Poking around on Jack's blog reconnected me with the night before last night's dream:

Debbie Gibson died. Subsequently, it is revealed that she is responsible for several of Britney Spears's recent hits: what we believed to be Britney singing is actually Debbie.


Lou Mitchell's

We used to eat regularly at downtown Madison's Great Dane Pub. After a few dinners during which the space was so cacophonously loud that we emerged with something vaguely akin to shellshock, we stopped going. (There was also the garden incident, but that's another story.) During a couple of recent trips to the Great Dane's new Hilldale location, we encountered even more confusion-- once eating hurriedly as a happy-hour crowd repeatedly sloshed up against the outer edge of our booth's table. An ordeal rather than a hospitable dining experience.

If we can't stomach such confusion, why do we love Chicago's Lou Mitchell's? The place embodies hustle and bustle. Both times I've been to this downtown institution, it's been packed with a stream of hungry folks lined up out the door.

Parties are either jammed into tiny booths or seated at a continuous series of two person tables. In the below pic of Kenny, you can see the arm of an adjacent diner on the right (there's another on the left who fell just outside the frame, despite my best efforts).

The wait staff squeezes among these masses of bodies and furniture with amazing stamina and aplomb. Unlike the personality-deprived & perennially green servers of Madison, Lou Mitchell's waitresses are efficient, skilled, and delightfully sassy. And the place offers a constant parade of treats. While waiting for a table, everyone is offered complimentary donut holes (made on site and without trans fats). While the LADIES wait, they get a complimentary box of Milk Duds. Upon ordering, you get a little bowl with a stewed prune and a slice of orange. You can see the remains of Kenny's on the table. The omelets are served with breakfast potatoes, all in skillets. And it's all flat-out terrific. After the meal, everyone gets a little tiny cup (just a little shot) of ice cream. Last Sunday, the place was so loud, I could hardly hear our waitress-- who was no frail flower-- but the atmosphere at Lou Mitchell's was so convivial, so refined in its own way, that I left fatter and happier than ever.

From the UW Archives:
Bobby Cook

Bobby Cook--in 1947, the leading scorer both in the Big Ten and on Big Ten Championship Team-- is cocked, by which I mean ready to go off, by which I mean about to shoot. Everything about this photo vibrates with exciting physical tension-- a body fixed on the verge of release.


Keep on Rocketting in the Free World

On our Thanksgiving trip to Chicago, we saw the Rockettes. More on this once I get my act together, scan some things, etc.



My wonderful therapist is a savvy earth mother (think heavy cabled knits with metallic flecks) in her later 50's who, when I reported that I'd begun to pump iron, replied, "Oh! I do free weights!" She proposed that weightlifting shifts the focus of exercise from losing weight to something more likely to produce a feeling of accomplishment. You can see and feel the work you've accomplished. I think she's right. I also promote a sense of accomplishment through record keeping.

I've been meaning to share this with you for ages, but I misplaced it for several weeks. Do note that my record-keeping methodology here is peculiar-- more focused on utility than accurate representation of what I've done. "65" in a squat means that I load each side of the bar with 65 lbs. This removes arithmetic from the process (65 x 2 + bar = 175 lbs) . "30" in a dumbbell exercise means I use 30 lb. dumbbells. I ain't braggin'. I got miles to go before I'm strong. I just want you to know that I can bench more than 35 lbs.

Disturbing Fingers Diptych

1. During a dinner at Monty's Blue Plate, Erk witnesses the young, fresh tall waiter sniff his fingers tips while trotting towards the diner's counter.
Erk: That's not something you want to see. Although, maybe it's something delectable...
Knnth: A special sauce?
Erk: Cockcheeseburger?
Knnth: [blanch]

2. On his morning busride, Erk spies what look awfully like shitty finger smears on a laminated surface abutting the seat in front of his. It's not as harrowing as the incident of several weeks ago in which Erk sat behind a guy with dandruff the size of rolled oats, but it's captivating nonetheless.


Evening Bus Ride

A woman in her mid-20's enthusiastically reading Reader's Digest. Erk repeatedly inspects her hands: "Is she really in her mid-20's?" Yes, apparently she is.

120 Memories:
Just Can't Function No More

I'm haunted by this series of images that open the video for Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart. The camera tracks up a flight of stairs. At the top, it encounters a hand disappearing behind a door which then opens to reveal an empty room. Because I had difficulty capturing the hand's slide out of sight, I highlighted it below:

The door marked Ian C. beckons us and then opens to emptiness.

Thank you, Ian C.

Goodbye, Ian C.



Erk chillin.

Kenneth epitomizing concentration.


120 Memories:
Introductions in Dust

We recently altered our cable package, trading a Showtime bundle for a different, cheaper set of channels which include the-n, BBC-America, the Sundance Channel, and VH-1 Classic. The change has revolutionized our lives: I'm watching Absolutely Fabulous regularly, I suddenly have access to a great deal more Degrassi: The Next Generation, and Kenneth has taken to recording and sharing music videos from the VH-1 Classic shows We Are the 80's and VH-1 Classic 120 Minutes.

I fret about how this revolution demonstrates the importance of television in my life, but I fret about most everything.

Kenneth and I sat down to watch a video or two over dessert the other evening and ended up chatting and thrilling our way through all 120 minutes of Classic 120 Minutes. The show-- sadly-- does not replay old episodes of the MTV's alternative feature which was hosted back in the day by the likes of Kevin Seal and Dave Kendall. You can get a small taste of or return to these from various tiny clips on youtube like this, this, and this. Classic 120 Minutes does feature only alternative and new wave and whatnot videos, most of which were made in the 80's. The experience of revisiting certain videos and discovering other ones has been so delightful and intense that I'd like to blog about it in a new series which I'll call 120 Memories.

I have no adolescent memories of seeing Siouxsie and the Banshees' Cities of Dust-- making my series's title something of a misnomer at least in this instance-- but I can't stop thinking about the brilliant video which Kenneth and I agree holds up as a solid work of (audio)visual art. You can catch the whole thing here. Below, I've captured my favorite bits.

The long opening shot of bubbling red.

Siouxsie reclining and singing as molten veins spill down towards her exposed flesh. Fragile, fierce: her head and shoulders radiate the same heat.

The same shot, now with a shower of SPARKS.

Gorgeous contrasts with the previous images.

Simple but highly evocative layering of images throughout. The bouncing of these marionette skeletons is whimsical, but it evokes delightfully childish delicacy, the ephemeral and theatric, the jangling hubbub of life-- the whimsical's inescapable correlation with the civilized.




Kenneth has recently expressed reservations about facebook ("It's just another thing to check" and "I've quickly lost interest in that [the Visual Bookshelf] feature"), but I remain enthralled. If you're not on facebook-- you know who you are-- you should be, you should friend me, and you will be delighted by how much more in touch we are or seem or whatever.

Many of facebook's gadgety features (Visual Bookshelf, for example) are delightful. I'm so excited to finish a book, rush to my computer, and update what I'm reading and what I've read. Lately, I've been reading 1) 18th- and 19th-century novels over 600 pages in length and 2) food-oriented works that I move through at a rate of a couple of pages per week. Which is to say that I don't often rush to my computer and update. But when I do, well, it is something of a rush...

Many more of the gadgety features are dreadful, and too many people (my facebook friends nonetheless) seem unaware that they can control their newsfeeds so as to keep me from being updated when their Werewolf has attacked some Vampire...

And there there's My Personality:

Absurd. Surely I am at least as neurotic as I am conscientious! I mean, the other evening when I misplaced Neil Young and Crazy Horse Rust Never Sleeps (a disc I'd had in hand just a couple of days prior), I spent ages frantically rooting through piles and nervously scanning through the cd shelf (where I ultimately found it filed under Pete Townshend, who's been on my mind lately). When Kenneth replaces the butter in the fridge without properly wrapping it up, I f-reak out. When a lady dining 20 feet away from me in a restaurant drops her lipstick from her pocket mid meal, I find myself distracted by trying to remember to see when she gets up to leave so that I can notify her of her dropped lipstick should she not have discovered it there on the floor.

That's all I wanted to share: My Personality sucks. Thank goodness it can be vanquished at the click of a button.


<-| H o t |->

Glenn Gould was hot No. 1 in B Flat Major

Glenn Gould was hot No. 2 in C Minor

Pete Townshend was also hot No. 3 in A Minor



Sydney Owenson/Lady Morgan on Manners in The Wild Irish Girl

"Manners, like the graduated scale of the thermometer, should betray, by degrees, the expansion or contraction of the feelings, as they are warmed by emotion or chilled by indifference. They should breathe the soul in order to win it."

I'm fascinated by the notion that being well-mannered does not merely mean being kind, nice, or tolerant-- that we communicate through manners.


Final Market

Throughout summer 2006, I posted my weekly take from Madison's Capitol Square farmers' market. This year, I was a much less avid attendee of the market-- unable to get there early and unwilling to brave the cloying crowds after 9:00 am. Likewise, when I made it to the market, I failed to share its fruits (and vegetables) with you. Here, though, is an exception: today's take from this year's final Capitol Square market. Beautiful little turnips, vibrant pink chard, a massive stalk of Brussels sprouts, half a raw sheep's milk cheese from Butler Farms. Sadly, no sorrel. But still, a lovely end to the season, no?


Soup that Features Sorrel

Sorrel is available late spring through early summer and-- weather permitting-- in autumn. It's a leafy green that tastes like concentrated sunshine. Lemony without being acidic. I happened upon lovely bunches of sorrel at the last East Side Farmer's Market of the season. The market took place during a brief bright respite amidst a slough of chilly gray weather. The overcast was beginning to take a toll, and cooking with the sorrel really perked me up. As I served the soup into these bowls, I unintentionally managed to create almost identical slops on the rim of each. Rather than clean it off, I opted to go with the flow.