APRIL 2007
Friday, April 27, 2007
I took today off because I have a show tonight. My friend and I made a documentary about a local donut shop, and we are premiering it tonight. It's been done for a few weeks, but it's just nice to be able to sleep in and have time alone before being in front of a full theatre fielding questions. Anyway, it's kind of exciting, and we've been doing some local PR stuff, and hopefully we'll sell out. (As in, sell out the theatre, not sell out our ideals for money.)

But there's another big donut story in town, and it's this: the local Krispy Kreme is no longer giving out free donuts (or doughnuts, as they prefer) when the "hot" light is on. Oh sure, they still switch on the light to get people to come into the store, but apparently Krispy Kreme stopped with the free hand-outs about two weeks ago. As you might imagine, people are pissed. Asking people to deal with change is one thing, but asking them to deal with the kind of change that involves asking them to pay for something that was once free, and also involves that free thing being a sweet, sugar-coated doughnut, is too much. I don't know if this is franchise-wide or just locally, but let's just say people in the Kalamazoo area, like people anywhere, like their doughnuts (and donuts), and they like their free stuff, and they like that they can just go into a Krispy Kreme and get a free doughnut whenever that little feed light is on, and they don't like it when one, they take the donut away, and two, they keep the feed light on to lure them in under false pretenses. So it's becoming quite the scandal.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Yeah, nothing. Just work and appointments and coughing.

Monday, April 23, 2007
You know what I did this weekend? Absolutely nothing. It was 80 degrees outside and sunny, and it was beautiful, and I sat out and read for most of Saturday and Sunday. I worked out some, and I cooked some, but mostly I sat. Oh, and I took a nap. That was nice too. Now I have a tan, which is always welcome, though I don't so much tan as turn (color, that is). Unfortunately, I've had a bit of a relapse of a nagging upper respitory deal, and so has Paul. So there's been a lot of coughing around our house.

Also, sleeping has become somewhat troublesome, which is awful for me for two reasons: I truly do need more than six hours of sleep per night to function properly, and I usually have no trouble sleeping at all. The other night, I slept for a few hours at a time in different positions; I split it between sleeping sitting up so I wouldn't get a knot of mucus in my chest and lying down because that's more comfortable but causes said knot of goo. And this was weird: I woke up in the sitting-up position at like four in the morning absolutely craving peppermint tea. Okay, maybe that's not so weird in and of itself, but it is weird when you consider that I don't like peppermint tea. In fact, I've had some on my shelf for several weeks (a "prize" from a wedding shower -- not my shower, and don't ask any more questions, as I hate those silly wedding shower games with a deep-seated passion). I didn't get out of bed to make the tea, mostly because it was four in the morning and I had no energy, and partially because I kept telling myself that if I'm craving peppermint tea, I really must be sick, and that's the sick talking, not me. I went back to sleep and woke up at around 8:30, still craving peppermint tea.

So I made some. I figured, what the heck? How bad could it be, really? Let's face it, I ingest some pretty gnarly stuff, most of which sends people into all sorts of facial convulsions (pickled herring anyone?), so maybe peppermint tea would be okay. And you know what? It really was kind of good. Never mind that it was artificially-flavored peppermint tea. It tasted good, and I think the peppermint helped me breathe better, and let's just say I had about five cups of it this weekend.

Maybe I like peppermint tea now. I'm as surprised as anyone. I even told Paul, who also does not like peppermint tea, that I thought it was making me feel better. I made him some, even though he maintained that he did not like it, but he drank it and said yeah, it was pretty good. I'll have to try it when I'm not sick, just to be sure it's my brain and not the snot talking, but maybe I can cross peppermint tea off the short list of stuff I don't like. (Sorry ginger: you're still on there.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007
The local community college where I teach part-time got some kind of significant threat early this morning. The local media immediately picked up on the story, my aunt in Florida said she saw a quick segment about it on CNN, and the college announced that the campuses would be closed until Monday morning. The whole situation basically had a lot of people in town extremely concerned for a little while; there was what looks to be a murder-suicide in town last night, and after the massacre at Virginia Tech earlier in the week, plus the fact that today is the anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, I think people are at their tragedy threshold. So people got scared and reacted quickly. I got a bit freaked out because I taught my class on campus last night, about 12 hours before the threat was announced and acted upon.

But then this afternoon, someone realized that it was all a big misunderstanding, and that there was no real threat. I guess everyone's a little on edge lately. I understand the better-safe-than-sorry ethos, and I agree that you can't be too safe these days, but they closed everything up tight until Monday! So it's been a little crazy here in sleepy Kalamazoo, but I'm glad nothing happened and no one got hurt. I like it when Kalamazoo makes the national news, but I wouldn't want it to be for a Virginia Tech-type incident. That was awful, and no one needs a repeat.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
There's a bit of a local controversy where I live regarding the dumping of hazardous materials in a nearby landfill. I'll spare you the details, but it basically goes something like this: the Kalamazoo River is full of toxic chemicals, and the EPA wants to dredge the river, clean out the PCBs, and then dump them in a landfill that is located right near a residential neighborhood. As you can imagine, the locals are rather unhappy about this, myself included. I guess I'm not surprised that people don't want toxic chemicals sitting in a concentrated mass just blocks away from their backyards. The EPA keeps saying that it will be safe to put the chemicals there, but yeah, no one's really buying that. (Side note to government employees and organizations: in case you haven't noticed, people don't trust you so much. Not these days, anyway.)

Paul and I were walking downtown earlier today, and we passed city hall, and we saw a group of people with anti-EPA signs getting ready to protest to whatever city officials and citizens were nearby. Then Paul noticed that one of them was smoking. That kind of destroys any argument that person has, don't you think? I'm all against the dumping of hazardous chemicals near where I live, but I also don't make a habit of intentionally inhaling similarly hazardous chemicals at regular intervals throughout the day and paying for the priviledge to do so. I understand that people have addictions, but come on: if you're going to protest, you should display a certain level of consistency. You don't see people at anti-fur demonstrations eating bacon cheeseburgers.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Did I mention that Paul and I are taking dance lessons? Well, we are. Paul figured out early on in our relationship that I was a pretty lousy dancer, despite regular weekly viewings of Solid Gold and Dance Fever when they were on tv, as well as several years of ballet instruction when I was in grade school. I can still contort my feet into fifth position, and while it remains one of my favorite parlor tricks, it doesn't help much at a club or other event where there's any type of dancing. (If you don't know what fifth position is, it's completely PG and really not very important anyway.) And, as a result of a very short-lived and rather embarrassing Debbie Gibson phase back in junior high, I can do this move where you stand shoulder-width apart and have your hand in a fist and lock your elbow in a right angle and then move your forearm back and forth in front of your face and then, oh, forget it. That's not dancing -- it's a goddam train wreck, and while it's somewhat amusing (if only to myself), I really want no part of it. I don't know how to dance. Anyway, Paul thought since we're getting married and all, we shouldn't embarrass ourselves at our own wedding when we have our first dance. Or rather, I shouldn't embarrass us: Paul's had lessons before and sort of knows what he's doing, whereas whenever we try to dance, I stare at the floor, step on his toes, and don't follow his lead very well at all.

We had our second lesson tonight; we're doing it through the local public school's community ed program, and while I used to quietly turn my nose up at those programs, these lessons are actually pretty good. (Dear local community ed people: Sorry about that. Won't happen again.) Our teacher moves the class pretty quickly, and she sort of expects us to get it on the first or second try, but I'm actually learning how to dance properly! And I feel a little bit more confident about dancing in front of others. This past weekend, we went to a wedding, and even though we had had just one lesson, I felt like I maybe sort of knew what I was doing, or more so than I had in the past, anyway. For one thing, I don't look at the floor anymore when we're dancing. That's progress, wouldn't you say?

So yes, we're taking lessons, and in five weeks, clear the floor and bring on the dance challenges a la Fast Forward (you know, that crappy Sidney Poitier movie from the mid-80s with the predictable plot and no breakout stars). I am starting up my own dance posse. We're getting black satin jackets with the name of our crew stenciled on the backs, and by summer's end, we will rule the city by outdancing every two-bit gang of so-called dancers that dares to question our superior moves. Umm, or more likely, I won't be clueless at our wedding. Actually, that's probably the more likely option. But the ruling the city thing sounds intriguing.

Saturday, April 14, 2007
The week after Easter is usually one of my favorite weeks of the year because it's when all of the delicious Easter candy goes on sale. I guess for people who celebrate Easter and want their Easter candy on Easter, it's not such a big deal. They're usually all candy-ed out by now anyway. But for us Jews who could care less what color foil is wrapped around a piece of chocolate and who appreciate stretching a dollar, it's awesome! I went to Walgreen's on Monday, and it was all half off. Jackpot.

Lots of people sing (or speak) the praises of the Cadbury Creme Eggs, but my favorite Easter chocolate has got to be the Cadbury mini eggs. They've gotten a bit more popular in recent years and you can find them easier now, but a few years ago, it was literally an Easter egg hunt to find one of those crinkly purple bags of goodness. Have you had these? They're like M&Ms on steroids, but with better chocolate and better crispy shell, and unlike M&Ms, the law of diminishing returns doesn't seem to apply when eating the Cadbury ones. In other words, the more M&Ms I eat, the fewer I want, but the more Cadbury mini eggs I eat, the more I want to keep eating them. I don't know what it is about these, and I've never tried cocaine, but I would imagine that the Cadbury mini eggs are just as addicting as cocaine. Not to mock or diminish the seriousness of a cocaine dependency or anything. But if you gave me my choice of a bowl of Cadbury mini eggs or a few lines of coke, I'd take the chocolate candy over the nose candy.

This year, Cadbury came out with dark choclate mini eggs, which were really good, and even though I usually prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate, I actually like the original mini eggs better than the dark. So yeah. I bought two bags on Monday, and now they're gone, and let's just say Paul didn't eat too many. (He likes candy of the gummy/tart/chewy variety.) And I could seriously eat a few more bags, because they are just so delicious and addicting. But this morning I was in Walgreen's, and they still had some Cadbury mini eggs, only this time they were 75% off. They were practically giving them away! I thought for a minute, but I had to pass. They're good, but I also like my clothes to fit. I'll wait until the week after Christmas; Cadbury came out with bags of Christmas chocolates that are just like the mini eggs but with red/green/white coating. They are just as tasty, and by then I won't have to worry about fitting into my wedding dress.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007
I'm sorry: I finished a big project this afternoon, and then I had to teach after that, and I didn't have a meal until after eight tonight (unless you consider the orange, handful of sugar snap peas, and jelly donut I ate today as a meal, but they're really not, and I didn't even eat them together), and I wore myself out brushing several inches of heavy, wet snow off my car not once but twice, and I wasted a lot of emotional energy cursing the weather, and the cumulative effect of all of that is I'm just totally fucking braindead right now.

But to weigh in: nappy-headed hos was a stupid remark, but that's not the problem. It's just a symptom of a societal disease for which, at the moment anyway, there does not appear to be a cure, or even a painkiller. But it was still a stupid thing to say. And for the record, Jesse Jackson's comment about New York being Hymie-town was also stupid, as was Michael Savage telling a gay man that he should get AIDS and die. So maybe part of the problem is that we all say stupid stuff from time to time, and we're just not very forgiving as a species.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I am really taking all of this springtime snow personally. This blows! On the other hand, the crappy weather made us want to stay in on Saturday, and we watched March of the Penguins, and now I want a little baby penguin chick of my own. They're incredibly cute, they don't require much more than a warm place, and if anyone in the house pukes, a baby penguin will gladly eat it (or so the film made it seem). But while I was watching the movie, I kept thinking of how conservative Republicans kept looking to March of the Penguins as a good example of ideal family values. I don't get this at all. Family values? Some of the penguin parents just stood there and watched as their eggs died! Family values? When a baby penguin would die, its mother would try to steal some other penguin's kid! Family values? Those penguins don't find lifelong partners! They're monogamous only for a year, and only if the egg they create with another penguin actually hatches into a baby. Then, next mating season, they're off with some other penguin. I don't know what these conservatives were thinking. There were no family values here, unless half-assed fatherhood, kidnapping, and multiple partners reminded these morons of their own family lives.

Sunday, April 8, 2007
Sadly, this is my last day of spring break. I guess it can't last forever. Oh, and it's Easter! To all of our Christian readers, all of us here at wish you a happy and peaceful Easter. We hope you got lots of colored eggs and chocolate bunnies and ham. And we hope you didn't get a spooky white Easter, like we did here in the upper Midwest. Seriously, there's snow on the ground, and I think today was colder than Christmas. If I were Christian, this would be a big deal!

Anyway, back to our New York spring break adventures. Paul and Randy and I went up to Spanish Harlem to check out the Museum of the City of New York. We had never been there, and it was great! We went specifically to check out the Robert Moses exhibit, which featured lots of cool maps, photos, City-of-the-Future-ish artist's renderings of projects before they were built (or never built, in some cases), and some cool scale models. I knew that Moses was influential in the design and implementation of many of New York's highways and byways, but I had no idea the extent to which he was involved, or how controversial of a figure he was. Apparently, a lot of New York museums are doing Moses-centered exhibits right now, and I don't know about the others, but the one at the MCNY portrays him in what I thought was a very fair light. I had always heard about how Robert Moses was some genius of transport design, and that always seemed to good to be true. In reality, as I learned from the exhibit and which confirmed some of my suspicions, a lot of Moses's ideas met with enormous opposition. He seemed to have a substantial lack of regard for neighborhoods, putting traffic flow before community building, and a lot of people (understandably) thought he was wrong. One of his more recognizable foes was author and eyes-on-the-street specialist Jane Jacobs, who, I learned, even got arrested while protesting one of Moses's designs. I think it was during a protest for the Lower Manhattan Expressway, which, if it had been built, would have sliced right through Canal Street and destroyed what Jacobs considered to be a strong neighborhood (and, arguably, the next 50 years of artsy bohemiam drug culture, which would have been a shame to lose). Fascinating, no?

If you are in or will be in New York before the Moses exibit closes on May 28, I would highly recommend a visit. The MCNY is a great museum that I hadn't even heard of before, and it had some other interesting exhibits and this very cool multimedia presentation called Timescapes, which detailed the history of Manhattan from New World farmland to present day. It's so strange to think of farms being where midtown is now, but they were. It was kind of like Ric Burns's New York documentary, but in 22 minutes instead of six hours. That alone might have been worth the price of admission.

Friday, April 6, 2007
This is so cheesy. Okay, so I feel cheesy about this picture, but yeah, here I am in the goofy-ass wax museum in Times Square posing with a wax figure of Annie Leibovitz. And now that I look at this, either she is very tall or I am insanely short. Probably a little of both, with an emphasis on the latter. Frankly, I was impressed that they had an Annie Leibovitz wax figure, as she's not exactly a big-time celebrity, but there she was, and here I am, holding up my brother's puny S2 IS (which is no bigger than my puny G5) next to her bazillion-dollar, diamond-studded, gold plated camera. But whatever. (Okay, and I made up the part about the diamonds, an the gold, and probably about the bazillion dollars too.) The wax museum was fun. Silly fun, but that counts.

The next day, Paul and I headed up north a bit to go to Storm King Art Center. My parents used to take us there when we were younger, and I remember climbing on all of the giant outdoor sculptures they had, but now there are signs friggin' everywhere telling you politely but firmly (so firmly) to please not touch or climb on the sculptures. So that was out. Those signs were probably there when I was younger, but I probably either didn't see them or completely ignored them. I wanted to climb on a few of the sculptures, but you know, you can't get away with that kind of stuff as an adult.

So strong. Anyway, we walked around for about two hours before it started to rain, and Paul posed for this picture under one of my favorite pieces. It's called Suspended, and it used to freak me out when I was younger. I was afraid to stand under it because even though it's solidly rooted in the ground, I thought that it would lose its balance the second I stepped under it and crush me. But here it is, all these years later, still hanging. Sometimes I wish I hadn't been so afraid of stupid shit as a child.

More about New York soon. I'm tired, and it's fucking snowing.

Thursday, April 5, 2007
Alright. I am back, and even though I was away for four or five days, it really felt like one or two, and I know I didn't write anything here while I was gone, but it seemed like all of my time was taken up with family stuff or touristy stuff or eating. But, I am back and ready to go!

Okay, so where was I? Right, we went to New York for a few days, and it was fun. We flew out super early on Saturday morning; I didn't want to fly, but my parents insisted, and when they said they'd pay for the tickets, I figured that they really didn't want us driving, and so I just sucked it up and got on the damn plane. The trip was okay with the exception of a helicopter in our landing path. (The pilot pulled the plane up at the last minute to avoid hitting it, but no one in the cabin could see the helicopter. We could only feel the plane more or less taking off again, and everyone looked at each other with faces that were cautiously worrisome and expressions like they were wondering if that might be a good time to start praying. But it all worked out okay.) We got in and met up with Randy in midtown, then prompty went for bagels at Tal's. I had mine with some pickled herring in cream sauce. Yes, I know you think that's disgusting, but I really love it, and the stuff you can buy here in the jars just doesn't come close to what you can get in a New York appetizing shop. Deee-lish. After stuffing our faces, we picked up "the dog" (which belongs to Randy's girlfriend, who did not join us) and went to Central Park for a free walking tour. It was a beautiful day to be out in the park, and the tour was alright, but eh. Our tour guide didn't have much gusto. You get what you pay for, I guess. But it was still nice, and I learned a few things about the park, like how the promenade is the only straight, formal part of the park because Olmstead wanted park visitors to be able to discover things around the corner, rather than walk in straight lines. Interesting!

After that, Randy left with "the dog," and we went with Evan over to Riveside Park for more walking. Then we met up with everyone except Evan and Lainey at Ruby Foo's in Times Square for some tasty pan-Asian cuisine in a trendy atmosphere. I like the food at Ruby Foo's, but something about the atmosphere in that place feels a little corporate. I don't know how to put my finger on it; it just feels that way to me. But the food is really good, and at least it's not Applebee's, which to my horror was right next door. (People of the city of New York: How could you let that happen?)

After dinner, mom and dad went to see a show, leaving me, Paul, Randy, Carly (no dog this time), and my aunt, who flew up from Florida just to have a nice Passover Seder with us, to our own devices. After browsing in a record store for a little while (record stores seem so old these days), Paul thought we should do something more exciting. We all agreed, and Randy suggested the wax museum. The wax museum! We sort of thought it might be kind of fun in a silly sort of way, and my aunt thought it was a great idea and even offered to treat, so we walked a few blocks over to Madame Tussaud's and giggled for the next two hours. The place was kind of overpriced, but maybe you can't put a price on that kind of kitschy stupidity. We posed next to Woody Allen and Mickey Mantle for pictures, and we marveled at how good some of the figures looked (Morgan Freeman, Steven Spielberg) and how bad some of the others looked (Madonna, or so they said). And they even had a Rachel Ray wax figure. Come on. I know at least a dozen men who would insist that a silent replica of Rachel Ray is better than the real thing.

And then there were a few more days of our trip. I'll write about those soon.

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