December 30, 2006

Hoshigaki


Yes, it looks like an old fashioned hot water bottle, or a small torpedo. But it's a little slice of heaven. This is hoshigaki (preserved persimmon), which I had for the first time in my in-flight meal on my way to Japan. I saw hoshigaki at a market when I came home, and Mr Santa Guy was sweet enough to buy them for me for Christmas.

Turns out that Big Sister Guy knew all about them, because she'd been on a small farm tour in the past few years at a place where they perform the process that turns beautiful but inedible persimmons into to this fabulous taste treat. For more on the process, which is a dying artform, read this article.

Yum.

December 29, 2006

Koriyama, Best Little City in Need of a Postcard

Many people go to Tokyo but not that many go to Koriyama, a smallish city 3 hours north by bullet train. And that's why I was excited that we sent the forklifts there, and me after them. In October, AV-san and I went there to pack them up.

Work was smooth-smooth-smooth. And AV had been there before, so he knew the lay of the land and showed me around in our off hours. There are no post cards of Koriyama. There are only, as AV points out, post cards of things you could see if you only had a car and could drive 20 minutes away from there. However, there's lots to love about the place.

In Koriyama you can find vintage clothing. It's all American. Some of it's from my home town, and AV and I sent word to the former owner of one home town gym shirt that her castoffs were halfway to making some local teen look *really* hip.




Some of the best Chinese food I've had in my life was in Koriyama. AV would argue that it *is* the best Chinese food in the world. I don't really care, but it was tasty. And after we ate at AV's fave restaurant, we went out for a nightcap on the QT with our friend at an amazing restaurant with gorgeous traditional music and local color. This is a detail of my favorite picture from that night. What you don't see is the AV and Mrs Guy show in the foreground. What you *do* see is what our friend could see between us. I'm leaving the picture sorta large so you can zoom in if you like:



And in Koriyama, you can get a killer haircut.

For those going to Koriyama, go to Prea Salon in the basement of Hotel Precede. They'll totally hook you up and restore cuteness where before was only a barren conglomeration of random aimless hair. No really. Just consult your phrase book, write down the phrases for "I'd like a haircut," "How much," "Can you write that down for me" and whatever time you want to make an appointment for, and speak the words.

Language. It works! We had smiles all around:






And Koriyama has some of the best sushi around. Who needs a picture of sushi, so just trust me. In Koriyama, the people are so very nice. Take the plunge and go to a sushi restaurant with no english on the menu. Bring your phrase book, try to remember stuff you order back home, and point if you see something that looks tasty. You're free entertainment for the other customers (or at least we were), and you'll have an amazing time. I'm still expecting an email from our young chef-in-training.

He likes forklifts.


December 28, 2006

The Greater Guy Family Christmas

Enchiladas, krumkakke, laughing.

Followed by the beach, Cheez-its, and planning when we'll do this again.

My people.

December 27, 2006

Soul Brother #1

I guess this is the appropriate time for my one James Brown story, from way back when mrs guy was still Miss Somebody Else.

So...back in the day, the fanciest hotel in town only booked big orchestras and "champagne music" for its swankiest room (let's call it The Firenze Room). By the end of the 20th century, however, they wanted to change their image and draw a new crowd, so they hired James Brown to be the first act of the new era. Boyfriend and I were big JB fans, so we made reservations for the first night of his engagement at the Firenze Room.

The night of the show, I got off early from my job at the diner. I ducked into the diner bathroom to change into my "fancy" clothes, Boyfriend and I got into my 1968 Oldsmobile Delmont 88 named Maceo (after Maceo Parker of JB's band) and we headed to the big city.

And we got to the hotel too early, because we were eager to get a good table. As they were about to seat us, a tiny man came up to the host and said "The man's READY." The host stammered "But he's not supposed to go on for 45 minutes!" and the little guy countered with "Well you better call Room 225" (or whatever it was).

It was clear what we'd just seen. James wanted to go on, but the venue wasn't ready for him and most of the audience hadn't arrived yet. Drama in real life! We'd already gotten our money's worth, as far as I was concerned.

We sipped a martini and waited for the intro:

"FIFTYtwo-years-old-and-the-hardest-working-man-in-showbusiness-Mr-Ja-a-a-a-a-a-mes Brown!" The show was awesome. The singing. The cape. The whole deal. There is nobody like James Brown. The only drag was that he waged a battle with the sound guy. He stopped the show several times and threatened to walk off the stage if the sound man didn't turn up the volume. It didn't seem like part of the act. Oh well. An artist of James Brown's caliber has exacting standards, right? Oh Honey, you don't know the half of it.

After the show, we loitered. We left messages with the front desk for our "close personal friend" Mr James Brown. We were total dorks, as only very young people fueled by expensive martinis can be.

And then when we thought he had enough time to get to his room, we used the power. We went up to room 225 and for a half hour, Boyfriend and I leaned against the wall on either side of the door and smoked cigarettes and listened to Soul Brother #1 chew out his band. They were so amazing that I was shocked that he found things to pick on. It's been quite some time, so I only recall one thing clearly: he took time for a little choreography. "...and when I do THIS" followed by a trademark JB gutteral !hooh! and some unknown gesture or movement "...I want you to come in real low."

That's it, really. Hate to wind you up for a story with no ending, but the man was ready yesterday, and wherever he went is scrambling to prepare, I'm sure.

December 22, 2006

Goosemas

It's difficult to believe that it's already Goosemas.

Not long ago it was guava season.














Then it was foggy.



















And now Porkopola and Fritz are festive northerners, Santa and Mrs. Goose.



















The factory is closed until the 2nd, and all is well with the world.


Peace.

December 12, 2006

Mele Kalikimaka

Tonight was the uke band holiday party. Mr Guy and I worked up two songs: Kaua'i Beauty and Kaimana Hila (in case of hana hou). It was so much fun. I call the potlucks "the potluck of the gods" because everybody is such a good cook. Banana lumpia? Doesn't get much better than that!

But everybody brings something to share, whether it's food or their wonderful energy, or they dance a beautiful hula or they play a song. It made for a tremendous night. I feel very lucky to be one of their members.

I got schnookered by Auntie Spunky. As I came in she asked me to sign up to play, then she asked me to sign other people up to play, then she was onstage and they asked me to tell them who was next, and when they reeled me into reach they put a mic in my hand and asked me to keep the list going. Then eventually Uncle Jr set me up with the cordless, and I could MC and snipe from the bushes and still eat my dinner between songs and keep the list going. It was very fun.

I was asked to add witty patter, which really isn't my thing. "Tell a librarian joke!" they yelled. There aren't any, so I started one that can't be finished: "These two librarians walk into a bar..."

Google this as a phrase. There aren't any hits! Until now, of course.

November 24, 2006

Mr. Bling

Mr. Bling is more than a sock monkey. He's good company, and mixes a fine beverage in Mr. Bling's Ukulele bar.

Before Mr. Bling racks up more miles, I'd like to share his 2005 - 2006 travel diary.

In December, he took an NBC studio tour:













In February he visited with Frida and Diego:

















In June he sat on the Queen:

















And in October he met Totoro:











Hopefully tomorrow he will see Mt. Fuji, as he and I go back to the land of Namazu to look after the forklifts.

Bidet

Recently I had a birthday. Hearing it was my birthday, one of the guys from the factory asked me my age (in so many words). The real answer is "ageless," but I was somewhat flabbergasted and unable to retort.

Brother Guy, who is ageless himself (and in fact age-ier than I by a factor of whatever), said he was trying to figure out my age, but his abacus went up in flames.

Ah the Guy Family wit in action.

November 14, 2006

My Breakfast


I finally have my photos from Japan. Prepare for the onslaught of information. This is the first picture I took: my breakfast.

AV-san wanted an American breakfast, and that's what we thought we were having, only when we got to the buffet it wasn't too American.


On the left we have the Western breakfast elements (marmalade, potatoes, runny eggs, weiners), and on the right, we have the Eastern breakfast (preserved plums, simmered squash, teensy baby eels, burdock. The crickets are to the left of the pumpkin at about 8 o'clock). Not pictured: croissants and succulent leaves. No really.

Eating for 8 days in Japan was like being in pig heaven.

November 11, 2006

I'll Get You, Tannrath




When I was home last week I asked the Grand Mamoo if I could have something from the house that I've wanted since I first laid eyes on it. When I told her I coveted something from the house, I think she anticipated that it was something fancy. In fact it's a 1948 edition of A. M. Tannrath's "How to Locate Skips and Collect."

Not sure if my pop ever used it. The binding doesn't indicate that it was opened much, but my sister and I open this thing a lot when we're home. It's a book for the gumshoe in simpler times.

Basically it's a book that describes how to collect on debts, how to track down information that will help you do it, and it's full of form letters used by collection agents. Here is one sample letter that will help you find the address of a debtor, from a section of the book titled "Tracing Through City Clerk":

=====================

City Clerk
Hessville
Missouri


Dear Sir:

Will you please send me the address of
John Johnson, as I have something to send
him. Thanks.

Very truly yours,

C. C. Cutler

===================

It's as easy as that!

November 9, 2006

Wow

Something Fearless said this week reminded me of a story from...The Old Place.

One of my favorite things about the old place was the old supermarket. It had been a bowling alley but by the time we moved to town it was a tidy but grimy little mom and pop market.

Without this place I could not have survived our lean years. Greens were 69c a bunch, and I never spent more than $10 at a time there except on a rare occasion. They'd get odd lots of food for cheap, some of it in the category of "expired, but tasty." We lived on expired Tasty Bites Indian food in a pouch, carrots and rice for at least a year while I was on graduate school.

Occasionally I'd treat myself. You could buy fancy Swiss chocolate bars, three for a dollar or chips or something fun for next to nothing. How the nice owner made his dollar, I don't know.

One day I saw some Pringles and had a complete craving. We never had those as kids. The absurd flavor, Pizza, made me need it even more. I came home, popped open the can, grabbed a stack of Pringles and the National Enquirer and started relaxing. About ten minutes later, my stomach started feeling like it was bubbling. Then the absurd and horrible gas storm began.

Mr Guy came in and raised his eyebrows in alarm. The stench was eye watering. The discomfort was...long and awful. In the morning I woke up and in typical Mrs Guy fashion immediately grabbed for the Pringles. Mr Guy had put them away, which I thought was very impolite. But I found them and ate them, trying to settle my stomach by means of starch and fat. What a bad idea.

I went off to my computer to start a day of sleuthing. Mr Guy came in the office and saw the Pringles. His eyes opened wide. "I hid those." "I found them." "They're 'Wow' chips. They contain Olestra." "Oh no!!!!" For those who never tried a "Wow" chip, please refer to the previous paragraphs. For fully 1/4 of people who ingest Olestra you're going to have a similar experience. Or so I learned from the complaint line at Procter and Gamble. They call it a food. I am among the 1/4 of the people who ingest Olestra and produce lava. I spent some quality time with the complaint guy. He sent me coupons for makeup and samples of foundation that burnt my face. I think it was both covering up and removing my wrinkles.

October 31, 2006

Hallowe'en

It's a quiet day in suburbia. Mr Guy celebrated his first day of freedom from his job by having surgery. Now we're home, his costume is "Guy Who Had Surgery," and I'm doing his evil bidding in between feeding candy to the goblins.

I had hoped to post jack-o-lantern pictures, but today our gourds remain unpierced. We had big plans to make a pumpkin effigy of our youngest grand niece who makes an excellent kooky grin while clutching her high chair tray, but it didn't work out.

While Mr Guy was sleeping, I made stock and apple guava turnovers and beets, and when I couldn't gather the strength to cut into the pumpkin myself, I stuck it in a plastic bag and threw it off the back porch to crack it open. It worked (after a few false starts and one escape down the driveway). It's now pumpkin soup.

I have now experienced a first: a little trick-or-treater who was on the cel phone the entire time she's at my door opening her bag and saying thank you. Couldn't have been more than ten years old...

October 29, 2006

The Menu

It's about all I can do to not write about the old place. The Sunday paper's magazine section had an article about the poor punk waif who escaped the old place to find fame, fortune, and a fake British accent. And I can spend the rest of my life describing our 7 1/2 years in the old place to an astonished audience, so there's plenty of time there. I'm moving on to food.

Today, we went to an open house of a designer-built gorgeous place with a view. Then we scaled back our shopping plans after realizing that nobody is open on Sunday around here. But the Japanese market and the Japanese dollar store and the regular old American grocery store were open, so pumpkins and dashi and mirin and umeshu and gobo and the National Enquirer were all procured. Thus our dinner. After owning my Japanese cookbook for 20 years, I cooked from it:

  • Tiny plum tomatoes in a rice wine shiso vinaigrette
  • Kinpira Gobo (braised burdock root and carrots)
  • Homemade miso soup
  • Baby turnips and their leaves
  • Kabocha Nimono (simmered squash)

Boy was that tasty. Next year, I'm growing shiso. In Koriyama I was served maki containing squash, maguro and shiso. I still dream of the flavor.

October 24, 2006

Xavier Cugat

What I really want to do is talk about the weather...how right now it can be as balmy as Koriyama during the day but shrouded in fog in the morning, and the gorgeous weird sunsets lately that look like a pink cigar attack on the hills behind us. And the pineapple guavas that are ripe all at the same time and require eating. But instead I bring you Xavier Cugat.





Xavier Cugat was a Cuban bandleader far older than his hot flamenco guitar playing wife, Charo. I knew him from the TV talk shows of my youth as the old guy married to Charo. Charo's website doesn't even say that they were ever married, for whatever that's worth!

Among his many talents, XC seems to have been a visual artist. Or to have signed some paintings. Or to have sold some art that had his name on it. Or something.


This weekend I saw a painting by Xavier Cugat at an auction site and it cracked me up so I thought I'd buy it but I want to know more (painting 1).

Then I looked on the Web and saw basically the same painting with a story about how the owner's parents bought it in Mexico at a XC concert (painting 2).









Then I saw the same painting without the liver containers (painting 3).

At three and counting, the thrill is gone. Now I don't really want to own an alleged Xavier Cugat painting as much as I want to count how many instances of this painting I can find.

October 20, 2006

Could it be?

Tomorrow I can bake a chicken, work in the garden and listen to NPR. That’s a little slice of heaven right there.

Last night we went to see the Pride of Hoboken at the local largish venue. In attendance: old people.

The last time we went to this place, we saw Spoon. We did what the other kids did, and plopped ourselves down on the dance floor to hold our spot while we waited for the opening act to begin. When we all stood, I realized that we were a dozen inches and two dozen years bigger than everyone around us, mostly students from the state college. And Spoon rocked hard but didn’t move me, bless their hearts.

Speaking of dumb, can anyone explain why old people feel the need to puff boo at concerts? It's intrusive to those of us who don't, it doesn’t make them cool, and it doesn’t improve their dancing and the guy next to me smelled like he mistakenly lit a fire in an old tuna can. The people of the past called this "ditch weed." Great, dude. Sure, you’re going to score with Girl Drummer.

October 16, 2006

Soba

While in Japan, I required the services of a noodle coach.

Our hosts kindly neglected to mention my pigly unkempt way with noodles, but my everyday dining companion pretty much gave me a complex about my technique. It turns out that I was often leaving a man down, letting the final noodle of every bite flap around unattended, the last drip of sauce ready to take off like a kid diving into the lake from a tire swing. There's more to this noodle eating than meets the eye.

At the airport, a last burst of coaching improved my posture and my noodle way improved, benefiting from solid coaching from the noodle coach.

October 14, 2006

Count Goosula


Time for the changing of the goose guard.

Home

I have returned to the Guy Home. There is a chill in the air, Mr Guy has been puttering, the cats have been planting their fat carcasses on me, and there are possums walking on the cabana.

Back at the old place, our little house got so hot in the fall that I had to study outside. One night, after studying by candlelight for several hours, I realized I was surrounded by a family of possums, quietly creeping through the trumpet vine on the fence. They ate my only squash, those bums, but I've always had a soft spot for them and their drunken lumbering gait.

One night I opened the back door and frightened a possum, who fell out of the tree and landed at my feet. We both screamed and I closed the door.

October 8, 2006

Jake

Forklifts used to keep me local, but now I get around on occasion with the traveling forklift history exhibition.

At 1:30 AM local time, I couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the T.V. Saw a young fellow on the tube and thought “Hey! That looks like Jake Shimabukuro!” quickly followed by “You’re in Tokyo. LOTS of people look like Jake Shimabukuro.” But in fact I had lucked into an entire show about the history of the ukulele, with a tour of the Kamaka factory and interviews with Jake and his family.

To a person traveling in Japan with a ukulele, it was a good sign.

[posted 10/8. Spelling corrected 10/11. And 10/14 ;)]

October 5, 2006

Mrs Guy's Homework

Today we had a team offsite of the educational wing of the forklift company. We rapped, we presented, we asked questions, we drew pictures, we admired each other's work. Winding up our day was an assignment to go out in the world early and report back about what we did. Usually Mr Guy is the executive producer of The Observatory, but today Fearless Leader is.

I left the factory and my adventure was this: I rushed across town to the taco vendor to buy yen. But I missed the open hours, so they sent me to a different taqueria, where the foreign currency window stays open late. I was in line behind a (bike messenger?) (street musician?) (entrepreneur with the lightest overall coating of fine dirt?). He was trying to convert old money that had come to him in various ways. Some he found on the ground, some were given to him by someone who said "this is the equivalent of breakfast."

We in the room all agreed that these were handsome bills, but nobody knew what they were.

When the guy who handles the tough questions came out to identify the money, we learned that it was the "old currency" for Greece, Slovenia and Macao. None of it was legal tender, so the guy was plum out of luck. They were going to leave it at that.

Unable to stop myself from helping this guy, I asked the bank guys if the coin dealer still works across the street. Selling this former money as stuff seemed like the guy’s only hope for getting a breakfast worth of dollars out of defunct Slovenian cash. He left with no money, but a pocketful of advice from all of us about how to navigate the whims of the cranky pants coin dealer.




September 28, 2006

Distraction

When all else fails, dream about kitties I say.

Last week I dreamed that Ears was chasing our pygmy zebra around the house...


September 23, 2006

Namazu

I attended a lecture this year on early documentary evidence of earthquakes. Learning about Namazu, the Japanese catfish deity who is responsible for causing earthquakes, made my week.

As the story sometimes is told, Namazu lives in a body of water deep in the earth. The Kashima Deity, whose responsibility it is to hold Namazu in place under water, is sometimes fatigued or called out of town. At that time, Namazu breaks loose, and the littler catfish are released as aftershocks.

Prints that depict Namazu are called Namazu-e, and they're a current obsession of mine. In them, Namazu and sometimes Mrs. Namazu are depicted wearing kimonos and living an existence similar to humans (with the exception of the being held underwater in middle earth by a deity part). The prints are beautiful and sometimes humorous.

In these prints, Namazu is variously feted by carpenters who are happy to have work rebuilding houses after an earthquake, brought under control by angry townspeople, and taken to task by the deity in charge of him.

He's still around. Here. And here. And here, on an earthquake preparedness website.

For a wonderful site about Namazu, visit Gregory Smits' site.

September 16, 2006

The Bakeoff

Oh The Pillsbury Bakeoff.

It was inescapable when I was a kid. They advertised during Mom's soap operas. Their recipe books sit right next to the cashier in every grocery store in America. They own flour.

Pause to mention that the Jehova's have a persistent 5 knock pattern. Won't be going outside for a while.

One year, MrsMiddleGuySis and I got a wild hair to fulfill our childhood fantasies of becoming finalists in the Bakeoff. I just want to cook in a ballroom with 99 other people. Sis wants the million, and also to be a finalist the year that I am, and she thinks it should be possible.

In Winter 2004 this was all-consuming for the ladies and their families who had to eat each variation of the recipes.

Sis went Italian, creating layered raviolis made with won ton skins that Mom dubbed "Rotundis." My entries presumed that it was possible to seduce the palette of Middle America with beets. Blue Cheese Beet Bites were a savory julienne of beets in crust. Garnet Curry Pockets were an admission that 2002's Bakeoff winners had been mainly portable. Given the polarizing effect of beets, I gained good recipes and no glory.

Last year I went into it alone, submitting a New Year's Day dish (New Year's Day Blackeye Pea Salsa Wraps) and a sour cream pie (Banana Sunshine Pie). In order to get rid of the stuff I instituted the 3pm "pie break" at work, and asked my co-workers to critique different versions. I have to say this idea was a stroke of brilliance. People show up when the email says "pie."

Luckily for the Guy Family, Bakeoff is a biennial event.

September 15, 2006

On A Stick

Gratuitous spearing of food with wood is a summer tradition. The stick adds portability and drama. "How much of this meal will end up on the sidewalk?" I wonder as I eat sticked food.

But back to shopping...back in the old place, when the thrift store was good, I bought a 50c record that was amazing. It was all I listened to for weeks: "Whatever You Are," by Sonny Padilla Jr.

SPJr was a self-styled teen heart throb. His LP was filled with lyric sheets and two different kinds of photographs of Sonny. One was a classic head shot. One was a photo montage, including a small portrait of young Sonny looking dreamily into space while wielding a corn dog at eye level. I became so enamored of this shot that I *almost* talked Mr Guy into having our wedding portraits taken with corndogs in hand.

Some foods are born to the stick. Candy apples, for one. I ate an amazing candy apple in the dead of winter at Coney Island. The cinnamon candy shell was so thick that in order to eat it I put the waxed paper against a filthy carney phonebooth and smacked the apple into the paper to break the candy. The most satisfying on-a-stick experience to date.

And some foods do not belong on a stick. Case in point: Montage, chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. I watched a vendor struggle to give this stuff away outside the Ferragamo store in Manhattan on a hot August day. It was either the stick or the terrible name.

The MN State Fair this year boasted no fewer than 50 different foods on a stick. And one booth which was reported to call itself "Nothin on a Stick." Hot Dish, a traditional casserole of beef, mushroom gravy and a tater tot blackout on top was somehow consolidated by unholy means and was sold on a stick.

September 11, 2006

Officer No-Tooth

Part of the charm of the old place was that it was so not the city. In the city, it cost a ton of dough to get by, parking at night would take a half hour, and a trip to the local Safeway required full makeup because even at midnight you were likely to run into someone from a rock band you knew.

The old place, where we moved after we left the city, was refreshing in its price, and its anonymity. What we gained in pocket change, anonymity and parking spaces, however, we paid for in a lack of agreed-upon values and behaviors. That said, it kind of rocked, from an anthropological standpoint.

And more on that later, but today I am reminded of this:

The old place is in unincorporated county. From a practical standpoint, this means you're left alone and you're LEFT ALONE. When authority asserts itself, it doesn't necessarily have the checks and balances that a constabulary that reports to a city council has. A man who I will refer to only as Officer No-Tooth is the law in those parts.

One absurdly rainy evening, during the second rainiest month in the year, my geezerly old Tercel and I made it down the main drag of the old place. There are only two stop lights in our town, untimed. No turn of events could have resulted in the speed I was claimed to have been clocked at, but I admit that I was speeding.

I hung a left at the feed store, and traveled the two blocks to our house. I parked. The sheriff pulled alongside me. He got out and asked me to roll down my window. He was missing one of his front teeth, adding to his questionable Deliverance-like air of authority. "You know you were driving 60 down Parker?" he asked. I sputtered and laughed. "I'm sorry, but my car doesn't go 60." He said "You live around here?" "Yep. I live right here." "O.K., well if you stand in the corner in the rain for five minutes, I will not give you a ticket." "You got a deal" I said, knowing that there wasn't anyone within screaming distance who could possibly help me. I got out of my car, stood on the corner, smiled and waved like a prom queen as he pulled a u-turn and drove away.

I braved the pouring rain for about two minutes, then bolted for the house.


September 3, 2006

Mr Guy Will Not Eat His Brother The Pig

One evening after a long day in the studio, Mr Guy and Mr Seattlefriend returned to the Oakwood Corporate Apartments where they were shacking for the duration of the recording of Instrumental Band's album #3. Mr Seattlefriend controlled the man stick and was therefore responsible for the night's viewing and what happened afterward. He selected the David Letterman show. Stupid pet tricks was on, and a guy brought a big old hog with him.

David Letterman: "What is your hog's trick?"

Pig Owner: "My pig will enjoy a breath mint."

So the guy tosses the pig a breath mint. The pig eats it and begins inhaling and exhaling quickly, to enjoy the cooling sensation of the mint. The pig seemed so smart, and Mr Guy was taken with the pig's soulful eye. A kinship was formed at that moment and Mr Guy decided that he would not eat his brother the pig.

Henceforth, "brother" became code for pork in our house and the greater Guy Family. I like Campbell's Bean and Brother soup, for example. And on my pizza, brotheroni, but I buy turkeyroni for the Guy Home.

Now he doesn't stress if someone serves him brother, and occasionally he's had to fall off the brother wagon, most notably when he toured Germany for a month with Mr Guy South's band. Germany, as MG describes it, is a country paved almost entirely with pigs.

MG's barnyard family has expanded of late to include his sister the duck, and I know that when I hear him speak of an animal's "soulful eye" that we're going to at some date include that animal in our pantheon of inedible critters. Some people don't eat things with a face. Some people don't eat things that poop. Some people don't eat things that are smarter than the bands they record. Mr Guy is on the slippery slope to vegetarianism because of his capacity to love all things.

We can always eat otter.


Wayward Cafe

Back to Seattle for a moment here. A few years ago, Mr and Mrs Seattlefriend took us to the vegan titty-loaf restaurant, so called because they served their "neat loaf" in a room decorated with sophomoric murals of bare breasted mermaids.

Man that place was good, and on the day we were there it was in particularly fine form. The owner was wearing some sort of hippie pull-on pants and the requisite rainbow beanie, and had sculpted his white beard into a single row of perfect little curls, all curling in one direction, like the ocean as represented in a Medieval manuscript. So he brings us our order, which I believe was two titty loaf and two sloppy glutens, and then asks us if we mind if he vacuums. And with his giant industrial vacuum, he vacuums around us while we eat. The dishwasher wasn't closed properly, and was only partially hidden behind a makeshift modesty curtain, so it was squirting periodically through the curtain and onto the floor. Happy vacuuming hippies in beanies, merpersons smiling down upon us, dishwashers spurting, gluten Joe, all led to the kind of experience I was dying to have again.

So we'd heard that the restaurant had changed hands, but we went last week to check it out anyway. Alas, as we drove up we saw the gnarly-tatted people of the cafe. As non-inked persons of a certain age, we weren't sure how welcome we were going to feel. But we went in, ate their seitan (pronounced Satan) and read literature about cruelty to animals. "What do vegans believe about abortion?" asked one informational flyer. The music was really loud, and the horrible murals have been replaced by even more horrible paintings with skulls. Mr Guy found a pig rescue flyer, which made him very happy.

Next time I'm looking for fake meat, I'll pass on the nihilist loaf and keep looking for rainbows.



August 30, 2006

Princess Kay of the Milky Way

Last year my sister, Ms Middle Guysister moved to Minneapolis, and regaled me with stories of the Minnesota State Fair. Among my favorite new facts was that each year the Midwest Dairy Association crowns the fair's princess, officially named

Princess Kay of the Milky Way

As part of the state fair celebration, Princess Kay's likeness is sculpted in 90lbs. of butter. Her likeness is on display in a refrigerated cabinet during the length of the state fair. It doesn't get much better than this, does it?

For those who have not been to the Minnesota State Fair or are disinclined to believe, I offer the following:

A panorama of the Princess Kay exhibit

Photos of Princesses Kay past

And PK facts, including what PK's did with their buttery tribute at the end of their reign


August 22, 2006

Owen Wilson, Taking Away the Pain of Otters

Even my barest acquaintances know how much I hate otters. Horrible, horrible otters with their fleshy noses and rows of needle-like teeth.

Hate otters but love dreaming about celebrities, apparently. The cognitive dissonance of celebrities and otters met last week when I managed to combine thoughts of both while I was sleeping.

In a dream, I was at a 1960's motel, which had overgrown tropical landscaping. The pool had been transformed into an otter pond. I remember thinking "I should overcome my distaste for otters and try to tickle their bellies as if they were cats." I reached into the pool to find that they weren't nice like cats at all. Big surprise. They're otters.

Later in my dream, Owen Wilson was swimming in the decommissioned pool / otter pond (in his street clothes, I believe, reader). He was sent to my dream by my subconscious in order to distract me from the pain of otters.

-- This post was completed in the blessedly wireless reading room of the Seattle Public Library. Despite the amazing architecture and cool furniture and styling floor coverings, it's their local history collection, vertical files and biographical card index that really fill me with impure thoughts.

August 21, 2006

Bright Barnyardy Tang, and Beyond

I'm eating a sandwich made for me by Mr Guy of smoked trout that he caught himself, and fancy blue cheese from Vermont that tastes a little like dirty goat teat.

When describing the taste of gjetost, a Norwegian goat cheese, a food writer from the New York Times referred to the cheese's "bright barnyardy tang." This cheese goes further. It tastes the way the goat pens at the county fair and floral fiesta smell.

And I like it.

I'll Be in the GOOD Bar

“I’ll be in the good bar” – The Big Guy, on how to locate him on arrival at Seatac.

Post 9/11 you can’t get back to the Good Bar once you’ve collected your luggage. Doesn’t matter. The Big Guy’s not here, but he’s everywhere. The escalator reminds me of the first time I ever saw him. We were coming down, and he was going up. The baggage claim reminds me of the time he forgot which flight we were on. The parking lot reminds me of his pimpy white Lexus sedan with the Peace Frog sticker on the back, which in the post Big Guy era we have converted into a Prius. I salute him by drinking a hefeweisen and writing this while waiting for Mr Fishing Guy to drive down from Canada and find me at the airport (written Sunday, posted Monday).

August 13, 2006

Adventures in Gardening

Mr Guy brought me my iPod to keep me entertained while I was gardening. That Mr Guy.

I learned that gardening and technology aren't always so compatible, and that some days it's all you can do to just keep raccoon poop off your iPod.


But listening to Sol Hoopii while planting cannas is a pretty righteous Sunday endeavor.

On the snack front, Calbee has denied my request for a tour of the factory from which flows my beloved carbohydrates.

Rats


August 10, 2006

Flayva


While you were sleeping, new flavors of chip were inspected (or as Mr Guy might assert, Mrs Guy pumped her own gas for once and thus threw herself in the path of flavor):

Lays Salt & Pepper
A tasty chip that has none of the bite or perfume of pepper. I would eat this chip again, but to call it pepper and anything is a stretch. The primary flavor is garlic, actually, and it's extremely subtle.

Lays Limon
In a word: Trix. Whoa

Calbee Seaweed & Salt
These rank high in the Pantheon of great chips. There is something harmonious, nutty and addicting about these chips. And they have really great mouth feel. A teensy bit thicker than your average (i.e. Lays) chip, and conspicuously groomed by the people of Calbee. In the bags I've consumed so far, there were very few bubbles, blemishes, and chips that fold like a taco.

People of Calbee, I salute you.

Drove past the factory on our way home from the four-generation eatathon and Balderdash smackdown, and now I really regret not making a pilgrimage.

Time for a glass of water.


August 2, 2006

Shypoo

The Guy Family is descended from pharmacists.

MR Mr Guy, henceforth known as The Big Guy, was full-blood Pharmacist (both parents, who owned a pharmacy), making Mr Guy one half Pharmacist.

My Maternal GrandGuy attended pharmacy school, and Paternal GrandGuy was a full-time pharmacist and later pill-jobber for Eli Lilly, who had a weekly 15 minute radio show that instructed listeners in the benefits of VIT-i-MINES. Based on this, I claim slightly less than a half Pharmacist.

The Big Guy grew up in the pharmacy. He told us of the mystery of Shypoo. When his parents made ointments by hand, and had some left over, they'd put the excess in what they called the Shypoo pot. In cases where no topical ointment was having any success, he claimed that they'd write up a prescription for Shypoo, scrape some out of the pot and sell it to the customer.

On reflection, this story has the delicate aroma of untruth, but it gives me the opportunity to write Shypoo over and over and over.

I wish I had a Shypoo pot. Or not

August 1, 2006

Sometimes It's Better Just To Ask

While trying to determine which baby gift registry a friend is using (without asking him), I felt the lure of a celebrity baby registry blog which coughed up the following ad:












urp.

July 27, 2006

We Speak The Truth

Yes, it's true.

The Adventures of El Frenetico and Go Girl:
7) A Zorro-type guy and his karate-kicking girlfriend fight a junk food mogul whose snacks turn people into zombies.

Waldheimia:

5) A family of nearly extinct clams named after Fischer von Waldheim

Myra Fanklin:

7) The woman who has seen the movie The Sound of Music over 1000 times

In Oklahoma it's still illegal to destroy:
2) Another man's melons at night

July 26, 2006

The Gene Pool Has Spoken

In the first round of Balderdash, the Greater Guy Family submitted the following for consideration.

Answers in this space tomorrow.

The Adventures of El Frenetico and Go Girl:

1) A flamenco dancer falls for a handsome waiter and they open a dance studio in Seville. They train a troupe of flamenco dancers who take Broadway by storm
2) A hyperactive mutant teen and her idol meet and end up saving Los Angeles
3) The saga of two Go-Go dancers attempting to win a dance marathon and use the prize money to spring "go girl's" father from a Mexican drug prison
4) Two young benzedrine hop-heads criss-cross the country trying to calm down
5) Two schoolteachers find luck in love and global security when they adopt superhero alter-egos, Dubai-style
6) The misguided adventures of two outcast superheroes ( -- 90 minutes / PG 13)
7) A Zorro-type guy and his karate-kicking girlfriend fight a junk food mogul whose snacks turn people into zombies.

Waldheimia

1) A psychological disorder in which the afflicted fears his reflection in the mirror.
2) A distinctive walk developed by Waldo He (“hay”) using a stride + skip with the left foot and a hop with the right foot.
3) A form of clinical psychosis distinguished by the confusion of policemen for nuns
4) Alsatian meadow violet
5) A family of nearly extinct clams named after Fischer von Waldheim
6) Failure to be able to recall embarrassing incidents in one’s past
7) A rallying cry from German soccer players, when leaving the Black Forest

Myra Fanklin

1) Wrote the hit song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”
2) Mistress of Albert Einstein, who received 20 percent of his estate after his death
3) A”king-maker” socialite who was Theodore Roosevelt’s lover
4) Against the wishes of her husband built a machine shop in the back yard and in it invented the first dual blade lawnmower
5) Girlfriend of “Tommy the Nose,” Mafia figure of the 1960’s.
6) Myra’s family fortunes shifted when this Akron, Ohio, mother of five won the 2001 Duct Tape Challenge by constructing the photo backdrop for her son’s Junior Prom
7) The woman who has seen the movie The Sound of Music over 1000 times

In Oklahoma it's still illegal to destroy:

1) Ballots in the year in which they were cast
2) Another man's melons at night
3) Your neighbor's milk chute
4) Any public sign containing the letters "O.K."
5) The tag on a new mattress until it has been owned for 90 days
6) Church steeples
7) First edition copies of The Grapes of Wrath


July 22, 2006

The New Place Sounds Like This

On the weekends, our neighbor quietly works on his truck in his driveway while listening to recordings of duck calls on the stereo.

MRAKmrakmrakmrakmrakmrak...MRAKmrakMRAAAKmrakmrak...

July 20, 2006

Lice

It's a little early in the season to be discussing lice, but it was a hot day like this when I saw it...

In the old place, there was a thrift store. It was run down but had bargains. I found $40 v-slicer there for $3, for example. And an optigan. And vintage ashtrays from Trader Vics. Still have them all.

It was the kind of place where you could catch local color, like the exasperated mother shouting "TRAVIS!! Put that down or I'll slap a TURD outta ya!!"

Even that was classy compared to the decline that occurred over time. Store changed hands and the new owner let her grandparents sleep on the furniture with the T.V. on. I kept shopping there, but it felt creepy. One day before the store closed for good I saw a greasy pizza box nailed to the wall over the basket of hats and wigs. On the interior was scrawled in ballpoint ink:

Due to lice infestation, do not try on hats.

Such was the old place.

July 13, 2006

Sheffield's Dentifrice -- a correction



Sheffield's Dentifrice -- a correction


The correspondent who furnished the formula for a preparation said to resemble this, which was printed in last month's CIRCULAR, was unfortunate enough to write sodium bicarbonate where he meant to say precipitated chalk. We here reproduce the formula corrected accordingly:


Powdered white castile soap........................6 drs.
Precipitated chalk...........................................15 ozs.
Carmine, No. 40..............................................3 or 4 grs.
Sassafras flavoring (as below).....................100 mins
Glycerin, a sufficient quantity.

Rub the solids well together, add the falvoring in small portions during the constant trituration and then glycerin enough to form a thin paste.

Sassafras Flavoring.

Oil of sassafras..................5 1/2 drs.
Oil of cinnamon..................2 drs.
Oil of wintergreen..............1/2 dr.
Extract of vanilla................4 drs.
Alcohol................................4 drs.
Shake before using.

--- The Druggists Circular And Chemical Gazette, June 1893


July 11, 2006

The Potato Chip Tasting: Results are In

Potato chips are among man's finest culinary achievements. Starch, salt, flavoring agent. Mmm.

They're really an "occasion" snack food. A destination.

My humble Mrs Guy observation is that the era of good potato chip flavor began with sour cream and onion in the 1970's, followed by brand tie-ins with barbeque sauce in the late 1980's. There didn't seem to be much else interesting in the chip market until the early 1990's, when boutique brands like Tim's Cascade and Kettle began experimenting.

Oh those heady days. I looked forward to trips to the Northwest, when I'd sample the latest from Tim's. Jalapeno, Salt & Vinegar (new back then), and Alder Smoked BBQ were standard Guy Family fare. Occasionally Tim's would come out with something new, and completely whiff. Coney Island Flavor was epic in both its novelty and downright hotdogginess. urp. In this state, Kettle was bringing us both flavor and diversity. I miss their brewer's yeast popcorn.

Mainstream chip brands now offer more variety, but some of their efforts have a Pillsbury Bakeoff quality: add a flavor to an existing flavor and call it something new.
Witness dill pickle chips that are born salt & vinegar, and Thai BBQ that seem to have originated as regular BBQ with added ginger flavor. Nothing quite says Bangkok like KC Masterpiece.


But I digress.

My palate was humbled when Mr Guy and I went to England a few years ago and I realized how timid the American taste really is, when it comes to chips. England does flavor, and it does it well. Indian flavors, meaty flavors, spicy flavors...there's a lot to love. Kettle Chips, by the way, is holding out on us in the US. At a tube stop we bought Stilton & Port chips from them that are amazing.

On a recent trip to England, I amazed the airport bookstore people with my towering heap of snack purchases. I stuffed them in my computer bag, purse, everywhere they would fit, so that I could bring them home.

At a recent gathering of the people, we tasted and voted. One variety, Prawn Cocktail, did not make it as far as the tasting (couldn't resist. it was awful. should have been called "catsup")

Our Contestants:

Walker's Sensations Oven Roasted Chicken with Lemon & Thyme
Walker's Sensations Vintage Cheddar & Red Onion Chutney
The Real McCoy's Flame Grilled Steak

o.k., and Hula Hoops, which don't count because they're wheat.

The winner? Surprisingly, Flame Grilled Steak. A close choice between that and Chicken. Not a dud among them.



July 8, 2006

Goose. The Beginning.


In the beginning, there were two Californians who moved to Cincinnati. On their visits they would regale us with stories of Cincinnati culture.

We learned that goetta (pronounced "getta") is a meaty sausage-ish affair. Corn Hole is a bean bag toss with an unfortunate name. Cincinnati Chili is made with cinnamon and chocolate and is served over either a) spaghetti or b) hot dogs. So cool to know about. So not-of-the-state-I-live-in.

On one visit, their stories of lawn geese made me laugh so hard (we were driving) that I had to stop the car. Turns out that in their area it is popular to dress plastic or cement geese in seasonal outfits and place them on the lawn. Lawn geese are so popular, in fact, that there are discount goose clothing outlet stores. Simplicity sells patterns for the lawn goose enthusiast who sews.

News of this trend had not reached us until this important visit.

So I looked into it. And I laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

Then I drank the goose Koolaid, so to speak.

By the time their plane deposited them safely back in Cincinnati I'd already thrown down for geese, and little Pilgrim outfits. I'd developed strong opinions about geese (geese should not wear bikinis. it's indecent to see them naked if they've ever worn clothing). My attempts to bring others into the goose cult has thusfar been unsuccessful. Only Mr Guy really gets it.

Mr Guy's favorite purveyor of goose togs is Bunnies Bibs and Bears. Mine? A tie between Goose Clothes Galore and Miles Kimball. Corporate, I know, but they make a fine Pilgrim outfit.

More goose words on another day.



July 3, 2006

Canning

Canning is something I talk about more than actually do, but when I learned from plum tree owners that the plum season was upon us, I headed out to the store with plum sauce recipe in hand.

Turns out that in-season means $2.99 a pound for unripe unsmelly plums. And, while I'm bringing it up, $1.99 each for avocados. What's the point? But I bought vinegar and sugar anyway in the hope that I'd get lucky along the way.

Even though the Super Safeway in the old town let me down, the Goodwill next door to it did not. I scored a beautiful real kukui nut necklace of Flintstonian proportions for $4.


Back home at Los New Friends, there were the most beautiful egg-sized avocados 5 for a dollar. And two kinds of heavenly smelling plums at the princely price of 89c a pound.


Let the canning commence.



July 2, 2006

Changing of the Goose Guard

More about geese later, but please join me in commemorating an important summer milestone, the changing of goose togs. It's at this point in the year that Porkopola and Fritz' late spring / early summer vacationing tourist outfits make way for their entertaining at home clothes.















Fritz' mid-summer ensemble includes man-goosely barbeque apron bearing a witty "Kiss the Cook" slogan. He wields an imposing felt spatula.



Porkopola's feminine frock comes with dainty checked kerchief. She holds a tray of what is, without argument, barbequed fowl.

June 29, 2006

The Mrs Guy Manifesto

Mr. Guy is a benign despot, who claims that a blog needs a manifesto.

In satisfaction of this requirement I submit the following:

To paraphrase the AM version of Thrift Tape #1 (Wow Booty Shake vol. 2), if you are offended by words like beets, shopping,
beverages, Hawaii, signage, typewriters, hometown maki, 78's, otters, mid-century architecture, celebrity dreams, sleuthing, sock monkeys and their admirers...

Take

The tape out

Now

June 26, 2006

Word From Mrs Guy

The Cast:

Myself: Mrs. Guy

Sig O: Mr. Guy
The Cats: Nose, Eyes, Paws

The Work: Slag
Where We Live: Right Here


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