Monday, November 7, 2016

Strong Opinions

Do you ever get worked up about things that should be very neutral territory? Please see below for some of my mundane, fiery hot beds of enthusiasm. I guess this could be a 'shop local' piece, but I'd prefer you think of it as an homage to industry expertise and community citizenship.

Artsy Lazy picture of VC
Viking Cleaners – Lake Street, Minneapolis

There is a dry cleaner closer to my apartment, but some pants I brought there once came back looking so tired I'm convinced they ship stuff to a sinister dry cleaning center where clothes are scorched, ridiculed and beaten against rocks.

The man who runs Viking Cleaners approaches dry cleaning as a vocation. He is quiet and focused, because in the dry cleaning world expertise is best communicated through silence. Once I brought in a formal dress that had run in to some soy sauce. On pick up day it was spotless, and Mr. Dry Cleaner, in a sudden burst of subdued loquaciousness, carefully explained how he had removed the stain. I felt I had at last presented a job worthy of his wisdom. The cleaning equipment is right there in the shop, a true measure of quality, and clothes are always returned looking pristine and happy.

Grand-Wheeler Sinclair – Grand Avenue, Saint Paul

I love my auto-mechanic. They don’t overcharge or explain things in patronizing ways, which is nice of them considering my first response to any car issue is:

"Hey... Dad..."

followed by pathetic Google research.

But the Sinclair guy always nods and says “we’ll take a look at it.” And then is like, “this is an emergency” or “well, it’s not an emergency.”

One time I was getting gas awhile after some repairs were done, and the owner said, “Hey, do you mind if I check it out again to see how things look?” which was very thoughtful. Then he said, “Yeah, I was surprised how well this ran, (my car is not really new because whatever with AC and brakes) you’ve obviously taken good care of it.”

So completely did this thoughtfulness and praise of car attentiveness win my heart, I almost brought them Christmas cookies. I didn’t because baking is messy, but was in the shop that December and the entire neighborhood had brought so many cookies the mechanics were just standing there eating them as fast as they could to clear off counter space.

My Sister’s Closet – Grand Avenue*, St Paul

Some consignment shops only stock very current things, which is not interesting because the stuff is usually a little generic, and you can just head for sale racks at the mall.

The woman who selects clothes at MSC - St Paul knows quality, brands, and is able to spot a good piece as fast as a cheetah. While the shop does have a good selection of 'normal' things, the approach to buying is also one of vision and bravura, a willingness to step out with freedom knowing the right buyer for a 1980s Thierry Mugler dress will come along.

This is what the world needs from resale shops if we're serious about society looking good for less. People must demand to try on things like Thierry Mugler dresses, and to walk out with a fur coat, 90s denim, something homemade, a vintage tweed blazer, and a scarf that's so cute one forgets one hasn’t seen a live puppy in weeks.

My Sister’s Closet has a semi-annual everything-is-50%-off sale, but that’s another day’s worth of emotional energy.

*There's also an Uptown location.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

News Bulletin 36

Russia is sending a bunch of ships to meet some other Russian ships near Syria. They’re sailing pretty close to the U.K., who, in turn, is sending their ships to meet the Russian ships. NATO has lately used phrases like ‘provocative military maneuvers’ to express their feelings regarding Russian ship activity. The Russian army’s TV channel says submarine ships might join the sailing ships.

Gas is cheap so Saudi Arabia is selling $17.5 billion in dept. This is a new record for emerging market economy debt sales, blowing Argentina's early 2016 $16.5 billion debt sale out of the water by $1 billion (17.5 - 16.5 = 1).

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange recently lost internet privileges. The Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he’s lived since 2012, said they didn’t want to get mixed up in things after a bunch of U.S. election stuff got wikileaked. Ecuador says the internet restrictions were imposed because this is what they wanted to do and the U.S. did not make them do it.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Summer Cinema


Jason Bourne is an unnecessary movie. Half-way through I screamed "This is so dumb give us back our precious Matt Damon".

Nothing new happens the entire time. Bourne is darker and more frustrated, there are car chases, another evil CIA director...

The film does emphasize Jason is now extra tortured about things by having him tour seedy underground international fight clubs, but it's anybody's guess as to what he cares about or wants to do.

Julia Stiles has some sort of Snowden complex, so that's different. But she dies really fast, so that fish is dead in the water.

If the series continues, Bourne will get angrier, learn more bits about his past, keep getting lost -> found -> try to take down CIA, and, after 2-3 more films, join The Expendables.

Central Park

Florence Foster Jenkins is based on the true story of an aspiring opera singer from the heights of NYC society who, objectively speaking, could not sing.

Now, I know you're dying for me to address the movie's taglines: "Based on the inspiring true story" and "Every voice deserves to be heard".

Well here it is: I hate them.

Florence thinks she's a great singer, and no one, for reasons of varying merit, tells her otherwise. She's in a padded, sometimes silly, world, partly of her own creation, and her husband, who does genuinely love her, is the most "protective" of them all. This is not inspirational.

The taglines are particularly upsetting because this is one of the best movies I've seen in a while. It's funny, bittersweet, and a wonderful picture of characters and relationships. You'll just laugh and cry about the characters and relationships through the whole darn thing. Go watch it immediately.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

En flate

Ballet is one of my favorite art forms and ways to exercise, so when I had the chance to be in a production of Giselle I was like, 'Sweet, I'm going to get in awesome shape, and be so good at balleting and toe standing!!'

And that sort of happened because of all the practicing/rehearsing; however, ballet is a cold, hard pit of ways to look ridiculous.

Two seconds without practicing means starting again is worse than rude children. Eventually things come back, but this only leads to a perilous sense of achievement. 'Maybe I'm doing good and people might even want to watch!'

This is not true.

But it's okay. Ballet is the best because it's about how everything is done - timing, musicality, expression... You'll never do exactly the same thing twice, or be perfect, so it's always interesting and the pain is embraced in a never ending quest for DOMINATION (and grace and beauty and it looks like things are effortlessly easy breezy.... tiptoeing through tulips.... but also STRONG and POWERFUL, because no one wants a weakling flopping around).

Dressing room

 I had to buy this sort of gross fake hair to better achieve the famous ‘Giselle hair'. This style was all the rage in 1840s Paris when the ballet premiered. Google it. I wouldn't bet a dead dog on a comeback.

The hardest part of this show was maintaining tragically sad expressions while Giselle is taking FOREVER to ***spoiler alert*** die. All the friends and peasant people have to stand around for 27 minutes trying to think of new ways to mime pain and devastation. Sometimes I would hug someone in 'anguish', turning my face upstage to roll my eyes. (Not because Giselle the dancer was boring, she is, truly, really great, but, 'Heeeellllloooo 19th century choreographer, we get it and need to return to our smart phones.')

Here is me in costume. The picture is small because... the Giselle hair.