December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I know I've mentioned this before, but why in the goddamn hell does time go by so quickly as you get older?  It's so weird.  Sometimes I feel like life really is passing me by.

I'm always glad to see a new year arrive.  I guess because a new year brings hope that it might be better than the year before.  Even if the year before wasn't all that bad.  Point being, there's always room for improvement in most areas.  If not all.  So I welcome 2012 with open arms.

I can't say that 2011 was all that bad for me.  In fact, it's probably been one of my better years in recent years.  Nothing too monumental happened, but that's what made it good.  For me, 2011 was fairly calm and even-keeled.  Stable - just how I like it.  Although there were no major ups, more importantly there were very few major downs.  I thank you for that, universe, it was nice to relax for a bit.  Looking back, I had a lot of fun this year.  I went to a shit-ton of great concerts.  Have I mentioned that Erasure, of all bands, takes the cake as best concert of the year?  Yes, the 80's, synthpop band Erasure.  I went in with semi-low expectations and was floored by how great of a show it was.  And they had the best crowd of any show I've been to all year.  As I expected, every gay male in town was there and the dancing/arm flailing never stopped once the music started.  It was loads o' fun.  This year I also got to witness the most exciting post-season baseball I'll probably ever see, so that was cool.  I reconnected with some old, good friends I hadn't talked to since the late 80's - people I had wondered about regularly all those years, making the reunions extra sweet.  I traveled a bit, although not enough.  This was my first full year at my job, and it has been super awesome to enjoy going to work (mostly) every day.  It's the first time in many years I can say that.  It has done wonders for my psyche.  It has changed me, relaxed me, and made me a generally happy person.  That is a really good feeling, and probably my biggest accomplishment of the year.  Of course, now that I have finally found happiness in that part of my life, I fear it will be yanked from under me at some point.  That's how life seems to work and I'm a glass-half-empty kind of gal anyway, so I'm aiming to not think too far ahead and just appreciate and enjoy the ride while I'm on it.

Let's hope 2012 can somehow continue this upward swing for myself and all of us.  As a whole, it sure feels like we're slowly sinking.  Sinking economically, sinking ethically, sinking morally.  I hope that some of these 2012 predictions are right.  Not the end of the world ones, but the ones about "big changes" and some sort of worldly enlightenment or spiritual awakening.  It couldn't hurt.  We need a boost.  We need some sort of help to get on the upward part of the spiral.  I envision it like the 60's happening again.  Some sort of monumental shift.  Although without the LSD.  I think that could be a hindrance at this point.

Enjoy your New Year's Eve!  To get your party started, here's some video I took of Erasure performing Love to Hate You.  I dare you not to dance.

December 30, 2011

I Hope My Fate Doesn't Suck Ass.

I received a rather unique Christmas present this year from my sister, which has me both excited and a little freaked out.  She got me a 45-minute consultation with a psychic.  I'm not kidding.  She has seen this guy herself at least a handful of times.  She has been a bit over-reliant on him at times, if you ask me.  But then again, she's a control freak and also highly impatient so I think hearing what's going to happen in advance brings her some sort of peace.  Apparently he is fairly well known in her town and beyond, as he does some national radio shows in addition to his good track record.  I will be having a phone session since I'm in another state, which in this case I am told is no big deal as he's reading my energy, not my palm or anything of that nature.  For what it's worth, I will say that I definitely believe there are people who have some sort of unique ability to tap into something most of us cannot.  My guess is that they have an extra sense, or extremely heightened senses and/or a rare type of awareness that allows for this to happen.  That being said, I also think there are a lot of people out there who claim to have this ability, but don't.  Hence, unless I feel a complete lack of connection to this guy, I will keep my ears and mind open but not necessarily plan my life around what he says.  From my sister's experience, this psychic has been very accurate about her past, present, and future.  About the people in her life.  About both good stuff and bad stuff.  This guy is not afraid of sharing the bad stuff either, I guess with the hope that by having a little heads up, you might be able to make choices or moves that will alter the course for the better.  Which is why I'm a tad nervous.  First off, that's a lot of pressure.  Second, I will be spooked if he sees impending danger in my life or someone close to me.  Or anything else bad he might tell me.  Those things very well might never happen, but based on his accuracy in the past and my own belief in this kind of thing, I won't be able to stop thinking about the fact that they might happen.  It will have me worried and stressed out, which is never good.  I'm essentially fearful that the psychic will instill fear in me.  I really, really hope he only has good things to tell me.  Those may not come true either, but choosing to believe they might could only bring hope, which is always good for the ol' mood for a while regardless of how it pans out.

I put in a call today to set my appointment, so I would imagine my destiny will be unearthed here in the next few weeks.  You'll definitely be getting a full report once it's all said and done, whether you like it or not. 

Oh please, please let glorious good fortune be headed my way.

December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Ready or not, Christmas has arrived.  Other than tidying up my pig sty of a house for a few guests tomorrow, I'm ready to roll.  And it feels good.  I look forward to some serious relaxing, eating and drinking in the next 48 hours.  Speaking of which, I shall share with ye blog friends some of my delicious Christmas treats.  Virtually, of course, unless you wanna come over and pick some up.

What you are looking at above are homemade caramels.  It's the first time I've ever made them and I'm really proud of how they turned out.  I'm picky about my caramels and honestly didn't have much faith that I could meet my own high caramel standards, but somehow I fucking rocked it.  The texture, which I thought might take a few trial runs to perfect, turned out exactly how I like it:  moderately firm and chewy with a little stretchiness when you bite into it.  Not too firm like a Milk Dud that you worry the whole time will take your fillings out (although those are delicious); not so soft that there's no pull and it oozes out.  I do not like oozy caramel.  Caramel is meant to be chewy.  Like, when you pull your mouth away those little caramel strings annoyingly end up on your chin.  The first two pics are how they looked naked.  Not to toot my own horn, but I think they look beautiful.  The close-up reveals tiny vanilla bean specs.  Yep, I used real vanilla bean.  I went for the gusto since it's Christmas.  As you can see, they didn't stay naked for long.  I doused them in good quality dark chocolate and then sprinkled sea salt on top.  These will return next Christmas for sure.

Above are my glorious Chocolate Salty Balls.  As you have probably surmised, I'm a big fan of salt.  I started making these things probably around the mid 90's.  Looking for some different things to make one Christmas season, I came across a recipe for "bonbons".  I credit the recipe for my inspiration, but I altered it drastically to make it what I wanted it to be.  If I'm going to make something, it's going to be something I like.  A lot of people make a similar thing called "buckeyes".  Mine do involve peanut butter just like a buckeye, but I'm telling you that the average buckeye doesn't hold a candle to these things.  I spent a few years perfecting this recipe, and 3 Christmases later I had the perfect ratio of ingredients to make this the most delicious peanut butter-based ball you've ever had.  I swear.  Every time I see something of this nature on a cookie tray this time of year, I always have one for the sole purpose of comparing it to my own.  And at the risk of sounding like a snob, mine is always better.  Which countless other people have confirmed, so I'm comfortable taking that risk.  I'm telling you, people beg me for these things.  Every friend and family member expects and anticipates them this time of year.  It's rare I make them any other time.  I do that on purpose, so they remain special.  I'm not going to reveal my recipe, but I will tell you there are rice krispies involved.  That is one thing that makes mine unique compared to most, and the texture they provide is crucial.  Using good quality chocolate is also crucial.  If I see one of these things made with almond bark, I won't even bother trying it.  I already know it won't be good.  Why would you not use good chocolate?  People are strange.  These balls were always a bit salty based on the combo of stuff involved, but I didn't start putting sea salt on top until early 2000's, and wow what a difference that made.  This was before sea salt was all the rage, which is annoying because now they look trendy.  Anyway, for the first few years I never really knew what to call them.  I hated the name "bonbons", and "chocolate peanut butter balls" didn't exactly roll off the tongue.  Then in the winter of 1998 I was sitting around smoking pot with my roommate, and because he had the munchies and because it was close to Christmas he started asking me when I was going to make the chocolate peanut butter balls.  Which turned into a conversation about how I needed to come up with a better name for them, as I revealed this dilemma had been eating at me for the 4 years or so I had been making them.  My friend agreed, and we proceeded to come up with zero better ideas.  As fate would have it, while this chat was taking place, we happened to be watching a new episode of South Park, and lo and behold it ended up being the Chocolate Salty Balls episode.  As soon as Chef said the words "Chocolate Salty Balls", my friend and I looked at each other with wide eyes in excited silence, I heard that "hallelujah" noise in my head, and the name was born.

Without a lot of family here at Xmas anymore, I only make a few other kinds of cookies this time of year, which you will find above.  Gingerbread is a classic, and I think they are a nice, mellow complement to all the other rich stuff you find this time of year.  Plus, if you decorate them they look festive.  I make a pretty decent gingerbread, I've been told, but I find there is a lot of decent gingerbread out there.  They're guaranteed to be flavorful regardless, so I think it's hard to fuck up unless you bake 'em till they're hard as a rock.  Personal preference.  The other treat you see there are alfajores.  I'm pretty sure I've featured these on the ol' blog before.  I make these because they are my favorite cookie of all time.  These are traditional Argentinian-style alfajores.  The cookie has a unique texture - soft, yet somewhat crumbly.  It's essentially a butter cookie but with a subtle hint of lemon courtesy of some lemon zest.  In the middle you have dulce de leche, which is quite possibly the most awe-inspiring delight on the planet.  One reason I like making these is because they're something different that people will not get from anyone else.  And since I love all things Hispanic, I feel like I'm passing that love on whenever I give these to people.  Usually you roll it in coconut so that it's sticking to the dulce de leche that's oozing out the middle, but I skip that simply because so many people have an aversion to coconut.  

Well, that is all.  I hope you enjoyed the treats.  My gift to you this Christmas.  Along with boring you to tears.  Oh, and this weird, slightly disturbing video card, too.  Merry Christmas, my friends. 

December 17, 2011

O Christmas Tree.

Well, I've made some progress since last weekend but haven't even started on the damn cards yet.  It seems nothing could go off without a glitch of some sort that cost me even more time than I planned.  WTF, is Mercury in retrograde or something?  I did get most of my baking done.  All of my shopping is done.  So I'm trying not to stress, although I've still been an irritable mess all week. 

I will say that I am enjoying my tree.  I'm so glad now that I put it up, which I knew would happen and is how I talked myself into putting it up in the first place.  Something you don't know about me which I'm sure you'll find riveting is that I love Christmas ornaments.  If you ever want to buy me a present, you can always buy me an ornament.  It's that easy.  Growing up, my mom always hit all the holiday craft shows in the fall and would inevitably buy each of us in the family a new ornament for the year.  More often than not, they had our name on them.  Quite often they touched on something personal about each one of us - a hobby or interest of some sort, a profession, etc.  After she died and we went through all the Xmas stuff, we each took our respective ornaments and also kept a few of the other classics, no matter how hideous.  So now, I have a tree with about 20 ornaments with my name on them.  It's rather ridiculous and to a stranger might look completely self-absorbed, but I what am I supposed to do?  Those are my childhood ornaments and I can't not put them up.  I'm single anyway, so I guess my tree should be all about me.   

Around my college years, I found myself buying my own ornaments when I saw something cool, even though I didn't necessarily have a tree to put them on at the time.  That continued, and to this day I make a point of buying myself at least one new ornament a year.  Some years it is just one (like this year), others I find several I want.  All of which has resulted in an ass-load of ornaments, which is the main reason it takes so god damn long to put my tree up.  Because, of course, each one is carefully wrapped in tissue paper, bubble wrap, or in the original box it came in.  But that's about to change, folks, because I have invested in an air-tight ornament box!  But I digress.  The ornaments I buy are obviously just for myself and my own tree, and in putting them up this year I realized that my tree definitely is somewhat of a representation of me.  My interests, where I've been in the world, personally nostalgic stuff, and random shit that for whatever reason floats my boat.  I think if a moderately astute stranger walked in and studied my tree, he could probably create a halfway decent personality profile of me.  And then I realized that this method could be applied to pretty much everyone.  My sister's tree, for example, is all about beauty, fanciness, color themes, and matchy-matchy.  This is completely congruent with her traditional, conservative, perfectionistic, orderly personality (she's a lot of fun though, really).  My brother's tree, IF he even manages to have one, basically amounts to a Charlie Brown tree.  Which completely fits his ADD, disorganized, non-creative- but-means-well personality.  This is perhaps a groundbreaking phenomenon I've stumbled upon here, folks.  What does your tree say about you? 

Following I will share some of my favorite ornaments with you fine people.  I wish I could get some photos of the entire thing that would do the tree justice, but to do so would require a tripod I don't have, and if you don't have a tripod, it's hard to get a proper shot.  But, I will tell you my tree has only white, blue and purple lights.  I have it rigged so that I can have all 3 on at once, just the colors, or just the white (which I never do).  My mood changes, and hence, so does my choice of lights.  I'm sure there's some deeper meaning behind all that.  Ready for the ornament tour?  Here we go...

My best friend from college gave me that pickle back when we were in college, so that is an oldie.  The martini I bought for myself sometime in my later 20's, after discovering how delicious martinis are.  It's made of glass and I always worry about it breaking.

Of course you knew that the Muppets would be representin' on my tree.  That one's a Hallmark and I jumped for joy when I found it, because that scene in The Muppet Movie when Kermit is riding the bike is freakishly weird and awesome.  The one to your right is probably in my top 3 of all time:  A weber grill, complete with t-bones and a can of beer on the side (which is not very visible). 

Say hello to Mr. Hankey the Christmas poo!  To his right is one of my Day of the Dead ornaments, along with a Spanish guitar that actually plays Feliz Navidad.  I love ornaments that do stuff.

What you likely can't see here is that Curious George is on top of a turntable holding a record.  And you know how I love vinyl.  Elvis is to his right. That was one that my mom bought me when I was in my 20's, although I was with her when we found it.  She was going to have them write my name on it like usual, but I told her that wasn't right because it was Elvis and that would be weird.  But I like to commemorate the year of the ornament, so I had them write, "Alive in '95".  It's on his leg.  In the bottom right corner you'll find classic Rudolph along with an elf.  The nose lights up on that one.  Lucy speaks for herself.  Every year when I get that one out I curse Hallmark for there being no button to make those lights on her booth go on.  It seems so obvious - why didn't they do that?  Why, Hallmark, WHY?! 

For whatever reason I am drawn to things in miniature form.  Like that tiny weber grill with tiny t-bones.  I love that tiny little globe ornament, which spins and has pretty colors and sparkles, just like Earth should.  The alien in his ufo was added only a few years ago, and it's superbly cliché.  I found that thing at Target, of all places, just months after having seen The Fourth Kind  and being completely obsessed with alien stuff at the time.  In the bottom left corner we have beloved Hermey, the elf from Rudolph who wanted to be a dentist.  That was not a find, that one was searched for and I had to pay some extra bucks for him because he was a previously-released Hallmark, which means Hermeys are not easy to come by.

Ah, this one brings back fond memories of a very fun trip to the Netherlands with my BFF.  I think the trip was in '96 or maybe it was '98.  We took a side trip to Delft, the origin of Delft pottery, and I bought this there.  I'm not gonna lie, we smoked a lot of pot on this trip.

The last gem I'll share is this.  A pinball-playing Bugs Bunny with that zany Daffy busting out of the machine.  When you pull the handle, it lights up as it is doing in this photo, makes pinball noises, and there is an actual ball bouncing around, which you can see in-motion in between Bugs and Daffy's mouths.  This would be the most high-tech of my ornaments.

Well, that is all.  I shall bore you no further.  I bet now you feel you know me better after getting a closer glimpse of my tree, don't you?

December 11, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays.

I'm in the Christmas spirit.  Sort of.  I'm not all gung-ho silly about it.  In fact I've been known to bitch about it here and there to anyone who will listen as of late, mostly about how everything to do with Christmas takes so god damn much time, and how December somehow always goes 4x faster than any other month of the year.  And keep in mind here I don't consider myself one to make a big deal of Christmas anymore, "big deal" being a relative term depending on what you're used to and what you know.  It used to be a bigger deal and a lot more work, but times were different then.  Once my mom passed away and I became an orphan, a lot of things changed, big and small.  One of those things was Christmas.  The holiday used to pretty much revolve around my mother and around the immediate family.  My siblings traveled into town every year with their families and we had various traditions and rituals repeated without fail every year.  After my mom died, my sister understandably decided to start her own traditions with her own family at her own house.  My brother, however, married a Jew, and coming "home" for Christmas was all they knew in their 20+ years together and all he knew his entire life.  It was the only perception of the holiday my niece and nephew ever had.  So for the first few years they came home, as we all still mourned my mom, the many changes in our lives, and together adapted to the reality of our holiday situation as we created our own new traditions, while keeping some of the old ones for balance and sanity.  We made it work.  And then my brother moved further away than he already was, and things changed again.  My sister-in-law got really sick the following year and couldn't travel, so that was my first Christmas without family.  Which happened rather last minute under the circumstances, and I thought would be really hard but surprisingly found it wasn't.  I did what I wanted to do, didn't stress about anything, didn't worry about anyone else, kept a few of the traditions in tact, and spent it with various close friends who are like family anyway.  The last few years since then it's been discussed and decided amongst all of us that we will stay put in our respective hometowns.  It's too expensive and hectic for my siblings and their entire families to fly home for the holidays (driving not an option).  And although they would love for me to come to either of them, or for us all to gather at one of their places, I have no interest.  When the "what are we going to do about Christmases" conversations first began happening, I realized something.  I don't want to be anywhere other than home.  I would love to see my family for the holidays, but being at home trumps that.  Even if it means being home with zero family.  Some people don't understand that (my siblings do).  Some people, I can tell, feel sorry for me because I'm "alone" at Christmas.  But they shouldn't because I'm doing what I want to do, and I'm far from alone - I'm just without family.  But the thing is, my friends ARE my family too so I'm really not without family either.  I was just a kid when my much-older siblings were out of the house and off at college, so growing up my friends were my siblings, and to me those relationships are just as meaningful as those with my blood relatives.  When I think about what I really love about Christmas, the common denominator is being home.  I'm a winter person to begin with, and being in a cold climate is vital for a proper Christmas (my sibs both live in warm climates).  I've spent every single Christmas of my life in my hometown.  If it's not bone-chilling cold on Christmas, then something is horribly wrong.  I love driving back to my house late at night on Xmas eve and seeing the steam come out of sewers as I pass houses with glowing lights and enjoy the quiet streets of the late-night before Christmas.  Another key tradition that relates to home is that several good friends always come to town.  Having them here, all of the gang being together again like the old days (and going the same places, of course) - that is a huge part of Christmas tradition for me.  I can't imagine missing all that.

You see, change is hard for me.  Hard for everyone, but I think I probably struggle with it a bit more than the average person.  I floundered through those first few Christmases after my mom died, but over time realized the one thing about Christmas I love that I have control over and doesn't have to change is my location.  And it's so much more than a location.  It's where it feels and looks like Christmas.  It's the only place where certain key traditions can still be kept intact.  It's the one spot where I can find the largest percentage of the people I love most in this world.  Simply being home for the holidays is a comfort in and of itself.  It is exactly where I'm supposed to be. 

So, back to my original point about preparing for the holidays.  Since I don't have a bunch of family coming to town for Christmas anymore, the nice thing is that this means less work for me and I can commit to as much or as little holiday spirit as I please.  The downside is that there are certain things I always feel I have to do no matter what, and those things still take a lot of time, so I still end up feeling stressed out to some degree trying to get everything done in time even though I have no one to please other than myself.  One of those things is baking.  I used to do a significant amount of baking when the whole family would be around - I'm talking a dozen different kinds of cookies and candies.  Now I've scaled it back to making just a few (2-4) of my specialties that have developed a cult following over time, but they all happen to be labor-intensive and time-consuming so that part sucks.  For whatever reason, I also feel compelled to send Christmas cards.  I used to send them to literally every friend and family member.  It was completely asinine how many cards I was sending.  I scaled that back too, and now I just send to out-of-towners, which are all my relatives mind you, but also a few friends and other random people I don't talk to/see much.  Still, we're talking around 30 cards here, and of course, I also feel compelled to write some sort of note since these are people I don't see often.  I literally feel like I have to, like it would be rude otherwise, even though I don't feel that way if it happens to me.  So my compromise with myself is that I do a personal note, but I type it to save time.  Times they are a changin', but at least it's still a personal note.  The last holiday chore that is also crucial to me is putting up the tree.  Even though I'm the only one who is going to enjoy it, even though it's a ton of work for one female that takes an entire Sunday to complete, I feel the need to have the tree up.  It's non-negotiable.  And did I mention time consuming?  More on this to come (the suspense is killing you, I'm sure), but I'm happy to report that this chore is complete.  But there is a lot more work to be done and today is crucial for productivity if I am to be ready, have stuff shipped off and mailed in time, etc.  Why do I continue to stress myself out about this stuff, especially now that I don't really have to?  It's a mystery.  Or, maybe not.  Maybe some degree of Christmas preparation stress is part of the tradition as well.  Maybe because I feel my current Xmas situation now "allows" me to, I've unconsciously scaled back the stress to an amount that's more tolerable, yet still have enough of it for the Season to feel comfortably familiar.  A light bulb just went off there.  Now I know why I do this to myself.

Clearly I'm doing nothing but procrastinating here.  God dammit, I'm off to get more shit done, even though I'd rather watch paint dry.  I will be knee deep in melted chocolate making my famous Chocolate Salty Balls and homemade caramels in no time, having a love/hate relationship with it all in the process.  And now thanks to this little rant/therapy session, I'll be lucky if I accomplish 2/3 of what I wanted to today though.  Sigh.  Yep, it's Christmas.

November 26, 2011

Movie Review - The Muppets.

If you are paying attention, you are well aware that I've been eagerly anticipating the new Muppet movie since I first got wind of it nearly 2 years ago.  I consider myself a Muppet fanatic.  The are my era.  My generation.  My Muppets, as far as I'm concerned.  Except for that brief moment of sheer stupidity that I will never forgive myself for as a teen when I gave away my original Muppet Movie soundtrack record album (which has since been replaced), I have never outgrown the Muppets nor have I felt any shame for that. Sesame Street first aired the year I was born.  I grew up with it and watched it non-stop.  I credit that show for instilling within me a fascination with the Spanish language and all things Hispanic, which remains to this day.  I adored David and Maria, and I knew how to count to 20 in Spanish before I was 3.  As a kid in the burbs, I was fascinated with their city lifestyle and was jealous of that huge stoop they all got to sit around and have fun on.  Then came The Muppet Show, which aired from 1976-1981, during the prime years of my childhood.  To this day a great show.  I own a few seasons on DVD, and the humor is timeless, not to mention the unbelievable list of celebrities who guest-starred. 

The Muppet Movie was released in the summer 1979.  I have no clue how many times I saw it in the theater, but my awesome relatives (with whom I spent every summer of my childhood) took me every time I asked.  They spoiled me rotten, and I thank them for it.  They bought me the album for my birthday that summer, and I would play it every single day as I sat in the rocking chair, rocking along and singing out loud.  My god, they were patient.  The Great Muppet Caper came out the summer of 1981, which I think was probably last summer I spent with my relatives seeing as I was 11 going on 12 that year (soon thereafter I wanted to be home with friends, of course).  We saw that one in the theater multiple times also, and for my birthday that year, I received the following gift, which is one of my prized Muppet possessions today, as I've had this thing 30 years now (WTF that makes me feel old), and I've never known anyone else to have one:

What you are looking at is an original Great Muppet Caper beach towel.  And not only that, but it's an unusually thick, nice quality towel AND it's extra long, which is something that we don't think about much today's world of a million options, but in those days merchandise didn't cater to every human being on the planet and most beach towels were the standard shorter length.  Which is too short for most adults.  Granted, I was a kid when I got it so I wasn't all that tall yet, but once I reached full-size, I loved this towel even more because it was longer than my body.  It's fairly faded but still in great shape.  I'm telling ya, the money spent on this towel was money well spent.

Anyway, back to the review.  I saw the movie last night, box of Dots in hand, and I loved it.  I had read a lot of the reviews going into it, and they were all strong enough that I went into it confident that it would at least not disappoint.  But would it live up to my expectations, hopes and dreams?  I have to say that it did.  I've read enough about this to know that Jason Segel is as obsessed with the Muppets as myself, and as a result, he did the Muppets proud.  The storyline was great.  I loved how they incorporated pretty much the entire Muppet history into the story, including nods to Sesame Street, The Muppet Show, and The Muppet Movie.  I loved how the story acknowledged that, just as in real life, this is a comeback for the Muppets franchise, after being largely stagnant for years. 

This movie was reminiscent of the first Muppet Movie in many ways to me.  It had a similar style to it.  There were lots of great celebrity cameos.  Lots of jokes all over the place to the point where you really have to be on your toes and paying attention.  I know I missed stuff, but that's ok, because I know I'll see it again and again and again.  The musical numbers were great and reflected different genres of today's music.  There was a surprisingly good rap song.  A barbershop quartet of Muppets delivered a great rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit.  One genius of a number was "Man or Muppet", sung by Jason Segel and Walter, the new Muppet introduced in this movie.  That scene had me crying from laughter.  Just like in the first movie, I fell in love with the finale number.  And just like in the first movie, the finale brought tears to my eyes.  Not just because I'm cheesy and I love the simple, yet important message that the lyrics are sending, but because the Muppets are back.  Big and bad.  They never conformed, but they are back to their roots where they belong.  In all their overly-sarcastic, sometimes-subtle-sometimes-blatantly predictable humor glory.  They have an idealistic, innocent, simple view of the world that goes unmatched.  They don't deny the bad in the world by any means.  In fact they acknowledge it, then actively choose to not give in to it and work on doing their small bit to do something about it.  If only us humans were so smart. 

So, as you can see, I highly recommend you go see The Muppets.  Anyone who is a fan couldn't help but appreciate this film.  I only have a few minor complaints.  One, I would've liked less musical covers and more originals.  The Nirvana barbershop quartet bit was superb and unexpected, but the other few musical covers missed the mark a bit for me, although still entertaining.  My other beef is that I felt a few characters did not have a big enough role.  Rowlf the Dog being the main one.  He is hilarious and also one of the most famous Muppets ever, and he should've had A LOT more presence in this film.  Especially musical presence, for hell's sake, he's a freakin' piano player by trade.  I was also shocked that Pepe the Prawn was not more involved.  You see him here and there, but he really only has one scene.  Not as big of a deal as Rowlf, but still surprising.  I'm also a bit bummed that Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem were not more prominent as a whole, and that they didn't have any songs of their own.  They are some funky bitches.

All in all, I think Jason Segel's love and appreciation for the Muppets is evident here.  I absolutely think Jim Henson would approve.  Nothing will ever match the genius of The Muppet Movie in my eyes, but this is an excellent effort that is just modern enough to attract a new generation of fans, while keeping it old-school enough to please people like me.  Go see it.  It will make you happy.

November 23, 2011

It's Turkey Time!

Well, hello friends!  Nope, I'm not dead!  Thanks for wondering.  I can't believe how quickly this month has gone by.  I haven't been here since the 1st of the month?  That was fast.

Anywho, things have been rather busy here at KATN.  Other than the usual stuff (work), there's been a lot going on.  Mostly good stuff, just a lot in a short period of time.  Here is a quick recap of the potpourri of shenanigans that I've been involved with in the past 22 days.

1.  I participated in a progressive feast, which is essentially a progressive dinner except it's an all-day-into-evening event starting w/breakfast at 11am so we had to come up with a different name for it.  It also involves a fair amount of alcoholic beverages and extreme dehydration the following day.  Don't worry, we walked from house to house.  It's lots of fun-try it!

2.  I went to 3 awesome concerts.

3.  I nursed a very sore neck because of all the rocking out I did at 2 of the above-referenced shows that were on back to back nights.

4.  I entertained a friend visiting from Phoenix.

5.  I went on a day-long winery trip.  Yep, there's wineries in these parts.  Don't worry, we rode in a bus.

6.  Attended a football game.  Saw very, very bad football, but had an enjoyable tailgate beforehand where I made some highly delicious sliders that taste almost exactly like White Castles, but they don't give you the shits or bad gas.  They were such a hit, a lengthy discussion ensued about me opening up a slider kiosk in a hip part of town where I'd sell those things for a buck a piece, and somehow make a fortune and retire early.

7.  Went to a bonfire party and burned someone's Christmas tree from last year.  Almost burned off my eyelashes and eyebrows in the process.  You know how long it takes to burn a Christmas tree that's nearly a year old?  About 6 seconds.

8.  Attended a friend's birthday party on 11/11/11.  Countdown was done at the moment of 11:11:11 pm.  World did not end. 

9.  Changed the burned-out tail light in my car all by myself.  This is an amazing feat, people, no matter how simple it might seem to you.  You have no idea.  I'm still beaming with pride.

10.  Was involved in my first ever car accident.  I was not the driver, nor was it my car.  Nothing too traumatic, no one was hurt, and the damage overall was not that great.  But still, I made it a lot of years before ever experiencing such a thing.  Which I'm thankful for on this Thanksgiving.

11.  Caught a bad cold, which was a direct result of me running myself ragged and not getting enough sleep, which always causes my immune system to plummet.  Cold caused laryngitis, forcing me to be completely silent for an entire 24 hours, which was VERY DIFFICULT.  Whomever invented texting, I thank ye.

12.  Obtained and started a temporary extra job for 5-10 hours a week.  Not sure how long it will last - perhaps just a month - but it's good extra money, good extra experience in an area of my field where I would like some, and hopefully I'll make a few good contacts in the process. 

Now it's time for Thanksgiving, and I'm looking forward to some much needed relaxation on the holiday.  I'm doing my usual again this year, which means I'm only in charge of the following:  cranberries, stuffing, and dessert- which is my almost-famous pumpkin flan with gingerbread crust.  My pal is in charge of the turkey, mashed potatoes/gravy, and green bean casserole.  I contribute to the wine also, of course.  There will be lots of wine.  Lots.  Later on, debauchery and games ensue when other friends join us after ditching their families.  I can hardly wait. 

Whomever is reading this boring crap, I thank ye for doing so and wish you a most happy, tasty, relaxing Thanksgiving.  I'm realizing right now that I somehow missed my 1 year blogaversary.  When I started this here thang, I had no plan or point other than to yap about whatever's on my mind, but in the process I've managed to explore and find other blogs/bloggers out there who are much cooler that I enjoy so much.  Thanks to them I have been exposed to lots of new things, pondered interesting perspectives, found an escape, been entertained, and laughed my ass off.  So thank you, dear blog friends.  You know who you are.

Oh, one more thing to be thankful for...the long-awaited day has finally arrived....the new Muppet Movie is out today!!!!  Don't know yet when I'm going to catch it, but it will be soon.  Very soon.  Oh, how I've missed those muppets.  I think this is going to start a whole new era for them.  I have a feeling they will surge back to the popularity level they used to have, and we are going to see them everywhere again.  Enough of a surge that I wouldn't be surprised if they resurrect the old Muppet Show - or something new like it.  Yeah!

November 1, 2011

Speaking of Day of the Dead....

...apparently someone that is not dead is Jesus.  Yep, it looks like he's alive and well and giving $7 haircuts here in town.

October 30, 2011

The Scariest Movies I've Ever Seen.

As a participant in the 2nd annual Octoberween Palooza Ganza over at Vincent's Handmade Art, I was to write a post about something Halloween or horror-related.  That sounds easy, but for some reason I've had trouble coming up with something that has any wow-factor at all.  I mean, my hair in the morning is quite frightening, and there was that time I was mugged, but neither story is very gripping.  I do have a couple of ghost stories, or at least what I believe to have been ghostly experiences for lack of any other explanation, but you kinda had to be there for those.  Hence, I shall bore you with my own personal list of scariest movies.

I will preface this list by reminding all of you that I'm not a huge movie buff.  I frequently shock and offend others by the movies I have never seen, that apparently everyone should see.  I don't know how I got this way.  Society makes me feel like a freak because of it.  You don't realize how often the topic of conversation is about movies unless you are like me.  It is extremely rare that I will sit by myself and watch a movie, but I do enjoy it once in a while when I'm with other people.  I guess, to me, it's more of a social thing.  I notice that I tend to watch more movies when I'm in a relationship, and thinking back on my high school days when I used to watch movies on a fairly regular basis, it was always with friends or family.  Always.  I like the opportunity to sit and talk about it afterwards, and I am known to annoyingly ask questions throughout as I analyze in the moment, especially if someone in the room has seen the movie before.  I'm like a child who needs to know NOW, and sometimes I need to be shushed.  Despite my lack of movie-watching overall, scary movies are my favorite, and always have been.  I am intrigued by fear as well as the unknown.  I like to be on the edge of my seat, curled up in a ball with my heart pounding, grabbing the nearest person, ready to scream like a girl should during such a movie. 

You will notice that most of the movies on my list are old.  Obviously my lack of movie-watching in my adult life has something to do with this.  As far as the more modern horror flicks I've seen, for whatever reason I typically don't find the newer stuff to be as good as the older stuff.  Or maybe I'm choosing the wrong ones to watch.  At some point the gore factor became overly prominent, which to me isn't that frightening in and of itself.  Give me suspense, baby!  Give me hauntings, psychological torture, demonic entities and/or aliens, and I'm a happy camper.  Ok, on with the list, in no particular order because that's just too hard.

1.  Rosemary's Baby.  I first saw this movie on TV, and it freaked my shit out.  Apparently there was a lack of parental guidance in my home, because I never should've been allowed to watch this at such an early age.  Keep in mind that I was raised Catholic, and at the time, the idea of the devil's spawn being birthed by a seemingly regular gal was about as horrifying as it got.  I honestly wonder if this was the beginning of my desire to never have children.

2.  The Entity.  Any movie, especially a scary one, that is based on a true story will always have a head start in my eyes.  Keeping that in mind while watching this as a young gal in the early 80's made it scary as all fuck.  This was not just a mere house haunting.  The demonic Entity violently rapes Barbara Hershey's character.  It's a freaky scene to watch that is forever burned in my brain.

3.  The Exorcist.  I would imagine most people have this one on their list.  I'm only on number 3, but there seems to be a Satanic theme going on here.  Another movie based on a true story that still scares the hell out of me despite having seen it about 15 times.  Fact:  my mother was friends with one of the priests who was supposedly part of the actual exorcism.  Another fact:  I have been to the actual staircase in Georgetown many times, and it's just as creepy in person.  The crab walk scene is fucked up awesomeness.

4.  Halloween II.  This movie was indeed scary, but it's on this list for one specific reason only:  the scene where the kid bites into a candy apple and ends up with a razor blade firmly planted in his lip.  As an 11 or 12 year old at the time, it was one of my earliest reminders that the world is not a safe place, and it marked the official end of my trick-or-treating days.  It was probably time anyway.

5.  Cujo.  I think this is self explanatory.  That dog would scare anyone.  And all that snot, blood, saliva and goo all over the car was equally horrifying.  I wanted to shower when it was all over.

6.  Silence of the Lambs.  It's hard not to like this one.  Superb acting.  Superb storyline.  A lot of eerie mind-fucking, which I always enjoy.  Anthony Hopkins has creeped me out ever since.

7.  When a Stranger Calls.  An oldie but a goodie.  The first phone call you get either during, or just after, watching this movie will just about give you a heart attack.

8.  The Ring.  A lot of plot twists that keep you on the edge of your seat as you try to figure out what the hell is going on.  Also includes the ol' stand-by phone and white noise creepiness factors.  Hey, they work.

9.  Amityville Horror.  One of the two best haunted house-centric movies ever, plus it's based on a true story.  I could watch this one over and over.  Did you ever happen to wake up, look at your alarm clock, and see that it's 3:15am?  I have, more than once, and it always scares me a little bit.  The scene with all the flies completely freaks me out.  Whomever lives in that house today is very, very brave.

10.  Poltergeist.  The other best haunted house-centric movie ever.  I'm not sure, but I believe this is the movie I've watched more times than any other.  More than the Muppet Movie.  That's because this was released on cable shortly after my family got cable for the first time.  I watched it over and over and over.  Probably 20 times.  This film confirmed every person's fear of clowns.

8.  The Shining.  You knew this one was coming.  Every aspect of this movie is creepy.  I love everything about it.  The isolation factor is huge.

10. The Omen.  It's got suspense, satanic themes, and one of the scariest kids ever.  Although that redhead from Children of the Corn is a close second.

11.  Alien.  This movie, along with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, caused me to forever wonder about beings outside this planet.  I love all things alien, ufo, etc.  I can't for sure say I'm a believer, but it's a big universe and I wouldn't be surprised if something's lurking around out there.  The unknown makes it scary and I like scary so I am going to assume there might be something out there so as to make life more interesting.

12.  The Thing.  A fantastic movie and one of my all-time faves.  An absolute must-see, if you've never done so.  Again, the isolation factor comes into play.

13.  Burnt Offerings. This one is slightly more obscure.  I happened to catch it on TV as a kid a few years after it came out.  I was maybe 12, 13 or so.  This movie weighs very heavy on the creepiness scale, from the setting, to the guy who plays the small, yet very memorable role of the chauffeur.  Without fail, every single time there was a shot of that guy flashing his sinister grin, my sister and I screamed.  This might be my all-time favorite scary movie. 

I'm sure there is something crucial out there that I've forgotten, and there are definitely many other great movies out there that have made me petrified to go home alone afterwards, but these are the movies that come to mind as the ones that impacted me the most.  Feel free to add in your 2 cents or criticize that which I have omitted.

Oh, and go visit Vinny for some fabulous OPG artwork, full of blood, guts, skellies, and the like.  It will put you in the Halloween spirit.

October 29, 2011

Gateway to the Best.

Each time I posted here about the playoffs, I gushed like a fool and thought there was no way it could get more exciting.  Yet it kept getting more exciting.  After my last post, Texas took the next 2 games, both awesome games, ...and then came Game 6.  The game that will be remembered by all baseball fans forever.  Remembered simply as Game 6, because it was THAT special.  Not only one of the best World Series games ever, but, plain and simple, one of the absolute greatest baseball games ever played.  I realize everyone everywhere is saying that, but it's worth repeating because it's true.  I thought I was going into cardiac arrest about 5 times during that game.  I screamed and jumped and maybe pulled a muscle or two in the process.  I cried.  I simply could not believe what awesomeness I was witnessing.  Again.  A 4-1/2 hour game.  A crazy amount of errors by both teams.  Tied at 4 through 6 innings.  Beltre and Cruz with back-to-back homers in the 7th.  Some of the Rangers were noticed doing some dangerously early celebrating in the dugout.  Never a good idea.  At this point I said to my friends, "If the Cardinals are going to tie or win this, it's not going to happen until the bottom of the 9th, because that seems to be how they roll".  And then my psychic prediction came true.  In the most dramatic fashion even I could not fathom.  The Cardinals were down to their last out.  Not just their last out, but the Rangers were one strike away from winning it all.  And then it happened.  A game-tying triple by one David Freese, a St. Louis native most people had never heard of prior to these playoffs.  The crowd went nuts.  I went nuts.  I got another vodka cocktail to calm my nerves and celebrate this unbelievable spectacle.  Holy hell, now there's extra innings to deal with.  The Rangers scored and were up by one.  Once again, they were down to their final strike in the 10th, but then Lance Berkman got an RBI single and tied the game.  I said to my friends, "If the Cards are going to win this, they'll do it in the bottom of the 11th" - which for those of you not in the know, was only fitting for this crazy team of obvious destiny, who was going for their 11th World Series victory, in 2011, of course.  Once again, my prediction came though.  And once again in the most dramatic fashion with the hometown kid hitting a 2-run walk-off homer.   Oh my.  Someone call the authorities, because I'm going nutso.

Watching the post-game commentary, I could not believe my ears when, after everything that just happened, ALL of the commentators STILL picked the Rangers to take it all.  Are you fucking kidding me?  With the Cardinals at home, and going into it with the incredible momentum they gained from Game 6?  What fools.  Apparently you don't have to be an expert to be an "expert".  Anyone with any sense knew that the Rangers were going to have a very tough Game 7 ahead.

In a sense, Game 7 was almost anti-climactic after Game 6.  This game had a sense of calm that was nowhere to be found in Game 6.  But what was great about it is that the Cardinals dominated and proved they should be champs.  Texas got 2 runs in the top of the first?  No problem, the Cards matched that in the bottom of the first.  Eventually they tacked on a few more runs, their bullpen did their job after their ace did his job, and then they were World Champs. 

What a postseason.  What a Series.  What a game.  I'm exhausted.   

October 23, 2011

Phat Albert.

I realize I sound like a broken record, but I cannot believe this baseball that I am witnessing.  I can tell by the flood of comments that you fine readers are in baseball bliss just like I am.  *tap, tap-is this thing on?*

I literally get tears in my eyes just thinking about it, knowing damn well deep in my heart that this is the best baseball I will witness in my lifetime.  It's a special feeling.  That feeling I've mentioned having before, and you only have a handful of them in life.  I don't want it to go away.  I've had a perma-grin that began at the end of the season, and I'm in such a great mood that literally nothing can bring me down.  $400 to get new brakes on my car unexpectedly?  Who cares!?!  People at work being assholes?  Who cares!?!  You can't rain on this parade.   

This World Series is not even over and I will say confidently that it will go down as one of the best ever.  And that's after some of the best divisional and championship series' ever.  It doesn't matter who wins, we are seeing spectacular fall ball. 

I almost felt sorry for Texas last night.  Almost, I say.  They got spanked, but they did manage to do a fair amount of damage themselves.  But it wasn't enough.  Because Albert Pujols reminded the world why he's the best player in baseball.  Why he will go to the Hall of Fame as one of the best ever to play the game.  EVER.  And we are witnessing it all unfold.  Thank you, universe, for such a gift. 

October 20, 2011

Fall Ball.

I'm gonna make this real quick-like because World Series game 2 just started and the television is calling my name.  I would like to say the following, even though my sparse few readers in the world probably don't give a flying crap.

I'm not happy about Texas being in the series, the main reason being that which I have stated on this here blog a couple of times before:  I hate all things Texas.  I can't explain it, as Texas certainly never did anything to me, but I just can't stand Texas or anything having to do with Texas.  With that being said, I will say that the Rangers seem like a good group of non-cocky guys, they are clearly a talented bunch, and I admit there are no blatant reasons to dislike any of them, other than the fact that they play for Texas, of course.  I also appreciate their manager, Ron Washington, and the fact that he's not afraid to show emotion and jump up and down like a kid when his team does something good.  He's also dealt with a fair amount of adversity, and I give the guy kudos for persevering and coming out on top. 

The Cardinals, on the other hand, I'm very pleased to see in the World Series.  Talk about adversity - these guys are like the team of destiny.  Which, by the way, I said midway during the NLDS against Philly, and a couple of people laughed at me.  How ya like me now, suckas?  This team has overcome so many obstacles this season, a screenplay should be written about it.  If you aren't familiar, here's an article that hits most of the highlights.  And then there's their manager, Tony La Russa, who typically acts like it's a crime to show emotion during a game, but is pure genius.  I know I've said it before, but I'm saying it again.  The guy is so goddamn knowledgeable about other teams/players, it's insane.  He's like a savant.  I love that not a single one of the "experts" picked the Cards to win against Philly.  And, despite how well they played that series, only one "expert" picked them to beat the Brewers.  Even after how they played the Brewers, everyone kept saying there's no way they could beat the superior Rangers.  Only now, after winning game 1, are the "experts" finally recognizing that the Cardinals aren't fucking around, and now I'm reading that the Cards have the edge.  Bandwagon, anyone?

Regardless, I'm excited about what should continue to be a fantastic World Series, to cap off what has been the best end of season/post season I recall in some time.  Dare I say in my lifetime?  Or at least what I remember of my lifetime at this point.  Such a great season-ending-high that I forsee a mild depression in my future once it's all over and I must accept that there is no more baseball for 5 months.  That's a long-ass time.

October 8, 2011

Best. Baseball. Ever.

I don't think I could love the sport of baseball any more than I do right now.  I was born in a baseball town, into a family of baseball fans.  It is in my blood.  I know a lot more than I should about the sport and about those who play/have played the game.  I remember once in a bar years ago I asked a guy some question that apparently was hard to answer because his weird response was, "How would I know?  That's like asking who the shortstop was for the 1974 Cincinnati Reds".  "That would be Dave Concepcion", I replied without even pausing.  That guy's jaw about dropped on the floor.  And I have to say I felt pretty cool for knowing that, albeit dumb luck that I did.  Although in my opinion, if you are a baseball fan and old enough, you should remember the Big Red Machine.  One of the best lineups ever in the game.  Another incident at an away game in Chicago years ago found me being confronted by evil Cubs fans in a bar post-game.  Two guys came up to me, apparently assuming that because I am a female I'm not a real fan and am clueless about the sport.  They asked, with a cocky tone as if they were going to stump me, if I could name 4 starting players from my own team.  I proceeded to give them our entire lineup by position, and then proceeded to do the same with the Cubs.  Again, jaws dropped in silence until one said, "You scare me".  Ah, another proud moment.  I have always appreciated the sport, but something about this post season has made me fall in love all over again.  I still cannot believe what I have witnessed in the past few weeks (or in some cases listened to on the radio/saw on Gameday on my computer).  It's complete insanity.  I already feel like this is the best post-season ever, and we're only through round 1.  Let's take a quick look at the LDS, shall we?

Three of the four division series matchups went to 5 games.  That right there is superb.  The one that didn't saw Tampa Bay losing to stupid Texas.  My god, I hate Texas and anything having to do with Texas.  That was the only LDS outcome I was not happy about.  Detroit thankfully knocked out the goddamn Yankees, and we're all thankful for that.  Plus, Detroit needs something to be happy about, so I'm happy for 'em.  The Brewers-Diamondback series started out rather tame, but got exciting real-quick-like and could not have ended more spectacular than it did.  SPECTACULAR, I say.  And then there's the Cardinals-Phillies series.  None of the "experts" gave the Cardinals a chance.   And for good reason if you look at each team's season overall.  But it's still surprising seeing what the Cardinals accomplished to get to that series.  They were down by 10.5 games for the wild card with exactly 1 month left in the season.  They were down by 3 when there were only 6 games left.  While Atlanta self-destructed, the Cardinals swept their final series in Houston, capping it off with Chris Carpenter pitching a shutout that ultimately got them into the playoffs.  You couldn't write a better script.  Until the series with Philly.  The best team in baseball in the regular season.  Best pitching that no one thought the Cardinals could hit on, despite their powerful offense.  The loveable, classy Charlie Manuel vs. the wacky genius that is Tony LaRussa.  Every game of that series both teams fought like I've never seen them fight before.  The Cardinals did hit off their supposed superior pitching, a lot, whereas the Phillies struggled to hit against the Cardinals supposed crappy pitching.  Even though the Cardinals were holding their own, still no one gave them a chance.  Until they evened it up in Game 4.  Then one guy at ESPN changed his mind and said he thought they could take the series.  One.  Guy.  Game 5 saw two Cy Young Award winners pitted against each other, which in itself is special and historic.  They are best friends off the field.  They are both 6'6" and weigh 230.  Two of the best pitchers in baseball.  The Cardinals scored 1 run in the first freaking inning that ultimately won the game for them.  Chris Carpenter pitched a full 9-inning shutout.  Yadier Molina, the best catcher in MLB in my opinion, caught Philly stealing with ease, which was a huge play in the game.  The Cardinals stunned Philly, they stunned the world, and they made those guys at ESPN look like fools.  You gotta love it.  Stuff like this is great because it doesn't matter if you like the teams or not.  If you are a fan of the sport, you appreciate what you are witnessing.

I've seen a lot of exciting moments in baseball, but what is going on right now is magical.  I love when something special happens and while it's happening, you know you are witnessing something extraordinary of the likes you will probably never see again.  That's only happened a few times in my life, and this is one of them.  I felt it very early on, and it's only proven true in even better fashion than I thought.  This post-season will be talked about as one of the best for many years to come.  And it's not even over.  Let's hope the LCS and World Series provide more such moments.  I think it's destined to continue as it started.  I've got that feeling.  I wish good luck to all the teams left, except for Texas of course who can suck it.  I absolutely want to see Detroit go to the Series.  I would love to see the Cardinals go as well and make it a re-match of 2006.  Plus, there would be the drama factor because the Cardinals are obviously bringing plenty of that this season, and the underdog factor is always exciting.  But I love the Brewers and have a lot of respect for their team and their fans, and I love how they went from being at the bottom of the pack for years, to slowly working their way to the top.  They are abolutely deserving.

All I know is, my heart can't take much more excitment, yet I don't want it to end.  Every game I watch I'm like Redd Foxx thinking The Big One is coming.  I see a brief depression in my future once this high is over for the season.  And then I shall count down the days until the next Opening Day.

September 30, 2011

Random Tidbits.

EARTHQUAKES.  Yep, I'm back on the earthquakes.  Well, due to my obsession I was never "off" the earthquakes, but now I'm back here boring you fine readers with it again.  I'll try to keep it quick.  Canada has seen an increase in quakes as of late, especially in the Northwest Territories and nearby northeast corner of British Colombia.  There was a 5.3 in this general area just this week.  Now I read that the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission is investigating a potential link between drilling in that area, and the recent quakes.  Huh.  How interesting.  Who would've thought that?

I would also like to note that there has been an increase in quakes, although small ones, in the following areas:  Oregon/Washington, Southern California and Los Angeles, western Mexico, Nevada/Utah, and even southeast Missouri, where the New Madrid fault has been unusually quiet for years.

Something is brewing, people.  I feel it.  I'm especially concerned about what's going on in California.  They are due for a big one as it is, and typically there are more daily quakes in northern california than central/southern cali, so this is a bit alarming.  Plus, I can't help but notice that most of these increases are concentrated, somewhat, in the western part of North America.  The one remaining corner of the Ring of Fire that has not seen a devastating earthquake in the past few years.  Not good people, not good.

Speaking of Cali, below is a nice pic I took of the San Andreas Fault while visiting Joshua Tree National Park a few years ago.

The actual fault line is near the middle, between the two mountain ranges.

BASEBALL.  This had to be the most nerve-wracking week of baseball ever.  I don't have cable, so every night I was going nutso watching the happenings on Gameday on my computer.  Which is a nice alternative, but will drive you crazy because of the delay.  For example, it will show you that the ball is in play by showing the generic "In play, run(s)", but then you have to wait for what seems like a lifetime for it to tell you exactly what happened.  It seriously tests your patience and nerves, and causes you to curse your computer while simultaneously making solo clapping chants like you're at the game.

Anyway, I will henceforth be watching games in bars unless they are on national TV.  I have always loved baseball, but this week was a reminder of why I love it.  It doesn't get much more exciting than this week was.  I love the how the Cardinals and the Rays pulled off the wildcard slots in dramatic fashion, and I especially love that the Boston Red Sox and Ben Affleck will be watching it all from their couches while they weep into their chowda.

FOOTBALL.  I'm sure glad that baseball has gotten exciting, because football sure isn't.  At least for me.  This season is not quite turning out as I had hoped for either of my teams.  Yes, I have two.  I won't get into that, but there is good reasoning for it.  Anyway, I will say I'm happy for Detroit, and have found myself rooting for them.  I love an underdog. And their fans, what's left of them, deserve some happiness.  If my teams are going to suck, then I hope some underdog team takes it all this year.  I'm tired of the usuals and am ready to bid them adieu.  I'm talkin' to you, Tom Brady. 

That is all.  Have a kick ass weekend.

September 16, 2011

New Art.

I recently got my hands on some new art here at KATN, and I’m excited about it so I’m going to share.  I’ve always had an interest in art of all mediums, despite having little artistic talent myself.  To this day, I love the smell of turpentine because it reminds me of being at my grandma’s house as a kid, who was an oil painter.  My mom appreciated art as well, as did her two sisters, who I spent a significant amount of time with as a kid.  The one aunt, who is still living, was very involved with her city’s art museum and art scene most of her adult life, and in the process, acquired a collection that is quite impressive.  I’m talking some original pieces from very famous contemporary artists.  Impressive enough that she has discussed bequeathing part or all of her collection to the museum.  I won’t get started on the fact that this very valuable stuff is just hanging and sitting around her house collecting dust, grime, and is completely vulnerable to potential thieves.  No, I won’t mention that, because I literally get pangs of anxiety when I think about it.  Have you ever seen the documentary Herb and Dorothy?  If not, and if you love art, please watch it.  It is an amazing story – one of my favorite documentaries ever.  The situation with my aunt is similar to Herb and Dorothy, but on a MUCH, MUCH smaller and less valuable scale.  It pains me that this collection is sitting there unprotected. 

Anyway, back to my cool new art!  I have so much dang art in my place that I have no more wall space.  I keep saying I’m going to upsize, but in the meantime I just keep rearranging to make room for new pieces.  Some ends up in storage as I rotate.  I have my share of cheap prints, but I like to collect originals where I can through life, because they are that much more special and unique, and they make me feel good.  I buy art based on two simple factors:  what I like, and what I can afford.  The latter which is not much, believe me.  Since I’m not rich and I can’t make art “investments”, I buy whatever catches my eye, falls into my price range of “poor”, and secretly hope that someday the artist will end up famous and I will be sitting on a pot of gold.  Hey, if it happened to Herb and Dorothy, it can happen to me. 

Which leads me to my first few newbies.  Have you ever been to Vincent’s Handmade Art?  I stumbled upon his blog by accident almost a year ago and immediately fell in love with his work and have followed him to the point of stalking ever since.  His work is unique, bold, dark, thought-provoking, occasionally pornographic, and involves lots of fuzzy skellies and penises, both which I happen to be a fan of.  I not only love his work, but I appreciate the vulnerability he displays in his art and his thoughts behind it.  I had the good fortune of winning one of his works in a little contest he held on his blog not too long ago.  Score!  I was, and still am, thrilled about it.  I finally got around to framing it the other day, and although it’s not what I envisioned, I like how it turned out and it’s good enough for now so that I can get that thing on proper display until I get around to a fancier framing job.  Here she is.  I’m so proud of it. 

© Vincent’s Handmade Art 2011

I also did a temporary frame job on the print below, Green Blue Dead Head, also by Vincent.  This beauty was done on a whim on a dry erase board.  I loved it so much that Vinny was kind enough to capture an image before erasing it, and he emailed me a copy.  Again, feeling antsy and wanting to get it on display, I made a basic print using my own mediocre printer.  In the future, however, I have big plans to get a professional print made, and give it some cool double-matting and a bigger frame.  I freaking love this head.  Love the flowy lines.  Love the colors.  Love the tears of blood.  Green Blue Dead Head, you may have been erased from this world, but you will live on forever in my home. 

© Vincent’s Handmade Art 2011

Some friends came over last weekend, the first visitors after I put Vinny's work up, and I couldn't wait to see if they would notice them.  As I surmised, they did, and they loved them to the point of jealousy.  One of my pals remarked that the fuzzy skellie reminded him of "Gonzo artist" Ralph Steadman's work.  I can see that, based on that particular piece, and I'd say that's quite a compliment to Le Artiste.  Thank you Vinny!  I look forward to aquiring more of your talented works.  If you have not already, dear readers, I implore you to visit his blog and check out more of his phenomenal stuff.

August 27, 2011


I was at the baseball game last night.  Off and on throughout the game, one of the two giant scoreboards was showing peoples' tweets and accompanying pics from the game.  What in the goddamn hell?!?  I don't know if this is a local thing, or if this bullshit is happening at stadiums across the country, but I have a few things to say about it. 

First off, I don't need to see nor hear about your kid getting his ball signed, that 2 strangers just got engaged, that it's girls night out, that you think our team is #1, or that random couples think they are in love.  Not only do I not give a flying crap about your tweets, but may I point out it is also taking away from what scoreboard #2 is meant for:  showing ongoing MLB scores and stats from around the league.  I'm at the goddamn game and I would like to know what's going on with the Cubs and Milwaukee, but I guess I'll have to wait because a bad phone pic of your two "adorable" kids kissing the bobblehead given away that night is apparently more important.  My bad.

Second, am I the only one who is bothered by the fact that people cannot seem to put their fucking phones down for a goddamn second?  If you are at the baseball game, and a very good one at that, and you'd rather spend your time arranging the perfect photo and tweet, then you should have your ass kicked.  Sorry, but I'm old school in that way.  Go to the baseball game and enjoy some goddamn baseball, folks.  People are so concerned about informing the world of every move they make in life, the majority of which no one cares about, that they actually miss out on life itself while they're doing it. 

I might have to email someone about this. 

August 20, 2011

Concert Review.

I recently caught a great double-bill with Nashville Pussy and The Dwarves on the cheap at a small, intimate venue.  I am still kicking myself for not having my camera that night, and almost hesitated even writing about it on this here blog without any pics or video to go along with it.  There was as much to look at as there was to listen to.  It had been a long time since I'd been to what I would consider a true punk show, and this show took me back.  Way back.

First off, after the summer from hell in which I barely ventured outdoors for fear my skin would melt, the heat has finally broken and the night of this show was beautiful.  It was a (relatively) cool mid 80s, a clear sky, and a full moon.  I was shocked by the turnout for this show.  The place was packed and it was superb people-watching.  There was a wide age range, but I'd say well over half were well into their 30s.  Lots of tattoos to look at.  Everyone in black.  A good number of psychobilly types, one of which quietly slipped both of my male friends, but not me, a percocet after a 2 minute superficial but friendly conversation that only happened because he used the ashtray on our table.  Seems an odd thing to do with complete strangers, but I figured maybe this is how it is on the punk scene nowadays.  And although I wanted no part of his percocets, I couldn't help but wonder why I was blatantly shunned in his pill dispensary.  Did I not look like the pill-poppin' type?  Did I look like a snitch?  I'll never know.  The venue has a huge, superb patio that opens up to the inside via a wall of french doors.  So, we were able to be outside all night enjoying the weather, while also having a perfect view of the bands from the side about 12 feet from the stage.  Plus, from this vantage point I could avoid potential bodily harm from the VERY SERIOUS slam dancing that engulfed the entire floor in front of the stage throughout all 3 bands.  There was a time and a place for that in my life, but I regret to say that time has long passed.  I have no desire to go out and subject myself to pain and injury.  But I sure enjoyed watching other people do it with such seriousness and intensity.  To top it off, no one appeared to get hurt, and no fights broke out.  That's always nice.

A very young, local punk band opened up.  Their youth and inexperience was obvious in their music, but they were fun to watch.  For starters, as the pre-show crowd enjoyed their PBR tall-boys on the patio, the band pulled up to unload their gear in rock star fashion.  Picture an old van, the likes of the Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo, with the entire roof cut off except for that which covers the front seat.  In the open-air back area, they had 2 long seats running the length of each side, along with another one between them, backing up to the driver/front seat.  A U-shape, if you will.  Oh, and all those seats were packed with band members and their friends, all half-wasted with open beers, music blaring.  That thing also had built-in coolers, bolted-down, stand up ashtrays, and styrofoam swimming noodles sliced down the middle and placed over all edges of the rough, rusty metal where the roof had been cut off - held on by plastic zip ties.  On top of the remaining roof was a bar of emergency lights like you would see on an ambulance.  Of course, those were on as they pulled up.  Can one just drive around with lights like that?  Wouldn't that be illegal?  I guess I'm not a true punker anymore if I am worried about such trivial matters.  Anyway, it was a spectacle and I apologize that I suck and cannot provide picture proof.  Other than that, the best part of their presence was during their set when the band member with the tattooed head climbed up on some speakers and somehow made his way up to a 6 inch ledge coming out of the wall about 18 feet high off the ground.  He positioned the front of his body flat against the wall and shimmied his way about 15 feet across to the upstairs crowd in the balcony that overlooks the stage.  Although I was sucked in by this very punk rock antic, I admit the entire time I was holding my breath, preparing to be traumatized by witnessing the fall that paralyzes someone for life.  Yeah, I'm getting older.  Anyway, their music pretty much sucked, but kudos to them for the visuals.

Next up were The Dwarves.  I'm not sure how this happened, but this band is from my era and somehow I never heard of them until a month ago.  They started out in the late 80's/early 90's and are probably a tad older than myself.  They put on a great show, and demonstrated to the youngsters before them that punk rock is not simply haphazard thrashing, non-stop antics, and spewing insults at the crowd.  They proved that good, classic, hardcore punk can coexist with an actual melody and a beat, which I feel is often lost with many modern punk bands.  They are real punkers, but punkers with maturity who have nothing, yet everything to prove. And they did it in fucking awesome fashion.  I would even say in a classy fashion, except that is somewhat of a contradiction and might be taken as an insult.  I loved that alongside the occasional, obligatory "Fuck you motherfuckers", they expressed their love and appreciation for the fans and their decades of support.  They mingled with the crowd afterwards, exchanged pleasantries, posed for pictures, autographed shit, and then stuck around for some Nashville Pussy.  Meanwhile, one of the youths from the first band was so drunk he was nodding off in a chair.  Novice.  Here's a sample of The Dwarves for your listening pleasure.  The guitarist can fucking shred.

Nashville Pussy took the stage last.  I've seen them live 4 or 5 times, but it had been at least a few years so I was pumped.  Simply put, I appreciate this band for two reasons:  one, they rock my face off, and two, they have 2 chicks in the band who kick very serious ass.  This band is metal, punk, and good ol' rock 'n' roll all rolled up with a southern fried cherry on top.  They've been around for years and only seem to get better with age.  Please go see them if you ever have the chance. 

I bid ye a most rocking weekend, my friends.