September 28, 2006


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


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.

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