9:20 p.m. I'm in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. I'm supposed to be on my way to be with Lisa for one last "regular" weekend in Madison, but instead I'm sitting in my car just off an I-90 exit ramp, eating Rocky Rococo pizza and waiting for the tow truck to arrive.
I've had this car for the better part of a year now, and, considering my track record with with vehicles in general, I guess I was probably due for some kind of mechanical failure. Still, this sucks.
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Update, 9:44 p.m. The tow truck is here.
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Update, 10:18 p.m. I'm now at Saturn of LaCrosse, sitting in my car and waiting for Lisa to arrive from Madison. The dealership's service department is open tomorrow morning, and I'm hoping I'll be able to get the car up and running before everything shuts down for the weekend.
~ ~ ~
"Can I give you a tip?"
"You don't have to, but I'm not going to stop you."
"Sorry, I don't have much on me this evening."
"I'm not stopping you from getting a burger or anything?"
"No, I just ate, thanks."
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Update, 10:22 p.m. There's a Target, ShopKo and McDonald's nearby, but they're all closed.
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Update, 10:28 p.m. Upon review, I'm actually at Saturn of Onalaska.
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Update, 10:30 p.m. Cold breadsticks are better than no breadsticks.
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Update, 10:44 p.m. Actually, the McDonald's is open.
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Update, 11:15 p.m. There was a Barnes & Noble nearby. It was open just long enough for me to use the bathroom and buy a New Yorker.
~ ~ ~
"Is there anything interesting to see around here?"
"At this time of night?"
"Not really. The Wal-Mart is open."
~ ~ ~
Update, 11:30 p.m. This still sucks.
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Update, 11:42 p.m. Lisa's a few miles away. More later.
Regrettably, Jennifer Aniston proving she can act does not necessarily guarantee a good movie. While The Good Girl wasn't bad film, there wasn't anything special about it that would make me recommend it or want to see it again. The story was kind of bland and predictable, and Jake Gyllenhaal and John C. Reilly's talents seemed somewhat wasted. Zooey Deschanel's character's quips on the PA and at the beauty counter were funny, but they were more of a distraction from the film than a meaningful part of it. 6/10.
Movie Log: The Iron Giant
After watching The Good Girl on Saturday, Lisa and I weren't intending to have a Jennifer Aniston film fest, but that's kind of what we ended up with when we watched The Iron Giant. And, well, holy crap, why didn't I watch this earlier? What an absolutely wonderful movie. The story was very good and the animation was artful and fantastic. (In a way, the design of the robot seemed to foreshadow the general style of Brad Bird's next film, The Incredibles. Granted, the storylines in both films support such looks, but it would still seem that Bird has a fondness for mid-50's modernism.) The entire "guns bad" scene was kind of heavy-handed, but it was an exception to what otherwise was a nearly flawless film. I usually feel odd commenting on voices in animated movies, but what the hell: Vin Diesel was great as the Giant, as was Christopher McDonald as the pleasantly chipper (and completely evil) Kent Mansley. In all, The Iron Giant was far and away the best animated movie I've seen. No contest. 9/10.
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I hope this doesn't reflect poorly on me, but about half way through the movie I thought, hey, Kent sounds like Tappy Tibbons. Ah, um.
"So, what's your... our address?"
"Oh, I guess you'll need that, huh?"
"Yeah, I'm going to forward my email there."
"Uh, I mean mail."
"I figured that."
"I'm going to have to change the pigs' address as well."
"Great. Now we'll be getting hay in the mail."
Lisa is the one with the big news, so I guess I should let her announce it herself.
From a practical standpoint, this means by mid-May the apartment will be inhabited by three guinea pigs, two humans, one feline and seven plants. Yes, folks, it's going to be like Wild Kingdom around here. There may also be a higher occurrence of cat puke, but I'm going to try to find a way to keep the cat out of the pigs' hay in order to avoid that.
More on the situation as it develops.
Items Noted Elsewhere, Twins Stadium Edition
Really, can we please make this work this time? I'll try to spend more money in Hennepin County, I promise.
On Visiting The New Walker Art Center
Well, that's an hour and a half I'd like to have back.
Bad news always seems to come in threes. Today I was ______________, and the new pope is a former member of the Hitler Youth.
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"You hear they announced the new pope?"
"Yeah. The guy from Germany."
"Really. I guess that was kind of expected."
"We should probably wait and see how things play out, though. Fox News is still calling it for Bush."
"You're going to hell."
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It took me a bit longer than expected to post the Chicago entries. I've been feeling a bit disengaged lately.
Well, I'm back in Minneapolis. The drive home kind of sucked due to the incredibly heavy patrol presence north of Tomah, but other than that the day was pretty cool. Dinner with Lisa's folks went well (her dad is a severe geek—he actually has a food thermometer with a wireless remote display), and Lisa and my last few hours in Chicago were laid back and enjoyable. We had a late breakfast with Ted and Laura at cool little place known as Orange, made a brief visit to the albatross known as the Harold Washington Library Center, and drove through a couple of neighborhoods we'd possibly like to live in some day.
Due to time constraints, we decided to skip the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art. Maybe next time.
It's a little before six this beautiful Saturday afternoon in Chicago. Lisa and I are here at the Swissotel near the east end of Wacker Drive, resting for a couple of hours before meeting Sarah and P.J. for dinner at Ben Pao.
It's been a pretty good trip so far. Just before getting back to the hotel we spent a couple of hours on an architecture tour put on by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, plus a half hour or so wandering around shiny, metallic public space known as Millenium Park. Before the architecture tour we spent an hour and a half on Michigan Avenue, stopping for an expectedly fast-foodish lunch at North Bridge.
The strange small-world moment of the day came in front of the Wrigley Building, where Lisa and I ran into Sarah's sister Jessica, who happened to be in town with the family of her fiance. That brief delay was just enough for Lisa and I to get stuck on the wrong side of an opening Michigan Avenue Bridge, which in turn was just enough for us to miss the architecture tour we'd been planning on following.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. It's just weird how that stuff works out. Besides, with the extra time before the next tour, Lisa and I were able to sit back in Grant Park and people watch for a half hour.
Friday was pretty cool, too. We got to our hotel a little after 5:00, and about an hour later had an excellent dinner at Bella Bacino a few blocks down Wacker. (The place has become a little more formal from the last time I visited, but at least they didn't screw with the pizza.) After that we wandered around downtown for a while, went up in the John Hancock Observatory for an hour (Lisa wasn't big on the height at first, but became more comfortable after a while) and considered and then rejected walking along an increasingly cold Lake Michigan.
Tomorrow should bring a visit to the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, lunch with Ted and Laura, and, back Madison, dinner with Lisa's parents.
Due to some comments people have directed at me over the past day, I'd just like to make clear I'd never electrocute my cat. I love the little satanic furball, regardless of any harm he may cause to my houseplants.
Here was my bad way to end an already crappy day: I came home to find the cat—previously known as "Putter" but currently know as "Little Shit," "Motherfucker," or "Stupid Fucking Cat"—had decided to deal what will probably be a death blow to a cherished little plant that had just started to recover from its last kitty attack. To do this the cat had to defeat significant feline barriers including sticky tape, water, and a five-foot ledge.
Should the plant survive this latest attack (and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it does), future feline barriers will likely include mesh fencing or caging, motion-sensor anti-cat spray and a small amount of electricity.
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Tomorrow evening I'm off to Chicago with Lisa for a long weekend. The next entry will probably be posted on Monday.
You know, it's interesting how a pale, white ass can throw off an evening.
Lisa and I just got back from dinner with my folks for their anniversary. The dinner at the Courthouse Pub was good, and in general it was a nice evening, but I wasn't really expecting my parents' next door neighbor to break out swearing and then moon the four of us, nor the subsequent visit from the friendly Two Rivers police officer.
Manitowoc County: Visit, take in the scenery, and then get as far away as possible. I can't believe the crap my parents must put up with on a daily basis.
Tomorrow should bring some finalization of travel plans for my brother's wedding in July, lunch at Kroll's West in Green Bay, a visit with Lisa's grandmother in Wausau, and, if all goes well, a visit with Biker Ben, Beth, and their kid. Then again, today didn't really go as planned, so I should probably wait and see.
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Last week was Madison. This week is Two Rivers. Next week is Chicago. I'm really destroying any chance of my car keeping any resale value.
Note to self: Zombie pope jokes don't go over well with Lisa.
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"Are you laughing or crying?"
"I'm doing both."
"Now, see, that makes no sense."
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I spent a good half hour playing around with Konfabulator this evening. I'd previously been unaware it was available for Windows. What a fabulous little program.
Items Noted Elsewhere, The Weeping For America Edition
Just over a week ago the headset jack on my Motorola V60 decided it was no longer interested in living a meaningful life, resulting in me making an extended post-work trip to a local Verizon store. While the phone was under warranty, the store didn't have any replacements in stock and the friendly sales rep informed me the other local stores probably didn't have any, either. I agreed to have a replacement sent to me, which resulted in three straight days of ping-pong with FedEx. Well, I finally got the replacement phone this evening, and as further proof nothing in my life can be too easy, the new V60 is permanently stuck on the speakerphone setting.
I guess I'll be visiting the Verizon store again tomorrow.
Daylight Saving Time is a bitch.
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Well, I'm back from Madison. I figured I'd seen enough of I-94, so I took US 61 on the way down and US 14 on the way back. Both drives were scenic and enjoyable, although I wish I had more time and didn't have to be so non-stop about it.
Anyway, it was good to have a weekend with Lisa in her native territory. Much of our Saturday was spent at the Wisconsin Film Festival. We saw a number of films (Lisa a few more than I), and they were inconsistent at best. Granted, that's to be expected at such an event, but a couple of them were such astounding cavalcades of shit that I had to fight to maintain my generally positive view of humanity. (Reckless Eyeballing, I'm looking at you.) On the bright side, the feature we caught Saturday night at the Orpheum, ChildStar, was pleasantly off-kilter and enjoyable. Most of the rest of the films fell somewhere in between. Shorts like Room seemed good, but to some extent it was difficult to tell if they were actually well done or just looked good when compared to the refuse scattered about them.
The other big event of the weekend was a trip to The Plaza Tavern to try their much-hyped Plazaburger. I've heard about this burger from a number of people over the years—not to mention numerous references encountered in the media—and was rather excited to try it out. Well, to say it was a disappointment is a bit of an understatement. On my 1-10 hamburger rating scale, I'd give it a 2.5. That's only a half-point above inedible. (For context, White Castle gets a 3 rating.) Actually, the more I think about it, I really wish I hadn't eaten it. What a bunch of unnecessary calories.
Where to start... The meat had no presence at all, the bun was bland and lifeless, and the much-heralded Plaza Sauce1 was overpowering and disgusting: "Ooooh, let's put vegetable dip on a hamburger!" What fucktard thought that up? Jesus, people, additions to burgers should enhance the beef, not cover it out and cancel it out!
Not much to add from today. We got up kind of late, and after an hour of reading and playing with Lisa's guinea pigs we went on a walk out on Picnic Point. It was a cool little walk, the view was nice, and, really, today was the day Spring decided to formally announce itself. There was still ice on the water, but short sleeves were completely appropriate. In all, it was a very pleasant way to end the weekend.
And, tomorrow, it's back to reality.