Stumbling Into Fall


September is under way and I’m feeling the energy a change of seasons brings. I’m working on book two while sifting through a couple ideas to add to book one, there’s a new list of agents to submit to, I have entered a query contest that might get me some attention, and I’m walking outside with Carjo almost every morning. My turntable has been out of commission all summer but now I’ve found a gentleman in Minot who might be able to fix it. After several months of being unable to sit upright to play a guitar I can finally do it AND despite losing my calluses I do remember some of the basic chords. There’s a fridge full of beer downstairs, lots of movies and TV for us to sink into, and the chill in the night air sends the cats back inside without much fuss. We’re ready to move into fall. 

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Caturday – It’s exhilarating



Jasper and Sneakers lying close together. Seeing either one of these cats from behind brings to mind a certain monologue from Austin Powers:  

The details of my life are quite inconsequential… very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we’d make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really. At the age of twelve I received my first scribe. At the age of fourteen a Zoroastrian named Vilma ritualistically shaved my testicles. There really is nothing like a shorn scrotum… it’s breathtaking- I highly suggest you try it.

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Light a Stick of Nag Champa to Set the Ambiance


It’s a Friday and I’d like to wax nostalgic for a moment. The link above is a video taken at Tower Records on Sunset in LA, in 1971. Boy, those were the days. 

My brother and I grew up in the sticks, where record stores were small but hey, still a little funky. When I got to college, Fargo had a few options besides the corporate ones in the mall. There was one, Mother’s Records, inside an old church just off Broadway in downtown Fargo. The place smelled of cardboard, incense, dust, and sin. I could spend hours in there. If I could go back in time I’d hijack half their inventory. 

Record stores are somewhat coming back now. There’s a small one in downtown Bismarck that deals in new and used vinyl. The last remnant of the Budget Tapes and Records chain is in downtown Minot and it very much retains that old counter culture vibe, right down to umpteen varieties of incense for sale and black light posters. Face it, the era we boomers grew up in still has a powerful sway, a miasma of rebellion against the status quo. If only more of our ilk still embraced that spirit and had not given up or sold out. But that’s for another day. In the meantime, enjoy the video. And maybe light a stick of incense to get the mood right.  



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In Case You Had the Misfortune of Watching This…


For those not into bad dramas or vampires, the HBO seriesTrue Blood had its grand finale Sunday night. For the first two seasons it was a silly but entertaining. Then the wretched and inexorable decline began. It was such a breath-taking level of suck but this season was the worst, with a finale so devoid of flair, continuity, and passion. There were a host of things wrong with the finale, particularly how agency was taken from the show’s main character, the incredibly annoying Sookie “Mary Sue” Stackhouse. The resolution of the plot concerning Eric and Pam (see photo above, long may they reign) was fine but overall the show dragged itself across the finish line with nothing more than a hint of what it was. On a show that once existed as a metaphor for acceptance of alternative lifestyles, they gave their heroine an insipid 1950s ending that Beverly Cleaver would have found cloying. Talk about betraying your audience. 

But on a couple web forums I’ve been on some fans are trying to make sense of it, to parse some reason from the bloody remains. It’s much like the twisted way that Star Wars fans try to work around George Lucas’ misunderstanding of the word parsecs. No. You can’t try to reverse-engineer a shit sandwich to make it taste like pizza fresh from the oven. As I said on one forum, trying to make sense of this and that on True Blood is not possible. True Blood operates on a kind of logic only found in the worst of soap operas. Logic so devoid of reason and sense it makes even Uwe Boll and Roland Emmerich say, “that shit’s fucked up”. Plot holes so large Roberto Orci, Damon Lindelof and Alex Kurtzman can only shake their heads in admiration. This is ineptitude on a scale that makes Italian bureaucrats weep. One can only step back and consider its magnitude.

That said, I would pay an advance ticket for anything that would feature Kristin Bauer van Straten and Alexander Skarsgård (again, photo above). Unless it were directed by Michael Bay…

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IPAs, Porters, and Stouts Oh My!


Here’s the view of the beer fridge after stocking it Sunday night. I earned a respectful nod from the beer geeks at Four Firkins for this haul. This should keep me stocked up through the fall. I’ll probably pick up a couple Oktoberfests in late September but there is no doubt this is sufficient to satisfy well into the snowfall months. Here’s the tally:

Fulton Sweet Child of Vine IPA
Lift Bridge Farm Girl Saison
Lift Bridge Hop Dish IPA
Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout
Victory Hop Devil IPA
Victory Storm King Imperial Stout
Founders Porter
Founders Centennial IPA
Central Waters Satin Solitude Imperial Stout
Surly Furious
Surly Bender
Surler Overrated West Coast IPA
Indeed Midnight Ryder Black Ale
Stone Imperial Russian Stout
Steel Toe Size 7 IPA
Olvade Farms Bryhilder’s Gift (Farmhouse Juniper Ale)

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Come Home to You


There’s a song off John Hiatt’s The Tiki Bar is Open that means a great deal to me. It’s called “Come Home to You”. When I was driving a long commute and a combination of our financial woes and slaving in the cubicles have driven me to the brink of despair I’d put that on and it would get me home, back to our little apartment and the person who mattered most in my life. Early last week I was burning CDs for a road trip and I included that song. It just seemed to fit.

Our road trip was a drive to Minneapolis for the wedding of Carjo’s bestest friend’s youngest daughter. We stayed with our friend Sassy who is always hospitable. I got to meet with some of the characters I used to work with for lunch, Friday night we met friends and my former office wives at a great Cuban restaurant. We stopped by my brother’s where I got an excellent IPA and a lecture on the importance of icing my ankle. We managed to do major stocking up at Trader Joe’s, Costco, and the Four Firkins microbrew store (more on that tomorrow). The wedding itself was a beautiful ceremony and the reception was in a club that overlooked the placid waters of Lake Minnetonka. We left the reception early. Carjo’s social anxieties were rubbed raw and my ankle was starting to kill me.  

Sunday we drove home. Carjo was a shell of herself after being “on” all weekend. I played that Hiatt song while she slept, swearing to get her home in one piece. We got home after 9:00 that night, with drizzle pissing down the last hundred n’ fifty miles. The cats were besides themselves having filled their litter boxes to the brim, exhausted most of their food and nearly all of their water. I poured what was left of my wife into bed and partially unloaded the Family Truckster until the rain got too intense for that. While I was sitting at my computer, drinking a porter and trying to unwind, the power went out. So I went to bed and slept well, barely waking up for the power coming back on in the middle of the night. Nothing mattered, we were home. Sansa slept between our legs and Sneakers up by our heads. All was well.

This morning I was unpacking my duffel bag I discovered that Jasper had peed in it. Welcome home indeed. 

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I Call It The Family Truckster


Our adventures with Mercury Land Yachts (TM) is somewhat over. The older one is now in the care and custody of my mother-in-law and the 2005 is in the garage cooling its heels until I feel nostalgic. We’ve bought a 2006 Chrysler Pacifica from my brother. Yep, we’re now riding all wheel drive. 

If AWD makes any sense, it’s in the northern parts of the US where we get snowfall from November (or hell, October) to March (or even April). The streets in this town are packed with snow from the start of the season until the spring finally gets the temperatures above 40. The Mercuries have rear wheel drive and are about as stable on snow or ice as a two month old puppy. My MiL will be fine because she is in Bismarck where streets get plowed. Plus she never drives out of town. But we’re always on the run and we needed something more stable. 

The Pacifica isn’t my dream vehicle but it does have several pluses. I’m no longer sitting in a low bench seat, cramping my right leg. There’s heated seats, multi-disc CD player, inputs for another device, and a sun roof. But it’s the clearance under the wheels and the ability to get through snow that make me happy. I’ll no longer have to sweat going out of town when there’s been an inch or two of snow. Instead I’ll sweat about meth-fueled, southern-born, semi-pro truckers whose only winter experience is watching Ice Road Truckers. We’ve got lots of them fools up here. 

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