Thursday, June 29, 2006

Say "Cheese!"

Fun week! (Or is it two?) Actually got to spend some time with the Boo, now that he's through the final big event. I got invited to attend the event, and it was pretty nice. Having previously attended events with Boo when he worked in a women's athletic department (just imagine), I was not enthused...but it turned out well. Gore was there, you know. I mean, not AL Gore mind you, no, this was the Gore that invented Goretex®, but still, a celeb. Of sorts. In certain circles. Fry was there, too, the guy who invented Post-It® notes. Well, okay, the food and company were good. Not to mention the bartender - by the time she'd poured my third Jack Daniels, I was just fine wherever I might be; since she also took good care of Boo's required post-event alcohol intake, she got a fine tip.

We also went to Pride this past weekend – for about 90 minutes. I don’t really get it. I used to love Pride. When I spent the summer in Northfield after my junior year in college, I went to my first Pride Festival. 1984. I could not wait. I rode up from Northfield with my friend Edie – the bus dropped us at the depot downtown, and she knew which local would take us to the parade kickoff on 32nd Street east of Lake Calhoun. We found it, we lined up, and marched. Everybody marched in the parade down Hennepin Avenue to Loring Park – some in contingents of organized groups, but an equally large number of people were just like us – average folk marching because after all the shit involved in coming out, and dealing with it, and merging together the selves once separate – one public one private (secret) – well hell, yeah, we were proud! And we marched because “look at us! We made it!”

A lot of folks marched for that, and it made a difference to how I thought about us – we had learned something about ourselves and we knew it to be true about everyone else – the journeys in this life are what matter, and what makes you special, and it is something special to be proud of – so march! March for that, and for those still on the journey who may see and find the guideposts to march with you. All down the route people smiled and waved, and around us people waved back, and so many of them, and so much pride, and so many journeys culminating here. For anyone who’s lived in the loneliness of secrecy, Pride is a big deal – you are so very not alone. So very much a part of a community too big to suppress.

The festival after the parade was pleasant – an array of G & L – owned businesses (we were about 2 years from formally including the B & T contingents). We bought pop in cans to raise money for All God’s Children, and two-for-a-dollar hotdogs to send a team to the Gay Games, originally conceived as the Gay Olympics. Sitting on a blanket facing the one and only stage, we watched a variety of speakers take a turn at the open mike. There was a guy expressing rage about gay bashing, and encouraging the crowd to take up arms – he was roundly booed, though the little voice in my head said there was a grain of truth in his words. A young stripper from the Across the Street bar showed his artistic side, with an ASL-signed and danced rendition of Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield pretty as a pageant princess. His sincerity was heartbreaking and I ached to fuck him silly. A young politician named Brian Coyle explained why he should be elected to the Minneapolis City Council. A creepy white dude rushed the mike during Miss Cleo’s Donna Summer lipsynch, shouting of sin and wrath. Miss Cleo didn’t drop a step as a burly security guy pulled him off stage, and as Donna sang on, Miss Cleo’s warm chocolate voice reminded us that God loves all his children, loves all the truth-full.

Later on, the dance began, and I danced and danced and danced, alone, and with others, and with everyone. I barely made the 11:58 bus home to Northfield, exhausted, exhilarated, and oh, so proud.

I don’t know when it changed exactly, sometime after the year David and I drove up from Northfield only to find we’d left our tickets for admission to Pride at Parade Stadium at home, sometime after the move to Powderhorn Park while Loring was renovated, sometime after Miss Cleo died, and Brian Coyle died, and Bush followed Reagan into the White House, and our dreams of community died a thousand deaths in committees working on a consensus model.

It changed for sure when someone realized that there was money to be made; when the reward for all our struggles became the honor of becoming a target market. It changed when professional food vendors squeezed out the mom & moms or pop & pops, and when the cost of a booth became prohibitive enough to keep the gay jewelers and lesbian artists from setting up shop for the weekend.

It took 90 minutes to walk through the massive number of booths this year, now featuring Subaru, General Mills, and American Express. Past the food booths selling overpriced food for tickets instead of cash, staffed by sneering hetero rednecks, and the only way to buy tickets is to find a stand selling them in quantities of five and buy far more or far less than you need. Past the numerous stages, the sad drag stage with a purple-wigged dude-in-a-dress synching away badly to Charlene singing “I’ve Never Been To Me.” Short on imagination, short on sincerity. Or maybe I’m just old and jaded. I still get a good feeling when I see all the people. But 90 minutes was enough.

I’ve been scooped on the rest of the weekend, and with better photos, but it was a welcome relief to set off on Sunday with two friends for Stockholm, WI. We stopped briefly in Prescott for a bit of antique critique ("Oh, my, god, can, you, believe, this!?!") then continued down river. Along the way, we saw a sign for the Cheese Curd Festival in Ellsworth, and as we've previously been enthralled by the Civil War Memorial Dairy Queen in Ellsworth (The Cheese Curd Capital of the World), we simply had to go.

Saw the parade, had some curds (much less greasy and salty compared to the items offered at the state fair - I actually thought these were pretty good.) Found the parade very fattening, as several floats hurled candy at us, and one was handing out popsicles. Lots o' great people watching, lots of princesses with embarrassing titles (June Bug Princess! Cheese Curd Princess!) I saw a coworker before she saw me, so made sure I wasn't doing anything too embarrassing, plus gained an alibi should I wish to call in sick on Monday(strongly contemplated such a comment). All good things must come to an end, so we continued on toward Stockholm.

We decided just past Maiden Rock to seek out the "Rustic Road", which is an absolutely beautiful drive along the south drainage of the Rush river. It started raining as we hit the trail, making the little rivulets that you have to drive through along the road a bit more stream-like, though no match for my friends' Forrester. About midway through, we saw a large wild turkey bound across the road, and a bit further in, we found ourselves in one of those beautiful, green-darkness groves that seems to extend for miles in every direction.

If you've ever spent the winter in the Midwest, it's almost miraculous to experience the fecund, overflowing wealth of green life that explodes around you in late June. Beautiful.

We eventually found our way to County Road J, and back on the way to Stockholm via the back way. The population of Stockholm seems to have risen slightly (81, up from 78), and a few of the stores have relocated amongst the handful of buildings since last year, but still a lovely, tiny little town.

We drove up the Minnesota side of the river on the way back, through Wabasha, Lake City, and Red Wing. Really, just a lovely day. Much needed, much appreciated.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pancakes & Flash In the Pans

Daniel Letterle as Ethan Green, with Diego Serrano and Dean SheltonSo, I see The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green opens this week, starring the oh-so twinkalicious Daniel Letterle. Of course, it's not opening in Minneapolis, but in limited release, and may crawl its way this direction. Sometime. Maybe.

I'm not a huge fan of what has become of the gay movie industry. We've gone from pretty good stuff like the early work of Gregg Araki and Todd Haynes, to, well, Skinemax wanna-bes. Recipe for a gay flick? Two hot shirtless guys (acting ability not required), a mangy drag queen (absolutely no acting required), a disco remix for the soundtrack, 95 gay quips that were old when you heard them at the gym last week, and a script that makes stereotypes we've been fighting against for years look like the new lifestyle pinacle.

But I still have hopes for this, because I thought Letterle was pretty good in Camp, I've enjoyed the comic strip so much over the years that my cat is named after it, and it also features Richard Riehle as a Hat Sister, whom I first saw years ago in a performance with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. He's probably more familiar to most of you as a frequent alien on various Star Trek franchises.

So, if you see it before I do, and you probably will, don't tell me it sucks. Unless it really really sucks, in which case, damn.

It's Saturday morning, and we're a bit discombobulated. Boo was at his final chorus rehearsal before tonight and tomorrow's performance, and while he was out, we got one hell of a thunder-banging storm. The power went out about 9:45, so I went to bed as the alternative seemed to be sitting around in the darkness and eating things out of the freezer. Not long after Boo got home, the power came on again. Then went off. Then on, then off. On, for now.

As a result, most of the clocks in the house are wrong. But it feels like breakfast time. I'm thinking pancakes.


1 cup flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir thoroughly.

Combine in a 2 cup measure:

2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup milk
1 egg white

Whisk until frothy.

Combine in a small cup:

1 egg yolk
2 tbs melted butter

Whisk until smooth.

Pour yolk mixture into milk mixture and whisk until smooth, then pour into flour mixture and whisk until only small lumps remain (about 20-30 seconds, no more! Do not overbeat, or pancakes will be tough). Add milk if needed, batter should the consistency of just-melted ice cream.

Heat a griddle, cast iron skillet, or non-stick pan. Spray with cooking spray. When hot enough to make water drops sizzle and dance when sprinkled, pour in batter by 1/4 cup ladlefuls. Gently shake skillet to spread. When bubbles form on top and edges look slightly dry, flip pancake over. Cook other side until done - about 90 seconds for the first side, 60 for the second.

Serve with butter and maple syrup; unless you're a freak, like Boo, and prefer the sweetly cloying taste of Alaga.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning

monarch coffee ad detail Well, I could obviously use a quiz or a meme to keep things jumping around here lately – I have no particular excuse except a) I’m lazy, and b) it’s way too nice outside to stay indoors and blog.

Since it’s been so nice, let’s take a couple hours out of my day. Think of it as an extra-long episode of 24.“The events of this episode occur between 5 am and 8 am…”.Only without as much suspense. And a lot less torture. And no Kim. We can certainly be happy about that last one, no?

5:23 am
The radio turns on at the designated moment. The station is The Current; however, I have no idea what is playing as the main goal is to stand up as quickly as possible, turn-it-off-turn-it-off-turn-it-off, and stagger to the shower. Cats go flying as I leap from under the covers.
5:25 am
The water runs in the shower as I wait for sufficient heat – being as it is June, it won’t take long. I pee in the shower while I’m waiting, because it seems stupid to use more water for the toilet, plus I don’t want to have to flush it when I’m just getting the water to the right temp. I try to avoid seeing myself in the mirror, because damn.
5:30 am
The water has run over me long enough start feeling conscious. I shampoo what’s left of my hair, and lather for a shave. This nifty no-fog mirror is all fogged up (LIAR!), so I pull it off the wall and run water over it, then stick it back in place. It should hold out long enough for me to finish shaving. POS. It is a mercy that the Fab 5 can’t see me shave, because I do it wrong.

5:35 am
Ethan pokes his head around the shower curtain and yowls. He does not opt to join me in the shower today, as he is sometimes wont to do, loitering around the back end of the tub where the spray doesn’t hit him. He still gets his paws wet, and he has trouble finding his way back out, so I much prefer it when he stays out.
5:48 am
Shampoo, shave, soap, done showering. Towel dry with the fan running.
5:49 am
Brush teeth. Thoroughly. I have no cavities, and I brush for 5 minutes. I also brush my tongue, because otherwise my breath is heinous.
5:54 am
Slap on some antiperspirant, some moisturizer, and take a Q-tip to the ears. Check if the nails have reached a clippable length, and check for nose hairs and eyebrows that have mysteriously quadrupled in size and length. Today, things are pretty good.
5:55 am
Underwear, socks, t-shirt. Yawn. Pet a cat. Yawn.
6:00 am
The radio turns on again, this time for Boo. Were he actually home, he would hit the snooze if the song sucked, and, regardless, lounge about for about another 30 minutes or so. As usual, I turn on the lights. As he has not snoozed the radio, being as he is in Atlanta this weekend, I can listen to The Morning Show. Not one of the better mornings. Some days it’s quite an interesting variety. Today, it is mostly folk and folk-flavored accoutrements. I select trousers and a shirt – khakis and a white polo. I hate polos, but I have no intention of ironing on a sticky Friday morning for a class full of people dressed for casual Friday. I’m teaching today, as I do most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
6:05 am
Make coffee. Half a pot should do. As usual, there is one scoop too few already ground, and I have to grind some more. While I’m using the sprayer to fill the coffee maker, I also water the violet and orchid in the windowsill.
6:06 am
Log in to the computer, with the intent of seeing the weather report. Rapidly become involved in reading e-mail (spam, spam, spam), and forum posts. Check my blog. Wonder when the hell I’m going to get my next post done. Wonder why someone is looking for “stall stream loud toilet hissing” on Google. Wonder why I have all of those words on my blog. Wonder why I have a blog. Wonder if the coffee is ready.
6:20 am
Pour coffee into oversize mug, top with milk. Pop some toast in the toaster. Realize I forgot to check the weather report online, and don’t know whether this is a bus day(need to leave in 20 minutes) or scooter day(need to leave in 40 minutes).
6:30 am
Finally get the frickin’ weather report. After I check my e-mail (again) and get distracted by the news photo at the top of my Yahoo! page. Sigh. Sip coffee, hope it will make my brain work. Clear to partly-cloudy, high of 84. Scooter it is! Shit, I think I forgot about my toast.
6:31 am
Flip the cold toast over, drop it down again to get browner (and warm again). Slice some sharp cheddar. Almost done with first cup of coffee. Top it up again. Add milk. Shit! Forgot the toast – well, only a little too dark. Eat toast and cheese.
6:44 am
If I were catching the bus, I would need to be outside already. Instead, I pack a lunch. Since it’s a leftover box lunch from Boo’s work event this week, it takes no time. It does take a lot of room, however, so I decide I must leave the gym clothes at home. I’ll go tomorrow. Promise.
6:47 am
Helmet – check. Bag – check. Phone – check. Wallet, keys, etc – check. Cats shut away from the scratchable furniture...nope. Shoo, shoo, shoo. Quit it bitch! Get your ass back there while you still have one! Bad kitty!
6:48 am
Lock back door, open garage. Realize I set my helmet down while I was shooing the cats. Start scooter, detach key from rest of keyring, run into house, grab helmet. On way back out, realize that potted plants are drooping. Let scooter warm up while I grab hose and water the droopy.
What about the window box? Run around to the front of the house. I should take my helmet off; I look like I'm waiting for the short bus. Damn! Pew! The tree-of-death is in full blossom. This is an ash tree in the neighbor, who may be Maxine's yard. It smells like dead bunnies when it blooms. Gag.
Speaking of bunnies, get your crafty ass out from under that arbor vitae, you long-eared galoot. Or something else may smell like dead bunnies. Move it!
While I’m at it, the bird bath looks like it’s been used for bathing monster trucks. Nas-tay. Dump, spray, refill.
While turning off hose, it rubs across my khakis, leaving a mud smear. Motherfucker.
6:59 am
Turn off scooter. Reattach key to keyring. Stomp back inside. Take off shoes, change trousers, godihatethesetrousers, shoes on, heythisbeltdoesn’tmatch, new belt. Get away from that door, Eloise!
7:10 am
Well, shit, now I’m late. Fucking cat.
7:12 am
End of the alley. Can’t believe they tore a house down on the other side of the block. Looks like they’re pouring a new foundation, though...hope it’s not hideous whatever they’re building.
7:15 am
Minnehaha Parkway. Ah. Lilacs. Much better than tree-of-death!
7:17 am
Minnehaha Parkway. I swear, I always hit this stoplight. Oh, no. A Silverado in front of me. This will be a problem...
7:21 am
Minnehaha Parkway. What kind of psycho golfs at 7 am? “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses...” fucking Silverado. “ been out running fences, for so long now...” “Desperado...” fucking Eagles.
7:27 am
Try the "Bob Dylan Cure" – this is a method of killing earworms. An earworm, by the way, comes from the German term Ohrworm. It means one of those songs that gets stuck in your head. And will not leave. Like Desperado does, every fucking time I see a Silverado. It’s a term that seems to be rapidly catching on in the English translation, which I think is a good thing. We didn't have a term when I was a kid. We need a better term than “stupid song that gets stuck in your head, and makes you want to destroy all Chevy trucks...” Hooray for the Internets. Hooray for cross-linguistic pollination.
The Bob Dylan Cure involves clearly and specifically imagining your earworm being sung by Bob Dylan. “OoooohHHH! Desspa RA dOH! Whadoncha COME to yasenSES?” It may be working.
7:30 am
The roundabout – who will brake unexpectedly? Who will not brake?
Oh, the perils of European traffic devices in the Midwest...I make it through safely.
7:32 am
Ford Bridge, St Paul, at last, if I can make it across – this is the windiest place in the Twin Cities, I swear. One day, a big gust will come through, and I’ll be all Margaret Hamilton all the way down to the water.
“Fuck you, my pretties!”
7:35 am
Randolph Avenue. Yes, I’m smaller than you, but I am going the speed limit. Oh, fine. Pass me then. Dumbass. Oh, shit, another Silverado.
7:36 am
Randolph and Fairview, traffic signal. Fat lot of good passing me did, eh? Dumbass. Desspa RA dOH!
7:37 am
Mmmm. Flowers. Nice.
7:40 am
Randolph and Albert. Hey, I think that school over there is Cretin Derham-Hall. Funny, I’ve been passing it all this time, and it never occurred to me. I guess I thought it would be on Cretin Avenue.
Of course, I never noticed the giant topiary hedges spelling out “Cretin” next to the football field before.
I’m not sure that’s a good idea.
West 7th Street, almost there! Why is it that even though they just repaired this bridge last year, there’s still this giant ridge of asphalt in my lane? Swerve. I do this every day folks. Impressive, I know.
Awesome! It’s “that woman”! I see “that woman” fairly often along this stretch, and she always looks the same. “That woman” is wearing a long purple formal gown. And a white sash. “That woman” has hair that looks like a Daryl Hannah Splash wig. Not a new one, sadly. ...and full length gloves, and high heels. I wonder what “that woman” does? Is she a receptionist?
Because that would be cool...
This is close to the United and Children's Hospitals so maybe she works there. Some sort of morale thing maybe.
“Look Timmy, you may have cancer, but at least you’re not crazy, like that old bat over there...”
7:55 am
Downtown...downtown... sing it Petula! Right turn! Left turn! Traffic light! Green! .... Hey Fucker! I’m driving here! BEEEEEEEP!

Parking ramp! Sunglasses off! Check! Helmet off! Check! Bag! Check! Security badge! Check! Kickstand locked! Check! Fork locked! Check!
8:00 am
Cubeville, at last. Boy, I’m tired.