Sunday, November 27, 2005

Wendy's Old Fashioned Dancing

I started taking dance classes about four months ago. Every time I mention it someone says: "You take a dance class? I didn't know that." And then they sort of look at me, like at any second I could leap to my feet and bust into a little jig.

I love the classes... It's tap and jazz with a little hip hop thrown it. What's funny about it though... actually, two things that are funny about it...  ok three things:
  1. First, the dance studio is in Northern Kentucky. If you don't live around here people think, "Kentucky? Is it square dancing?"
  2. Two, it's located in a renovated Wendy's. Yeah, that's right, as in the old fashioned hamburger place. You can't tell from the inside that it was once a mecca for square meat patties because it's all been refurbished, but when you roll up it slowly dawns on you, "Hmm... did this... used... to be... a Wendy's? (The big give away is the gold awning that's still there.)
  3. And three, if I didn't know better, I would swear that Mary Kay LeTourneau is in my jazz class. There's a lady in there who looks just like her... Mousy brown wispy hair, similar features. It's a bit distracting.

Bad Ass Cat

So much for Thanksgiving leftovers.

Cassady stuck his paw in the mashed potatoes. He is a very bad cat.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Breakfast of Champions

Last week I went to Andy's Mediterranean Grille for a short feature on his hookah. It was 11 a.m., so of course it was my first assignment/meal of the day.

To ensure that the photos were adequately smokey, David, our photographer, had me smoke what seemed to be a pound of apple shisha. Andy was in heaven, though, puffing away and billowing smoke from his pipe. And once I got it out of my head I shouldn't force it out like cigarette smoke, the water pipe and I became fast friends. (Ah, just like college.)

To wash it all down, he also gave us Lebanese coffee (no cream, no sugar - yikes) and different types of baklava. Delish.

A water pipe. Apple tobacco. Black coffee. Baklava.

Best breakfast I've had in years.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The Man In Black

It's taken me a day or two to put my finger on it, but I think I've discovered why I left the movie Walk The Line feeling ambivalent about it. (Walking out of the theater I said: "I'm gonna need some time to absorb that one.")

I went in thinking it was about the man, Johnny Cash. I was looking for the Johnny Cash that wrote the lines "I shot man in Reno, just to watch him die." But as Peter Travers says in his Rolling Stone review this week, he ain't here, babe.

Walk The Line, much like Capote was a portrait of a piece of the artist, so too is the Cash movie. It's the piece of Johnny Cash that finds his two true loves - music and June Carter. And most of the movie centers around Johnny waiting for June to agree to marry him, while she waits for Johnny to walk the line. (Sober up, get divorced, propose properly.)

Know this going in and you'll love the movie. There were parts where I stared trance-like at Joaquin Phoenix's Cash-like sneers and Man In Black swagger. But I kept waiting for the movie to reveal the mystique of the man. And well, that never came. So I'm going to have to see it again, only next time with less "life of Johnny Cash" expectations.

So it's on to Cash by Johnny Cash.

Sunday, November 20, 2005


Some how, I guess in my excitement to write about how the survivors in Alive eat each other, I neglected to mention my favorite part of the book.

It comes late, not until page 312 of the paperback version and it's only a few sentences in a long graph, but it's what ultimately makes plodding through the narration worthwhile.

...They come home to realize how frivolous their lives had been before. Money is now meaningless. Fashionable clothes. Clubs. Petty advances. Idle living. All meaningless. The experiences of the crash, the avalanche, the having to survive on human flesh all culminates to strip off every superficial thing. In the end, all they care about is family, friends, girlfriends, God and country.

It's fascinating how so much means so little.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Oh Truman

Finally, I saw Capote tonight.

Though the movie is just minutes shy of being two hours, I never noticed the time. (And usually I sit in movies wondering when they will be over.)

It's very much just a sliver of the man, the time he spent researching and writing In Cold Blood. It focuses almost entirely on his writing process - finding the story, researching, interviewing, manipulating, waiting. It takes four years from the start of what he inititally thinks will be a good story in The New Yorker to the publication of In Cold Blood. There's even a great quote in the movie when he tells his editor: "When I think about how good this book could be, I can't breath."

Ah, yes... I think that all time, only about my blog.


I spoke too soon about there not being enough specifics about the survivors having to eat their dead friends in Alive.

It's a short graph, but the desciption is so gruesome that when I read it I had to cover my mouth to gag and put the book down. The survivors, desperate for "new tastes" and tired of their normal fare of human muscle, decide to go ahead and try the small intestines, brains and lungs of the dead. The brains, when putrid, are apparently far worse to eat then rotting muscle, say. Eventually they start to make something of a human/snow stew by cutting up each into small pieces, mixing it with melted snow and serving it in "bowls" made from the cracked skulls of the dead.

What really made me gag, though, was reading about the survivors cracking open the bones and then sucking out the bone marrow. You'd have to really be tired of lungs to do that, eh?

Another interesting point: The survivors also eat the hearts of their friends, including the blood clots that surrounded nearly all of their hearts. Now, most of the people on this trip were young, ages 20 to 40. A few were older, but most were around 20. So how did these young people, who end up getting killed in the crash and then eaten, end up with blood clots already surrounding their hearts at such a young age? Trauma from the crash? The milk/dairy/cow diet of Uruguay? Do people normally just have blood clots floating around their hearts like that?


Anyway, I finished Alive. The writing, piss poor. But the story is pretty good. I think I'm moving on to Cash by Johnny Cash next. (Rob Gordon's favorite book.) The movie is out and I'm ready to take a break from snow-disaster survivor books for a while. Although... Aron Ralston's Between A Rock and a Hard Place has been eyeing me from the bookshelf. Poor Aron, he's forced to cut off his own arm and still I make him wait.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Riveting. Gripping. An Instant Classic.

And other words reviewers use.

Sure, it was published in 1997. Sure, I've had it on my bookshelf probably since then.

No matter, I just finished reading it last month and loved it. In fact, I appreciate it so much that it kept me up at night. I'd start reading before I went to bed (around midnight) then I'd stay up reading until 2 and 3 in the morning. I'd wake up the next morning thinking about Rob on top of that mountain, unable to come down. I'd walk to my car thinking of the Hillary Step and wondering how big it is (40 feet of snow at 28,750 feet) and if Edmund Hillary knew that it would forever be known for him. (If there were a Daugherty Step it would be the three stair drop covering the turn in the stairway that led to my bedroom in Marion. I used the floor-to-ceiling pole next to the stairs to aid my rapid descent.)

For Christmas I want a yak, an ice axe and crampons.

In keeping with the survival theme, I started reading Alive, by Piers Paul Read this week. (The copy, given to me by a friend who I'm sure did not read it, is yellowed and horribly typeset.) The story itself is far more harrowing than the Everest disaster of 1996, which is was Into Thin Air is about. But the writing isn't as good, so the book isn't quite the page turner that Into Thin Air is.

Mostly, I find myself reading the first few sentences of each graph and then skipping the rest. The writing doesn't have enough momentum to carry its readers, so I'm just looking forward to the end and finding out who survives, how they're found, how many of their dead friends they have to eat.

It's interesting: Both books start out essentially the same way - you know what ultimately happens (who dies) well before the end of the book, so neither are "what happens at the end" type of books. But Krakauer in Into Thin Air propels the story through his writing, building characters, creating suspense, etc., while Read approaches it more textbook-like, i.e. Here's what happens first, then this happens, and after that this happens. So far (nearly halfway), it's not that great of a read. But the story is pretty awesome.

An interesting complaint here: Aside from the fact there is virtually no character development (meaning that when they do die, I don't really care too much), is that there isn't enough detail as to them eating their friends. I'd like more specifics, such as how they cracked through the bones, if the others who didn't cut the meat knew who they were eating, if there was any method to who was eaten first and if different parts of the body tasted better than others. (Leg meat vs. back meat. Hearts vs. liver.) Because if you haven't read the book (and I don't think I'm giving anything away here), they eat everything except for the head, skin, lungs and genitals. (So that's a-go on the heart, kidneys and intestines.)

In a less death-defying note, I bought Cash by Johnny Cash this weekend at the new Borders in Crestview Hills. It'll probably be only five or ten years before I read it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

How To Peel A Pomegranate

I took a cooking class last week at Jungle Jim's taught by David Warda, who created some of the vegetarian dishes at Slim's in Northside. In the class I learned to make parsnip and carrot soup with pesto toast triangles, three-cheese chili polenta (aka grits), vegetable frittata in filo and balsamic roasted root vegetables.

Probably the only thing I'll ever actually try to make is the parsnip and carrot soup. (It was hearty and sweet and one of simpler recipes.) But what I really took from the class was the randon question I asked David, "How to you peel a pomegranate?"

"The best way," he said, and then corrected himself, "The only way, is under water. Otherwise, it's a blood bath."

Indeed. Today I tried it under water for the first time and it's genius. Fill up a pot of water and split the pomegranate open under the water. As you push the seeds out, they'll fall to the bottom while most of the fibers will float to the top. Strain and eat.

All that, for just $45.

All The Cool Kids Have It

Everytime I see this dead little bird, I laugh. Is it because it died with its legs up? It's little plus sign eye? The font? The fact that the graphic looks happy and fun (the blue and orange and the cloud in the background) but really it's of a dead bird?

Whatever it is, it cracks me up. You can see this graphic and more like it on my coworker Mike's Blog.Last week he did a "limited edition run" (there were four) stickers of the bird flu. Demand was so high he's considering a second run.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Tribute to Rob Gordon

As Rob says: "What matters is what you like, not what you are like."

This is good. I'm not all that great, but what I like is really great, like Bob Dylan, black cats, good books, Polaroids and iPods.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Remember Videos?

 Massive Attack. U2. The Cure. Duran Duran.

Channel 920 is "The Tube," and unlike other "music" channels, The Tube actually shows videos 24-7.

It's bliss.