Archive for July, 2009

Just Another Music Friday – 07/31/09

Old Cars
Uploaded on June 21, 2009
by manyhighways @ 2009 MSRA “Back to the Fifties” Car Show

Do you know what goes really well with music? Cool old cars.

I don’t have any shows to see this weekend, but I bought a ton of Cd’s last night at Half Priced Books. So I guess I’ll be ripping them to disk and dumping’em on my iPod Bombadil.

Heard and good local music lately?
I hear the new Vampire Hands release is superb, which I don’t doubt for a second. It’s my opinion they are the best “vampire” band out there, and that other vampire band that was so popular on 89.3 . . . well I’m not going to even mention their name.

Here’s Vampire Hands with Safe Word.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrEpN21FSnQ[/youtube]

What are you listening to?

*Saturday Morning Update*Ways to get live and local this evening, Tim Mahoney will be rocking the 5:00 PM slot at St. Anthony Village Fest (FREE!) and the Unknown Prophets will be laying it down later in the eve at the 501 (FREE?) (I think so)

Or spend a little money and get artsy at the Fringe Festival [ #MNFRINGE ] or perhaps help the Common Room “bust through gallery stereotypes” at The Soap Factory.

So much to do. Rock on.

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Sun spots?

What are those crazy cats at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts up to now?

Sunburst

Photo Uploaded on July 30, 2009
by Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Our collection maintenance technicians, Mike McCann and Maggie Davis, carefully clean Dale Chihuly’s Sunburst sculpture once a year with with a variety of tools, a chore that takes three hours. Sunburst is made up of nearly 1,000 individual pieces of glass and 100 feet of neon tubing—and weighs more than 3,000 pounds! Thanks to Maggie and Mike, the 10-foot sculpture of yellow squiggles is once again a bright and welcoming beacon. Stop in for some free vitamin D.

Is that a pizza threat?

As reported by Citypages

On Monday evening, police were called to the 1300 block of Desoto Street about a “suspicious piece of pizza.”

The 43-year-old man demanded that police write out a police report about the slice of pizza, claiming it was left near a fence with the intent to harass. Police described the pizza slice to the Pioneer Press: “The man had found a piece of pizza that was three-quarters eaten, with bite marks in it.” It was a cheese and pepperoni pizza with traditional hand-tossed crust, in case you were wondering.

No other potentially harassing slices of partially eaten pizza slices were found at the scene. We call all sleep in peace tonight.

I disagree with the last statement “We call all sleep in peace tonight.” In fact, we should all remain vigilant. Perhaps it’s even time to set up a threat level assessment based on the toppings.

What’s this? Green pepper’s and mushrooms? You son of a . .. .

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2n42wHwC4s[/youtube]

Next time Pizza will be sending out for you.

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Notary Public Embarrassment

As someone personally involved the local “Tobacco Wars” (I’m communications director for the American Lung Association in Minnesota), I am watching with some interest the unfolding drama in neighboring South Dakota that has had as many twists and turns as the Franken-Coleman race. In February, the SD Legislature passed a statewide smoking ban, and Gov. Rounds signed it. The law was supposed to take effect at July 1, 2009. But wait! A group oppossed to the ban begin getting signatures to delay the law and put it on the 2010 ballot as a public referendum. If they could get 16,776 valid signatures on a petition by June 29, the question would go to the voters next year. They submitted more than 25,000 names, but Secretary of State Chris Nelson ruled many of the signatures invaild, and now the opponents are 221 signatures short. How did this happen? Blame the notary public — in fact,  no fewer than 29 different notary publics made errors on the petitions. The case is now going to court.

All Hail The Pumpkin King!

017Even before I dialed the phone number to call Chad Revier, Minnesota State Pumpkin Champion, I repeated over and over in my head “Don’t geek out, don’t geek out, don’t geek out.”

You see, I love the pumpkins.

I started growing them about 9 years ago and it’s been one of those hobbies that borders on obsession with my specialty being growing what I considered large pumpkins,100-300 lbs, and a myriad of decorative and classic pumpkins all on a city lot. Some of you may even recall my videos A Pumpkin Opera and Running through the pumpkin patch.

So when the chance arose to interview Chad Revier, the Minnesota Pumpkin King (1,428 lbs.), well . . . . I geeked out.

This is the first interview in a three part series as I stalk Mr.Revier through the 2009 growing season.

1) How many years have you been growing pumpkins?
I have been growing for three years, this will be my second year of competitive growing.

2) What made you decide to start growing pumpkins? A few guys in the area grew giant pumpkins and I thought I would give it a try

3) How much time in a given week do you spend growing pumpkins? It varies greatly depending on the time of year. This year I expanded to 6 plants and at most spend 20-25 hours per week during peak plant growth. Things are starting to slow down now.

4) Some would say pumpkin growing becomes an addiction, what do you say about that? They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, good luck getting a grower to admit it.

5) How often do you think about pumpkins? I thought about them once about three years ago, the problem is I am still thinking.

6) How are your pumpkins doing this year compared to years prior? It is still early but my plants are bigger this year, which should lead to bigger pumpkins. A lot of bad things can happen from now until October.. All I know is there will be good days and some disappointing days.

7) Do you use any special plant foods or fertilizers? Fish emulsions, Seaweed, Humic Acid, Mycorrhizal Fungi, Compost Tea

8) What do you do with the pumpkins once they are harvested? Remove the seeds then nothing to exciting, I have displayed them at the end of the driveway, chopped them up and feed them to the cows, or just let them rot. Always looking for ideas though.

9) Do you like pumpkin soup? Never had it. Just had cucumber soup for the first time, I liked that.

10) What’s your favorite band?
Tool

Tool?
TOOL!
Rock on my brother, rock on.

Here are some pictures in case you’re wondering what Chad’s pumpkins look like at this stage in the game.

If you look beyond the rows of corn you’ll see the patch, that entire square consists of six vines.

Can you also see the whiteish dots in the patch? Those are the pumpkins.

6 vines

6 vines

This is what they look like up close. 

Wow

Wow

All I could say when I saw this monster was “Wow”, I mean really, that’s a lot of pumpkin.

Up next: Some practical tips for amateur growers and those that want to get started growing pumpkins.

If you have any questions for Chad, hit me up on Twitter or ask away in the comments.

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Totally Doin’ It with Art and Emily: Open Mic Night at Acme Comedy Company

We went to the Acme Comedy Company‘s Open Mic Night, which takes place every Monday at 8:00 p.m. and costs zero dollars.

Full disclosure: We actually totally did this several weeks ago in an attempt to be more punctual with our columns, then forget to actually write the column before Art went on a trip to New York City. Sorry.

Art’s Part

I will always feel a sort of obligation to, if nothing else, applaud a person doing standup comedy at an open mic night. It takes balls to do it. (I’ve done it three times in my life and enjoyed it twice.) Balls, I tell you. Even ladies, they must go to the doctor and have balls attached and go through hormone therapy to do standup comedy.

There’s just one problem: you don’t need to be funny to have balls.

Let me tell you: yes, you will be uncomfortable in your chair when the first “comic” goes (quotation marks are warranted), for the show organizers put the new people at the top of the order. This person will not be funny. He will come off like he thinks you should think he is funny—which, if you can tell this much, is already a major obstacle overcome. But he still won’t be funny.

But as you drink and the comics drink, they become steadily better.

This betterment is not just due to consumption. Many of the comics who perform the open mic nights are professionals or semi-professionals and are doing the open mic to try out new or reworked material in a “safe” (there can be booing) environment. This is a big hooray for the rest of us, because we get to see two very unique things for free: people volunteering to be a train wreck for our enjoyment and some comics who are really onto something. And then more comics who aren’t.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Acme Comedy Company claims to be one of the top five comedy clubs in America, so the professional and semi-professional comics you see are not milquetoast or jackassy (most of the time)—these are people with truly unique ideas and some pretty great jokes. And because it’s generally the same comics from week to week, it’s possible you’ll hear the same joke twice. However, the jokes you do hear more than once will be the good ones.

Emily’s Part

Art is a bit more of a comedy connoisseur than I am, and when we first arrived he warned me that the people who had never participated were forced to perform first, meaning that things would probably start out a little shaky and improve from there.

And boy, did the first person up bomb.

This was only made worse by the gist of his first bit being, “Why would someone ever have stage fright? What’s the worst that could happen?”

Umm . . . you?

Oh, and his language. I did not like it. And it’s not that I’m a prude. I think a well-placed f-bomb can truly enhance a joke that’s actually funny.

Screaming obscenities when you’re not being funny though? Sort of uncomfortable. And a little scary.

Oh, and he also told a really long joke about pooping that wasn’t funny. Again, something that can be funny but is really uncomfortable when it’s not.

So anyway, just as I was about give Art an evil look for bringing me to this place (I was also in a hormonally-induced foul mood), the second comic came on and WAS funny! And so were the third and fourth!

And then I was reminded of that fact that it’s a night of free entertainment and maybe I should loosen up a little about the occasional suckage.

It’s all part of the charm.

So anyway, I guess I should write about the people I did think were funny. But the problem is that I wasn’t a good little reporter and didn’t bring a notebook, so I don’t remember anyone’s names.

Actually, that’s a lie. I do remember Mary Mack, but that’s because she was wonderfully and quite memorably weird and because she shares a name with a children’s song to which I used to jump rope.

If I wanted to write about the other performers, I’d have to make up names for them like Hipster Moustache Dude, Air Force Lesbian and Ultra Minnesotan Accent Bug Lab Lady. And that just seems like a lot of work even though those are really good stage names and I would totally contact them and tell them they should use them if I could only remember what their names were.

Naughty Squirrel!

Naughty Squirrel

This little guy chewed through our screen, peed on our kitchen counter and ate some brownies sitting on the counter. After we shooed him out and closed the window, he continued to stare longingly into the kitchen.

Image uploaded by MSPdude

Would someone get this squirrel a hawk? Or do you find them cute?

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Is it all going to Hell?

When I was on my way back from the BWCA last week I saw an honest-to-goodness old fashioned motorcycle gang on Scenic Highway 61, which runs along the shore of Lake Superior.

When we arrived at our break point, my favorite North Shore coffee shop the Mocha Moose, I noticed the headline of a local paper read something like “Praying for Heaven, Preparing for Hell” and mentioned the Hell’s Angels arriving for a bike rally in August.

Little did I realize the amount of commotion this had been causing until we arrived in Duluth and every headline from the last week had been about the biker gang, with the biggest story being The City of Duluth had gone so far as to not issue permits for Spirit Valley Days or any festivals for a few week time frame as the city feared any disruption the Hell’s Angels may have caused.

Now the Strib reports Police brace for huge rally of Hells Angels near Cloquet

For nearly six months now, hundreds of law enforcement agents from Carlton, Pine and St. Louis counties — plus 30 State Patrol troopers and some federal agents — have been planning to be on hand to greet the Hells Angels.

“You don’t poke a hornets’ nest with a stick, but you sure do like to know where the hornets’ nest is at,” Pine County Chief Deputy Steve Ovick said.

A writer,Julian Sher,that specializes in pissing off the Hells Angels writes,

“public outings like the USA Ride “are largely public-relations dog-and-pony shows for the bikers.”

He said the media tend to cover the roaring motorcycles, and when the club members remain more or less law abiding, their image improves.

“Their PR machine is as well-oiled as their Harleys,” Sher said, noting their high-tech website that allows you to purchase gear (www.hellsangelsmn.com). “The mafia doesn’t have a website.”

He even goes as far as comparing the H.A. to the Taliban having a bake sale.

Though it seems when all the posturing is put aside, most of Northern Minnesota is happy for the tourist revenue.

What do you think?

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How Green Was My Garden: AAAALLLLVVVVIIIINNNN!!!!!!"

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin and the Chipmunks

Alvin and the Chipmunks were an adorable animated singing band that got into mischief and drove Dave crazy. I now know how Dave feels.   Except the chipmunks in my life aren’t making me any money with a major recording contract, just destroying my garden, digging up plants I spent a great deal of time and money growing, not to mention the burrowing under my house and garage.

In an effort to try to be one with nature and first do no harm I have tried virtually every form of repellents there is,  like hot pepper wax and fox urine, Plantskyyd granules, rotten egg spray, the little critters seem immune.  I also have fencing and raised beds, but chipmunks are tiny little things that can avoid most deterrents.

Public Enemy Number One

Public Enemy Number One

I have found them digging in my pots, pulling up plants, in my raised beds burying seeds, and stealing vegetables.  Just like there is an overpopulation of bunnies this year there are lots and lots of the chipmunks this year.

They may look cute, in fact, the Goldy Gopher mascot was reportedly modeled after a chipmunk, not really a gopher after the artist George Grooms saw the rodents at a rest stop  (see the lineup the Bell Museum created if you want proof that Goldy is actually a chipmunk).  But chipmunks can do a lot of damage; they dig burrows under foundations, can chew through wiring, they carry ticks and fleas and their droppings can also be a hazard when near the home.

Just like any rodent they are a nuisance but more so when you spend so much time and care on your garden and find your fresh produce either robbed or with little bite marks and not consumable.

So what can you do to combat Chip & Dale? Not much unfortunately. In order to stop them digging you can place landscape fabric over all your plants.  If you find the burrow you can fill it with wire wool or even spray foam insulation.  Keeping wood piles away from the house and off the ground can take away hiding places.  If you have a neighbor with bird feeders though, or like me, have a maple tree with ample supply of seeds, you are pretty much doomed as they will keep returning for that food source.

chip-n-dale-1_640

RIP Chip & Dale

When all my prevention methods failed and I found burrowing through the foundation of my garage I decided it was time to fight back, so yes, I turned to chipmunkicide.   This summer I have culled Alvin, Theodore, Simon, Chip & Dale, the Chipettes, and some of their friends.  If you don’t want to hear about it I suggest you don’t read any further. I realize there are many who would rather lose their entire garden than harm a fly, but I am not one of those people.  I am an organic gardener, but I draw the line when my investment is being lost to an overpopulated pest.

To control these rodents the method I found easiest and most humane was snap rat traps which I surround with almonds and leave along the path they travel, usually right near my herb bed (seen pictured above) where they have buried countless seeds and dug up more than a few of the plants.

There are other methods detailed on the internet describing “the swimming pool of death.”  Basically a five gallon bucket is filled half way up with water and the surface is covered with sunflower seeds, then you build a diving board with a small board leading to the bucket and line that with seeds, the little chipmunks will dive into the bucket to reach the seeds, they won’t be able to swim or climb out of the bucket and will drown.   Others profess the benefits of Havahart traps, but  those traps are not inexpensive and relocation can be very inhumane as well, taking the critters away from their food stores.

077Poisons should never be used against chipmunks because it is never safe. You do not know where the chipmunks will end up dying and can easily become prey to another animal or pet who would them become poisoned as a result. The other reason is for your own convenience, when chipmunks die they will cause a rather foul smell and fly/maggot hazard and if you don’t know where they expire, say in their burrow under your house, that would be rather uncomfortable for a few weeks especially in the hot summer.

Though I like to play nicely with nature as a rule, this year I had to draw the line with the chipmunks after all the damage they caused to my house and my garden.  With their numbers decreased I have seen less damage and I know I’ll never eradicate them.  I just wish there was a bounty on them like there is with gophers, I could have made up for all the cost of the plants I had to replace.

After we closed up the burrow when completing a new deck we didn’t see any chipmunks for almost two weeks, but then just yesterday, there he was, peeking out of the downspout again.  AAALLLVVVIIINNNN!!!!

Just Another Music Friday – 07/24/09

It’s a beautiful day in the land of lakes. I awoke to morning thunderstorms and then drove through massive amounts of marble sized hail on the way to work, we Minnesotans are a hardy breed.

I sometimes wonder what outsiders think of us Mn’ers. It’s easy to measure the state by the political media figures like Michelle Bachmann, Jesse Ventura, Al Franken and the likes, but I’m sure that unless they’ve spent some time here it may be hard to know just how much Minnesotans rock.

Take for example this couple with their Saint Paul dance party wedding.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-94JhLEiN0[/youtube]

Yeah, baby.

For those that are in this fine state, If you don’t have any plans for the weekend there’s still time to check out 10,000 Lakes Festival billed as music,nature, and euphoria there’s still a lot of great music remaining to be seen and if you’re not into great music you can still catch Dave Mathews. Whammy!

What’s in your shuffle?

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