather cheesy songs like "A Boy Named Sue" & "One Piece at a Time," this live album features all sorts of old murder ballads and both of my parents are loving Johnny Cash.

Jerry Garcia/David Grisman: Jerry Garcia/David Grisman
A trip through Ohio obviously needs some sort of Jerry, & this is acoustic & jazzy so I think they'll be able to tolerate it.

Grateful Dead: Blues for Allah
Deciding which Dead disc to bring was tough, but I think my dad might dig the borderline prog rock jazziness of "Slipknot" & "King Solomon's Marbles." My 1st though was Reckoning, but I can't find it. My 2nd thought was American Beauty, but it skips.

Bob Dylan: Modern Times
2 Dylan's might be a bit much, but don't worry; I think I'm actually going to bring 3. The reason I'm down w/ the new 1 is because it's got that same old-timey feel & the vocals are so rich & weird... like his older stuff.

Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline
Going to KY needs requires something like this. Plus, it's got Johnny Cash, Norman Blake, Charlie Daniels, & Charlie McCoy... it should work well. Besides, that version of "Girl from the North Country" is just fantastic... if not oddly fitting considering the fucked up week I've had (see the previous post to get the total effacement of that issue).

Please make some recommendations of stuff that might work well along these lines. I think I'm also going to have to bring the lap-top so I can watch a couple movies in the back seat: Casablanca, The Empire Strikes Back, Temple of Doom & Mallrats might be in order. Not to mention the stack of papers I have to grade & the books I have to read. Maybe 8 hours will end up going pretty fast. Now make w/ the suggestions!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A Very Fucked Up Weekend

But since I make it a policy of using this blog as a way to, as Du Bois put it, "Live behind the veil; in a land of blue skies and great wandering shadows," I think perhaps I better focus on the un-fucked up stuff that went down recently. My mask may not be lying, but it's definitely going to grin & withhold information (2 lit references in as many sentences... mark your calenders, we may be taking a new, intellectual course here at Visions of Ypsi).

Friday night, I went to dinner w/ Stacey for her belated b-day. We hit a new Cuban place in A2 called Cafe Habana. The place was absolutely packed. Apparently, a few people come into town for the Michigan / Ohio State Game... who knew? Since we had to wait a while to get a table, we found our way to the bar where I sampled a Mojito. It was definitely the strongest one I've ever had, but then again, I've only had them one other time so my comparison might be a little useless. When we got a table, I ordered the Cuban Vegetarian sandwich. It was good, but nothing too out of the ordinary. Their vegetarian menu left a little something to be desired. Stacey made the better choice by getting the other vegetarian option, Arepas, cornmeal pancakes w/ goat cheese pico de gallo & spinach. Her food was fun & interesting. It was really good too. Of course, we also took it upon ourselves to get a carafe of sangria which was good, but they used coconut rum. I think if I were to go there again, I'd ask for it w/ just regular, unflavored rum. we also got a goat cheese appetizer which was awesome: hot, melty goat cheese w/ pico de gallo. The atmosphere was nice too. Much brighter & livelier than the Cuban place we went to in Detroit a few months ago.

Yesterday, after watching Euro 2008 qualifiers all day (I'd give you the low down on the games, but I'm sure you all watched them too, so it's not necessary; you can read the match-reports here) & fixing my laptop so it will connect to my Internet at home again, I finlay got dressed around 8:00 & made my way to a party across town. Laura had been on me for a while about going, but I didn't know if I was up for it. Well, I went & had a good time. Deep Space (AKA The S.N.A.I.V Band) played a fun set, & there was a keg. Plus, hanging out w/ them is always a nice time. I'm glad Laura was able to get me to go; although, I took off before Warren & Georgina had the chance to perform their special, surprise song for the night. He wasn't going to tell anyone what song they'd worked up, but he said it won the Oscar for Best song in 1982, & oddly, I knew it right away. It's the Joe Cocker/Jennifer Warns hit, "Up Where We Belong."

The road is long
There are mountains in our way
But we climb steps every day
Beautiful! Those are some Grade A choice cut lyrics there. When I took off, I met Dawn & her roommate, Melissa, at TCs to see The Ragbirds. I hadn't seen them in a while, & when I had, they seemed to have a pretty small following, but they're certainly drawing the crowds now. We had a good time, they played some fun covers... "Tell Me Ma," a traditional Irish tune that Gaelic Storm also covers:

She is handsome
she is pretty
She's the Belle of Belfast City
"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes," the Paul Simon song :

she said honey take me dancing
But they ended up by sleeping
In a doorway
By the bodegas and the lights on
Upper Broadway
Wearing diamonds on the soles of their shoes

& they then closed w/ a nice version of "Bird Song," a Dead tune that might need a little more experimentalism w/ the bass & drums. The guitar & fiddle stuff was cool, but the bass line didn't really go anywhere so the long jam towards the end became a bit repetitive. Maybe I'm asking too much though; they aren't Phil, Micky & Billy & they never will be:

All I know is something like a bird within her sang
All I know she sang a little while and then flew on
Tell me all that you know
I'll show you
Snow and rain
The other thing about that band is that all of their originals sound like other songs so when they do play a cover once in a while, I end up assuming it's an original that just sounds like something else. One song sounded just like "Sexual Healing," which I definitely would have preferred, but it was fun none-the-less, & it was super nice to hang w/ Dawn. It'd been a while since we went out to see music together.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Road Trip Part II: Oprah's Va-Jay-Jay

Upon arrival at the hotel in Cleveland, we registered and then went almost immediately to a panel discussion featuring 4 of my colleagues from EMU (Marty, Christine, Craig, & Joe). They were all fantastic & impressed everyone who was in attendance. Afterwards, while looking through the program, Christine came upon a group beginning a few minutes later which featured a paper called "The Fiction and Reality of Trolls in Medieval Icelandic Sagas." We all collectively wondered, "The reality of trolls? Is this dude gonna claim trolls are real?" Marty then said they were going to the Hall of Fame and wondered if I wanted to tag along, but int he interest of saving cash & seeing some more presentations, I declined. Christine (whom I think may have been punking us) then suggested we check out the troll guy & tell her how it went. SPOILER ALERT: IT SUCKED! The panel had something to do w/ The Real and the Sur-Real in the Middle Ages. The 1st speaker summarized Hamlet, Oedipus & "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight" for 15 minutes before coming to his point which was basically that they are all caught between rocks & hard places... no shit. He was wearing a tweed coat, talking like Shatner, checking his pocket watch at obviously staged moments & being an all around ass-hat. Troll dude spoke second. His concern was two-fold.
A) What are the rules trolls follow throughout the multiple sagas?
B) Does the fact that they all conform to basically the same rules suggest that people in Medieval Iceland actually believed in trolls & can we tell for sure by looking @ the texts?
This guy explained the rules they follow... a. trolls live in rocky areas, b. trolls are larger than humans, & c. trolls either help, hurt, or have sex w/ humans. He followed this up w/ an aside: "Troll sexuality... there, I said it." As if it was too shocking to discuss. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting such shit. It's the MLA for Christ's sake! It's a really prestigious literary organization. Which back door these dip-shits snuck through, I don't know, but it should have been looked. He goes on to summarize troll sagas for the next 10 minutes before coming to his conclusion: "Although they probably didn't believe in trolls, we can't tell for sure what they believed solely based on the literature." He then ended w/ what could only be described as a punch-line: "100s of Millions of people around the world base their beliefs on the writings of a single book, so it's possible that they did believe." A 15 minute set-up to make fun of religious people? Come on. During the Q&A session, another douchebag reared his ugly head. A guy behind Emily & me said, "I understand your point, but I think you're misleading people about trolls." They proceeded to argue about where trolls live like 2 D&D high-schoolers arguing about the powers of their characters.
Afterwards, we were too late for the next panel, 1 that was probably really interesting about representations of Gay Culture in film, so we decided to get some food & then go to the free wine hour. Jenny & I went outside for a moment only to return to Emily freaking out over Kristen & Patrick's "Cyclopsing." This is where they put their noses together so as to appear to have only one eye, at which point they then sing "I Only Have Eye for You." It was something to behold. (I want to say, I'm not relating this syrupy, lovey-dovey stuff to make fun, but to relate the trip as I saw it. I'm happy for them & their ability to act that way. Maybe some day, in some fucked up alternate universe, I too will be able to act like that.) After a slice @ Sparro, we went for the free wine. Believe it or not, we drank a lot of it. There was a cash bar, & the bartender was surprised that people were only drinking the wine. It was FREE! Who is spending 5 bucks on a crappy class of Scotch when the crappy Merlot is free? While sitting there, a set of twin sisters, 6'8 & 350-400 pounds came in & I leaned to Jenny (I thought everyone else would be too justifiably offended) to suggest that trolls may in fact exist. This, of course, resulted in me getting punched for being an asshole. W/ a belly full of wine (Patrick drank Coke because he was driving) we set off for home, but before we even got on I 90, Jenny mentioned The Soup & the segment about "Oprah's Va-Jay-Jay." We found it possible to then talk about Oprah's pussy for the next 2 1/2 hours. So in the end, maybe the troll guy wasn't the only one to get more than his fair share of mileage out of a rather stupid idea.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Road Trip Part I: Taking Cleveland by the Balls

The M/MLA (Midwest Modern Language Association) Conference was in Cleveland the weekend, & since I hadn't been to something like this in a while, when I heard a few friends were going for the day yesterday, I decided to tag along. The friends included Emily, Jenny, Kristen, & Kristen's fiance Patrick who is currently staying at his parents' house on Lake Erie in Monroe. Since he & Kristen were there, Emily, Jenny & I met them there before continuing the drive. Of course, the spider in Emily's car only nearly got us killed twice during that 1/2 hour drive as it caused her to nearly drive into a semi & them to nearly drive off of the exit ramp at 85 mph. But the real excitement happened when we got to the house & were introduced to Patrick's Mother's pervert dog, Paddy. Apparently, the dog has a weird thing for nylons & therefor spent the first 5 minutes trying to tear Jenny's apart. While everyone else did their part to remove the dog from her leg, I did my level best to remove myself from the whole dog situation as is my M.O. The other oddity of the short visit was the fact that her dog & her son have the same name. Before I realized what the dog's name was, she was saying things like "I really feel sorry for Paddy... he really want to come out & play w/ all of you." I thought, "That's an weird thing to say, he is coming w/ us, but referring to it as playing doesn't quite make sense." It wasn't until she said, "I feel so sorry for Paddy, he has to spend so much time in his cage" that I realized some fucked up name thing was going on, at which point Jenny realized she needed to get the Hell out as soon as possible & said, "So, is there a lake around here?" Of course, the house is 4 houses from Lake Erie & we'd driven passed it on the way into the neighborhood. When Patrick's Mother explained where it was, she decided she needed to check it out... & Emily & I were right behind her. We walked down to the lake & hung out for about 10 minutes before Kristen showed up & asked if we were ready to "Take Cleveland by the balls."
Emily, Kristen, & Jenny
Before we were even on I-75, we were introduced to Kristen & Patrick's mushy, syrupy-sweet nausea-inspiring cuteness. They refer to each other & to the act of love-making w/ the word waffle... which as it turns out is also used in all sorts of other weird ways. Apparently, while speaking in some sort of baby language to each other once, she said "I love you," but it sounded something like "I waffle," & then it caught on for good. At this point, we knew we were in for quite a day as we were exposed to more of this stuff when we stopped for breakfast at the first Service Plaza on the Ohio Turnpike. I was able to get out of witnessing too much of that though by dumping a couple quarters into Ms Pac Man & playing the game of my life. I was to the banana before I lost my 1st life. I knew that the longer I made those quarters last, the less "waffling" I had to experience. I then grabbed an OJ & a breakfast sandwich at Hardee's where I was asked the ever-present road-trip question "You don't want no meat w/ that? I mean, you don't want no meat at all?" If I had a dime for every road trip I've taken were this question came up, we could have stayed in Cleveland last night rather than driving home to save money. I grabbed my food, & then hit the brochure stand to get some reading material for the ride before we hit the road again. Of course, more mis-adventures occured at the actual confrence, but you'll have to check back for Part II later.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Gov't Stole my Book!

I got a call the other night from Stacey's son wondering if I had a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X. He needed it for a class, which in and of itself is pretty impressive since he's only in middle school. A shout-out to the Ypsi schools is definitely in need here. I was watching Rockford when he called so I didn't grab it then, but thinking I knew exactly where my copy was I said sure. Yesterday morning, I went to grab it for him, but it wasn't there. At that point I figured it must be in my office. Wrong again. My copy of his FBI Files is there as is my copy of Malcolm X Speaks, but not the autobiography. One would think they would all be together considering my anal approach to book organization, but they aren't. My next thought was that maybe my ex-wife took it when she moved, but that just doesn't make sense. She wouldn't want it, & I've had it since before we started dating. Why would she suddenly lay claim to it? My next thought was that maybe I loaned it to someone & never got it back, which is possible, but then Stacey said she thinks that must be what happened to her copy too. It seems however, that both of us losing the same book in the same way is unlikely which brings me to my final thought: The Government. I have a feeling there is some hush-hush post-9/11 FBI program centered around secreting away copies of his autobiography. It's the only thing that makes sense. Just like COINTELPRO & the MOVE house in Philly & Pine Ridge & Kent State & JFK & MLK & Malcolm X himself & Masons & The Knights Templar & Skull and Bones & the cover-up of Paul's death on the cover of Sgt Pepper's & The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. OK, maybe those last 2 are a bit far fetched, certainly less likely than an FBI program designed to protect the status quo from the ideas of people like Malcolm X. Plus, from now on, whenever I lose something, I can blame the man.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dance Parties

Friday night Geo hosted Stacey's b-day party. Good times, good friends, good food, good booze, & odd music were all par for the course. It was supposed to be a sort of dance party, but no one really danced... which was OK because I would always prefer to sit around drinking & talking. The music, which was mainly dancable, but not so great, featured the occassional Prince tune & "Paid in Full" by Eric B & Rakim. I freakin' love that song. A big belated Visions of Ypsi "Happy B-day" goes out to Stacey.Saturday night, after watching the Arsenal v Man U game on Live Footy & then switching to the Fox Soccer Channel for the rest of the day, I met some friends from work at The Tap Room. We enjoyed a couple drinks (I ran into folks from the kickballers & learned we have a game this week... kinda weird after 4 weeks off). While at the bar, I also learned that there was a dance party taking place Saturday night too. I didn't feel comfortable going to a second dance party in as many days, but since the party was in Livonia & Nic whose idea it was to go, lives in Farmington, I decided to make the trek to Middlebelt & Schoolcraft so Emily (another work person) could go w/o driving drunk... I'm so fucking responsible. Well, we get out there & Nic can't find the party. We drove around the neighborhood for 45 minutes w/ no luck. I was heartbroken. Emily & I made the trek back Ypsi-way & decided since we already bought beer, we should watch a movie & drink it.I hadn't seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show in years, & since she'd never seen it, we decided on that. I forgot how much I love it. I'm now dying to see it in a theater again soon. Tim Curry in a teddy always makes me happy. Not to mention Richard O'Brien in anything. Not only did he write it & play Riff Raff, he was also in Flash Gordon! Last week, while channel surfing, I found another film featuring his under-appreciated talents, but as it turns out, Elvira's Haunted Hills kinda sucked... go figure. Casandra Peterson is no longer what she once was either. For those of you who are unaware of how this part of the post relates to dance parties, watch the clip!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Of the Halloween Season

I don't think I've ever had such a busy end of October before. Solstice had a party to go to a couple weeks ago, & since then it's been pretty much a non-stop Halloween extravaganza. Wendy & Pete's party last weekend was by far the pinnacle of the week... what w/ the band & the keg & the creation of yet another new drink: The Bad Lieutenant (Limoncello, black vodka, & cranberry Juice w/ ice & shake). It's called the Bad Lieutenant because one can drink a shit-load of them w/o realizing it & next thing you know, you're naked & fishing out in some dark ally. Not that any of us ended up that way, but it wasn't for lack of trying... it was for lack of vodka. I'm sure that if we'd had more booze on hand, we'd all have ended up that way. The band, whose name I've forgotten (if anyone remembers, feel free to leave it in the comments section because I'd like to find them on-line), was from Milwaukee. They happened upon the party almost by chance. Apparently, they were to play a gig in Toronto but couldn't get through customs so they called a friend in A2 to see if anything was going on. The friend recommended they play at this party, so they showed up & played for about an hour & a half. They have a cool alt-country sound & everyone felt they were like Uncle Tupelo. It turns out, however, that they'd never heard of Uncle Tupelo (or Sun Volt for that matter), but had sort of heard of Wilco. As we were sitting around the bon fire which happened to be in the middle of the grass between the barn & the house, we also learned they'd never heard of Taj Mahal. It seemed od that a band like that didn't know these other people, but I guess they're just young. I'm sure they'll find them on myspace & realize they need to listen to Taj Mahal & Uncle Tupelo a bit. They had heard of Droogle though. It's a cool database of drinks. You can also submit new one to be added to the database so I just went ahead & submit the Bad Lieutenant & the Mexican Slayride.This week we also had the kids' school parties & then of course Trick or Treating last night. It was the cheapest, easiest Halloween we've ever had. Solstice went into the basement & came up w/ some random witch stuff she'd had. All I had to do was buy her a hat & some new shoe (which she needed anyway). Aiden wanted to be Mario which meant a red sweatshirt & denim overalls. Easy! I got him some new shoes too plus a hat which I found at a Halloween store for a couple bucks. It had white polka dots on it, but an hour w/ a red Sharpie while watching Rockford the other night took care of that. They had a great time last night cruisin' around w/ all of their neighborhood friends after some pizza at Stacey's house.