Saturday, February 28, 2009

Contest, the sequal - deadline at midnight

Dear Folks,

Don't forget to sign up for my current contest. See here for further details and be sure to leave your prediction about March snowfall in Cleveland in the comments section there. Closest guess wins their pick of a prize from either Music Saves, Shoparooni, Visible Voice, or the CIA Cinematheque ... on me! Gotta do it by midnight, though.



Every so often (like the duration of grad school) I forget why weekends are so grand. Not this time, though. I've had a series of fine fin de semanas and this one is no exception.

Yesterday was the twice-monthly holiday called payday, and I spent it spending my meager salary in drips and drops all over town. $70 to get my neutral safety switch replaced, $40 on beer for gallery night at Arts Collinwood, a couple hundred on framing of some art I've acquired in various ways over the last little while (including a painting by James Grand I'm really excited about, an intaglio print gift from Ducky, and a great pop-art print of Frank Jackson done up in Warhol style by local artist Jason Byers), a haircut by my super awesome hair-cutter Andrea at Fast Eddy's, various reading material at Mac's Backs, $50 on gesso, acrylic paint, and new brushes at the art supply store on Coventry, and a little bit on a pair of pieces from the Sans Oceana opening at Shoparooni and a couple new cds from Music Saves (the new Black Lips and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart albums - both of which are coming through the Beachland in coming weeks). Not to mention a few bucks here and there at about a half-dozen different cafes and gas stations for my coffee fixes.

So, long story short, my paycheck was recycled (quickly) through the local commercial districts. That's how it is supposed to be, of course, and the best part is, there were super cool and helpful folks taking my money at every turn. The gal at Utrecht saved me from making a totally boneheaded brush selection, Kevin from Music Saves filled me in on the Pure at Heart ones after unsuccessfully searching for another album (Women) that he said was so awesome I had to get it, and Steve at Shoparooni again proved his excellent eye and heart for local great art. Even the folks at places I didn't end up buying anything were super cool, like the dudes at Brigade who always remember you from the last time, even if it was a few months ago.

Anyway, people here in these great stores we all like to tell our friends about and patronize from time to time are good people. They work hard, do good work, and bring cool things into our lives in ways we either take for granted or don't even notice. For example, the efforts Kevin and Melanie make to sponsor cool Beachland shows and that Steve-arooni makes to support local artists and put cooler shit that you'd otherwise find in your home for jaw-droppingly incredible prices. So go spend some money there. Stop buying your music on itunes and purchase a cd. You can still rip it to your computer. Don't buy a wall print from Urban Outfitters - go get something incredible from someone around here at places like Shoparooni or Asterisk or Doubting Thomas. Print out your amazon wish list and order a couple things instead from Visible Voice or Mac's - the price will be about the same. It isn't hard to do, and it helps these places stay open. Otherwise we might instead be telling our friends, I totally wish that one place was still around - I used to go there all the time ...

I take a lot of crap from a few different people for being such a "buy local stuff from local vendors" person but whatever - it is what I try to do. And really, you should too. Much better to put your money in you neighbor's pocket than in some bank account overseen by some suit on the 45th floor of some office building far away from Cleveland.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Contest, the sequel

I've decided to hold another contest. Nobody really won the last one, as evidenced by the fact this blog still has the same shitty name it had last year. I've not given up on you, though, and this time I'm sweetening the pot with a real prize. With cash-value and everything.

Last year, about this time, I foolishly thought that spring was almost upon us as we crept closer to the end of February. Then we were hit with a three-peat of snowstorms.

So, the contest is: predict how many inches of snow the greater Cleveland area will get from March 1 till April 1. Leave your predictions in the comments section by the end of this month.

The closest guesser will receive their choice of one of the following award options:

- a membership to the CIA Cinematheque
- a regular-size blank Munny from Shoparooni (just in time for the Easter contest!)
- any TWO cds listed on Music Saves album of the week list for 2009
- a hardcover book from Visible Voice (maximum $30 jacket price)

What do you say? My pick is 3. Inches, that is.

Recent Records

I've been purchasing and listening to a lot of new music lately, both new as in new release and new as in older cds that I finally got around to getting, mostly thanks to serendipitous browsing in the used section. Some of these have immediately struck me as awesome, some have proved challenging, and some disappointing. Here are some from each category. I'm also throwing in a category of "mild pleasant surprise from impulse buys which ordinarily don't turn out this well." Do with this data what you will. Might I suggest buying one or two from the first category or even the last one? Preferably from one of the local independent music retailers.


1) Cotton Jones - Paranoid Cocoon

I picked this one up after reading a couple reviews and seeing that they were coming through town in March. This was a very wise purchase. I totally dig it. Reminds me of The Dutchess and the Duke or even She & Him, but a bit more warbly and a lot more real.

2) Trouble Books - The United Colors of Trouble Books

This record is lovely. I cannot believe these folks are from right down the road. If you buy one record this year purchased by a NEO band, get this one. Until the Unsparing Sea new one comes out, then get both.

3) Coconut Records - Nighttiming

After a couple friends burned the new Coconut Records album for me (which I might like even more than this one, but is not included in this blog because I did not purchase it), I decided to pick up this one. I totally dig it. I could do without the extended versions of the songs and go with a brief regular album, but still Jason Schwartzman seems to be one of the very few actors that can record, as well. In my humble opinion. Keanu Reeves, he is not. And I like Keanu's movies. Sue me.

4) Ra Ra Riot - The Rhumb Line

Bought this one because I'd been hearing so many good things about it from folks with good taste, dug what I heard online, and because, like Cotton Jones, they are coming through the area in March. It was a wise purchase, as well. Especially the second half of the album.


1) Menomena - Friend and Foe

I don't know why it took so long to get this, but I finally snagged it used a few weeks ago. I've had some long drives since and given the disc multiple chances. I still haven't wrapped my mind around it. Like the other albums in this category, it doesn't mean I don't like it. If I disliked it, it'd be in the "disappointing" category. It is just taking some time for me to process. I'd say each of these albums are 2-3 more long car rides away from being put in a more definitive category.

2) Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals

This one was recently a Music Saves album of the week, and the store's write-up persuaded me to buy it without hearing a single note. Like the Menomena record, this one isn't easy. It is smart and diverse, which is good, but I still need to think about it more.

3) Phosphorescent - Pride

This one was recommended to me by a dude whose own music I really dig. At first I didn't like it. In fact, I recently made a slight scene complaining about it, yet in the same afternoon bought Phosphorescent's recent Willie Nelson tribute. The tribute was good, though it is so straight-forward it makes me just want to listen to Willie. Still, dude is coming through town soon so I figured I'd dust the Pride LP off for one of the aforementioned long drives and see what I thought. The track "Wolves" really got me, and after listening to it on repeat a couple of times, I went back and had a whole new appreciation for the rest of the album. Funny how that happens. Anyway, it isn't in my top albums list or anything, but it has earned its way back into rotation for drives that take more than a half-hour, which is at least something.

4) Cut Off Your Hands - You and I

This one isn't as deep or diverse as some of the other albums in this category, but the poppiness has me torn between throwing it out the window and listening one more time. There is something underneath the surface glee I want to think about more.

5) I'm From Barcelona - Harry Houdini

This one isn't as easy as the first I'm From Barcelona, which was a favorite of mine the year it came out. That's probably a good thing, as that album was pretty one-dimensional, even if that dimension was bliss. I got a really funny and charming email from the lead dude of this band after he came across a review I wrote of the first album when I was still in grad school and doing "journalism" for peanuts on the side. We traded a couple emails after that and until he pulls a Kings of Leon on me (i.e., starts to horribly, horribly suck after being so cool for the first two albums) I'll always give his new work a second, third, and tenth chance. Alternatively, that deal is off if he pulls a Jeff Tweedy on me, too (i.e., becomes such a boorish douche that I try to hack into my old email account just to delete the previously referenced charming and funny email).

6) The Notwist - The Devil, You + Me

I bought this one even after I decided not to spend the extra bucks and see these guys play the Beachland Ballroom, mostly because every one I know was raving about it. It is complex, maybe because it is a bit more "Euro" than what I usually dig. Still there are so many clearly redeeming things about it that it is on my "long drive" list, though farther down than the others listed above.


1) Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

Holy Shit - did the Death Cab guy get even worse and record this album under an assumed name? I hate this cd, which bums me out, because I kinda like Harlem Shakes, the band that is opening for them when they come to the Grog in a few days. Maybe I'll cough up the dough and leave after the opening act... (Note: The track "Your English is Good" is AWESOME - so much so I can't believe it is the same band, the same album, or even the same universe).

2) Marnie Stern - This is it ...

Call me a philistine, but I just don't dig this. Smart and tasteful people do, and good for them, but I can't get behind it. I even gave a copy to my little hipster sister (who has her 2nd album coming out next month ... and she's only 17! Or maybe 18, I can't remember.) for Christmas as a way of showing her what other solo chicks are up to. She hated it, too.

3) The Bird and the Bee - Ray Guns are Not Just the Future

I bought this one even after I was warned I wouldn't like it, so no one can be blamed but me. Way too sugary, and this is coming from a guy who used sugary pop music as a way to self-medicate for quite a while. I got it because I was strongly considering going to the Obi Best show last week, which didn't happen mostly I think because I hated this one so much.

4) Annuals - Such Fun

This one was fighting with The Notwist for the bottom of my "challenging" list, until I saw them live and hated the band on sight. Now they are a disappointment, which is obviously a euphemism for the most vulgar way of saying "fucking terrible" you can think of.

Mild Pleasant Surprise ...

1) Minus Story - My Ion Truss

I bought Black Mountain's eponymous album for my brother for Christmas and one day after the holiday, while I was still visiting my parents, I went to take a crap. There wasn't anything to read in the bathroom, but he had brought the cd in there to play while he was taking a shower earlier that day. So I read the Jagjaguwar insert. The description of Minus Story was appealing, and upon returning to Cleveland and insisting to Melanie at Music Saves that I had read about a band called "Minus Cell" she convinced me this was the one I meant. I bought it and dig it. (Note: I also dug the Black Mountain cd, which I don't own. The brother in question is leaving for Air Force boot camp in a few weeks and he won't be bring that cd or much else with him. I will be bringing the cd I gave him back to Cleveland after his going away party ends. I'm a bad, bad person. Talk about supporting the troops, right?)

2) Vetiver - Tight Knit

Just got this one because it was cheap and because it was the newest Music Saves album of the week and because they are coming through town in May and because a few friends had mentioned it mostly positively. I like it, ESPECIALLY the tune "More of This." It is in my car stereo as we speak, almost certainly queued up to track 7. Unless the thugs down the block stole it last night. Which is possible. I haven't checked my jeep yet today, as I'm working from home for now. And by working I obviously mean typing up long and boring blog posts about my cd purchases.

3) Maps & Atlases - Trees, Swallows, Houses EP

I bought this one on accident. The other day at brunch at the Beachland (which was, of course, awesome) I misunderstood what a friend said about this band, thinking he was comparing it to Russian Circles when he was really just saying they were a decent band from Chicago. I bought it as a way to settle Ducky down for his ride home - he gets very nervous about, well, everything, but particularly long drives. I decided to rip it onto my laptop before he left, but when we played it and the vocals started, backed by a band that sounded nothing like Russian Circles, I realized my mistake and, most awesome of all, told Ducky I was keeping it. Then I found that I liked it. A lot. And that they were coming to Akron this week. But it is on a Thursday and I don't think I'll make the drive down, as I work until about 10.

4) The Dutchess and the Duke - She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke

I got this one a long time after the buzz exploded. I like it a lot, especially the lyrics. There are two tracks ("Out of Time" and "I Am Just a Ghost") on this one that'll probably be included on my latest burned cd masterpiece, "Surviving Winter 08-09." Let me know if you want a copy. Seriously.

My least favorite type of person

Perhaps I woke up on the wrong side of the bed or something, but this morning I've been doing some reflecting on a particular type of person, the person I have now decided is my least favorite type of person.

This type of person isn't as morally revolting as a racist or as intellectually devoid as a right-wing, religious fundamentalist, early-twenty-something just married to his high school sweetheart and hell-bent on ignoring all empirical evidence and attempting to justify supply-side economics. Or as loathsome as the type of people who continue their loud cell phone conversations in crowded elevators and can't seem to figure out why the connection becomes poor around Floor 10.

No, in a way, this is pretty harmless category of folks, but one that nonetheless has me irritated today (and lately).

What category is this of which you speak, CB, you might be asking. Or not. Still, I'll tell you.

It is the intolerable category of the smug jerks that act like you are being creepy and/or clueless when you are just trying to be nice.

To be clear, I'm not talking necessarily about inter-gender communication. Unwanted flirtatious advances can certainly be creepy, and sometimes a little cold shoulder helps make the point.

No, what I'm talking about is when a person attempts to be cool in regular human interaction and the other party acts like he/she is being a douche. You guys know the type of thing I'm talking about. Unless of course you've never been on the receiving end of it. In that case, you may have been one of the pricks dishing it out - so search deep down and think about if you've ever silently mocked along with a friend some person who was just being conversational. You probably have. I have, and I feel bad about it. Probably mostly because I know what the other side feels like, when some dick decides you just don't meet their standards of hipness or you aren't already in the secret club or whatever, therefore you must be ridiculed.

The whole things seems so high school, really. Which is sad considering most of the folks I've encountered this way since moving to Cleveland are in their 30s. Though when I'm in my 50s, I'll probably meet the same kind of assholes in their 50s. Anyway, to you folks, whether 15, 35, or nearing retirement, I say this:

Fuck you. You know who you are. That is, if you want to think about it.

And to those of you that are cool and friendly when a relative stranger strikes up a brief conversation, kudos. That's how we make friends in this world.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recession Relief?

So I decided to compile a list (again) of the best food/drink/entertainment steals and deals in the area, to help us maintain our social calendars even while our wallets diminish.

Problem is ... I still don't know a lot. So, anyone have any tips? Obviously there are routine happy hours, but I'm really interested in specials that exist on certain days. Like the reduced price tickets and beers on 3rd Mondays at the Cedar-Lee or taco night at favorite pubs or what have you.

So, comment away, por favor.

The week ahead, 2/23-3/1

This week is coming to an end. Thankfully. It has been one of those toughies. My assistant threatened to kill herself, I had to get a tow truck to come jump my new (used) Jeep twice, the weather got in the way of a planned gathering at the Obi Best/Muttering Retreats show, and I had a couple "bad stomach" days that kept me from doing otherwise fun stuff.

However, good stuff happened, too. I knocked a couple of big projects off my evil list of things to do that had been lingering in a sort of overbearing way, I got a big professional opportunity that looks like it will open even more doors down the road, and I had a TERRIFIC Saturday.

Saturday started a bit late and without coffee. While I was in the shower I'd all but convinced myself to cancel all plans and go back to bed, but fortunately a cup of coffee at the Cedar-Lee Phoenix knocked the sense back into me and I hit up the Arts Collinwood volunteer meeting as planned. I also stopped into a couple of my favorite commercial joints in town, Shoparooni where Steve yet again showed me cool art on the internet and sold me another mini-Munny and Music Saves where I picked up the new Vetiver album. (If you ever pick that up, check out "More Of This" - I really dig it.) The meeting at AC went cool and I'm excited to be more of a part of that group. After it ended I hit up another cafe, finished off some work, and wandered on a whim into a gallery/frame shop to inquire about prices for getting a lithograph given me by Ducky framed. The price was right (a rarity in the framing racket), but better yet I stumbled onto some wonderful unframed mid-sized paintings by Joe Grand that had been recently dropped off and splurged on one for myself. After that it was off to the Pub on Lee where I enjoyed happy hour beers till 9 pm (on a Saturday!) and devoured the recent edition of the Scene. Then it was back to Collinwood (I swear I should move there) for what was one of the most fun shows I've been to in a while. It was a local get-down, with a bunch of familiar acts, including a cd release for Blake Miller and a wonderfully light-hearted set by Tom and Leia of Afternoon Naps. I couldn't stop smiling during that last set and headed home in a grand mood. Today's Jeep difficulties dampened things and, worse than that, got in the way of my plan to bring a paper I needed to read to Beachland for a solo brunch, but so what.

Now I'm going to do my taxes. (Yesssss.)

But after that it'll get cool again. Hopefully my mechanic takes pity on me in the morning (anyone want to offer odds on that?) and the rest of the day is full of actually important meetings. Tuesday, though is both the Obama faux-SOTU and a Juana Molina show at the Grog. Wednesday is the day the cleaning service comes to rescue me from my own filth and the monthly iteration of the Fourth Wall Film Night at Visible Voice. Thursday, if you didn't already know, is Pride in Cleveland Day and, maybe ironically, a great night to check out Akron, as Maps and Atlases will be playing a gig at Musica there. Friday is a big night on Waterloo Road, with a buddy's band playing at the Beachland, the newest opening in the Shoparooni annex, and a good time to check out the Lottery League exhibit at Arts Collinwood's cool gallery. Saturday is Truffaut at the CIA and Don Caballero at the Grog and Sunday Tokyo Police Club and the Harlem Shakes play the same venue. Plus, of course, there will be brunch at the Beachland. As always, holler if any of the above sounds cool. I'll either be glad for the company or pretend I didn't get the email/see the comment. I'm shady like that. Pathetic and desperate, too, though, so your chances are decent.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It Is Here

The program for the 2009 Cleveland International Film Festival has been released. Finally. Check it out here.

This was one of my favorite events of 2008 and will no doubt be a favorite this year. If you've always kinda wanted to check it out, do it - the CIFF is one of the finest cultural offerings of Cleveland and worthy of your recession dollars.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Wisdom from Daniel

So I'm bouncing around my apartment today, doing little things here and there, and as I come walking out of my office room back into my dining room, where my laptop is playing "my top rated" on random, I'm greeted by this line from an old Daniel Johnston tune off of Continued Story (I think):

"I figure the more I try to live a better life, the better my orgasms will be."


And probably true.

Sharing the love. Uh, I mean, like.

Yesterday, while I was in the middle of haggling with my salesman over trade-in value, I get a little buzz in my pocket telling my I just received a text message. Because I am too stupid to understand technology, my phone has this feature I can't figure out how to turn off, where it keeps buzzing every several minutes until I acknowledge the text.

After a while, once the negotiations had largely ended and I was waiting for my turn with the paperwork guy, I finally checked it and was sweetly bowled over by a kind little "Happy VD Day" message from a chick I'm friends with. (The redundant "D" only made it awesomer.) As I was not only single this Valentine's Day, but spending the day with my visiting pal doing ridiculously romantic things like watching French films and cooking dinner, it was super-nice to hear from someone of the opposite sex, regardless of the whole platonic nature of the communique.

I sat there, sorta smiling, sorta impatiently waiting, sorta trying to control the racing nervousness I'd contracted from drinking too many cups of coffee, and started to think about the whole "friend sending another single friend a Valentine's Day text" and decided to pass along the good will.

So, I texted a bunch of my single female friends a simple "Happy Valentine's Day" message, and then didn't think much of it. Soon I was up in the dealership dude's office, signing my life away, and then it was time to get the new vehicle, and then Ducky and I drove around Cleveland Heights for a while. Before you know it, a few hours had gone by and I finally checked my phone again to see what was causing the unending buzzing. Turns out I'd heard back from a bunch of the young ladies, and the range of responses was diverse, hilarious, and awesome. A couple simple "thanks, you too", two different "back at ya's", one "UGH!!!", a "Thx sugar, Ditto" and a "You too, dear" -- those last two were my favorites. Plus a bunch of smiley faces. And, of course, one big old non-response, which I find most interesting of all. But whatever.

This morning I was thinking about it and decided there was a 50-50 chance that what I had done was super creepy. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Doesn't really matter, as I define creepy these days, especially when I'm trying not to be.

Regardless, to those of you who spent yesterday's bastard of a holiday alone or with other unhitched friends, I salute you. I am you. Most of all, I'd like to take this moment to remind you: we made it through this one, too. Maybe next year'll be different, but if not, I'll send you a text.

The week ahead, 2/15-2/21

Before I begin the task of reminding you how awesome next week can be, let me tell you how awesome this past week has been for me. One of my very best friends (who was also a college roommate and co-worker) has been in for a 10 day visit, taking his vacation from Illinois to Cleveland. I don't know how sane that is, especially in the winter, but regardless I'm super glad to have him here. Especially since he's my very first visitor since moving to NEO in August 2007.

Anyway, to help me rub it in, I'll steal a page from Dave Letterman's book and do a top ten.

10) Enjoyed great conversation and a couple glasses of wine at Visible Voice.

9) Discovered a new bar in my neighborhood I've not been to before, but is destined to become my new favorite.

8) Designed and executed a brief Cleveland Cinema Walking Tour, which featured stops at the reception hall and church featured in The Deer Hunter and The Christmas Story House. We tried to go to the grocery store where Meryl Streep worked in the former film, but it alas is no longer. It does, however, now house the delightful chocolate/fancy beer emporium Lilly, so I'm not too upset.

7) Picked up my blank Munny. I had so much fun making one for Shoparooni's 2008 contest, I've been wanting to do another one ever since. The 2009 contest finally forces me into action. Even though I was, without a doubt, the very worst Munny designer to submit last time, I don't give a shit. Mine will probably be even worse this time, since I won't have an army of artistically-inclined children to help me with the painting. So what.

6) Enjoyed a rib-sticking lunch at Sokolowski's, which included being hooked up with a free plate of pierogies when the owner found out my pal was visiting from Chicago. Also, the chocolate pie there is so crazily wonderful I'll never be able to eat another dessert.

5) Managed to justify treating myself to several little presents while I showed my visiting pal my favorite joints in town, including a copy of the new Giant Robot and a strange poetry volume at Mac's Backs, a copy of Yeasayer's cd at Music Saves, and a bar of Squeaky Queen's Jurassic Amber soap at Shoparooni.

4) Had the best Melt experience yet (which is REALLY saying something), which involved my friend and I each ordering our top choice, and then switching halves. I don't know that I'll ever be able to do it a different way again.

3) Received confirmation that my trip to Austin next month will indeed feature the opportunity to make a short film my other best friend and I have been talking about doing for more than a year AND the opportunity to record some tracks for a "band" he and I have fooled around with for even longer. Hopefully we'll be able to give away some mini-EPs soon. Or at least put something on myspace. Which means, of course, one of us is going to have to lose the battle of wills and actually make the myspace page.

2) My visiting pal had about a dozen pieces in a gallery show this weekend, and the whole thing went wonderfully. It was a lot of fun and a lot of learning and, hopefully, will prove to be a lucrative effort for him, too. Even if a dime is never earned, I think it makes the trip to Cleveland more than worth it for him.


1) Today I bought a new jeep. I had one during college and part of grad school, but gave it up to get something "responsible" and under warranty. I've missed my 87 Wrangler ever since. This time I traded in the "responsible" car for an 01 Wrangler that has a humorous yet awesomely Cleveland custom paint job. Anyway, I'm happy.

But the real point of this post is what you can be doing next week to make it a great one. Sunday starts things off right with brunch at the Beachland with some friends followed by a quick jaunt to the Cleveland Museum of Art with my visiting pal. Hopefully, we'll be able to get into the Low Life and/or ArtsCollinwood galleries while we are on Waterloo, as both places have shows up that are interesting.

Monday is my pal's last full day in town (I think), so we are going to send him out on a high note with a return trip to Melt. (Hey, any excuse, right?) While we are on the west side we'll probably also consume beverages at the places I want him to visit but we haven't had the chance to yet, such as bela dubby in Lakewood and Edison's in Tremont. Depending on when we get back, we might pop over to the Cedar-Lee to take advantage of the 3rd Monday dealz.

Tuesday will be the black mark of the week, as my pal will leave AND I have a long work-day scheduled already, and usually Monday emails find me with even more things added to my Tuesday schedule.

Wednesday's another office day, but an easy one, plus one that promises to be better if a quasi-planned lunch trip to PJs Luncheonette downtown materializes (pork chop day, folks!). It'll also be a nice night in as I rest up for Thursday's Obi Best/Muttering Retreats show at the Beachland, which will follow another extra-long day at work.

Friday is a "to be determined" day, as the only thing I'm certain to do is check out the new wave classic, "Six in Paris," at the CIA. Afterwards, I'm likely to hike down to the Barking Spider and take in Jane Dough's performance, but I might head west-ward for the Pink Eye Magazine release at Now That's Class. Saturday is equally up in the air. My grad school university's NEO alumni group (yep, there are enough of us folks up here to have one) are meeting up for back-to-back televised basketball games, and I might check it out. Other options include the poem-rock of Split Pea/ce at Barking Spider or a cool Lakewood pop show at the Beachland. Never know. Stay tuned to find out, and holler if any of the above sounds cool and you want to check it out, too.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Obama Rhetoric Tryptich

I spent last night drinking beer and hanging paintings. That's a lot more difficult than you might think. Not the beer drinking part, but the painting-hanging part. Between the measuring and the leveling and the other stuff, I now have even more appreciation for the work that galerists do.

Anyway, all this is prelude to saying I've been in an artsy-fartsy state of mind. So when I saw this article in, with this link to Zadie Smith's recent New York Review of Books essay and this link to the Boston Phoenix's mp3-laden article on Obama's fiestier comments from his audio-book editions of his memoirs, I thought: tryptich. And how meta journalism has become in the 21st century.

Total abuse of the word, I know (tryptich, that is, not meta - I used that one just fine). But whatever. Check them out. Especially the Phoenix link. Some funny shit there, whether you are pro or anti the 44th prez.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

stupid stupid stupid

Next time I'm feeling all smart and good about myself, will someone please remind me of my poor decision-making this week? In particular, give me a refresher course on what dumb thing I did yesterday morning.

Before the reveal, let me preface by saying I have long taken pride in the ability of my stomach to endure what would send lesser souls to the hospital with terrible bouts of food poisoning. I refuse to refrigerate pizza on principle. I routinely eat buffalo wings that have been sitting on the counter for a little too long. I once, during a hangover my freshman year in college, found a bowl of chili under my bed and, unsure of how long it had been there, skimmed off the top and reheated the rest. How I avoided contracting botulism then, or any other time I've tempted fate, is beyond me.

I'm not writing this to show off or to revel in my grossness. I fully recognize the grossness and am deeply ashamed of myself. Really.

And regardless, all this is over now, thanks to yesterday.

For yesterday I attempted to eat what will forever be known as "The Spoiled Burrito."

Now I didn't know it was spoiled. I mean, in retrospect, OF COURSE it was spoiled, but I figured it'd be ok. I mean, after all it was in the refrigerator for the previous 24 hours.

This, however, does not take into consideration the previous THREE DAYS it had spent in my car, lying patiently in its little tin foil cocoon, undergoing chemical changes that would soon get the best of me.

So, yesterday morning, I wake up, felt hungry, and am waiting for my visiting pal to finish some painting he is doing in the attic. (Note: He is an artist and needed to retouch some corners on a canvas. I don't rent out my guest room in exchange for household maintenance. Though that doesn't seem like a bad idea ...) I decide to eat something and, upon gazing into the refrigerator, I see only a range of condiments and the burrito.

I figure it can't be that bad and, after all, I do have the stomach of steel, so what the heck. I cook it in the oven for a bit, cut it in half, inspect the innards to see if anything looks off, conclude that all appears to be fine, and commence my meal. I get about 2/3 of the way through the first half and start thinking, "uh oh." Naturally, I finish the rest of the half, then chuck the other half in the trash, and go to jump in the shower.

I'm standing in the bathroom, waiting for the water to get the right temperature and ...

you guessed it.

About an hour later I leave the bathroom, pale, sweaty, nauseous.

I was so pissed at myself, mostly because I had grand plans to go to Melt and eat the El Diablo burger, which usually tears me up pretty good. No way was I going to pull that off in this condition.

I explain my problem to my friend, who is not pleased, telling me that he told me not to eat that burrito when he saw it was still in my car two days before, but I never listen to him. He's right, I usually don't, as he often is quite foolish, but this time, I give in. He was correct in giving that advice. I was incorrect in not following it.

Nevertheless, despite the initial tumble, my stomach rebounded and within two hours, I was back to normal. A little tired from all the excitement (yes, reheating old burritos and hurling are what passes for excitement in my life anymore), but no worse for the wear. I still managed to take down the El Diablo, and, best of all, when I stepped on the scale this morning, I weighed a pound less than I did the day before. And that's WITH a trip to Melt in between!

I have not forgotten the misery of that hour in the bathroom or of the queasiness for the couple hours after ... yet. But I'm afraid I will, which is why I post this request to remind me of my stupidity when an encore performance seems imminent. You know, when I start telling you about this great new idea I have for a diet...

I suppose after all this nastiness, I ought to put in the usual disclaimer:

Please don't judge me, at least not any more harshly than is due.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The week ahead

Another semi-consistent feature effort from me here, folks. As I mentioned in the previous post, there is a ton of good stuff coming up. I'm a little late in the game for this week as we are already to Wednesday, but better late than never, right?


This week, in addition to the west side tourism I mentioned in the last post, there is also a JJ Magazine performance at Matinee on W 25th and a killer gallery opening at Asterisk on Friday. While the rest of you lucky lovers will be celebrating Hallmark's tribute to romance on Saturday, I'll be catching Francois Truffaut's "Shoot the Piano Player" (featuring the always-stylish Charles Aznavour) at the CIA, followed by some small plastic cups of Labatt's at the Barking Spider. Sunday is Beachland Brunch day, which is like Valentine's Day for my belly (at least when I order something with the scrumptious coconut risotto), and maybe a trip over to the CMA, followed by napping on the couch and an evening-capping episode of Flight of the Conchords.

Tons of cool shit next week, too, including a couple intriguing shows, a late night installation exhibit, and some cinema excellence, but I'll post more about that at when we find ourselves perched on the precipice of its beginning.

Only 58 Days Until This Fucking Winter Dies

Hello chaps,

Lest you think this is a complaint post, let me begin by assuring you it is not. I'm just sticking with the traditional title for, well, tradition's sake.

I'm relatively happy with the weather today. Sure, it is raining, but I dig the rain. I really dig the near-60s weather.

Plus, today is the day I spend showing my visiting buddy a bunch of my favorite west side spots, including Melt, bela dubby, Visible Voice, and probably the Duck Island club. And before that I think we're gonna hit up Shoparooni to snag a couple Munny's for eventual submission in the Easter contest. I did it last year, too, and even though I have the artistic talents of a dead hamster, I had a lot of fun trying. Plus, my effort was so technically and aesthetically poor that no one wanted to buy it, thus I have a welcome addition to my collection of weird stuff to look at when I'm sitting at my kitchen table, staring into space while I search for the right word for a particular sentence I'm trying to finish.

Anyway, back to the weather.

We are in the home stretch. That doesn't mean it is all sunshine and short skirts by any stretch, but from here on out things become easier to handle. Assuming, of course, we don't get another 3-blizzard March or some crazy shit.

Most of all, I'm encouraged by the fact that I have several winter landmarks to pass the coming days with - Pitchers and Catchers report this week, the Cubs and the Indians both begin their spring training schedule on Feb 25th, I head to Austin for a mini-vacation and marathon EP recording/short film making session mid-March, the vernal equinox is on March 20th, and barely a blink later and the Indians home opener (my default end of winter) will be upon us.

Plus there are so many good shows and films to keep my spirits up between now and then, I can't believe it.

So, yes, days like today make me optimistic that this winter, like all others preceding it, will eventually and utterly die. Check back on my mood when things turn unfortunate this weekend, though, and my hope stocks might have dwindled to the reserve point.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


I have fallen into a bottomless pit of apartment messiness. I cannot ignore it any longer, but I also can't do it myself. Anyone have any hot tips for local maid service? I'm in Cleveland Heights, if that matters.

Please save me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Audi 5000

I am outta here for a few, folks. Smelly rescue in about 6.5 hours, so keep an eye on your wristwatches and let out a collective sigh of relief about dinner-time.

In the meantime, I'll be trying not to get busted in Illinois with my technically unregistered license plates (at least till I arrive at the folks place and get my registration sticker - one of these days I should register my car in the state where I actually live, since I haven't lived in the Land of Lincoln since 2001) and figuring out how not to embarrass my hipster musician little sister at her show tonight. (Yep - big brother CB is gonna crash the event full of folks a good decade younger than him. I'm so cool.) I seriously pondered my wardrobe choice for a few minutes before the inevitable "fuck it" swam into my brain and I went with comfort for the long-ish haul.

See ya when I return next week.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Awesomeness Cubed

I am in the middle of a brief run of awesomeness that is so awesome it deserves public acknowledgement. Hence this post. I'm just gonna break things down numerically, because that's how I thought of them this morning while I was munching on the aforementioned (aforeblogged?) donut.

1) Awesome Yesterday:

Yesterday was one of those days that ruled. I woke up, felt pretty good about things, even with the snowfall, went to work, handled my business, then drove to Lakewood for an appointment, after which I treated myself to a late lunch at Melt, where I tried the new tuna sandwich. It was good, though I'm not terribly partial to the sweet glaze you find on Asian tuna dishes. If you are, however, definitely dig it next time you are out there. After Melt, I visited my friend the baker, where I scored some brownies with cute little Valentine's sprinklies going on. Next I hit up Tremont, while I was killing time for the big moment of the day. While I was there I took advantage of their crazy hardcover sale and purchased a couple books that won't be on my "to read" list long: Paul Hollander's The End of Commitment and Tim Tzouliadis's The Forsaken. Both books deal with interesting cultural developments during the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union; the former with respect to the rise and fall of intellectual affinity for Soviet-style communism and the latter about a team of American baseball players that defected to the USSR and the trials, tribulations, and horrors they suffered during the years of the Terror. Interesting, if harrowing stuff.

Finally, it was off to the Velvet Tango Room, where I had a total blast with a group that is quickly becoming my favorite folks to see in town. I love me a fine cocktail, and you can't help but have a fine one there. We had the good fortune of meeting there on a night when Carol was behind the bar and Paulius was in the joint, too. There was a newcomer to our group that also came, and made the night particularly awesome. Only one photograph exists of this evening, and oddly it features Tony Blair, so I guess you readers will just have to take my word for it when I tell you it was a great time.

2) Awesome Tomorrow:

The awesomeness doesn't stop there, though. Tomorrow is also destined to be awesome because it will be the first time in about a month that I will see my beloved Smelly Ellie. She's been chilling with my folks for the last month, since I've been on the road so much lately. But tomorrow I'm heading over there to pick her up. I cannot wait - I've missed her terribly, especially in the morning when I wake up or, even more, at night when I go to bed and I remember I don't need to tell her to jump up. Anyway, no use in dwelling on the sad stuff, as tonight is the last night I have to wait before picking her back up. Monday night (I think), we'll be back representing in Clevo. And not a moment too soon, as Smelly Ellie was the recipient of her first "who's dog is more awesome" duel invitation last night. I tried to explain that this is a totally unfair challenge, that the challenger is destined to come in second place, but such a defeat wouldn't necessarily reflect poorly on the dog. Still, this pet owner I'm talking about seemed unimpressed, so my only choice is to say: prepare your hound. It is on!

3) Awesome Next Week:

Not only is picking up and bringing home Smells awesome, but next week stands to feature significant awesomeness, as well. My old college roommate (and still one of my very closest pals) is coming to town to visit for a couple weeks or so. He's an artist who supports himself doing landscaping stuff, which, as you can imagine, dries up in the winter. So he's going to install himself in my attic and do some work in Cleveland, sorta like when Degas went to visit New Orleans or Matisse went to Tahiti ... Something like that. Anyway, he'll be the first person to visit in any meaningful way since I moved up here, and I'm looking to showing off all my favorite spots in the city. This, of course, means awesome things like Asterisk on Friday, the Beachland Brunch and maybe the CMA on Sunday, random French films at the Cinematheque followed by cheap Labatts at the Barking Spider during the week, another lunch at Melt, a trip to Akron to hit the museum, Square Records, and Swensen's some time during the week, and much much more. I can't wait.

Morning After Brain-deadedness

I was out last night, celebrating in fine style(see next blog post). I fell asleep pretty quickly after getting home, but then woke up and slept only fitfully the rest of the night. This seems to happen when I "celebrate" these days.

When the alarm finally went off, I slowly went about my morning ritual, finding the simple tasks to take a bit more time and thought than usual.

Driving to work, I was probably about halfway there, when I said to myself (aloud), "I'm hungry." Short pause, and then, also aloud- "I have donuts in my desk drawer. Awesome."

At the time I was listening to Phosphorescent's new Willie Nelson tribute album and started to appreciate the genius of the red-headed stranger, and the hunger/donut appreciation faded. Until I was about two blocks from work, when ... "I'm hungry." Followed a short time later with ... "I have donuts in my desk drawer. Awesome."

Then I got a crazy call, dealt with that, walked to my office, and forgot I was hungry. For like 15 minutes. Until ... "I'm hungry." Followed by ... "I have ... ... Awesome."

Why do I have donuts in my desk drawer, you might be asking? Well, Tuesday I had a meeting with some folks and the last few interactions have been a little more tense than they ought to be. Since I'm allegedly in charge, I figured things getting lightened up would be my task, so I bought a dozen Krispy Kremes at the convenient store before coming in to work that day. But then I remembered how much shit those little bastards cause that I ridiculously have to deal with, so I decided not to bring the donuts to my meeting. Instead, the dozen went inside my desk drawer. But now there are only ten.

Okay, nine.

You got me.

Cool Cultural Stuff coming up soon, redux

Somebody at CSU must've decided to be extra cool this semester, because their spring arts calendar has a ton of interesting shit on it. Here's the blurb from the e-blast. I ordinarily wouldn't just repost this kind of thing, but there are some gems on this sucker.

Friday night jazz. Art house films. Poetry readings, plays, art exhibits, dance and more – it’s all right here at CSU.

Beat the February blahs and check out all the things to do on the CSU Arts Calendar this month at (click on Campus Events). Most events are free and all are on the CSU campus. Enjoy and support the arts at CSU!

Cool Cultural Stuff coming up soon

Theater is probably not the biggest priority of my cohort, likely because the class and other implications it often carries. HOWEVER, it can be really cool, and Cleveland is as rich as any other small big city in its collection of independent and avant garde theater troupes. One of the most energetic, Theater Ninjas, has a cool series coming up that will be hosted at my favorite gallery in town, Asterisk. All the pertinent info is below. I'm definitely checking one out, even if it is just an excuse to organize an afternoon vacation to Tremont

Theater Ninjas present

Written by Sarah Kane
Directed by Jeremy Paul

Lucy Bredeson-Smith, Terrence Cranendonk,
Val Kozlenko and Layla Schwartz.
Assistant Directed by Faye Hargate

Theater Ninjas are very proud to present the Cleveland premiere of "Crave", a dark, lyrical journey thru love and loss, desire and death, despair and hope.

An elliptical story told with found text and Kane's own beautifully poetic voice, Crave is both a masterful demonstration of the power of language and at the same time a heartbreaking portrait of lost souls moving against the backdrop of a nameless city towards a redemption that may or may not exist.

Theater Ninjas will perform "Crave" at Asterisk Gallery, 2393 Professor Ave. in Tremont (map link). Visit our website at for more information.

Tickets are $10-$15. Buy them online!

February 20 - March 8, 2009
Fri & Sat @ 8pm
Sun @ 3pm
Monday, March 2 @ 8pm

"A dramatic poem in the late-Beckett style, sometimes a chamber quartet for lost voices." - The Times

"A hugely unnerving theatrical experience, shot through with the language of the Bible and a genuinely poetic richness." - Time Out

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Something for you to read, part 18

Another two-fer for you folks today:

1) A compelling essay on why long-distance romances are as bad for the environment as they are for your own internal dynamics.

2) An effort by revisionist historians to make the much-maligned Martha Washington less, uh, maligned. Their solution: to contend that she was hot and use some CSI-style shit to prove it. Ahh progress.


Whither dancing?

It took me an hour to get to work today. Usually it takes 12 minutes.

I'll just leave it at that, as I imagine every other person reading this had an equally bad transportation experience. Days like today make me miss the easy days of walking a block and hitting the rapid station. Then again, I've had about 1/10th as many "feeling yucky" days since I stopped riding public transportation every day, so it washes out, I suppose.

Anyway, I'm driving (read: crawling along at 4 miles per hour) and listening to some music. I've had the Tokyo Police Club "Elephant Shell" record playing for the last little while and I'm starting to get bored - as a whole, it is a little too Death Cab for me - but then track #9 (Your English is Good - see video below) comes on and I feel a little boogie in my soul. I start the traditional chair dancing that I am so good at, and then my mind starts to wander, as I start pondering the act of dancing. More specifically, whether I should ever do it.

I once read that dancing is the single most comprehensively healthy form of motion a human being can engage in - that it is a form of light exercise and is also good for the spirit. Who knows if that is true, but when have you ever watched Soul Train re-runs and seen someone look super pissed? Never. At least I haven't.

So, sure, people should dance. But should I? I'm not very good at it. That's putting it charitably. Heck, that's putting it so charitably it is really the same thing as telling a lie. None of you (I hope, for your own sakes) have ever seen the travesty. I kinda look like Bill Cosby suffering from vertigo and a broken leg combined with a retired lumberjack with rheumatoid arthiritis and a nervous skanker with delicate bone structure. And gout.

In other words, me dancing in public is doing a public disservice. And quite possible could be illegal, depending on how vague a given town's indecency ordinance is written. But it is fun. I was out dancing at some terrible tourist bar in New Orleans a few weeks ago and had the best time. At least until I got back to the hotel and I thought my knees were broken.

Anway, all this pondering of the infinite is making my head hurt. Fortunately, I'm having a good hair day - the best in recent memory, in fact. Unfortunately, it is a stocking cap day, so the good hair day will only last until the next time I go outside. Fortunately, I have to go to Lakewood for an appointment, which means lunch at Melt. And so it goes.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Smelly Ellie: A Photographic Retrospective

You asked for it, folks. To be precise, someone with the blogger profile "keep eating..." asked for it. No matter, for I am always happy to take advantage of an opportunity to brag on my beloved dogder. My only regret is that I only have pictures from the last year and half on this computer. Maybe some day I'll update with some toddler photos. I don't think I have any digital photos of her infacy. She's 5 & 6 in all the photos that follow.

Without further ado, here is my Smelly...


About to bury a bone:

Waiting for a friend to come over and play:

Napping in a cocoon:

Cuddling with her new friend:

Patiently trying on new winter sweaters:

Pretending to be her daddy's alarm clock:

Chilling in dad's office:

Surveying this winter's first snow:

Relaxing after a nice snack:

Getting ready to wrestle:

Making love to her other friend:

Sleeping in the car:

And, to wrap things up, celebrating Christmas 2008:

Monday, February 2, 2009

Eulogy for The Record Bar

The Record Bar has perished from the earth.

When I was in freshman health in high school, they split us up between boys and girls to talk about sex. The boys were lectured by our basketball coach, who somehow started talking about drugs and, in particular, how you could purchase what he referred to as "wacky weed" in the back room of a store next to another place called "the record bar" downtown.

We asked what the record bar was (and not, surprisingly enough, about how much the wacky weed cost) and at that moment were given entree into a secret and spectacular world, one that changed my life and the lives of a few of my friends.

The Record Bar was a literal hole-in-the-wall, a cave filled with thousands of tapes and records and some cds. The guy, Scotty, who worked there was a total chain-smoker, lighting the end of his next cigarette with the dying embers of the one he just finished smoking. He also had awesome taste in music and turned me onto more 70's soul than anyone before or since.

In the 15 or so years since that accidental mention of the store in health class, The Record Bar has seen its ups and downs, mostly downs. I remember coming home for the summer from college one year and stopping by the original location and finding it abandoned. I soon found out it had moved to a strip mall across town, where it shared space with a budget mattress store. This did not strike me as the most auspicious of business plans, yet the little record store that mostly could kept on keeping on. At least until the recession hit and everything everywhere took a hit. Unfortunately, there are no federal bailouts for used record stores, no matter how important they were to the cultural education of a generation worth of young men.

Rest in Peace, Record Bar. It bums me out that you are no more. Thanks for being around when you were.

Something for you to read, part 17

So I found an extremely interesting article today while looking for an awesome picture of moustachioed presidents while at work. Yep, that's what I do for a living. For real.

Check it out. Am I the only one that senses a Gilette-sponsored conspiracy?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Month in review

Well, we made it to February. I mentioned this to a friend last night and she responded, "Yeah, but February is just another, barely shorter version of January."

That was not what I wanted to hear. But I rolled with it.

Now on the other side of a decent night's sleep, I'm prepared to celebrate the month passed. Sure, the weather fucking blew, but putting that aside (assuming such a thing is possible), my January was pretty wonderful. Indeed, if I have 11 more months as awesome as January, 2009 will go down as a good one. So, in that sense, I hope my friend is right about her description of the briefest month.

I rang in the month (and new year) in fine fashion - with my two best college pals in our old college town in central Illinois. We were all pretty worn down from some kind of food poising we had acquired a couple days previous, so we decided to take it easy. Even still, we ended up at this strange townie bar and had an evening straight out of a David Lynch film, complete with old women dancing on the bar and a bartender that was never quite able to take a cigarette break.

The evening ended with grown men (i.e., us) near-naked dancing to Self's Gizmodgery. I have pictures, but don't dare post them. Eyeballs will catch fire and my shame would never be overcome.

A couple days after that I headed back up to my folks' place south of Chicago, spent a day being a good son, gave my beloved dogder a bunch of hugs and kisses and left her to stay with my parents and their three dogs (including the world's cutest little chocolate lab puppy that my dad got my mom for Christmas).

Eventually I made my way back to Clevo, without my baby beagle, and spent a few lonely days doing stuff. I can't remember what. But then I got on a plane and flew down to Houston, where my two best grad school pals picked me up and we drove to New Orleans, making a pit stop on the way for some alligator and beers with an old roommate of mine during my stint in Baton Rouge. It was during this drive that I lost my voice singing along to the Purple Rain soundtrack (3x). I still don't fully have it back, more than 3 weeks later.

Once we made it to New Orleans, we did what every responsible professional would do the night before having to make a series of public presentations: got shit-faced on Bourbon Street. I cannot tell you more than that, because I made promises, but let me tell you that the story is AWESOME.

The next day, we get our business stuff out of the way, and then go play tourist. I take my friends down to the voodoo museum, where we met someone that I truly believes deserves all the credit for this month being as good as it has been: Father John, the voodoo lord of New Orleans.

This dude is so awesome. My friend and I have both long had an interest in voodoo, so checking out all the anthropological artifacts was great, but the best part was listening to him tell story after story about voodoo in Louisiana.

His tales featured characters like a voodoo practitioner that had filed her teeth to points and uses her powers to kill people, or turn them into zombie slaves. We asked what people call her, and he just looked at us with a gaze that chilled and said, "They Don't." He told us about his 900 pounds of snakes in his apartment, as he stroked his albino python. He told us about his different wizard staffs and how a man once attacked him and was found a week later, shot and run over by a car - twice. He showed us an artifact given him by an African mentor that represented a spirit which, if summoned, would haunt your dreams until you died.

He also sold us gris-gris and, as we walked out the door, blessed two of us. The third he didn't like at all. This became a source of tension between us all for the next two days. Seriously.

After our time in New Orleans, we headed back to Houston, stayed with the friend who the voodoo priest didn't like and made alligator pizza, then headed up to Austin for dinner and a friend's birthday party with the local indie rock aristocracy. That was cool, if hyper-hipsterized, and it was fun to hear which names were dropped the most. We wound up at this awful DJ after-party at the Austin Music Gym, and then a party at some 'zine writer's apartment where she realized she had way less booze than she thought, so we all shared tiny screwdrivers and looked mournfully at the large booze selection of her roommate, who apparently would go ape-shit if any booze of hers was touched. You could see where she measured the bottle lines and everything!

Eventually the night came to an end, after a marathon group performance of our band's new song, "Guy Stuff," and a round of stiff handshakes. The next day we hit up Waterloo Records for music and Guero's for tacos and high-tailed it back to where we were staying in College Station, where I changed into a suit and had a fancy dinner, complete with kir royale aperitifs and imported truffles, at my old professor's mansion (literally), before going back to my buddy's and falling immediately asleep to this dvd.

The next morning, the three of us pals hit up IHOP before I went back to the airport and made my triumphant return to Clevo. Since then, King John's beneficence has been in full effect. Work has been nothing short of great, I've some fantastic times with folks that I had the fortune of becoming friends with in 2008, become better friends with some folks I didn't know quite so well before, and met some interesting and fun new people.

So far, February is off to a great start, too, as I slept in this morning, the landlord's contractor showed up on time to deal with my leaky window-frame problem, I had a lovely brunch with lovely people at my favorite place in town, snagged a couple cheap used cds (Del the Funky Homosapien's Both Sides of the Brain and Menomena's Friend and Foe), picked up a pair of new jeans for HALF OFF at Brigade, and met a super cool person while killing time during my laundration festival who, like me, is a NEO transplant, though she hasn't been here for long and was searching for same kind of cultural stuff to get into that I feel so fortunate to have discovered. So I gave her some tips and my blog name - hopefully it'll help her find all the stuff to dig around here that I have had the good fortune to discover. And, of course, the weather was 20 degrees better than it has been in what seems like forever.

Now I'm scarfing some cold pizza with Monical's dressing and half-watching the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl (which I wouldn't have even known about had one of my fellow brunchees mentioned it this afternoon. I can only hope February continues to roll out like January ended up being. I just heard that Matilda the Beagle was declared MVP of the puppy bowl, so as far as omens go, that can only mean good things!