Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Promise

I, Bridget Callahan, do solemnly swear to not touch the internets till at the very least 5/5, since there are better things to do in Chicago than twittering, including but not limited to:

-documenting the destruction of Gary
-marveling at a river that flows away from the giant lake
-looking for giant river otters in said dirty swath of toxic hydrogen
-contemplating the blisters on my heels and how they resemble a constellation of pain
-watching my sister do stand up comedy in a comic book store* (This Sunday, 7pm, Comics and Tonic), and feeling old and uninspired, in a good proud way.
-avoiding pizza
-celebrating International Workers Day by getting wasted with some activisty types I don't know. Huzzah!

*this is probably not really a comic book store, but SHOULD be.

America's Next Top Model Cycle 12: Redonkalous

A List of Things that Have Entertained Me Over the Last 24 Hours:

1. Arlen Spector. (not related, but still, at the top of the list)
2. Pho saying she does everything half-assed, including high school. Cause, see, she's a half ass. Or half pint. Half ounce. Whatever.

Oh the GO-SEE episode. The bane of every season, until these plucky little minxes hit the San Paulo scene. I think last night was the first time I have ever seen anyone employ a viable strategy for getting to her go-sees. Like, you know, planning your route. Or WALKING.

3. Aminat: "redonkalous"
4. Succubusses.
5. Teyonna walking out every time another girl was already there. Which was at least three times, maybe four.

Why did it seem like none of the Brazilian designers were from Brazil? Also, why did they all design the stupidest baggiest looking clothing ever? Rainbow colored bags. White bags. Brown bags. Beribboned bags. ALSO why were they all so unimpressed with America's beauties?

6. Pho is too short to do anything ever. She is a midget, a pygmy, a throwback of evolution. Oh wait, she's 5'7".
7. Aminat: "Cause I'm african and I'm never on time."

Teyonna won a lot of hideous clothing. Good for her. It will go with her hideous head.

8. Nigel made SURE he got the bathing suit shoot this year. But keeps his hands held laughably high every time he hugs the models. I'm convinced Nigel is a womanizer.
9. Jay actually wore normal clothes for a change.

Everyone's butts were blurred out, and Pho did so bad, so marionette from the dead bad, that it begs the question "is Pho not used to drinking?" Aminat was, as always, a drugged out ostrich on the planes of non-existence. Teyonna hunched like a gargoyle, her best picture turned out to be her hunched over the fat man, chewing his intestines. Allison emerged as the little milkmaid from the hot Brazilian flesh jungle, like a breath of air conditioning.

10. Every time Tyra gets a new wig, she gets a little more coocoo for coco puffs.
11. I am not wearing a medical mask. Dopes.
12. Allison is so ungraceful, she actually couldn't make it back to the dais during judgement. Miss Jay had to utilize his bow tie as a stretcher, to make sure she didn't break anything.

Monday, April 27, 2009

It's been devil hot the past three days. I felt cheated out of spring, until my hair stylist informed me that the rest of the week is supposed to be 60 and raining, which will be spectacular. Ashley's birthday party was fun last night. I particularly liked the salesman who's been to most of Asia, and I pestered him for 30 minutes, which is a long time to monopolize someone at a party but also he told me that the governments have been leveling the Smoky Mountains computer trash dumps/wall/slums. I went into a catatonic state from the disappointment of never fulfilling my dream to visit the piles of monitors, and all I remember is coming to in an ice bath, with a bandage on my torso, after which I passed out again. Then somehow it was 5am and we were just driving home. I slept for a few hours, woke up at 9am, then somewhere between sucking down juice and watching Gilmore Girls, I remembered to get my hair cut. Also remembered to get Carrie's birthday present. It was like it just clicked in my head that I have to be ready to leave Friday. Speaking of, how much does it suck when you finally get around to buying a Megabus ticket, which is like 40 dollars because it's the week of? Stupid.

I've seriously been shorted out by the heat. My processor is melted.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Beef Curry

Yes, I know it's cliche to take pictures of the sky all the time. But if you only knew how many times I sat in the backseat of my parents' car, wishing I could somehow make a dress those colors. I'm in awe of anyone who can convincingly paint light. And since my particular art skills will always fall under the crafty, not classical, I forgive myself. Lately my mind set has been vacillating between unthinking bland zombie dark insideness, and unthinking zombie happy outside lightness.

In case you didn't get the memo from one of your friends*, on Wednesday Popeye's Chicken had a special. 8 pieces for 4.99. Here is the resulting chaos. It was certainly an interesting way to celebrate Earth Day; chicken slaughtering and car idling. Speaking of zombies....

Those cars are not parked. That's the drive thru line.

Last night I went over Jays for Thai night, which has increasingly become a monthly thing. Instead of just me and Jay, we ended up with me and Jay and Kelly and Debra and Andrew and Lori and her son. You know, 7. Lucky for me, curry is the ultimate family style dinner. Saying curry and family in the same sentence is redundant.

I was not a big fan of the green curry dish I made a while ago, so I was a little scared about how this would turn out. Jay made coconut fried rice, which was SO good, it was practically dessert. And I'm pretty happy about how this turned out. I think I might make it a bit spicier if I was certain of my diners. But I'm getting the picture that anytime you combine coconut milk, sugar, garlic and fish sauce, it's going to be pretty fantastic. It kinda makes me feel like a kindergartner since most of Asia has known this since they were 2. But it's a happy kind of ignorance.

After dinner, we played Apples to Apples, and I got way too competitive with a very precocious 13 yr old. Wine and word games make me in it to win it people. Also, if anybody is ever interested in putting some money down....

Oh, and it's official, my phone is more ghetto than Kelly's. My monochrome screen put me over the top.

Beef Curry

note: I'm giving you the exact proportions I used, and you can see how much that made. So feel free to cut this in half. If you don't have a friend that rocks at making rice, serve it with jasmine rice. Buy yourself a rice maker. You know, half the world has one of those.

- 2 lbs lean beef cut into either chunks or strips

- 2 red bell peppers, chopped

- 1 pd sliced mushrooms

- 1/2 cup chopped basil

- 1 can coconut milk

- 2 tbsp fish sauce

- 2 tbsp red curry paste

- 2 tbsp brown sugar

- 2 tbsp minced garlic

- vegetable oil

In a wok, brown the beef in batches (fun!) using the vegetable oil and garlic, on high heat. Once cooked, but not overcooked, remove from heat.

Throw in the peppers and mushrooms. I sprinkled them with chili oil. Cook until softened.

Add the milk, sugar, paste, fish sauce, and basil. Stir to mix. Stir again just to be sure those chunks of curry paste don't end up in someones mouthful.

Then add the beef again and allow the dish to get warmed up before serving. Voila.

*No one who is your real friend would ever tell you about this.

Yesterday, in my long trek through the copy/paste netherworlds, I had the opportunity to listen to a lot of albums I hadn't heard in a long time. Mostly because they were the ones in my car. Albums go to die in my car.

Best Find? The Books - Thought for Food. Except for the super gross track at the end which is not appropriate for headphone wear.

Of course there were the inevitable long lost Strokes album, Built To Spill, and the first Decemberists album which has my birthday song on it. The Xanadu soundtrack.

Today, I'm trying out Calvin Harris I Created Disco, cause Jose said to. But guys, please send me along some new ideas. I've got three more days to go here. There's 8 hours in a day. Allowing for lunch, phone calls, and the inevitable emergency, that's still a lot of time that I can't spend listening to Queen over and over again. I'm looking for poppie, dancie, indie, not stupid music. That I don't know the words too, so I won't get caught singing. Again.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

America's Next Top Model Cycle 12 Recap: The Earth Day Episode

Brazil used to have the highest rate of deforestation in the world. In 2007, thanks to conservation efforts, they cut that rate by 52%.

And on ANTM, we too have reached the halfway mark. What better country to fly the girls to than the cradle of the Amazon, the very pit of humanity vs. Nature? Since this show is basically the same battle. Of course, they won't be trekking in the jungle. But there are still piranhas to watch out for. Namely, rich white girls from California.

This week was really Natalie's shining moment. Here are a few choice quotes from her:

Beginning of the episode, referring to their new home: "This is Brazil, we know it's going to be awesome." Cause Brazil is known for its "awesome" housing.

Later, having seen the house, the Botanical Gardens, and the Girl from Ipanema: "I haven't seen anything special in Brazil." Stupid other countries looking exactly like Palo Alto.

Later still, during the photo shoot, complaining about the locale: "this isn't a good area. It's a poor area." Goodness, she even had to deal with a stray dog! The indignity!

So Natalie seemed to think that Brazil, known for its roving gangs of feral children, rampant police brutality, and extensive slums, was going to be one big romp through sexy South America. Oh Natalie. They should abandon you in the countryside for a few days, for your own good.

Otherwise, the episode was pretty standard. The girls had to run, yell at taxi drivers, fake fight each other with martial arts moves learned minutes before, and pose like drag queen Carmen Mirandas, in a (I think) tasteless homage to the Chiquita banana industry that has raped the countryside. Of course, no one knew who Carmen Miranda was. Oh, and Celia roundhoused Aminat in the head, which was fun. Jay Manuel referred to the "favela" as "neighborhood originally built by the poor" which is the nicest way of saying shanty town I've ever heard.

Natalie's picture of an angry Carmen Miranda slumped on a doorstep waiting for her next customer got her sent home. Aminat somehow stays, which means she had better be gone next week, because I cannot listen to her voice anymore. Allison won the photo shoot by looking least like a hooker and more like a nightclub floozie. Pho came in second, and actually CURTSIED to Tyra. Ice queen Celia melted.

And in the end, I was not satisfied, and was even more angsty when there was no new Lost. So the lesson here is that summer has come and I need to go outside more. And never wear fruit on my head. And probably shut off my cable.

In other news, I've been doing data entry at work for the past few days, helping them get caught up, and it's drained me. My head is full of point click point click point click. I also can't get twitter at work anymore. It's like the universe is conspiring to get me a little more disconnected. It's working.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Let's Egg Tim Hagan's Car

I mean, okay, not really. I'm not promoting the idea of wanton vandalism. Just...mentioning it.

Today the air was a Belle and Sebastian song. Specifically, from If You're Feeling Sinister.

Homework: List the ways in which watching UFC and going out dancing are similar.

a)You are watching people.
b)You are watching certain people do very stupid things.
c)You yell loudly at people when they don't do what you want or when they do exactly what you want.

Perhaps that last one is just me.

We did the blind taste test from Beer Wars tonight. We poured unmarked cups of Miller, Budweiser, and Coors, and tried to identify them each. I was the only one who got them all right. It was the smell that differentiated them. Budweiser smells full,like backyard. Miller smells like bowling. Coors smells like aluminum can, the chemicals in blunt shells, and water. They all tasted exactly the same though. It's pretty sobering.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Beer Wars

Last night a few friends and I caught the screening of Beer Wars at Valleyview, a documentary that chronicles the barriers facing micro-brewers trying to compete against the corporate brands. Really though, the ultimate message was “Anheuser Busch has taken over the world and you are all screwed.”

The audience itself was worth the trip. This was, unfortunately, a one time showing, and the people who paid 15 bucks for it were excited and loud. One guy kept trying to make the film interactive by starting shout outs of beer names, Arrogant Bastard being the favorite. And as we left, the clinking of empty bottles was very clear. It was a good thing for us they added to the experience, since we found out after buying our tickets that the damn thing was showing on On Demand that night too, so we could have been watching it at home for a quarter of the price, while drinking ourselves.

It was a great film. The characters ranged from scrappy to pretentious, pathetic to ambitious. The danger with films like this, that are celebrations of artisan niches and creative ideas, is that they become flat and uninteresting as actual movies. But the director, Anat Baron, does a great job of showing the highlights and lowlights of the industry. Sam from Dogfish Head comes across as the hero, affable, intelligent, ambitious, but determined to never be cut-throat. Greg from Stone IPA is off-putting, overly philosophical and just a bit too serious about it, but with a slight aftertaste of friendliness. And we got to meet Rhonda, the marketing brain behind the success of Sam Adams, who quit the company to try and market Moonshot, a light beer with caffeine that no one wants to invest in, and who desperately tries to sell the idea to anyone she can including Big Evil Anheuser Busch. Anat Baron handles the complexity of these people and their dreams with a light handed objectivity. She’s neither too understanding nor too harsh. The narrative moves smoothly between their lives and the effect on them of the current regulatory systems, delving at the end into the political steaminess with a trip through the beer lobby experience,

But the real revelation for at least my segment of the viewing audience was the complete and total domination of the beer industry by Anheuser Busch. I mean, we’re not entirely ignorant. We knew, coming into the movie, that they were the biggest. I don’t think any of us understand the exact extent though, and this is the movie’s best most memorable point. Anheuser Busch holds approx 50% of the domestic market share in this country. There’s a visual the film uses again and again of a supermarket aisle of beer, which is meant to illustrate how companies battle for placement. They employ it throughout to demonstrate brands that AB is buying up. And there was an audible gasp from the audience when, towards the end, we saw the current total. Here, let me show you.

Anheuser Busch brews, imports, or distributes:

- all Budweiser (11 products)
- all Michelob (15 products)
- all Busch (3)
- all Rolling Rock (3)
- Natural Ice and Light
- 12 specialty brews of their own (the only one I recognize on our shelves is Landshark, which SUCKS.)
- 4 seasonal brews, including their rip-off pumpkin ale
- O’Douls
- Bacardi Silver
- Tequiza
- Hurricane
- King Cobra
- Red Hook Brewing
- Goose Island Brewing
- Kona Brewing
- Ray Hill American Pilsner
- Starr Hill Brewing
- Fordham Brewing
- Dominion Brewing
- Harbin Lager
- Tiger Beer
- Kirin Brewery
- Bass Ale
- Boddingtons
- Beck's
- Hoegaarden Brewery
- Leffe
- Stella Artois
- Löwenbräu
- Tennent's Ale
- Budvar Czechvar
- AND Monster Energy drinks.

So yeah, that’s practically a whole store by itself.

It was an enlightening movie, and the live panel discussion afterwards was entertaining. My favorite panelist was the beer historian, Maureen Ogle. Her basic take was “Yeah well, they’re going keep growing, buying brands, and stealing your ideas, that’s what corporations do”, and to laugh when the guys from Stone and Dogfish were all like “we don’t want to be the big guys.” Oh Sam, I think the 9 million dollar loan you mentioned again and again means you probably do want to keep growing.

The thing you should come away from this movie with is that not allowing small breweries to self-distribute is a bad thing, the three tier system is a bad thing, and AB is a monopoly. My one complaint is that they focused so much on “it’s the taste, it’s the individuality, it’s the love” instead of “these are unfair laws that should be changed.” Just because it’s a microbrew doesn’t mean it’s worth spending 12.99 a six pack on. However they should all have an equal chance to get into the market. Baron tried to make a point during the panel discussion that we should vote with our wallets, and show the distribution companies what we want. She's wrong, that won't fix the real problem. I mean, I know several pretty frequent beer drinkers. When they're at a bar or going to a party, they buy microbrews. But when they're buying beer to drink at home, they're buying based off price. You don't buy a 24 pack of Arrogant Bastard (can you imagine!), because at some point you have to pay rent. The only real solution here is to fight the legislation that's forcing these breweries to sell out for distribution.

And if you’re wondering what I’m talking about, go watch the movie. I believe it's On Demand.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

America's Next Top Model Cycle 12 Recap: The Taxman Only Knocks Once

Alright, I have sat here for like fifteen minutes trying to figure out a way to write about ANTM as related to Tax Day. But I'll be honest. I totally forgot about April 15th, until my Twitter was overtwitten with the mention of Teabaggers. So thank you Teabaggers. Because of you, I paid my socialist dues on time.

The Urban Dictionary defines Teabagger for you, several times. The most comprehensive is this:

multiple meanings. 1) one who carries large bags of packaged tea for shipment. 2) a man that squats on top of a womens face and lowers his genitals into her mouth during sex, known as "teabagging" 3) one who has a job or talent that is low in social status 4) a person who is unaware that they have said or done something foolish, childlike, noobish, lame, or inconvenient. 5) also see "fagbag", "lamer", "noob"

I do look askance at "fagbag", I'm not entirely sure what that means.

Now that that's clear, let's talk Model.

Allison starts the episode by lamenting her lack of distortion, much like Glenn Beck should be lamenting his inability to use the word patriot without crying, or his inability to do a wheelie. Celia recommends she think about sex. And we're off. Or Celia is anyway.

I think the subtle differences in this cycle of ANTM are important to note, because of what they denote for the future. 1. All those billboards of Tyra are crazy retouched. Like, uncomfortably so. 2. All the pictures in the opening credits are of Tyra acting like she's a photographer, instead of the contestants. 3. Tyra delivers her mail in a locked silver box. Every time they open it, I keep hoping it's going to be a severed hand or something.

London turns out to be actually crazy, like crazy enough to use Teabagger as the name for your totally spontaneous organic fungi-like grassroots organization sponsored by Fox News. Yes, that's right, I called her crazy for believing in god. Cause let me tell you, if you tell me god is the reason you're on ANTM, wearing shorts and selling headbands, I think you should probably not be allowed to have children. I think you belong on a street corner.

Jay Manuel gets all #3 bitter, like "yo motherfuckers APPRECIATE me" and makes the girls be Creative Directors for a day. Natalie promptly makes a black girl look like a hooker.

Allison proves to everyone she should probably have a job that requires a bit more brain power. Teyonna proves she has probably just enough.

London makes Allison look like London, hoping Jay will mistake her for the real thing and pull Allison aside instead to tell her she's too fat to be a model.

Aminat gets all #4. See above.

Then the girls go to bed, and when they wake up, Jay Manuel is still getting bitter and showing up at their house at 5:30am with coffee only for himself. Ciara gets released from her special cave inside Jay Z's headquarters, and Pho (she of the Clay=genius fame) is once again all "She's an icon!" leading me to wonder if Pho has 2 dads. Oh, the girls are going to pose with Ciara, a singer, but wait they're going to pose for a photograph. Where no one can hear her when she opens her mouth. Smart boy, Jay.

One by one the models are fed to Ciara intravenously. One by one they assimilated. I'm sorry, am I not being clear? London looks like a Borg.

During a commercial break we learn that ex-ANTM girl Bree is now a spokesperson for something called Drop Dead Gorgeous, also known as "The worst name for an anti-child sex trafficking organization ever."

Finally it's panel. Miss Jay teabags Pauline. Tyra teabags Nigel. London complains that God is testing her, and then it's announced they're all being sold into slavery in Brazil, except for London who is pregnant by immaculate conception.

And then God, in celebration, made it rain on all the strange people covered in teabags, and NRA meetings smelled like Earl Grey for the next month.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Magic Apple Compote

Easter this year was also my dad's birthday. Coincidence? My family decided to spend Sunday birdwatching in Maumee, which I declined. Instead I holed up in their kitchen to cook dinner. A kitchen with a working stove! With a variety of pots and pans! With more than one burner that works!

Dinner was a pork roast, and goat cheese scalloped potatoes. I was going to make some stewed apples to have with the pork, but as I scanned my parents Fridge of Endless Condiments, I got a little excited. And thus the Magic Apple Compote was born.

It all turned out well, everyone was happy. Plowing through the leftovers I brought him home, S. declared the apples to be "the best thing you've ever made." I'm inclined to agree. This stuff is perfect for pork or chicken. It would be great as a breakfast side, or in a turnover with bacon, or just to mix into your oatmeal. I'm currently trying to ponder out converting it to cookies. I will then feed those cookies to my computer, which will magically become SkyNet, and also give me the formula for generating a combustion suppression field. I will use this new technology to render all governments incapable of military action (also at the same time halting global warming), and the world will enter a new era of peace and health. Also known as the Stone Age. SkyNet will of course try to stop me, however I will jam apple compote into it's wiring (no pun intended), rendering it harmless. Then a small community of farmers will use it's components to make a mural on the side of their barn. This compote can do it all!

Magic Apple Compote

- 5 apples, peeled and chopped small
- 1 cup orange juice
- half cup honey mustard
- 2/3 stick butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp ginger
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp garlic (or more to taste)

Place the apples into a small stew pot with a lid. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer covered on low heat for 2 hours. Check it occasionally to see if you should add some water. I added about half a cup halfway through.

2009 Shoparooni Easter Munny Show

Last night was the show, and I have to apologize because I don't know any of these artists names. There weren't any identifying placards, just price tags. You can stop by and see these guys at Shoparooni, Cleveland's premier place to buy murderous plastic toys and comic books about dogs that have sixpacks. Here are just a few of my favorites, a few more pics can be found here. If you're an artist that stumbles across this and you want your name attached to yours, please let me know. I aim to identify.

This is my own very little guy. The store was very well lit, so you couldn't see the light well there. But that's okay, he humbly understood and lay low.

Alas, I did not get a good photo of The Sock Eater, but he was my all time favorite there. He's in the jar on the right.

Seriously - intimidatingly good work. The Sock Eater was not for sale, but if it had been, I would have shelled out some cash. Because S. and I realized that if we got that for Marty, we would never have to buy him another present EVER.

I then went to Music Saves intending to buy a Mountain Goats album for my dad, and walking out with 2 MG albums, a Sharon Jones album, a Screaming Trees anthology, a band I got solely because their song titles referenced Wrinkle In Time, and the Jarvis Cocker solo album. I'm sure CB would be proud. My bank account is a little less so.

We stopped by the grocery store to get cooking stuff for today, because I can never remember if Easter is one of those days they close everything. Giant Eagle on 117th, which is usually full of hipsters shopping for Iron Chef dinners was instead full of people with children. I spent too much on bread and apples, a near impossible task, then got home and got drunk. Movie of the night was Hamlet 2, which is AWESOME. You should follow your original instincts and watch it. Tonight. Coogan is amazing. Kangaroo Rat is a genius.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

America's Next Top Model Cycle 12 Recap: Доброе утро, дамы, вы готовы служить Ваш Славные лидером?

Let me preface this by saying that I would very much like someone to create a Soviet propaganda style poster of Tyra, hands on hips, staring determined into the distance, with the caption “You want to be on top?”

If you could do that for me I would be eternally grateful.

Last night’s episode was really a study in how rich people earn the resentment of the working classes. Things started off innocently enough, with Celia pretending to be the horse she had as a girl. Her impression was tinged with sadness, suggesting a glue factory end for Horsie.

This horsing around, sweet and innocent, was quickly swept under by the wave of dark insidious class warfare that precedes Natalie every time she enters a room. The girls had been having an impromptu Thanksgiving Dinner, a reminder of how communities celebrated their collective achievements back before iPhones and Ayn Rand. After everyone had consumed their three mouthfuls, the group peacefully combined their efforts in the clean up. Except for Natalie, who claimed her blood had been too thickened by the chicken to assist at the moment, but she would be right there. A paltry excuse, my Palo Verde Princess. She heard the masses rumbling in the kitchen, using the crude unintelligible slang that is their dialect, and tried to justify it as humor. A joke! She cried. But the hardworking plebeians knew better.

Which is when Natalie’s true colors came out. “I’m sorry your neighborhood is not as nice as mine” she said, implying that their bitterness was formed from jealousy. “I just can’t talk to them, it’s impossible” she said, sweeping aside their criticisms as the sickened idiot ramblings of lead poisoned peasants.

Of course, Aminat talking, at all, did not help her point. “She’s prettier, she’s taller, and she’s skinnier. She thinks this makes her better than us.” Well, darling, technically it does. In Tyra Country, that is.

Having spent sleepless nights pondering the inherent injustice of the genetic pecking order, the girls then went to their first challenge. Paulina, a striking example of Mother Russia’s native bloodlines, had the enviable task of teaching the girls to move their facial muscles and vocal cords in some manner resembling emotion. “Every day in modeling is an audition” she announced. Think about that. The girls practiced saying lines to each other, which led to Aminat screaming everything, because the only emotion she’s ever known is the anger and fire of the culturally downtrodden. Or because she’s a flat limited mean personality who I seriously have come to hate. Then, after everyone did miserably, Paulina brought out her secret weapon, Clay Aiken! Sadly, boyfriend and baby were not in tow.

Pho then inexplicably said Clay Aiken was “pretty much a genius”. What?

The girls had to act out a scene of capitalistic arrogance with Clay, in which most of them sucked harder than Stalin’s death squads. Celia did well, because she’s not an idiot. And London did well, because she comes from a family of actors? Who the hell is London? First she was a street preacher, now she’s descended from a whole family of actors? Also why are her legs expanding at such a rapid rate, is she pregnant? London is a mystery wrapped in a headband wrapped in shorts wrapped in a mystery. Clay then won my indifferent allegiance forever when he said Tahlia’s suckiness was due to “laziness and insecurity.”

After the teach, which London won but then couldn’t fit in any of the clothes they gave her, Glorious Leader Tyra deployed one of her fem-bots to spy on the earnest students.
McKay’s little montage where they showed her being made up was incredibly creepy. It made me fear for the futures of our little fashion farmers. Her facial muscles seemed to have been frozen by overuse of bad foundation; her eyes radiated nothing but the empty wiring and diodes behind them. She awkwardly tried to coax the suspects into conversation, of which only Tahlia was stupid enough to fall for.

All of this was in preparation for The Commercial. America’s Next Top Model needs to embody the virtues and ideals of Our Glorious Leader, The Easiness, The Breeziness. Because of droughts this year, the girls actually got Teleprompters, which is INSANE. And yet they still failed to impress the Caucus. Celia was dressed up as an evil school marm. Allison smiled, and tried to move her face, and yet still couldn’t get an Amen from the judges. Tahlia whined, because that is her secret power. And then Aminat walked in front of a high window, and all I could think was “jump, you lispy frog! Jump!”

At judging, Our Glorious Leader was especially cruel. Only Celia, in her awesome silvery dress of special communist power, was able to charm her. Natalie managed to downplay her upper classiness by not being as good, and so the Leader kept her in hopes of converting her to the cause and thereby maybe getting some more sponsors. Revolutions need rich people. Allison was kept solely for entertainment purposes. And finally, finally, finally Tahlia was sent away, repeating under her breath "I will work harder."

Then all the girls repeated the motto of Our Glorious Leader:

"All models are equal.
But some models are more equal than others."

Just in case you thought all our housing woes were magically cured in the last three months...
Did you forget where you live?

Callahan's Cleveland Diary reminds us.

"1,308 of the county’s first-quarter foreclosure filings were against
properties in the city of Cleveland. That brings the total of foreclosures
against Cleveland properties to 21,000 in just the last 36 months… about one
foreclosure for every six residential structures in the city."

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Hidden Cleveland Tour

Staircase in the Tyler Building, which was an escalator factory.

On Sunday, S. and I went on one of the Hidden Cleveland tours hosted by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. I will never turn down an opportunity to crawl around old buildings, and though this tour was less crawling and a little more marketing than I was hoping for, it was still a blast. The guides were smooth, and very well informed, so it was a balanced combination of "Look at Cleveland development!" and "Look how cool this building is!".

We met up at the first spot, Tyler Village, where we got a little promo for the development down there on Superior. Lots of new business, some residential, lots of good views

View from the 7th floor, which I did not take the stairs to, even though some did. Cause I'm a wuss.

Then they loaded our group onto Lolly the Trolley, and took us down to the Hermit Club. Which is that Shakespeare looking building across from the Greyhound station, the one that looks like secret and expensive things happen there. Very jovial, piano player, fire, the whole 9 yards.

S.'s favorite little flyer below: he pointed out the fine print which asked members to carpool. In 1912.

Do you remember that feed?

The building I really signed up for was the Cleveland Trust Rotunda. It was absolutely beautiful inside, I couldn't take enough pictures. They let us wander happily through the old bank vaults, but unfortunately we couldn't go up to the top of the rotunda. It's such a shame that no one is using this space. It should be a museum or something. Or they should let me live there. I'll take of it, promise. I would turn it into a mental spa, where you can just lie down on the rotunda floor and stare at the stain glass until you enter a state of empty mental voidness. It's right downtown, I bet lots of business people would go for that.

The murals around the top depicted Norse explorers discovering the New World, which I consider a minor cultural miracle.

The very prettiest stain glass rotunda, which I could have stared up into for hours.

One of three open bank vaults.

Old and very empty safety deposit boxes

As we loaded up the Trolley, we picked up a very enthusiastic freeloader, who maybe thought she was on a free trolley, or just wandered into the group for fun. It was uncomfortable for S., who she sat right next to, but it definitely broke the ice for the group after she was discovered and "disposed of". No, I don't know what happened to her, but props to the tour guide. It was taken care of extremely discreetly. I mean, this guy's middle name should be "discreet".

Next was the future site of the Western Reserve Fire Museum - an old firehouse that was still under construction for the actual museum. Our community guide here was a no show, but it turned out better for it, since we really had the run of the place. Dark secret corners and all that.

I love triangle buildings.

The old alarm switchboard. Fireboxes were located on street corners, and when you pulled it, a wire set off the alarm here, with a code to tell the men which section it was.

The probably asbestos covered crawl space S. discovered and then climbed all around in.

And finally, the Gospel Press Building in Tremont. This is currently being turned into apartments and corporate housing, which I know bums out those of us who have grown up around it. But it's gotta be used for something, right? And at least they're not knocking it down for more pastel colored townhouses. Also, I would give my left leg to live here. But the price range was a little beyond me, though not as bad as I thought it would. Really, not as bad as you think.

S. noted that obviously my two perfect living conditions would be either church or elementary school. He's right, give me either lots of old wood or institution glazed brick. And lots of corners.

The main courtyard

The Stalls.

S. and I ended our day with the Family Supper at Crop Bistro. Have I mentioned how much I love this place? I think it's my favorite restaurant in Cleveland. The staff is unbelievably nice and friendly, the food is always great, the desserts are amazing. Oh, and always the habanero ice cream. Always. Plus no one looks down on you when you show up covered in asbestos dirt. And they tell you about awesome cheese shops to visit, then google the addresses for you.

The next Hidden Cleveland Tour is May 3rd. It will be hitting up Monroe Cemetery and the Tower Press Building, among other places. Tickets can be purchased here, and definitely get them ahead of time, because our tour sold out the week before.

You can see more of my photos of the tour here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Roast Chicken with Croutons

It's supposed to snow next week, however everyone's been saying "snow!" for two weeks now and it hasn't happened. I like the rain and the coldness now, knowing it'll be gone in a month. But it does make me want to huddle in a blanket and not talk to anyone. In a happy satisfied way.

I feel the biggest downfall to my job is that it forces me to interact with lots of people on a pretty shallow level every day, which means my brain isn't left alone enough. All that energy is wasted on throwing myself back and forth between routine conversations. If I hermit myself for a few days, I feel so much more flexible and inspired, it's as if my life takes on an entirely new meaning. So imagine if I could just get away from the people distraction for months at a time. The finally finished stories, the badly drawn cartoons, the home movies, the multitude of craft projects! The millions of photos of my backyard! No, but seriously, it would be good for me. I guess this is what motivates hermits in the first place - the potential. I'm not really the Tibet type though. More of the "holed up in my apartment with a case of wine and lots of Triscuits" type.

Other than being sucked dry of social mannerisms on a daily basis, my life has been pretty ho hum this week. I learned my cat will only play with metal. Metal jingle bells, coins, metal ball bathroom chains. I feel guilty because I've spent 8 years assuming she didn't play at all, since she disdained every feathered and catnipped stuffed toy I brought home. Silly metal cat. No wonder she's so much heavier than she looks, she's probably a robot.

I didn't get to go to the Mountain Goats, because it was sold out at Oberlin the day the tickets for students went on sale. We looked at all the dates in the area, and they were all at colleges in spaces of like 300, only for students. NOT COOL. I'm being discriminated against for being old, and also not knowing lots of Oberlin students in my social circles. But hello, I've already got the vegan feminist indie kid quotient of my friends filled.

There are some cool out of the house things coming up next week. But this present whole week has just slipped by like a fish. I should have gone out last night, there was a birthday and a friend's concert. But after driving around lost and undecided for an hour in the gloomy Cleveland grayness, we decided to watch a boring movie (Milk- yes the acting was great, still boring guys, sorry. I need less emotion and more political detail please) and make a boring meal.

Not that this isn't a good roast chicken recipe. It is, and it makes great greasy crispy croutons that should be mashed up like a bread salad with the chicken, or dried and reserved for regular salads. But chicken is still just chicken, right? It's the most bourgeois meal one can make. I guess it's pure mundaneness makes it special, and worthy of mastering. Plus roasting a chicken is so easy, it's the perfect brain dead meal for a brain dead week.

Doesn't looking at that plate of carbs and salt and skin make you feel warm? It's not the prettiest picture, but it has associations.

Roast Chicken with Croutons (Adapted from this NYT recipe)


1 appropriate sized chicken (not rocket science, how many people are eating?)
1 loaf crusty bread (I used a baguette chopped up, but ciabatta or any stale bread will work)
black pepper
fresh rosemary, thyme, and sage
softened butter
olive oil
1 medium white onion

1. Clean and prep the carcass. Yes, I said carcass, cause that's what it is. And if you really want to drive that impression home, try taking pictures of it whole. It can't look anything but dead.

2. Chop up your herbs, according to taste, and mix into the butter.

3. Chop up your bread into 1-2 inch blocks. Line the bottom of a heavy roasting pan with the bread, then drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

4. Stuff the cavity of the bird with the onion. Then lay it on top of the bread.

5. Rub the bird down with the herb butter, and season with salt and pepper.

6. I cooked it for an hour covered at 350, then another 45 minutes uncovered at 360. I used a lower heat because I didn't want to burn the bread. The NYT recipe calls for 1 hour and 15 minutes at 425. But I was also working with a 7 pound bird, and they had a 4-5 pound one, so you know, cook it until the juices run clear and you don't think it will kill you. It's always a good idea to cook something until it can't kill you anymore.

The bread will be crispy and saturated with chicken juice and butter and seasoning. I couldn't eat more than one piece of it alone because it's so rich, but with the chicken it was great, and I wasn't kidding about saving the stuff for salad croutons.

This is a recession, people! Don't waste anything! It's not about calories, it's about economy! Whatever.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

America's Next Top Model Cycle 12 Recap: S-T-U-P-I-D Face

We joined the young ladies as the sun was setting on Celia's Day of Infamy. Exhausted and stained with the drippings of their fallen comrade, they divided into families upon entering the cave, and reclined in posturing relaxation, though the mood between groups was tense and hostile. On one side of the divide, an embarrassed Celia was venting her humiliation to Natalie and Allison. While upstairs, an also embarrassed Tahlia was being convinced to go against her natural instincts and let Sondra and Aminat fight for her. Sondra decided that now the battle was over, it was time to be on the winning side, and whispered conspiracy theories into Tahlia's self-righteous, insecure ear. Which got Frog Face Aminat all sorts of riled up.

Tahlia, weeper though she may be, and consummate victim, had decided to take the high road and not confront Celia. If it had stayed this way, this would have been a minor miracle for ANTM, and definitely a coup of maturity for Tahlia. But sadly, she wasn't being mature, just a coward, and she was more than happy to let the ghetto twins go to bat for her. Without questioning whether these two girls were really offended on her behalf, or just desperate for some excuse to get bitchy with Celia and Natalie, who have been kicking their asses in every challenge.

The highlight of the fight, which reminded me of that ill fated Redman/Method Man sitcom, was Aminat finally revealing she was illiterate and had been learning to read in the evenings while every one else was in the hot tub. She showed off by spelling her name a few dozen times. Then Aminat and Sondra's stock fell irreparably to the bottom of the jar, because ghetto is heavy like lead and sinks you.

Then there was a touching scene where Tahlia came to her senses and talked to Celia directly, in private, and I don't know what they resolved but it was the only decent response to the whole debacle. So good for them. Celia, resolved that she was going home the next day, then picked out her burial clothes which were a full yellow skirt and a leather jacket. And she twirled and twirled until she passed out, dreaming of green hills and post it notes.

For the challenge this week, Jay Manuel illustrated to the girls how expendable and replaceable they were, by crushing a poor mannequin to death and then stabbing it a few times with a wire hanger. Then London volunteered to show everyone a useful thing you can do with wire hangers, but everyone ignored her because Jay was calling them clothes hangers. Which they thought was a compliment! They're so thin! Oh but no, it was what they're NOT supposed to be, and this episode was all about the Singular Memorable Face.

For this, they had to stand behind blow up pictures of Tyra posing as different thing: A Warrior Princess, A Farmer, A Whore. They had to copy the expression of the photo, and let some dirty old men take pictures of them doing it, and everyone failed because the catch is, the faces of the pictures were cut out! How were they supposed to know! Allison proved she is incapable of shutting her mouth, with her little bunny teeth. And Natalie's positronic brain quickly computed the possible angles and chose the most likely expression based on Tyra's body language, age, lighting, stage of her career, and Dow Jones numbers at the time. So she wins.

Next it's fun with pixie sticks! But instead of snorting them, the girls are forced to let underage club boys blow them all over their face. Jay asks the girls to tap into their inner synthenesia and "emote those colors". Then the girls all sit there with the exact same expression and Jay randomly picks who's doing well and who sucks, which is the only perk of his job. London is given the unfortunate makeup job of leprosy. Natalie, of course, has a problem with passion, but it's not her fault, Soong didn't make her that way.

At panel, everyone ooohs and aaahs over the picture in fake British accents, or like they're in a high school acting class which is pretty much the same thing. Pho wins because really she has the prettiest face and I'm predicting her for top 3. The elimination comes down to Sondra and Celia, and based on the way Nigel was HATIN on Celia during deliberation, "I can't even look at her", the entire world is pretty sure Tyra's about to take a rusty nailed studded 2 x 4 and beat Celia to death with it on national television. I think Tyra's pretty sure that she's going to do it herself, because more gibberish than usual comes out of her mouth, which must mean she's excited.

But in a crazy! turn of events, Celia gets another chance because she's really better than the other girls, and this is supposed to be a talent competition. Also Tyra loves having your soul indebted to her. Sondra goes home FINALLY. Her only regret should be that she didn't get sent home last week, before she made a total ass out of herself.