Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday Question: Promoted from the comments

A couple of weeks ago, I asked for YOUR questions. On account of laziness. Now that I'm hosting Weekend America, Fridays are actually fairly insane.

Cara suggested:
What piece of clothing have you owned the longest, and what is the story behind it?

Good one.

Me, I've been on a purge binge what with two moves and all. So at the moment, and Conservatize Me readers alone will know this one, it's the Puffy America shirt.

How about you?


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

On Bunnies, Squirrels, and St Paul, Minnesota

So here in St Paul, we have all these bunnies, right? It's different than Seattle. Instead of crows we have all kinds of colorful birds. And instead of squirrels we have bunnies and also lots more squirrels.

Talking to the neighbor across the street as another bunny hops by.

HER: Yeah, they're cute but forget about it if you want to grow vegetables.
ME: Really?
HER: They'll gobble them up. Whatever you grow. Flowers too. They're relentless.
ME: Hm. Okay then.

Minutes later, I'm talking to Charlie (age 7)
ME: So what it means is that we shouldn't garden. If we garden, we'll grow to hate the bunnies. But if we DON'T garden, we not only get to love the bunnies but we also get to NOT GARDEN. Leaving us more time for everything else. And we don't have to eat disappointing salads.
HIM: Maybe we should get some carrots and then keep the leaves but replace the carrots with hot dogs.
ME: And then do...what...with them?
HIM: Put them back in the ground. Then the bunny thinks he's having a carrot and he's like "Oh no! I'm a carnivore now!" And he'd be so freaked out he'd leave us alone to grow carrots.
ME: I don't know. Seems like a lot of work. And ruined hot dogs.
HIM: But it would be funny.

By the way, regarding squirrels:
1 squirrel on a tree, unnoticeable
2 squirrels on a tree, cute
3 squirrels on a tree, weird
4 squirrels on a tree, troubling
5 squirrels on a tree (happened this morning), GET OUT OF THERE


Friday, August 22, 2008

Friday Question: Summer's Most Memorable Moment

What was the one moment that stood out in your summer this year? Part of a vacation? A particularly good ice cream cone?

For me, it was a day in July when, as we had done so often, we loaded up the kids to go look at houses. They were reluctant. Truculent. Surly. But there were some new listings and we hoped it would pan out this time. First on the bill was a house we had looked at and liked but on second pass it just seemed too small. Then on to house #2. It was having an "agents open house", so it was a lot of real estate agents and a big steaming tray of egg rolls (as is the custom in St Paul with this type of showing). Jill went in first while I hung out with the kids in the van. Then it was my turn, and this was the moment of the summer, I went in and thought, "Oh! I'm home!"

We bought the house and moved in two days ago. Lovely place. I hope to be there for years and years.

(Birth of Margaret was technically a springtime event.)

What was the most memorable moment of your summer?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

On the set of this Hall & Oates "video"

Arm chairs? Check.
Oates's mustache volumizing gel? Check.
Cigarettes? Check.
GUY IN DEVIL COSTUME? Check on that.
Oates's tux ensemble from space? Checkity check.

Wheelbarrow full of quaaludes? Check.
Wait, we need one wheelbarrow for Hall and one MORE for Oates.
Yep. Check on both those. We even brought a weird robe for Hall.

Okay, then let's shoot this thing.


Monday, August 18, 2008

A Conversation with Kate (age 5) About Avian Funeral Practices

KATE: Dad, do you remember that dead pigeon Charlie found?
ME: Sure. A couple weeks ago. Down the street there.
KATE: Dad, I never saw the dead pigeon.
ME: I know. By the time you came back to see it, it was gone. Did you want to see it?
KATE: Yeah. But I was too late.
ME: Well, you weren't missing much.
KATE: I think what happened was his pigeon friends came down and buried him.

As always, the world Kate lives in tops the world the rest of us are stuck with.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday Question

Gah. Overloaded at work. Sinking. Vision. Failing.

How about this:

What questions do you have? Submit your own Friday Question in the comments and/or answer someone else's. It will be just like human interaction without any of that cumbersome human interaction.

Gotta go.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I Should Tell You About the Angry Mob Faced by Charlie (age 7)

On Sunday night, I took baby Margaret for a lovely stroller stroll around our St Paul neighborhood. It was a warm night, there was a nice breeze, and I thought about what a pleasant friendly place we lived in. But when I got home, something was strange. On the porch were some baseballs and some underpants. Charlie's underpants. He often leaves random things laying around the house but rarely does that include piles of underpants on the porch. Something was amiss.

Jill told me that there had been talk of a war between Charlie and some neighborhood kids. Charlie had initially thought that he should fight them with a baseball bat but then changed his mind and had opted to shoot underpants at these kids instead. Then he abandoned that plan and the underpants and went inside. "Was it, like, play war or was there going to be a real fight?" I asked. Jill thought it was play war but it happened fast and weird and she couldn't be certain.

A few minutes later I was in the kitchen when I noticed a group of six kids ranging in age from about four years old to maybe nine standing outside our house, gazing up at it. "That's him! I think I saw him move! Let's wait here!" they mumbled to themselves. They were cute as hell these kids but they were also, and this is important, an angry mob. I slipped out the back door and walked up behind them.

"What are you guys looking at?" I asked, as if I was a passer by.

"There's a boy in that house and he threw a rock at us. And we're going to GET him!" said one boy excitedly. "And THIS is the rock he threw!" he added, holding up said evidence.

The group included a boy about Charlie's age on a bike and carrying a baseball bat. A couple of other kids carrying nothing and a small girl named Gwyneth, the youngest of the angry mob, with some safety scissors. "And I'm going to POKE HIM!" she vowed. One other kid carried a hula hoop though it was unclear if it was intended as a weapon or was just a hula hoop. It was held in as menacing a way as you can hold a hula hoop.

Well, I want to be objective and all but when a mob, even an adorable mob, comes after your boy, it's kind of hard to see clearly. "Threw a rock at you, huh? And I suppose you did nothing to deserve that? My son threw a rock at you for no reason at all?" I asked. Now they knew I was not just some adult asking questions. I had a dog in this fight.

"(mumble mumble) nohejustthrewitatuswedon'tknowwhy (mumble mumble)". Gwyneth holding scissors at the ready.

"Maybe you guys should get on home and stop staring at my house," I advised. Hoping that was the end of a weird misunderstanding I went inside. But as I went inside, Charlie was coming out, BAT IN HAND. Apparently the plan, bought into among both camps, was to have a "baseball bat sword fight" to resolve differences. I paused to imagine that confrontation and exactly how quickly it would dissolve into ambulances and lawsuits. What, four seconds? Five? I also paused a moment to admire the pluck of my son: faced with an angry mob, he was ready to step in and settle it with freaking baseball bats, regardless of the harm that may come to him from safety scissors and hula hoops. But I couldn't let that happen. I stepped in and corralled both adversaries, gathered them all together. We talked.

Apparently, one of the mob kids rode his bike too close to Charlie in our yard, raising concern in Charlie that "he was trying to kill me" (who among us in an urban area hasn't felt the same about cyclists?) . This triggered the thrown rock, the subsequent mob outrage, and the gathering up of scissors, hoops, and bats. This all made perfect sense to everyone involved.

It's a funny thing about resolving conflicts among people who are significantly less powerful than you are. They listened to my talk about misunderstandings and how we all live in the same neighborhood and how no one wants to hurt each other. But I could see in their eyes, they were thinking, "Nah, bullshit, we absolutely want to hurt each other but now we know that adults know about these plans and we can't administer the beatings we so desperately yearn for." Nothing changed, they didn't all become friends (maybe they will one day), they just looked at each other with the knowledge that the bat sword fight and the poking and whatever terrible thing happens with the hula hoop would have to wait.

Until I'm older. And they're older. And they have more power than me. And then it is so on. I will die with safety scissors sticking out of me, I just know it. Her name is Gwyneth.


Friday, August 08, 2008

Tardy Friday Question

Sorry. Had a lot on my mind lately with work and all.

Maybe I can use that.

Friday Question is this:

What would you like to hear on the radio on a weekend?


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cake Wrecks

Late to the party on this one as well but dang this is a funny site. Cake Wrecks, displaying and commenting upon the worst PROFESSIONALLY DECORATED cakes. Thanks to Sleater-Yandel for pointing it out.

Oh, also there is a Facebook page for Weekend America now where you can be a fan. It's perfect for when you want to confirm to yourself and the world that, yes, you enjoy certain things.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

An Unusual Day at the Office

This is starting to filter out now so I figure I should mention it here. It was announced today that I will be the new host of Weekend America, starting with the August 16th show. The show has been based in L.A. and St Paul but it was decided that we would consolidate operations in St Paul. From a hosting perspective, that means that Bill Radke who has been hosting the show from there will no longer be with the program. Meanwhile, Des Cooper who has been hosting the show from St Paul along with Bill will become a Sr. Correspondent based in Detroit where she lives (she's been commuting between Detroit and St Paul for the last year). So we'll have one host and it will be me.

I haven't known Des all that long but have come to deeply admire her journalism chops, her storytelling, and her work ethic. Plus she's a heck of a friend. I've known Bill Radke much longer, as anyone who knows my radio career will realize. He helped break me into the radio biz ten years ago when I started writing for his show Rewind on NPR. Then he hired me as a staff writer on that show and allowed me to guest host when he was absent. Later, after he got hired on the show that would become Weekend America, he recommended me there as well and after some freelancing I came aboard full time. With no Bill Radke, there's no me on the radio. He, also, is a heck of a friend. Nicer people don't roam the earth and rarely does someone's brilliance match their niceness as is the case with Bill.

When I moved to St Paul, I hoped that I could one day host a national show. Had no idea it would happen so soon. And it's making me rethink my opposition to Jimmy Fallon taking over Conan's spot on NBC. I mean, sure, I don't think he's ready but I haven't seen him host a show before and just because Conan was/is so great, doesn't mean that Fallon can't be okay. Fallon probably sees the task as daunting, sure, but I bet he's also really excited about the opportunity. And he was pretty funny as Barry Gibb.

Anyway, yeah, so...that. Now you know.


Billy Gibbons

This article appeared in Talk of the Town in The New Yorker a few years ago and for some reason it has always stayed with me. It's about Billy Gibbons of the band ZZ Top. And it's about his eccentricities and, really, about his unanticipated eloquence:
For example, here is his answer to the question “Who was that?” after he’d talked for a while on his cell phone: “Elwood Francis, our guitar technician, took a brief absence from the tour in order to escort his wife to China, where they successfully adopted a baby girl named Joshi. In his absence, his post was attended by a talented technician named Sammy Sanchez, who introduced me to a guitar called the Turbo Diddly, which is made from an old wooden cigar box. It has what you call a resonator, and it sounds like a bad recording from 1949. The guy who makes it, Kurt Schoen, is a pilot for UPS.”

You should read it.


Friday, August 01, 2008

The Onion's satire jet buzzes too close to my house

McSweeney's Rejects Mike Mussina's Seventh Consecutive Submission

Good to know I'm better than Mussina at something.

Friday Question: Late to the Party

Posting has been light lately. Busy, crazy times. I'll refund your subscription.

So in the past week I've become a voracious consumer of music by The Hold Steady. Blissfully hard rock music, masterful lyrics, a singer who doesn't sound like he should be in a band but is awesomtacular regardless (I'm a sucker for singers like that), and great use of piano.

The thing is, this band has been around for a while and has lots of fans already. I'm late to the party. This has happened before when I "discovered" The Magnetic Fields many years after everyone else had. In both cases, I was all like Why didn't anyone tell me about this?

Why didn't anyone tell me about (x)? I'm really late to the party regarding (x)!

What does x equal?

Could be a movie, a band, a TV show, a painter, a city, a type of dog, anything. Share it with the world so that others don't have to go without as you did.