this is the modern world

My parents get series tickets for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. When they are out of town, I often get to use them. Kassie and I got tickets for last night as part of our Christmas gift.

First, we went to dinner at Little Szechuan, and it was really, really good. Kassie's been trying to get me there, but you know, it's in St. Paul, so that means fueling the car, packing a lunch, etc.

Kassie had the Fish Fillet in Spicy Tofu Broth. It came with a huge pile of peppers on top, and it was seriously spicy. She loved it. I had the tiniest sample, making sure to keep the peppers to a minimum, because, well, my stomach was not in greatest mood.

I got the Sweet Sour Scallops. They were much better than I expected. I figured they'd be good, but they were super tasty.

We got to the Ordway, I used the restroom (because my stomach was not in the greatest mood), and we found our seats. They were about fifty feet from stage left. We caught a part of the International Chamber Orchestra Festival.

The first piece was Sir Michael Tippett's Concerto for Double String Orchestra. It sounded like a film score. Nice, but kind of boring.

The second piece was Plain Old Ralph Vaughan Williams's Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis, which sounded OK from the men's room, where I was busy yakking up my dinner (because my stomach was not in the greatest mood).

I felt better, and it was time for the intermission.

The third piece was Not Sir Either Béla Bartók's Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celesta. You know who's dead? Béla Lugosi. Yeah, this sounded like the soundtrack to a horror film. I liked it pretty well, I guess, but it was a little hard to take seriously.

And really, that's the thing with modern orchestral music. I didn't necessarily get the "Look at Me, I'm A Super Modern Composer, Look How Crazy This Can Sound" vibe last night, but I don't really enjoy Modern music the same way I enjoy music from the Baroque, Classical, or early Romantic periods. It was fun, though, and made for an enjoyable night.

And it's a good thing my mom wasn't there to hear it. I don't think she would have enjoyed it much at all.

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baking boy

I made a maple syrup pie today. If I were Kassie, I'd post the recipe. But alas, I'm CJ.



you know what day it is...




Apparently, I've come home to something called "Meatless Monday."



accidents, other stuff

Yesterday, on the 23 line, I was waiting to finish my right turn onto Lake Street from Hennepin Avenue. The light was about to turn yellow. As I checked traffic to my left, I heard a THUD and looked back to my right. All I saw was a blue-green Chevrolet Cavalier and a lot of cans of food rolling down the street.

I had to ask my passengers if that car had just hit someone. It had. It was kind of weird. The driver didn't brake, at least that I could hear. He was clearly finishing off his turn in the yellow light. She must have been in his blind spot. I absolutely don't want to excuse not looking where you're going, but it happened in the middle lane, so the woman who got hit very likely should not have been there.

I hope she's OK. I haven't seen anything in the news, so I assume she's still alive.

I got to the 17W terminal yesterday up in Northeast and a street supervisor showed up. She asked me if I'd written an Operating Conditions Report about the westbound trip I was about to make. I hadn't. Apparently someone is having trouble with overload and time issues.

I've driven that work on Fridays in previous picks and this pick I drive it Monday and Friday. I've never had a real problem, but Mondays and Fridays tend to be lighter days of the week.

So the supervisor followed me and I kept it on time. But I noticed something interesting.

BREAKING NEWS (and it's not good):
Kassie just pointed out to me that Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, the food writer for our biggest local free weekly, City Pages, is leaving next month. Oh boy, does that suck. Unless Demko has written a cover story, I barely pick up CP anymore, other than to read Dara. Yeah, that poor paper has really declined ever since Village Voice Media put some turd named Kevin Hoffman in charge. And no, I don't know him, but I do know that a lot of really good writers have left that paper because of him.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh. I probably picked up 35 people on that trip and all but about five of them paid with cash! See, we have this great little thing called a Go-To Card now, and pretty much every route I drive has a large percentage of people who use it in one form or other.

I think the marketing department needs to get themselves to Northeast Mpls and spread the good word. That would certainly make that trip easier to keep on time!

I had to detour today on the 11 because there was a rollover on 3rd Avenue a couple blocks north of Franklin. As Kassie pointed out, it would take some serious effort to get going fast enough to roll a car in that area.
[update: the story, thanks to Kassie's sharp eyes]

Today, as I was waiting for a bus, a school bus pulled in to the convenience store across the street. The driver (I think) got out and went inside. About two minutes passed. Then someone inside the bus started honking the horn. The driver came out of the store, appeared to make a walk through on the bus, then went back inside. She was still inside when my bus showed up. I thought it was odd that a driver would stop at a store with kids on her bus. Maybe it wasn't the driver I saw. I don't know...

Jesse rode my bus this evening. He was our wedding photographer.

I have to get up very early in the morning. That does not please me.

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mmmmm, dessert

Perhaps you've clicked around here and found Kassie's blog, mmmmm, dinner. If you have, you know that Kassie makes some pretty great food. (Well, most of you have to settle for knowing it looks great.)

She doesn't usually make much in the way of desserts, though. I make cookies from time to time and I also like to make apple pie.

I wanted some dessert this evening. Yesterday I ate the last cookie from the last batch I made. It's all cold and snowy so I don't want to walk very far and I refuse to give the convenience store across the street my business. (Mostly because it's the neighborhood source for little scales, tiny baggies and single grape-flavored cigars.)

We're out of eggs; I can't make cookies tonight. So I just threw a little something together.

I call it Chocolat Banane Merde. (Looks kinda like poop. Tastes kinda like heaven.)

Sorry, the recipe is top secret!



crumbly pie

Kassie and I went the Minneapolis Farmers' Market on Saturday. We bought apples.

When I was growing up, my favorite food in the world was my grandma's apple pie. I try to make a pie or two every autumn, and I follow Grandma's recipe.

One thing I don't do, though, is make the crust. Frankly, I love the filling and the topping and I think the frozen Pillsbury (Pet-Ritz) crust, which is what I always buy, is nearly as good as homemade anyway.

After the Farmers' Market, we stopped at the Lunds at Central and University. It's a smaller store, so there isn't a lot of variety. I looked a couple times before I found the frozen pie crusts. I started to wonder if they even carried them. When I found them, I saw that I had one brand to choose from.

They were something called Food Club. Food Club? Seriously? What's Food Club? (It's the store brand that you can find at Piggly Wiggly and some other stores I've never heard of.)

When the woman at the checkout asked me if I had found everything OK, I mentioned the pie crust issue. She was very sympathetic to my concerns. She said she's tried the Food Club crusts and did not have the success that she had with Pillsbury. And she said that Food Club is all that they are planning to stock.

So, if you're the person who is in charge of stocking at Lunds, generally regarded as an upscale grocery store, and you were going to stock one brand of a particular item, why on earth would you choose the off-brand option? Does that make sense?

I haven't made a pie yet. As I said, I'm not all that fired up about the crusts anyway, but I know what I like and it remains to be seen if I like Food Club.




Yesterday, Kassie and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

What better way to celebrate than the Autumn Brew Review? With around 150 beers to choose from, we had to make some decisions. We had a dinner reservation at 9:00, so we kept it to around 15 samples each. I think we got to try nearly everything we really wanted to. Most of it was good, some of it was really bad. Kassie tasted a Gluek offering; I wasn't there to warn her about how that would go. She dumped it out after one sip.

  • The Dark Knight from Barley John's. A double-fermented porter, aged in bourbon barrels.
  • Coffee Bender from Surly. I couldn't drink much more than a few ounces of this, as coffee freaks me out.
  • Devil Made Me Do It! and High Class Broad from Tyranena. The former is a porter with coffee. The latter is a brown aged in brandy barrels.
Bonus fun: I ran into three people I haven't seen for a long time.

We came home and took a quick nap, then went to La Belle Vie for dinner. We got the five course tasting menu. It was really, really good. However, unless Kassie I both get huge raises, we'll have to make that a special-events place only. And frankly, I'm just as happy going to The Craftsman for a nice dinner. I realize that's an apples-to-oranges comparison, but for me, nice enough is nice enough. Food can only taste so good.

It was a fun, relaxing day.

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You probably think Kassie is the only one around this house who can make a lovely and amazing plate of food. She was hanging out with the Shock Monkeys this evening, so I was on my own for dinner.

Uh, so, any assumptions about who makes the pretty food around here are most likely valid.

I had a relatively interesting day on the 4 today.

A few blocks after I made relief, a lady needed to use the lift to exit the bus. I stopped the bus, opened the doors, put the transmission in neutral, engaged the emergency brake, turned on the lift, pushed the toggle switch to UP and... nothing happened. I fiddled around with it, but couldn't get it to work. Fortunately, she had a walker, not a wheelchair, and we were able to get her off the bus. I called for a new bus.

My northbound trip was uneventful. No news of a bus change. Then, early on my southbound trip, I stopped for a man who I know uses the lift. He's an older guy with a cane, and when he walks, it's obvious that he's in a lot of pain. I told him that my lift didn't work. He didn't want to wait half an hour for the next bus, so he slowly, slowly backed up the stairs on to the bus. I could tell he was on the verge of tears. I felt bad for him and I was kind of angry. I didn't really have anyone specific in mind with whom I was angry, but it's safe to say that the bus I was driving should be sitting out with the rest of the retired buses in the empty lot near I-94 and Snelling Avenue.

I eventually got a new bus, but of course, I didn't ever need to use the lift.

I drove by this mess near the end of that southbound trip. It was rather disconcerting to see a dozen squad cars' worth of cops with shotguns and assault rifles hiding behind trees and corners of buildings.

And on my last trip, just after we detoured around the aforementioned circus, a regular rider came up to the front to report that a man was drinking a 40 in front of her children and she didn't think it was right. She mentioned that she was afraid that she'd be seen as a snitch.

And she was correct; it wasn't right. So I waited until we were almost to 50th and Bryant and called Control. I told them that I was going to give him a chance to get off the bus and then I requested the police. At 50th and Bryant, I made an announcement that if anyone had something with them that they might not want to cops to find, like say, something they might be drinking, they might want to get off the bus, finish it and wait for the next one. No one got up. But the guy with the beer turned around and looked at the lady who reported him. I announced that a squad was on its way and took off.

Two blocks later, the guy rang the bell and exited the bus. The lady thanked me. I thanked her.

It's pretty sad that the woman felt uncomfortable telling me that someone was doing something on the bus that they shouldn't be doing.

I'm not exactly sure why she was concerned. I've seen the Warn-a-Brother and Stop Snitchin' t-shirts. Perhaps she didn't want to give someone up to The Man. Or maybe she was scared about how he might react. Either way, I'm glad that she wasn't afraid to call that dude on his crap.

Of course, I also think it's sad that Drinky couldn't go forty-five minutes on a bus without alcohol...

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cinco de mayo

Since it started raining just as we were going to head over to Lake Street for all kinds of Cinco de Mayo fun, Kassie, Simon and I celebrated at our local Mexican restaurant, El Paraiso, instead. I ordered a seafood chimichanga. It was huge. And heavy.

We spent the rest of the day hanging out on the front porch with our neighbors, enjoying cocktails.

Kassie is in Washington, DC on a work trip. Jeff and I are having lots of bachelor fun. Uh, or something like that...

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beautiful day

It was a beautiful day; Kassie insisted that we had to do something besides sit around on the computer all day. I suppose...

We tried to look for a new light fixture at Creative Lighting, but they were closed.

So we went to the Electric Fetus and purchased the latest from:
Cloud Cult
Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
Modest Mouse
Southern Culture on the Skids andLaura Veirs.

We went home for a little while, then took Jeff to the Minnehaha off-leash dog park. He ran around and swam and ran around some more for well over an hour.

For dinner, we went to Sea Salt, a place we've wanted to try. It's in Minnehaha Park, so we were right there. We got the Oil Pan, which is shrimp, oysters and pickled herring on ice, plus a pitcher of Surly Bender. It was ever so delicious. We ate at a park table with Jeff sleeping underneath us.

We walked around the park for a while, then came home. I'd have to say it was a good day.

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