Friday, August 29, 2008


Fall is coming!

I was noticing this morning that the light is starting to get a little more amber and the first dry leaves are starting to drift along the streets. It seems awfully soon, but I love Autumn and the days are just packed.

The last day of summer for me is the day we go to the Sheboygan County Fair. I have gone 24 years, probably more if you count pre-natal experience. It used to be combined with my oldest brother’s birthday, but he’s been regrettably far away for the last several years. However, now we’ve gotten to share it with our spouses and one day, our babies. Mom remarks that Rosemary will be big enough for the pony rides next year. I loved the pony rides and one of my biggest regrets in becoming an adult is that I am too big for them.

Anyway, I’ll probably report on that business next week.

Here are definite or possible Fall Events that I’m excited about, roughly in the order they occur:


Tom’s birthday

Larson Family Reunion in Minnesota

Apple picking

Raking Leaves and Jumping in Them

Buying mums

Admiring fall store displays

Making Halloween Decorations

Getting out the Fall Jackets

Having Hollywood Beach to Ourselves

Kite Flying

Wearing Gloves

Eating Caramel Apples


Visiting every Halloween shop in town

Putting up decorations in my parent’s house

Fixing the widow silouettes if needed

Pumpkin Picking

Corn Maze

Fright Fest at Great America

Trail of Terror at Peterson Park (awesome! Put on by volunteers)

Making a Katy-style scarecrow out of a shock of corn

Wearing my witch’s hat

Deciding on costumes

Halloween performance at the Symphony/ Zoo Trick or Treat

Halloween show at The Music Box Theatre

Watching edited for tv versions of scary movies

Carving Pumpkins

Dressing up Colin as The Amazing Spider-Dog

Halloween Parade

Strolling up and down the neightborhood with Spider-Dog on Halloween


Dead of the Dead exhibit at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Pilsen

Eating leftover Halloween candy

Buying flowering kale

Drinking spiced apple cider

Just starting to think about Christmas

Get out winter coats

Celebrate Mom’s birthday

Be thrilled by first snowflake

Bake pies

Help make Thanksgiving dinner (hopefully with two ovens!)

Enjoy Colin’s long fur

Snuggle under blankets

Look at baby sweaters for Rosemary

Put the Christmas Mix on the ipod.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bat Dance

Oh man, is this picture cute! This is a running (or possibly jogging as it’s on a treadmill) vampire bat.

Read the full story here at

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yoda the Four Eared Cat

Gosh, I love this cat!

He’s soooo cute!

And I’m horribly allergic to cats. I would take shots for this little guy.

He has four ears. Should anything with four ears be so darling?

He must be like cuddling a little space alien or X-Cat.

Full story on Yoda here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Lego Mania!

Oh my god. I wish I liked to play chess. Witness! The Lego Chess set. Wow. Look at the cute little dwarves, wizards, and skeletons!

I think it’s really interesting what Lego has become. So many of the miniatures are so beautiful and clever now, like the Viking sets or Harry Potter. They look like so much fun. And since I engage in a surprising amount of playing when no one is watching, I can totally appreciate them. I do hope the original building sets are available. We had so much fun with those.

We had the standard pack with 200 or so pieces. All three kids played with it so a considerable amount of pieces were forever lost in the shaggy rya rug in the dining room. Nothing hurts so much as stepping on one of those single peg pieces in your bare feet.

I think there were some illustrations on the box of what you could make, but don’t recall ever following them. I made a lot of houses, gardens, cars, and crates for small plastic animals. I do recall we had only two axles and four wheels of varying sizes, so one’s motorcraft was somewhat unraceable. We had a marvelous time with them.

One sore spot was the lack of female lego figures, however. I am glad they remedied that because I distinctly recall arguing with a boy in kindergarten that because my lego guy was a girl, she needed to have the the little red hard hat to tuck her hair under. Bowed over by this impeccable logic, he gave in and presented me with the helmet.

Legos are made in Denmark, I believe, and one of the big adventures most Scandinavian families have is a trip to Legoland in Jutland. They have various play areas and huge sculptures made entirely of legos. Interestingly, one is about to open in Schaumburg near the Ikea. I keep telling Knut that Scandinavia is coming to him!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

We Doo So You Don't Have To!

I wish there were some sort of long distance flaming bag of poo service.

You know, where you’d put a paper bag full of dog doo on neighborhood cranky old man’s porch and then light the top of the bag? Then when he’d stomp it out he’d get poo on his shoes.

I never did that as a child but now that I’m a vindictive adult, I do find myself returning to that idea. Something mostly harmless, but unpleasant. Something that sent a signal saying “we find your oppressive behavior so intolerable we felt we had no choice but to fill a paper bag with dog doo and set a match to it.”

Alas, most of the people I feel have earned such a treatment are out of comfortable driving range, so I’d need some sort of mail order service.

Any takers?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Bigfoot: Dead or Alive!

I’m always delighted when they come up with new Bigfoot or Loch Ness Monsters stories. They’re so charming! I also like reading about the hoaxes perpetrated mostly for kicks, like the famous Surgeon’s photo of Loch Ness or the guy who carved giant wooden feet and tromped around the California forest wearing them. I like those kinds of pranks.

Last week’s big shocker was a supposedly dead bigfoot huddled in a freezer. It does look pretty pathetic and the apparently the DNA analysis revealed nothing but human and opossum DNA. Which is, decidedly, the weirdest combination of DNA around. The article also describes an opossum as a “cat like” creature, which seems a wholly inaccurate description to me. “Giant rat” appearance seems more suitable. Bigfoot can be seen at

I don’t see a whole lot of point to solving the mysteries, frankly. Suppose they discovered a school of unusually large sturgeons in Loch Ness that were responsible for all the sightings. How disappointing! Once you find an animal, they become simply an animal, like the gorilla or the rhinoceros. These animals were only rumored in Europe for centuries! Now we know they exist and there is definitely less excitement.

One that I find very odd is that of the Kraken. The kraken was a legendary giant squid, like the one in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I keep reading these odd things like could the kraken been inspired by The Giant Squid or the Colossal Squid? Okay, the monster is describes as a giant squid. It doesn’t have magic powers or is covered in fur or sprouts women shaped lures to tempt salty sea dogs. It’s a huge squid. Now it happens that we occasionally find the bodies of gigantic squids. They’re just like little squids, only huge. Can’t we fairly say that we’ve discovered the kraken? Of course, we can’t say that every time a rum soaked sailor spotted a giant tentacle it really was a huge squid, but come on! It’s more than a vague supposition.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Novelties and The Wicker Man

My pal Lauren had a duffle bag full of adult novelties at work today. Alas, my workplace isn’t usually so fun. She was going straight to the airport and then to throw a bachelorette party.

I’ve never seen so much wang shaped stuff and I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Boystown. She had shot glasses, suckers, bracelets, wind up toys, a stuffed monkey, themed plates and napkins, and shaped pasta.

Plans also include a wang shaped cake, which her mother knows how to make free hand.

I started thinking this was sort of odd, because while most straight women enjoy wangs, few prefer them as a decorative motif. This is pretty much the only time in American culture women come together to support the wang, ironically at a women only event.

The more I think about it, the more this resembles a fertility rite. It could be straight out of The Wicker Man. Various babes getting together in preparation to send one of their lot into marriage and surrounding her with phallic imagery.

I’m a big Wicker Man fan, not only because it’s a tense clever film but because a big part of me really feels in tune with paganism. It’s so practical!

If the crops fail, you sacrifice to the gods. If they aren’t right after that, you obviously didn’t pick the right sacrifice and need to try again. There is a direct cause and effect. I also firmly believe that if our hero hadn’t been present, Lord Summerisle would have had to have been sacrificed as was his duty and right and chieftain. It makes sense that such a dreaded duty would fall upon those who sought that power in the community.

Of course, I’m not silly enough to really believe that, but I had a strange shock one afternoon when I asked Knut a question. Do the crops come back the next year? “Of course not,” he said “the ground was wasted. Crops shouldn’t have grown there at all. Nothing would bring them back”

I guess I always assumed that the crops would return. That the perfect sacrifice was made honorably and whatever strange gods they worshipped would be appeased.

It surprises me as much as anyone.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Super Chef, Super Spy!

This news story seriously had me pumping my fist. How cool is it that Julia Child worked for the OSS?

I think most people find this era of spying the most exciting. It seems a bit more gentlemanly that the Cold War and the backdrop is too glamourous.

In any event, I’d always admired Julia Child. Cooking on television is a risky proposition, but her charisma and humor always made her so entertaining. I particularly enjoyed some of her more practical suggestions like that no one knows what happens in the kitchen, so if you drop something just pick it up and wash it off. It’s a nice departure from the slightly paranoid views expressed on Food Network these days. Remember, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger… unless it irreversibly weakens us to the point where something else kills us.

This reminds me too of one of my favorite novels, Shining Through. PLEASE don’t confuse the novel with the film dreck of the same name. The novel is witty, exciting, touching, funny, and very well researched. Linda, our heroine, is a real person and her actions are not always so heroic. Really really great. Compare the climaxes:

The book: Linda (a Queens stenographer turned spy) has been discovered in Berlin. She has found the mole in the operation and made the decision to kill her, only after being wounded herself. She is saved by Edward, her former boss, a New York laywer and WWI hero, who speaks no German. He is posed as a Nazi General (in the hopes that such an important rank will not cause people to question him) whose war wounds prevent him from speaking. Linda poses as his mistress going to Switzerland to get an abortion. The final border guard recognizes something is wrong with the papers, but is muffled by the sight of Edward’s scars, manner, and a huge wad of Swiss francs. The guard smilingly ushers them to freedom. It’s tense and funny and real feeling.

The movie: Linda (Melanie Griffith who was only good in Body Double (although I think that was more about casting than acting) and has gross wormy glossy red lips) and Edward (Michael Douglas… eh.) stagger across the border to Switzerland with Nazis shooting at them. When they cross the invisible line (which isn’t invisible) the Germans magically stop shooting them. Because the Nazis were all about respecting boundery lines. Linda then reveals that the microfilm (yes, microfilm. This is not in the novel) was hidden in her glove because she “knew that it would be discovered if I was examined by a doctor, but not by the SS.” Indeed. If I were looking for microfilm on a dead body, I expect that not only would I remove all clothing, I would probably search all body cavities. Perhaps this is my German efficiency speaking?

Ugh. It’s so awful when they destroy a novel you love in a lame film version. Anyway, I heartily recommend the book.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Casting Couch

I just did my first casting in class! It’s pretty exciting. First you heat a crucible with a blow torch, then you load your mold, then you pour in the metal bits, melt them with the blow torch, and then spin the arm around forcing the liquid metal into the mold.

I made a small silver ring (which I may melt down after I finish it, not being much of a ringer wearer); a pair of (hopefully) good-looking diamond shaped heavily textured diamond-shaped silver earrings, and a bronze medallion with an antelope or goat’s head in the center.

Here’s the goat!

Both the instructor and a colleague of hers were pretty impressed with the goat. I was surprised myself. I made it from sheet wax never thinking I’d cast it; cast it never thinking it would cast correctly, and now I just need to cut it off the sprews (?) and clean it up.

My instructor’s colleague cracks me up. He’s a large flamboyant man whose art features of bronze statues of heavily muscled male torsos.

Art we all can appreciate!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lightnin' Cubs!

Last night we went with our Norwegian pals Simen and Sturle to the Cubs game. The game started out beautifully. It was sunny and warm. The lads enjoyed hot dogs and tried nachos for the first time. Note to Europeans: the beer vendors won’t accept EU driver’s licenses.

The Cubs weren’t playing well, but we were enjoying it. Witness Sturle!

They called a rain delay at 7:40 pm. There was TONS of lightning. I can’t believe they didn’t call it before then, because it looked really dangerous. We were all looking at the lightning behind the scoreboard but we eventually realized it was much worse behind the press box. It didn’t look like it was going to stop so we decided to leave at 8pm. After walking past two Elvises high fiving each other (one of whom apparently then ran onto the field and skidded across the huge tarp laid over the infield), we heard this garbled announcement. Turns out they were telling everyone to leave the stands and get into the concourse.

A couple of workers tried half heartedly to stop us leaving the stadium, but we walked out and I realized they were blowing the tornado sirens. I have never heard those in Wrigleyville before. We jumped onto the Red Line and it was raining so hard and blowing so badly that water was spurting out through the crack between the doors and pooling in the floor of the car. There was lightning everywhere and the conductor must have been driving at top speed.

When we got off at Bryn Mawr, we stuck under the awnings for the first block, but the little half block to our apartment had us soaked to the skin and cringing from the thunder. About 15 minutes after we got inside, there was this gigantic fork pronged lightning bolt that looked like it hit near the Bryn Mawr station. All the car alarms in the neighborhood went off.

I’m glad we didn’t stay for those last couple of innings! They were insane to start playing again