Sunday, March 29, 2009


As the season has officially changed (a week ago), I have officially shed my winter coat. As of Wednesday, I am a clean-shaven child of nature. The great beard experiment of 2008-2009 has come to an end. All fans of hirsute me will have to wait until at least Labor Day for that version to show up again. Monkey is quite pleased.

And so ends this transmission.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Not So Long Northern Plains Story (Part Three)

Ah, Sunday. More breakfast at local diner/franchise Keys (good sausage), a drive by the James J. Hill house, and a drop off at the dome for second round hi jinx.

The opener, between Dayton and Kansas was a snoozer. Dayton was shooting poorly and had no answer for Cole "Triple Double" Aldrich. Dayton's band leader was a sight, however, in his sequined jacket. Unfortunately, his outfit was not shiny enough to distract KU from putting the smack down on his (not so high) Flyers.

The second game of the afternoon was a treat, as USC and Michigan State squared off. It was a back and forth affair, with State slightly leading most of the way, but USC's cold outside shooting and its inability to dominate the boards gave this game to the Spartans. A five point game was a great way to send us off into the evening.

The Ambassadors picked us up and we drove off to visit some Ambassador family. A Mediterranean style meal in a Minnesota farm house was a wonderful way to spend an evening. And, in a "file this under it's a small world" moment, Ambassador Aunt buys some of her organic seeds from the Monkey's CSA. Go fig!

Monday left the Monkeys on their own in a very rainy metropolis. We visited (briefly) some historic houses on Summit Ave., patronized Garrison Keillor's book store, wandered the Como Park Conservatory, and chilled out at the Ambassadors' pad. That evening, we had some very tasty Italian at Broder's, and then rested up for the drive back home on Tuesday.

In all, a great trip.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Not So Long Northern Plains Story (Part Two)

On Saturday, the Monkeys and the Ambassadors headed to a place called Hell's Kitchen for breakfast. It's one of those "you gotta go there" tourista places. They have a whole corporate aura, some signature dishes, and a keen locale in downtown Minneapolis. The breakfast was good, though I found everything to be on the sweet side. I enjoyed my lemon-ricotta pancakes.

After breakfast (we spotted some red hats at the restaurant, so it's THAT kind of place), we motored over to the river and had a stroll along the old mill district and across the old railroad bridge. It was a beautiful day, and the river was flowing away, just a few ice patches clinging to the shadowy parts of the bank.

Our destination was the Guthrie, Minneapolis' internationally-recognized regional theatre. Our thespian fare for the afternoon would be Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona. As we entered the performance space, it was clear that this was going to be one of those anachronistic productions. The stage looked like the set of a fifties TV show (which it turned out to be, with working cameras and monitors, to boot). I was wary, having had some bad experiences with "re-envisioning" Shakespeare; however, despite the musical number to start off with, I found the production to be pretty consistent and highly entertaining. I'd give it a thumbs up, for sure.

After the theatre, it was off to the Bryant Lake Bowl for a beer and some walleye, and Ikea for too much commerce (rugs and comforters and pillows and place mats and that it? I hope so!). Then, an audible was called, as our original dinner destination was scrapped for the neighborhoodly charm of The Blue Door. There, we chowed down on some excellent "Juicy Looseys," burgers stuffed with cheese, purported to be a Twin Cities delicacy. Mine, a classic (American cheese), was pretty awesome, as was the Summit Oatmeal Stout I enjoyed with it.

And, with that, the night was upon us. We retired, prepared for a last hurrah of basketball and breakfast to come.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Not So Long Northern Plains Story (Part One)


Monkey and I have returned from the Northern Plains, after a chock-full weekend. We watched some great basketball, ate some good food, saw some theater, got rained on, argued with Metrodome security, played with some new dog friends, and enjoyed some people-type company, too.

We arrived in St. Paul late on Thursday, after a six and a half hour drive in which we found ourselves searching the radio dial for clear AM radio sports stations every fifteen minutes. We managed to keep a pretty close tab on the first round action and were mildly entertained by American University's close brush with greatness against Villanova. Even with my money on Nova, it's still a blast to hear/see a big upset in the tournament. We settled in with the Ambassadors, and, after a short glass of wine, it was off to bed with the weary travellers.

Friday morning, we had breakfast at a local eatery (excellent hash browns at the Highland Grill on Cleveland!), and then headed off to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome for some first round action of our own. At the parking facility, the attendant upped the price from ten to fifteen bucks just as we were pulling in. Monkey had the idea to ask for the earlier rate. We asked, and he let us in for the cheaper price, so our day was starting off great.

We got to our seats and were amazed at how close we were: three rows from the floor, on the right side of the end line. We could have hit Bob Huggins with a hot dog (and I would have liked to)! The only downside (maybe) was that we sat behind a pep band for every other game, so, when they stood up (never during a game), we couldn't see much. Really, no biggie.

The first two games of the day were great. North Dakota State had a ton of fans there, and they gave Kansas all they could handle. It was close the whole game. The second game, Dayton and West Virginia, was another tight one, with Dayton leading for most of the game on the strength of their inside game and pulling out the "upset" over Huggie Bear's alma mater squad.

And then, the fun started.

They cleared the dome before the evening games, so Monkey and I headed down to Washington Avenue to grab something to eat. There were two problems with this plan: it was raining, and everybody else was doing the same thing. We walked for about a half an hour, soaked to the bone, only to wind up in an epic line at the local Subway. At least, we were out of the rain.

It took a while to get up and order our sandwich (we split one), so we decided to walk back to the dome and eat there. Our tickets said nothing about food being prohibited, so we thought we were golden. Instead, we were just all wet.

At the gate, security told us we couldn't bring in outside food. We argued with them half-heartedly for a minute or two, then retreated to a dry patch under an overhang to dine al fresco on our veggie delight.

The evening action was not as good as the early games. USC versus BC was good, with BC's pep band winning the award for most entertaining and obnoxious band of the weekend. And Robert Morris held up to Michigan State for about fifteen minutes, but that game was exactly the kind of game that a 2-15 match is supposed to be. Another award, by the way, to Mike Rice, Robert Morris' coach, for most entertaining performance by a coach, as he spent the entire game animatedly involved in the action on the court (extra points for multiple foot stomps).

We drove back to the Ambassadors' pad near midnight on Friday, looking forward to a day with good friends, and the sights and sounds of the Twin Cities.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Your Grid is Disorienting My Cow!

Check this out. Proving once again, that Germany and the Czech Republic are eons ahead of the US in the cow alignment sciences.

Europe's eye-opening study of the effect of power lines on cow alignment comes less than a year after their in-depth study of Google Earth proved this.

It's good to know Al Gore's Internets are being used for something worthwhile.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Madness Begins

The NCAA basketballl Tourney will have a special shine to it this year. Monkey and I will be heading north to Minneapolis to watch some first and second round action at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. We are stoked.

While we find it a mild bummer that the Terps got placed in KC (which was sold out by the time Monkey tried to get tickets), we are still a) excited to see the Terps back in the tourney (along with Mizzou as a Big 12 Conference Tournament-winning three-seed), and b) jazzed to see the likes of Kansas, Michigan State, Dayton, Boston College, West Virginia, USC, North Dakota State, and Northeast Conference powerhouse Robert Morris U.

I have to think, after spending several happy weekends of my life at various watering holes, quaffing adult beverages, consuming board-like chicken fingers, checking brackets, and screaming down managers who couldn't figure out which channel the Maryland game was on and rabid Duke and/or KU fans, that being there will be twice the fun (yet, I assume, totally alcohol-free). I am looking forward to it.

Oh, and do I need to even mention the fact that we will be reconnecting with the Ambassadors? What else could be better?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sure, the drizzle from last night and this morning froze into a smooth glaze on the Civic this morning, making for an invigorating workout as I scraped the windows clear like a mad man. Yes, as I sat in a PLC meeting this afternoon, I watched snowflakes swirl on the blustery updrafts outside the window. Absolutely, I was wishing I had a hathathat on my headheadhead as I stepped lively to the car this evening leaving work.

But, still, in the back of my mind is that little voice that tells me that the crocuses have already started their journey to the sun, that tells me the juncos have flown off, and the robins are out in force. I saw a pair of turkey vultures circling above the park yesterday. That is a clear sign that warmer days are coming, that spring is in the air.

And, just like it does for the kiddos, that little voice makes it awfully hard to concentrate.

Friday, March 06, 2009

"What'll Ya Have?"

This has been one of the longest, Bizzaro-world weeks I have had in a long time. Even with an extra weekend day (took off Monday, remember), it has just been a mostly-painful slog. Details, perhaps, to follow. For now, simply know that I will be campaigning for a few colleagues to join me for an adult beverage or two after work.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Excitement Continues

I was remiss in keeping all up to date on the doings of myself and the Monkey over the last fortnight or so. The weekend prior to this just past, Monkey House Nebraska was headquarters for the Minnesota Ambassadors' Baby Birthday Ramble. Arriving late on Friday night, the Ambassadors took to the guest room bed of Monkey House Nebraska for a snooze, before some coffee and a damn-good scone in the morning. The Monkeys also enjoyed some Chines and vino with various friends and family of the Ambassadors. Sunday was departure day, after a bagel and coffee downtown. Fortunately, in three short weeks, we will be returning the favor as the Monkeys head to Minneapolis-St. Paul for the opening round of the NCAA regionals (which coincides with my Spring Break!)

This past weekend, as you know, Monkey and I headed back to the ol' stompin' grounds for T/F 09. I will spare you recaps of all the films (a dozen), but, I will say that I felt that this was perhaps the best fest yet. Monkey and I did not feel rushed between films (except once), we felt the films were highest-caliber (except one), I thought the music was spectacular (no exceptions), and, while it was perhaps the coldest True/False, yet, the snow held off and the weather was generally good for walking about. We also found additional time this year for stompin' on the ol' stompin' grounds. It was, as it always is, an exquisite pleasure to spend time with folks I truly miss having in my life on a daily basis. Every time I go back to CoMo, I get a little homesick. This was no exception. Driving out of town on Monday morning was a melancholy moment.

I believe that is all for now.