8th April 13
I found this very sweet note (is it a note? or an exercise of some kind?) in an early seventies instructional textbook on small gasoline engine repair published by a trade school in central Illinois. No idea what it means, but I love the little urban adventure it seems to describe.
19th March 13
Please put in order from “completely unacceptable” to “completely understandable.”
I know the golden age of the “oh, I don’t even own a television” snob is over, since everyone with an Internet connection basically co-owns the television inside of the Internet, so I don’t mean to sound like I’m bragging. I’m simply stating the facts.
OK, fine, you got me. I am bragging maybe a little bit, but it’s only because I get a perverse sense of anti-pride out of the fact that whenever I reveal this list to most people, they start acting like a 21-year-old art school boyfriend: “What?! You mean you’ve never seen __________?! You’ve heard of it, right? What have you been doing with your life? OR DO YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTER THAN ME?????”
But the thing is, I am not opposed to watching these TV shows or TV shows generally on some badly thought-out set of self-righteous principles. I just haven’t gotten around to them. For what it’s worth, I do watch shows that everyone watches, like Louie and Parks and Recreation, and I have seen just about every episode of Maude, The Critic, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Father Ted, Good Times, Fishing with John, Barney Miller, Fawlty Towers, Get a Life, M*A*S*H, The Kids in the Hall, and Soap, as well as surprisingly large swaths of SNL, even the seasons with Charles Rocket.
- Battlestar Galactica
- Boardwalk Empire
- Breaking Bad
- Curb Your Enthusiasm
- Downton Abbey
- Freaks and Geeks
- Friday Night Lights
- Game of Thrones
- Mad Men
- The Sopranos
- Twin Peaks
- The West Wing
- The Wire
(Lastly, I know which one of these is the most inexcusable, actually, and I promise you I am saving it for a very special occasion, like my honeymoon, or when my future progeny turn 16 or something like that.)
13th March 13
Recent “Mr. Sparkle” moments: A vintage McDonald’s ruler portraying “The Professor,” and the cover of the recent publication Collective Actions: Audience Recollections from the First Five Years, 1976-1981, an account of the Soviet conceptual art troupe Collective Actions. (Thank you, Heidi and Amelia.)
11th March 13
Last year, I was in Greensboro, North Carolina for my birthday and Election Day, two days that generally fall within a short distance of one another. On my last morning in town, I went to the coffee shop down the street from where I was staying, and bought a small cup of coffee and a muffin.
The barista seemed to be in a bad mood. I was careful to be polite without seeming like I was trying to start a conversation with her, because the last thing a barista in a bad mood wants to do is chit-chat with some dumb asshole customer about some total bullshit. When she reached the final part of the transaction, however, her entire mood shifted instantly. She look up at me with a look of utter glee.
The total amount of my bill was $6.66.
“Oh my god,” she said, her eyes sparkling. “This is great. Coffee and muffins are always $6.66. I fucking love that. Can I see your receipt?”
“Sure,” I said.
She then very methodically started writing on my receipt with a Sharpie. I couldn’t see what she was doing, but she seemed to be working very intently.
“Hello,” said the guy behind me. “What’s going on?”
“Hi,” I told him. “The barista is doing a drawing for me.”
“I see,” said the guy behind me.
We chatted for a few moments — has asked where I was from, and I said Minneapolis, and then we had a quick conversation about Tubby Smith, a man whose work he was familiar with. He had recently moved back to North Carolina to work with a basketball team.
“Here you go,” said the barista, when she finished with my receipt. She handed it to me with the above alterations. It now read “QUEERS 4 SATAN,” over an upside-down cross.
It also read “2012,” although she seemed originally to have written “2002” and then realized the correct year and replaced the second “0” with a “1.” This made me feel a little sad. The barista looked to be about my age, and probably has good memories of the early ’00s. I miss the early ’00s sometimes, too.
I thanked the barista for the receipt. She nodded, but seemed to be reverting back to her original bad mood.
On my way out, the guy behind me handed me his business card. The card said he was assistant coach for the Washington Wizards.
5th March 13
Behold the Tom Thumb dessert, developed in the kitchen of one Mary Randolph in Minneapolis (or possibly St. Paul) in the 1960s. There are other “Tom Thumb” recipes on the Internet, but they’re all lame, doughy dessert bars made with coconut. Forget about that junk! This is the greatest Tom Thumb of them all. I wrote about it for a very lengthy piece in the Heavy Table on the 1969 suburban society cookbook Friends and Their Food. This photo is by Becca Dilley.
The Tom Thumb has very quickly become my favorite dessert. It’s easy to make, the ingredients are all stuff you can buy in any corner shop or gas station, and it tastes great — both sweet and salty. As I noted in the longer piece, it belongs in the pantheon of Twin Cities-specific regional cuisine alongside the Jucy Lucy, the Pronto Pup, and the Wondrous Punch. Make it tonight! Shove it in the mouths of the people you love!
TOM THUMB DESSERT
10 soda crackers
¼ cup finely crushed “nut meats” (I used a mix of almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts)
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
vanilla ice cream
Roll crackers out fine. Add chopped nut meats. Add pinch of salt to egg whites and beat until stiff. Fold sugar and baking powder into egg whites. Add crushed crackers and nut mixture. Add vanilla and spread on buttered pie tin. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand at least 1 hour before serving. Top with vanilla ice cream and strawberries crushed in their own juice.
1st March 13
Hilarious Chicago joke.
27th February 13
An illustration of Mrs. Mary Randolph’s Forgotten Roast, by Virginia Bueide. From the 1969 cookbook Friends and Their Food, by Virginia Safford, the Minneapolis Tribune’s food columnist for three decades starting in the 1930s.
I make this roast at least a few times a month. It’s the easiest recipe I know, and one of the tastiest: take a chuck roast, set it down on a piece of aluminum foil, dump a can of condensed cream of celery soup and a package of dry onion soup mix on it, wrap it up tight in the foil, put it in the oven for four hours at 275 degrees, and forget about it. Or forget it for four hours, at least. When you take it out, you’ll find that it’s actually autogenerated its own gravy. Postwar supermarket perfection. It’s the best.
Stand by for more scans of line drawings by noted Minneapolis artists from local cookbooks in coming weeks. I have recently amassed the world’s most comprehensive private collection of local cookbooks illustrated by noted Minneapolis artists. I have over one titles. (I have two.)
22nd February 13
March 2013 will be forever remembered in my household as the month my architectural street photography was licensed to grace the cover of Concrete International, the magazine of the American Concrete Institute. I will probably never write the Great American Novel, but I hope that by the end of my life, I will have completed the Great American Artist CV.
18th February 13
My favorite sentence on Wikipedia, as noted last week, is this one about Voyager 1: “The spacecraft’s mission now is its eternal mission, to study and wander the interstellar medium.” My second favorite sentence on Wikipedia, however, is in reference to John Tyler, a president so bad he remains the only one to not receive a state funeral, on account of the fact that he defected to the Confederacy when the Civil War began, was elected to the Confederate House of Representatives (not even the Confederate Senate), and then died before he could even be seated. The only worthwhile thing about Tyler is the bizarre fact that his grandchildren are still alive today.
In honor of the Presidents’ Day holiday, I bring you the sad and wonderful sentence in question: “Today he is considered an obscure president, with little presence in the American cultural memory.”
18th February 13
In honor of Presidents’ Day, I present once again this beloved classic from the graphic archives. (Special thanks to S. Startz, as always.)