30Nov2008 2245: Thanksgiving
Now now, I didn't forget to post. Just, y'know, holidays. Four days of chilling at the parents' place sandwiched between 90- minute trips where Edmond would just not shut up. Still worth it, as 30% of the entertainment of Thanksgiving is watching the home-turf Nemesis warm up to Edmond.
Besides, we're entering the snowy no-ears-land of iTunes. From last Tuesday until January 1st most singles will be the same tired carols of yesteryear not being sung by Bing Crosby. Two singles this week are carols and should probably be avoided -- although I know some people out there who would fight me if I badmouthed Harry Connick II any further than this.
Apple did see fit to release two other free singles, neither of which appeal to me at all. [Curumin - Caixa Preta] and [Busy Signal - Tic Toc] are almost literally interchangeable rap: the backing beat of Caixa Preta is almost exactly the same rhythm as the stuttering chorus "tic tic tic tic toc". One song's entire musical background could be replaced with the other, and then the same lyrics applied. Fascinating, but not entertaining.
23Nov2008 1223: Black Dynamite
19Nov2008 1745: A Case of Island
Late-breaking news: somebody buy me the rolled-tube version for Commercialmas.
I live on a peninsula, and just since I've moved in two years ago there's been a noticeable erosion on our road out. The public road is steadily decaying, while the private drive that begins at our gate is perfectly diked and pristine. Since the part of the road that's sliding away is public we can't fix it ourselves, but since it literally only services us the city has been stalling us.
Not anymore! For the past three days, I've left for work and passed City of West Fargo pickup trucks assessing the road. Cones were placed. Paint was sprayed. And now they've taken the extra step of tearing up everything that was sliding away...which is not at all an improvement. And what they're not doing is they're not going down to the riverbank and building a better dike, so a new road is only going to last a few years anyway.
All of which brings me closer to my goal of calling in to work with a bad case of island.
[Dragon (feat. El Nell) - Nada Sin Ti] is hideously vocoded reggae. If I wanted to listen to this kind of music, I'd play Midnight Club: LA so I could also be berated by racial archetypes for crashing my motorcycle.
Midnight Club is a fine piece of game.
Oh criminy, what's this? While I was typing that paragraph the reggae went away and was replaced with [Randy Houser - Anything Goes]'s miles-thick country twang. There is nothing here that you haven't heard a thousand times on any country radio of the past ten years. Bluegrass, where have you gone?
[Dark Captain Light Captain - Jealous Enemies] takes their name from one of the less subtle episodes of Star Trek. This song would easily be mistaken for Simon & Garfunkel if the guitar wasn't about three times faster than anything SnG ever did. I fall just short of wanting to keep it. That makes two weeks of solid failure, maybe next week will mark the triumphant return of Digable Planets or something.
16Nov2008 1945: Pancakes
Alton Brown's pancake recipe, courtesy of Justice:
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- .5 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- Makes 1 dozen 4" pancakes. Serves 2
Food Satan's pancake recipe, courtesy of my god kill it with fire:
- .5 cups unlabeled container of white powder, that may be leftover Bisquik but is probably just baking powder
- 1 cup milk
- 1 large egg
- Crap we still need more powdery stuff. 3/8 cup baking soda
- Vaguely recall that baking soda replaces baking powder if cut with honey. 1/8 cup honey
- That doesn't look right. Pour in very little white flour
- 3 Tbsp panic
- Makes some runny bubbly bitter shit. Serves your worst enemy
12Nov2008 2100: Reporting In
I think I've got my vacation sorted out in my head. I'll probably gloss over parts where I didn't take many pictures, or that are none of your business... but I have lots of pictures. For someone who avoids the Internet, DAP sure ended up in a lot of them. Me and Morgion, not so much.
Again, I highly recommend the train if you're not as fussy about showering as I am. You get to relax and read 80% of Le Morte D'Arthur while looking at the Mississippi River valley, historic downtown Cumberland, Chicago by the river, and even the train itself. Or you can hang out in the lounge car and do a shot every time you see a cow. Or you can learn Dutch from all the Amish travelers!
Our eastbound leg ended only a half hour late in Washington D.C., where Bladow immediately took us to Ben's Chili Bowl for some half-smokes. This is a landmark I'd never heard of before the trip, but it is damn tasty.
The Bladows have a beautiful house somewhere in the Baltimore area. Residential areas in Fargo have always creeped me out, but I could never articulate why until I saw their place. Turns out that I need hills and trees. We unloaded our gear, met with the KBladow, and introduced ourselves to the basset and whippet that ran the house. Some of us who happen to be dog owners introduced ourselves a little more than others.
Dinner that night was at Obrycki's, with the authentic dump-crab-on-your-table East Coast experience. They had these marvelous clams with bacon and peppers! And you get little mallets to hit things (usually crab) with! And we parked on top of a gutter pipe, which turned into an adventure when we hauled it back in a Honda Fit that already had five people in it. It became an integral part of the Punkin Chunkin weekend; a fortuitous find for Bladow, who had expressed a wish for a flagpole he could mount on the pickup. Kismet!
Halloween dawned far too early for me, but it was time to load up and head over the bay into Delaware. Not only did we have to watch some chunkin'; we had a tour lined up at the Dogfish Head Brewery, where they brew beer in some sort of magical South American wood and also stainless steel. We played bocce ball beforehand, got into the tour an hour early, and had enough time for more bocce afterwards.
From there we went to our Delaware sub-hosts, friends of Bladow that I don't know the online handles of. I will thusly refer to them as "those crazy Irish brothers and a very patient wife". They had the softest cat I've ever touched and a Great Dane dressed up as both a cow and a bull. Once we got suitably pre-drunk we went to the Dogfish Head Brewpub down in Rohoboth Beach, one brother dressed as Dick-In-A-Box and the other as a "Peruvian". And what do six straight drunk guys do on Halloween in Rohoboth Beach? Why, they go to a gay bar and crash the costume contest! Made even more delightful when Bladow was volunteered to be a judge, thus guaranteeing Dick-In-A-Box one vote.
The next day, we rolled slowly out of our sleeping bags and set off for the Chunkin'. It was bright, sunny, and 70 degrees; a perfect day for drinking pumpkin ale out of pumpkin sippy cups in an impromptu pumpkin costume fashioned from an orange shirt and electrical tape. And we were kings among men.
The official act of shooting pumpkins thousands of feet took a back seat to Bladow's amazing pumpkin ale, pumpkin funnel cake, and freshly grilled brats. I've got some shots of Bad Hair Day or Young Glory III next to the massive trebuchet Yankee Siege. They all compete for the glory and the grandpa. I even took some film of the interesting ones:
- Bad to the Bone, king of centrifuges.
- Yankee Siege, 25000 tons of steel and 8 pounds of pumpkin.
- Merlin, a trebuchet that operates by magic.
But the story of the weekend was Bladow's dual duos in the cooking and chili contests. Pumpkin Ale got screwed out of first by a beer-hating hag of a judge, and his Great Plains Prairie Fire Chili was slightly too spicy for mass appeal. He did get first in presentation, and yes those holes in the lower right vent dry ice smoke. A mighty haul and a vengeance that will be served next year.
Boohoo, it was Monday and time to leave Baltimore already. We went back to D.C. and spent the last few hours in a tour that was even more whirlwind than last time... although for authenticity I did forget to leave my leash-belt in my luggage again. We only had time to power-walk up and down the mall and then take a Capitol tour, where they were briefly NOT amused with my belt.
The Capitol was already gearing up for election/inauguration day shindigs. Once inside we saw some artwork I photographed poorly, as well as both statues from North Dakota. The man is John Burke, treasurer under Wilson. Under him is the flat black-and-white marble statue that represents North Dakota's geography and ideology.
The long haul back to Chicago got ahead of itself somewhere in Ohio, setting us down a half-hour ahead of schedule. That would have been great if we didn't already have a five-hour layover to deal with. We killed some time in Millennium Park (which I have little hope was dedicated to the year 2001) before checking out the Art Institute of Chicago. There was lots of amazing art and relics and an item that was definitely not the cup of a carpenter, but what did I spend my pictures on?
The Arthur L Boringmonger Paperweight Parade. The only part I made up is the name; there were fourteen giant displays like the one in that picture, all oriented around the floor case that held the appropriately-named Magnum. These weren't even Renaissance paperweights or anything; most were manufactured by a single company in France in the 70s and 80s. Just...just crazy.
We could only take paperweights for so long. Our stomachs yearned for something more substantial than train food, so we randomly picked this pub that we saw. Which turned out to be amazing. The service was chatty and friendly, the fish and chips were delicious, and the host was in a suit and tie. In a pub!
The train ride home was dull in comparison, not to mention the car was full for the first five hours or so. Le Morte D'Arthur is a tome that requires some extra legroom.
In the middle of the trip something happened to the country or something.
*** INTERLUDE ***
So then it was Friday, and my family piled in the minivan for the second Lobstergiving. Do you know what thirty lobsters looks like? It looks like this image I swiped from my brother's Facebook album. Yeah. Every one of those cubbies is full of tasty tasty lobster.
And that's just the warmup feast, a pre-feast. On Saturday -- after we touristed around Milwaukee like goobers and utterly failed to visit the historic Third Ward -- we hit up the turkey portion of the event, now with increased family attendance. It's just like a real Thanksgiving; we basically started drinking everything in the fridges and cupboards, dressed like adorable ninnies, and held an impromptu paddleboat race in near-freezing temperatures. It is exactly as ridiculous as it sounds. Mom's viking ancestry is smiling in Valhalla: her boat used some dirty tactics to spin their opponent the wrong way and cruise in for an easy victory. After a drubbing like that their opponents had to lie down for a while.
After that was...more drinking. Enough drinking to obliterate my nasty head cold. A too-brief sleep at the hotel, another long trip in the minivan, and poof! I'm back in Fargo!
After all that text nobody really wants to hear about the iTunes singles, which is convenient because you probably don't want to hear them at all. The only notable is [Paper Route Gangstaz - Bama Gettin Money] because it is so very bad and also not about Obama.
05Nov2008 1615: Brave New World
Attention Obama: okay. Don't fuck this up.
The trip report is still percolating -- and the second part of my trip hasn't happened yet -- but I'll see about getting some representative videos up. Also, oddly, I would recommend the train to anybody. Not only was it within a half hour of its scheduled time on every leg, but the half-hour late on the arrival in DC was offset by being a half-hour early on the way back. How does a train get early?
There only appear to be two singles this week. [The Yelling - Blood on the Steps] is totally serious about the yelling part. Unfortunately the band forgot to write a second verse, so we end up with one of these. [Beast - Mr Hurricane] is a curiosity. I would describe it as "funk", but is that even a genre any more? iTunes has it down as "electronic" which is almost completely wrong.