Archive for July, 2009

What if it happened to you? (Restaurant Photos)

Local blogger and amateur photographer Deke had an interesting experience while trying to enjoy his lunch.

The most interesting encounter occurred when I stopped in at a favorite restaurant (really more of a deli or bistro) and had lunch. I took some time making my choice at the counter, purchased my food and sat at a table next to the window … I’m thinking, what beautiful light! I’ve got to get a picture of lunch. So, I snap a few shots (50mm f/1.4 set at f/4).

At this point I was approached by an employee, I can only assume she was the manager that day, who asked what I was taking pictures of. I thought I was pretty straight-forward with her explaining that I was taking a picture of my lunch. She asked, “Why?”

My response was that I’m an amateur photog that simply sees a nice image in front of them. To which she replied, “I’m not that gullible.”

“I’m not that gullible.” Now, what do you say to that!?!

The conversation ended with me offering to delete the images if she was uncomfortable but she said, “I want you to stay just stop taking pictures of our food.” At this point it wasn’t worth making any further issue but I had to think that the $20 I just paid for the food would rightfully make it mine and not theirs. I could have gotten it to go and photographed it to my delight without interruption anywhere else.

I can only imagine what she was really afraid of and I suppose she’s in a position where she might feel the need to protect the proprietary rights of her employer however, I could be someone who was interested in promoting her business, too.

I could blog about D’Amico’s restaurant in Golden Valley, tell my readers how wonderful the food is, that they should try to get there and experience the patio, drink free refills of the house wines and especially have one of the molasses cookies which are to die for!

But, I don’t blog about restaurants. I’m an amateur photographer who photographs interesting things.

What would you do in this situation?




With training camp just around the corner I can no longer resist the Football gossip.

Strib writer Tom Powers suggests in the event the Vikings land the Ancient One that Brett Favre should be allowed to set his own Vikings training schedule.

Powers then continues with

If Mr. Brett Favre is reluctant to put himself through another grueling training camp, he should immediately be provided with a lawn chair, a pitcher of cold lemonade and several Wilfs armed with palm branches to stir up a nice cool breeze for him in Mankato.

Set the lawn chair at the 50-yard line of the practice field. But put it on the opposite sideline from where most Vikings coaches stand. That way, he won’t pick up any bad habits. And then, if it’s not too much trouble, have Mr. Favre shout out an occasional word of encouragement to his new Vikings teammates.

Near perfection.

The only thing I’d add is give him an umbrella, or at the very least a giant lineman for some shade, and a throng of useful idiots willing to dance upon command and tell him how heroic his last sip of lemonade was considering the papercut he received signing contracts. Perhaps John Madden could clone himself for this purpose, I hear he doesn’t have a lot going on besides sleeping on a bars of gold and eating perfect pancakes.

Still,as is the way on teh Internets, at least one commenter has to disagree.

The esteemed and venerable Brett Blows, United States suggests,

TP you are a complete and total JACK A SS. if the evil one wants to be part of this team he needs to act like it. you put this washed up POS on a pedestal above other players and coaches. you act like it’s not a team game and that we ought to change the team name from the Vikings to the favres. this is the worst freaking trash you have ever written. you are obviously a HUGE part of the reason the Minnesota news papers are going bankrupt TRASH TRASH TRASH. even if the dic k he ad signs, which he will; and we win the superbowl, which we wont, it will do zero towards keeping the Vikings in Minnesota. first off after the parade (HAHAHA WHAT A JOKE THAT IS) farve will ride off into the sunset with his shinny new ring and all the credit, and the Vikings will be left with one QB with no hope (Jackson) one QB that was lied to about the opportunity he’d get and no trust for the origination he works for (Sage) and some mutt named Booty. Well have the same sorry a ss ed coaching staff and most importantly the same cheap a ss ed, near sighted, penny pinching tax payers. it’s not the Vikings fans that are the problem…if it were just the fans the stadium would be built already, it’s the other 90% of the taxpayers that are too freaking stupid to see the tax benefits of professional sports that have doomed the Vikings to follow the Lakers, the North Stars and whoever else OUT OF TOWN. it’s over , their gone, accept it. that said and it kills me to say it AND I”LL NEVER ADMIT IT but why not bring the evil one in? i mean the team is gone anyway and if it give’s us a shot to win one before they leave then what the hell? than i can get NO MORE O-4 tattooed on my A SS so Packer fans will know where to place their lips when kissing my A S S. if he comes he does the same as everybody else or takes his rusty a ss back to Mississippi where he belongs

Wow, Mr.Blows, tell us how you really feel.

I do feel the need to take umbrage with this statement “and some mutt named Booty” as it’s my understanding Mr. John David Booty is a fine upstanding character that has solid football lineage and has long dreamt of being a Viking.

No, sir J.D. is no Mutt.

As for the Ancient One, is that lemonade ice cold enough?

It’s a long season, I don’t want you spraining your grimicing-after-an-interception-and-limping-off-the-field face.


How Green Was My Garden: The Votes Are In!

The Poll is closed and there will be no recount or contest dragging this out eight months. Despite there being a tie between the top two selections (Glasu was the other winner) an editorial decision was made and as you can see, “How Green Was My Garden” has been chosen as the name of the blog and will be used going forward.  Thank you to all who voted!

If you don’t get the connection, “How Green Was My Valley” is a  book and movie and is a nod to my Welsh heritage.

Totally Doin’ It with Art and Emily: Dinner at Cowboy Slim’s

We ate dinner at Cowboy Slim’s in Uptown. Cowboy Slim’s is a cowboy-themed bar and restaurant.

Art’s Part

As Cowboy Slim’s was being built—mere blocks from where I live–over this past spring, I knew what I wanted it to be. Sadly, I also knew what it would be.

I wanted it to be a beer and whisky bar where people over 35 and people under 35 but who are exactly like me—you know, people who know how to be in a bar and not be a total douche about it*—would hang out, maybe dance to some Hank Williams, Jr., and enjoy some beers. Basically, I wanted it to be Inn Kahoots, but walking distance from the Artpartment.

However, I knew it would be something else: an excuse for orange suburban girls to put on cowboy boots (with heels) and corsets to get ogled and groped by over-beefy suburban guys who can’t enunciate. And just walking by at night it’s evident that this is the scene at this bar.

But! During the day! During the day Cowboy Slim’s is a restaurant with a patio. The inside of the restaurant is pure cowboy cheese (think Camp Snoopy)—which is certainly fun if you’re in the mood for it. But we didn’t eat inside. We ate on the patio because it was a gorgeous day.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned undesirable crowd got an early start (or really powered through from the night before) so as to be falling over (three times in the first five minutes of us being there) drunk. The falling, yelling, 5pm drunkards were mostly contained on the opposite end of the patio, so Emily and I were able to eat our meal in relative peace. But if you decide to eat on the Cowboy Slim’s patio on a Sunday afternoon, be forewarned: there will be 5pm drunkards.

I ordered the meatloaf. I’m not going to start piling up superlatives on account of this meatloaf, but it did not let me down in taste or substance. And for ten dollars (actually twelve, but we split the bill–heh heh heh–and not counting the reasonably priced pitcher of Premium which we got at the bar), not being let down is a pretty good deal to me. I will also note that the corn was particularly moist and plump (not unlike the waitresses. HEYO!).

Speaking of the waitresses, have you ever seen Battlestar Galactica? I mean the new one, with all the sex and explosions. Well, all the waitresses at Cowboy Slim’s look exactly like Number Six:


*This does not mean people who don’t get too drunk or into fist fights. This means that if someone falls over it’s because they have had 25 beers plus whiskey, not because they’re a jackass who is whoring for attention from their friends.

Emily’s Part

Our original plan was to spend the evening at the Bastille Day block party, so we set off from Art’s apartment (he’d like you to call it “The Artpartment,” but I’m unconvinced) not very enthusiastic about the whole endeavor.

Art was hungry, over-caffeinated, and sunburned, and I was a little under the weather from a night of drinking and exhausted from an overly ambitious bike ride.

By the time we got there, we desperately needed food and beverages and made a beeline for the concession area, where we noticed that:

  1. We were required to pay $1 for a wristband that would give us the privilege to buy overpriced beer.
  2. The food options weren’t looking all that tasty.

After a few minutes, we decided that Bastille Day, while it might have been a fun time, wasn’t in the cards for us, so we wandered down Lagoon for a bit before deciding to try Cowboy Slim’s.

Now, I often wonder why bars attract the people they do. In any given neighborhood, they’re all going to pretty similar. Drink prices and food won’t vary much; it’s the people that make you decide whether you want to become a regular.

And the people hanging out at Cowboy Slim’s were not cool.

It was still pretty early when we arrived, and the indoor area was basically empty. The patio, however, was full of people. Full of drunk people. Drunk douchey people.

In the thirty seconds it took to give the hostess our name, a guy (who we’d later notice was wearing a jersey with “Mr. Creepo” on the back) fell down in front of the hostess stand.

The hostess just glanced at him, then gave us a look that seemed to say, “Eh, what are you gonna do?” and kept going about her business. His friends didn’t seem fazed either.

Once we were seated, the service and food were fine, but we couldn’t carry on a conversation because of the screaming going on at the table behind us. And by screaming, I do not mean that people were talking too loud. I mean that they were all “WOOOOOO HOOOOOO! Let’s do SHOTS!”

It wasn’t even 7:00.

So all in all, though we had a nice walk on a beautiful night and a decent meal, I think my favorite part of Sunday was going back to Art’s place for a few games of cribbage.

Getting Buggy with it

The Permaculture Research Institute Cold Climate is offering a fantastic seminar series on Gardening with Insects. The Permaculture Research Institute-Cold Climate began as the Permaculture Collaborative in 2003 and has transformed from a community organization to a nonprofit group, offering unique educational and outreach programs and events.

Details for the Insect gardening seminar this fall are as follows:

Event Date:

9 Sep 2009 7:00pm23 Sep 2009 9:00pm

Insect Management in Gardens and Edible Landscapes
Presented by Entomologist Neil Cunningham, MDA

Production Assistants: Daniel Halsey and Julianne Love

Register online for this 3-part lecture series and save over 33%!  Or attend 1 or 2 of the lectures and pay at the door.

When and Where : All lectures are 7-9pm in the Auditorium (Room #150) on the main floor of MCAD (MN College of Art and Design), 2501 Stevens Avenue, Minneapolis

Wednesday, September 9
A bit of biology, a bit of ecology, basic overview of biocontrols.

  • Insect characteristics and life cycles
  • Plants we love and the pests that eat them
  • Species identification and stages of management
  • Common insect pests in local gardens

Wednesday, September 16
Specifics of solving pest problems using predator/parasitic wasp complexes and/or multispecies releases of predatory mites; the process of ordering bio-agents from biocontrol suppliers; and how alternative pesticides like insecticidal soaps, hort oils, and kaolin clays work physically on insects – in contrast to synthetic pesticides that function as nerve toxins.

  • Natural pesticides, soaps, and clays
  • Beneficial insect predators and parasites
    • Multi-species release and biocontrols
    • Seasonal management techniques
    • Sources for beneficial insects

Wednesday, September 23
A long-term view of biological control : the importance of creating habitat, and how plant diversity enables the insect diversity needed for natural control of pest populations.

  • Fall and Spring garden prep for insect management
  • Building habitat for beneficial insects
    • Using plant diversity for insect diversity
    • Attracting beneficial insects with Insectory Islands
    • Building an Insectory Island and insect habitat

Just Another Music Friday – 07/10/2009

The Roots @ Riverfest

The Roots @ Riverfest

(Roots pics I took last Summer.Though, I hear when they were in town recently they dazed and amazed as usual. )

Time to get back to the Roots.

I’ll be heading back to Northern Minnesota to where it all began, for me, and doing a bunch of outdoors stuff that would make the most hipster metrosexuals cut their hair with a switchblade into a faux-granola style.

Mostly we’ll be listening to the sound of the wind blowing majestically through the pines as the loons sing their lonely North Woods cowboy song, yada yada. So if you hear about some people in the BWCA having iPod boombox wars with the loons, you’ll know who.

What are you listening to?


Cirque du Soleil Kooza in Saint Paul

16381774 A night under the big top.

Last night I went to see the latest Cirque du Soleil production, Kooza.

Here’s what the media says about cirque du soleil kooza.

Here’s what the Kooza press release says.

KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil that combines two circus traditions; acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor.

“KOOZA is about human connection and the world of duality, good and bad,” says the show’s writer and director David Shiner. “The tone is fun and funny, light and open. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously, but it’s very much about ideas, too. As it evolves we are exploring concepts such as fear, identity, recognition and power.”

It’s all true.

Now here’s what I say.


The show starts with an MC heckling the people arriving ontime/almost late.

Then the chaos breaks out, which luckily happened right in front of our front and center seats ( second section up.)

Then things became more crazy with excitement and the ensueing madness. Perhaps you know the type of madness for which I speak, a chase scene, some magic, kites, large burly dudes with finely emboidered cod pieces, a mischevious puppetmaster clown called The Trickster that twirled-jumped-dance and taunted (excellent dancer). Then there were two female writhing contortionists that did some super appropriate things together with twisting and bending and such. At one point one, one lifted her special parts off the ground with her head,flipped over while lowering her face to the ground, and then proceeded to somehow get her legs to run circles around her stationary head. I’m pretty sure by the third or fourth pass she had married the entire tent, or at least dated us with noble intentions.

Ofcourse there were things balanced on other things balanced on people balanced on people balanced on various objects.

Also there were the acts. You know like a dude on the unicycle doing crazy things while his female campanion was like a scarf that somehow twirrled and whirrled around his neck like a human hula hoop.

Also the Burger King was there. I’m pretty sure he was in charge, dude is very kingly and he has a sweet taser and some great sidekicks. Also he slaps people with meat. What more can you ask of a king?

Did I mention the band?
They were like if Manu Chao had a baby with Portishead and System of a Down had a baby with Groove Armada and those two musical children grew up and . . . I forget the rest, but you get the point; Trip Hop Samba Grunge.

My advice to everyone is to arrive a little early because the curtains are closed ontime and if you’re late you’ll have to wait.

My advice for the production is to speed up ticket line times (we waited in a short line for 20+ minutes) and to offer a single family picture from one of your roving photogs for $10.
Currently they offer two packages,where it’s all the same pic,for $35 or $20 for a single pic. That just seems like too much money.

My advice to parents is be prepared to cover a child’s ears during the super loud moments, make sure potty breaks are taken care of (for-extra-real), and be prepared to leave at intermission if necessary as the 8pm show runs a teensy late for a school night.

My advice to the cast and crew is let’s party, hit me up on Twitter. Seriously.

My advice to all is to go see Cirque du Soleil Kooza, especially while there are promo prices. You can Enter for a chance to win tickets or take advantage of special promo pricing.

Cirque du Soleil Kooza makes for a great evening and runs until August 2, 2009. The wife and I loved the show and my child experienced every emotion from amazement to total amazement.

Check it out.


Death of a Salesman?

Everyone knows the story of Willy Loman that’s been characterized time and time again, from Glengarry Glen Ross to the Simpson’s poor old Gil.

Have you ever been bothered by door-to-door sales people that refuse to take no for an answer?

Local columnist James Shiffer has the answer in “How I made a door-to-door alarm salesman vanish. What do you do?

Is this your home?” he asked.

“Yes,” I answered, antennae twitching. I noticed his gray tennis shirt had a corporate logo on it, and that he held a binder in his hands.

“How long have you lived here?”

“Who are you?” I said. I’m sure he could almost taste the hostility in the air, but he kept smiling. He said he was selling alarm systems for Pinnacle Security and that in this neighborhood –

“I cut him off. “Do you have a city solicitor license?”

Mr. Pinnacle Security, who still hadn’t told me his name, opened his binder and out came the scripted response, “Yes, I know that the city of Minneapolis requires a license for soliciting, just like many cities…” He flipped through his binder, “Okay here’s the one for Blaine.” He flipped back and forth a few times. “It must have slipped out,” he said, his grin never waning.

“You know, it’s illegal to go door-to-door in Minneapolis without a solicitor’s license,” I said. “I could call the cops on you right now.”

“But I’m in a good mood,” I lied.

“I’ll make sure I get the license before I do any more soliciting,” he lied.

I’ve been tempted to put up one of those “No Soliciting” signs, but everytime I get close to buying one I decide that they are too ugly. Although I’m sure it was kind of funny for my neighbors to watch a “home security” sales person, that had walked into my yard uninvited, be slowly backed out by two large dobermans as I rushed to stop the chaos; it’s not the kind of humor I want repeated.

I’ll usually tell them we don’t take surveys, answer questions, or accept solicitations. The few exceptions are people selling candy and/or cookies. The wife and I are always open to sweets.

How about you?
How do you keep solicitors from bothering you?


The stupid tax is $110 per person

According to the MSP Airport’s Web site, “In 2008, MSP served 34 million passengers.”*

So of those 34 million*, apparently 20,000 people get lost trying to find the right airport terminal every year.

This is apparently a very big deal, as the Metropolitan Airports Commission’s finance, development and environment committee voted this morning to spend $2.2 million to improve signs directing travelers to the two airport terminals.

That’s $1.2 million more than it was a month ago, and $2.2 million more than zero dollars.

Per my “free” alternative suggestions last month, when you purchase a ticket, it already tells you which terminal your flight leaves from. When you check-in or look up your flight online, it tells you which terminal your flight leaves from, too.

Given the economy, price of airline tickets and growing carrier fees — and the fact that 33,980,000* MSP visitors aren’t having trouble distinguishing between the airports — it sure seems like a better alternative to me. Expecting folks to pay attention is much cheaper than $2.2 million for 20,000 people.

* (note: I don’t expect all of those 34 million originated from driving into one of the two terminals, but it’s a good ballpark to work from)

Totally Doin’ It with Art and Emily: Cheap Date Night at Zeno

This week we went to Zeno Cafe‘s Tuesday night Cheap Date Night. For $30, they will give you an appetizer, a salad, a dessert, a bottle of wine, and two tickets to the nearby Lagoon Cinema.

Art’s Part

I’d been to Zeno seven or eight times before I went for the cheap date night. None of those times had done a good job of convincing me that Zeno was capable of cheap: the food is delicious, the ambiance is classy-casual, and the prices are set thusly. So, for a special occasion or when I’m pretending I don’t care how much money I spend, I’m thrilled to go to Zeno. But as a cheap date? I’m skeptical.

Which is why, when Emily noted that Zeno indeed has a special labeled “Cheap Date Night,” I jumped at the chance to go. Thirty dollars for an appetizer, a salad, a dessert, a bottle of wine, and a couple movie tickets? You could easily pay that much for just a bottle of wine at a place like Zeno. But, like all things, it was a little too good to be true.

After it was all added up, it was much closer to $40, which is actually a moderate-to-high-priced date on the Art and Emily scale. I certainly can’t afford to drop $20 on myself for a Tuesday night date every week. (What will Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights say? Where, then, would be the money for them?)

It was also wonderful to see a movie afterwards. After paying the bill, it was nice to go and receive another two hours of entertainment without taking out my wallet again (for a $9 ticket!). But if you’re like me and you drink a lot of tea or coffee during the day, you probably tend to break the proverbial seal around 2 p.m., which means you’ll have to be strategic about how you handle that half a bottle of wine waiting impatiently in your bladder for two hours.

But if you can get past my crotchety, “cheap means cheap” complaints about the extra five dollars a person and my old man bladder, you really should try this out. The wine is drinkable, and the food is characteristically delectable. I may recommend eating a slightly larger or slightly later lunch than normal, as the three courses are individual servings intended to be shared (or consumed by the more assertive of the two of you), but I didn’t and I was fine. Plus you get to eat at Zeno, which is always a great time.

Emily’s Part

I decided to walk to Zeno (about two miles from my apartment), and because I always overestimate walking times and Art was a bit late, I spent about twenty minutes chugging water (it was hot outside) and taking in the atmosphere.

The first thing I noticed is that the staff of Zeno is mostly made up of impossibly beautiful, well-groomed men. (Even Art agreed. It was ridiculous.) I mean, I was excited to see Public Enemies because I was going to get to spend 2+ hours looking at Johnny Depp and Christian Bale (who I’ve had a major crush on since Newsies), but damn.

Anyway, Art eventually arrived, and we got right down to the business of ordering because we needed to be at the theater in an hour.

Ordering from the “date night” menu, we went with a Cabernet Sauvignon (rather tasty, though I’m no wine critic), baked clams (an automatic winner because they were served in a giant bowl of what was basically garlic butter), a spinach salad (their advertising and signage doesn’t say that a salad is included, so hooray, bonus salad!) and a raspberry sucree (eh).

All in all, I wasn’t overly excited by the food (though there were a lot of other items on the menu I’d love to try that go on special on other nights), but it was definitely tasty and a fun way to share a meal. It was also, at least for me, a perfect size for a meal (I felt full but not like I wanted to die), though I suspect that Art wouldn’t have said no to a sandwich after we’d finished.

One thing I did find problematic was that because dessert was included (and because I didn’t want to spend any more money), I felt too guilty to get Raisinettes. And a move is not a movie without Raisinettes.

But besides that glaring problem, it was a very pleasant evening, though you may want to steer clear of bringing a man with a hearty appetite. In fact, this special might even be better suited for a “date” with a girlfriend. That, or you can just distract the hungry man by taking him to a movie with more machine gun fire than I’ve ever seen. That works too.

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