Friday, June 29, 2007

Polishing the brass on the Titanic

I can't imagine how bad the defense of former astronaut Lisa Nowak is going to be when the best they can say about the allegations she faces is that she in no way wore diapers on her little road trip.

The Star Tribune has story they grabbed from the Associated Press about the defense attorney vehemently denying the whole diaper thing as she drove to have a little showdown with another woman in that strange love triangle mess from a few months back.

According to the story:

"The biggest lie in this preposterous tale that has been told is that my client drove from Houston, Texas, to Orlando, Florida, nonstop, wearing a diaper," Donald Lykkebak said after filing motions to suppress evidence in Nowak's criminal case. "That is an absolute fabrication."

Um, OK... Great, I guess...

It goes on to explain:

The tidbit that Nowak wore diapers during her trip was written in the police report filed after Nowak's arrest in February. "I then asked Mrs. Nowak why she had baby diapers," according to the charging affidavit written by Officer William "Chris" Becton.

"Mrs. Nowak said that she didn't want to stop and use the restroom, so she used the diapers to collect her urine."

Now, the reason this is all so important is that her attorney is because he's worried that his client is becoming a target because of this information.

"It jeopardizes our ability to have a fair trial when the accused is the butt of jokes," Lykkebak said.

I'm sure all of this helps.

(Image from

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Like Capone's Vault, only with stuff in it

One of the things I learned from working with the Chicago Trolley Company a few years ago was that if you picked any person from any country around the world and said the name, "Chicago" to them, they'd do one of two things.

a.) They'd hunker over with an imaginary tommy gun, go "bam, bam, bam" and say "Al Capone!"
b.) They'd grin and immediately pipe up with, "Michael Jordan!"

Point B was a relatively new phenomenon, but was endlessly pleasing to the tourism bureau - if people instantly connect your city with corruption, illegal activities and murder, you won't attract many people to town and the ones who do show up might be a little weird.

Still, there are plenty of old sites around the city that remind people of Chicago's rough history from the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre on Clark Street to the Biograph Theater, where John Dillinger was gunned down where the dumpsters for the taco joint are now.

So, it's no surprise that any place with a legitimate - or even those that are a bit of a stretch, like a few bars in the Southwest 'burbs with access to the I and M Canal - claim to Chicago's gangland history has more than a few folks poking around looking for ssome of Capone's old shell casings.

The Chicago Tribune has posted a multimedia story on the Green Mill and the tunnels that zip around underneath it. With a former Capone henchman, Jack McGurn, at the helm, the Green Mill has its requisite cred and a steady stream of jazz - both live and from the ancient juke box - cascading from the club, there are nights where it seems that not much has changed.

It's a really cool presentation, with a guided tour of the underground offices, tunnels and (ooh!) restrooms. I always thought that the trapdoor led to a cooler - as a bartender had told me - but it leads to storage and a lot of junk. Incidentally, the staff there could only remember one person ever falling through the trap door, even on the busiest nights - and that was a new manager.

I got the feeling no one felt too bad about the accident, which might explain why no one warned them.

Anyways, the Green Mill should be on everyone's list of cool things to see in the city, whether you're a resident or just visiting. I can't even recall how many nights we'd be down there until far too late on a school night for Jimmy Sutton and the Four Charms or Swing Night or even Sabretooth on occasion.

When you ask me to narrow down some of my favorite "city kid" moments of living there in my mid-20s, the Green Mill is in more than it's fair share. I have to say that knowing I'd sat in Capone's old booth on occasion makes me feel just a little bit cooler. At the very least, it would have made for better stories with dates I was trying to impress with my knowledge of things that are awesome.

OK, maybe not.

Still, I'm sure I speak for everyone who stayed out with me when I say that had we known where that booth was, we'd have hurried our asses up to get there earlier every Tuesday.

I'm not sure if it's better or worse than sitting in the John Cusack/High Fidelity spot. We might have had to work out some sort of rotation.

(Image from, via Chicagoist)

Monday, June 25, 2007

I suppose it's better than the Scientologists

How did Kirk Cameron ever fall from network TV?

Could it be that he was a one-trick sitcom pony who wasn't ever that good on Growing Pains? Maybe it has more to do with his issues with content that led to his demanding re-writes.

According to Yahoo! and their confusing "article":

He also started taking issue with some of the show's writing. One script called for his TV mom to have a nightmare in which Cameron's character, Mike Seaver, wakes up next to a beautiful girl and says, "Hey, babe. Good morning. By the way, what's your name again?"

Cameron balked, pushing for the writers to change the scene. They refused. Cameron says he wasn't trying to push his religious views on the show. He just didn't want to compromise his newfound moral principles.

I can't imagine why he might not have found more work after that.

(Image from

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Heaven or Hell?

Today was the middle day of the Minnesota Street Rod Association's annual Back to the 50's Weekend. Every year for the past 34 years (that's back to 1973, so 13 years after the actual 50s, but who's counting?) the MSRA has gathered to load in old cars and the whole thing has become a high-water mark for a Twin Cities summer.

Well, for me at least.

For a little perspective, there are supposed to be over 11,000 vehicles on the fairgrounds this weekend, which sounds like a lot on paper, but I can't easily covey how many cars that is.

From talking to a friend who owns a custom shop, the event staff only wants cars made before the middle of 1964 rolling at any point during the day.

If you need to move your SUV or truck for your business, they'll escort you out as quickly as possible to not spoil the parade of old rods.

It's a really cool event and I have pictures up at the Flickr page if anyone is really itching to see pictures of old cars.

The only question is if it's really street rod heaven or if being around that many classics without one of your own is a very special level of hell.

(Image taken for Siberia, Minnesota)

Friday, June 22, 2007

This week in awesome

Flights from Minneapolis are a tad more expensive than I'm used to.

Flying out of a hub like O'Hare really helps keep the price down, but a flight from here to Chicago, Chicago to Boston, transportation, hotel and game tickets are a small - nearly insignificant, really - price to pay to see a monkey throw out the first pitch at Fenway.

Again. To see a monkey throw the first pitch out at Fenway, again.

I missed out the first time and I'll be damned if it's going to happen again.

Thanks to With Leather for drawing attention to this, probably causing a rush on tickets in the process. So, I guess in reality that's a thanks for crushing my dream.

(This also appears on the baseball site - it was too good to have anyone miss this).

(Image from

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Just when you thought you'd seen everything

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of an online stock photo house that allows graphic guys like him to pick up background photos on the cheap.

From talking to The Girl, she says a friend of hers who is in graphics uses the site quite a bit, too. The point is that it's not a total fly-by-night operation here.

Short story, long is that I worked my way through the photographer tutorial and learned all about what types of images they need - high comedy if you need a little break at work - and what they will and won't accept.

Suffice to say, don't send in blurry pictures of your junk from a camera phone because that shit won't play at

As I kept poking around the site and found the forum where people looking for images can interact with people posting and selling them. These people don't pull punches.

Need a fat lady? Done.

Does that fat lady need to be holding an ice cream cone and punching a nun? Give them a few hours to rent the nun costume. Oh, and make the nun Asian. Maybe with an eye patch.

I really think I might have missed my calling by not getting into advertising. Those people do not screw around at all and I totally dig that about them.

(Image from:

Sunday, June 17, 2007

BPC (* Before Political Correctness)

We all like to feel better about ourselves, whether it's the money we give, the time we donate or the products we buy. As I've covered here before, we're pretty vain creatures and don't mind doing the right things, but we'd prefer that someone be there to see it.

From living in a greener fashion - and why do you think I talk about it here so much? I'm one of the worst ones for narcissistic altruism - we are more likely to do what we think is right as long as others can see us being so damned good.

I'd love to see someone set up a hidden camera with a homeless guy on the same corner and have a crowd present for an hour and absent for the next. I think it could be pretty interesting.

I also think it allows the incredible markups on cruelty-free meats and related products so people with a hair too much expendable income can wander around high-end grocery stores with a great sense of self-satisfaction because their chicken was killed in the fastest way that is humanly possible.

I thought of that this week when I saw the story about a whale harvested off the coast of Alaska with a harpoon tip from the 1880s. The piece missing from the BBC's write up is that the tip was designed to carry a charge that would explode and cripple the whale, blowing a chunk out of the animal to make it easier to harvest.

I'd love to see how an exploding spear would be marketed for today's shopper. In the 1880s, you just explained that this let the whalers haul in the animal faster, which meant less of a chance of losing the carcass as it sunk.

I'm seeing a contemporary ad campaign about this being more humane, resulting in a quick, painless death for the whale. Or they could swim around with a hunk of metal embedded in a shoulder blade until the whale was finally finished off in the third century it had seen.

That could happen, too.

(Image from

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The inevitable birthday post

My personal odometer rolled over to 29 years early this morning and while I'd like to think this helps me put my life in perspective, gives me a degree of security in who I am as a human being or mellows me a bit, I'm only left with one overriding thought.

I only have one more year to act like a complete jackass and still write it off in future discussions as, "Yeah, that was something I did in my 20s... pretty stupid, right?"

In terms of great escapes from bad decisions, dumb stuff done in your 20s is trumped only by dumb stuff you've done in your teens.

In all honesty, 29 is a pretty in-between age in the grand scheme. Once you hit the biggies of 16, 18 and 21, things slow down quite a bit and aren't quite as exciting until you get to retire.

I'm told that you can pretty much retire on your birthday that year, which I think is possibly the greatest birthday present any one could ever ask for. Back in the days at the newspaper, I couldn't ever imagine retiring and always secretly hoped I'd die after a big issue made its way out the door, but after being stuck in cube farms since then, I can't wait for a big "See you later, suckers" retirement day.

It'll be like Christmas for the elderly - I doubt I'll be able to sleep the night before.

(Image from:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

America runs on Dunkin' - Well, most of it

I have an almost pathological dislike of coffee shops.

Sure, if it's a true, homegrown, locally-owned coffee shop, you could probably talk me into it, but on the whole I have no use for Starbucks and Caribou Coffee is really pushing it.

I can count on one hand the number of times I've stepped into a Starbucks and the only time I've ever had the coffee was when Chronically Insane used to brew it in the office until the CoffeeBot arrived.

The division in customer bases isn't lost on Dunkin' Donuts.

(Temple University history professor, Bryant Simon, who is writing a book on Starbucks) asked one Dunkin’ higher-up if there were plans in place to add Wi-Fi. “No, he said, because the last thing he wants is guys in trucks, getting their coffee, to walk in and have no place to sit because there’s a bunch of people in ties banging away on their laptops.”

Sorry other bloggers and aspiring screenwriters.

Personally, I can't do any better than Dunkin' Donuts and look forward to getting coffee there for a week before I head home now. The donut portion of the equation is just an added bonus.

Here's a cool story about the little donut shop that could and how they've managed to stave off the encroachment of the big chains - yes, I realize that Dunkin' is a chain itself.

I have to say that I dig being able to at least buy the coffee and between that and Bobak's sausage, I could - and have - lived almost exclusively on mail order food.

For the record there apparently used to be Dunkin's in the Minneapolis area, which are all gone now, but many of the locals have forgotten that the shops have left. Whenever the conversation comes up, I'm given a shred of hope that there's a small, forgotten shop somewhere in the sticks until whoever is telling the story remembers that the shop in question isn't a Dunkin' to begin with or is now an oil change place.

It's no mistake that there are four or five shops within a three-block walk of where we're holding our wedding reception. There's a better than average chance that I'll be sneaking out with my groomsmen at some point in the wedding for a cup of coffee and a dount.

(Image from:

Friday, June 08, 2007

OK, wait - God was on vacation

Sometimes bad things happen and then make for a better tomorrow.

Superman was forced to leave his dying home planet, only to become such a great addition to Earth's society.

Someone left milk out too long, invented cheese and paved the way for Taco Bell's nachos.

Paris Hilton was released from jail yesterday so she could be returned to a pych ward today, in tears and crying for her mommy.

All is right with the world.

Check out What Would Tyler Durden Do? for the updates. He seems to be taking as much pleasure in this new development as I have.

Also, I'd like to point out this little gem of a rumor, which you can do whatever you'd like with it. Essentially, it's that Hilton had a massive, stress-related herpes breakout and was a danger to others... Might explain the need for the makeup crews this morning.

All is right with the world. The paparazzi photog who took the picture above deserves the Nobel Prize in awesome.

(Image from

Thursday, June 07, 2007

California's penal system - beacon of justice

I'm legitimately upset with the release of Paris Hilton today.

There are some things I get worked up over because it's fun to get worked up over and cause a scene and there are some things that get under my skin and piss me off to a degree that even I'm not sure if I'll be able to react rationally.

This is one of those times.

The ire I usually reserve for Nazis and the bad guys in Steven Segal movies is now focused squarely on Hilton. Now, because I'll be getting married in a few short months and I'm not sure I want to put my impressive vocabulary of curse words and mysogenistic blather, I'll give you the greatest hits from What Would Tyler Durden Do?

Only the starfuckers who run the LA county sheriffs department would say she was not released early with a straight face. She went from prison to a mansion. I'm not technically an architect, but those don't sound like the same thing. And I'm sure this sentence will get cut in half too. By tomorrow, they'll take off the house arrest ankle bracelet and replace it with the Congressional Medal of Valor, and they'll do it in one of those big ceremonies like at the end of Star Wars.

And this:

So, to recap, what was originally a 45 day sentence in jail became a 23 day sentence with a hand picked cellmate and then eventually a three day stay in a private cell. And even though she's the angel of death behind the wheel, she’ll be back on the road by noon. Fantastic.

One more to pile on? OK.

God this is so insulting. Such a blatant lie. Fuck you Steve Whitmore. What medical reason could this whore have that would keep her out of solitary confinement? That's what you do to people with medical conditions, you keep them isolated and under constant supervision. She probably had a note signed by a Dr. but in her world "Dr" means the dude was a DJ or drug dealer. I wanna see this note and if it's signed "Dr. Groove" I'm gonna go absolutely apeshit.

Now, if you'll excuse me I'm going to go take some deep breaths and prepare for the inevitable reaming headed her way from the angels over at South Park.

God bless you, Matt and Trey. You're doing the Lord's work.

(Image from

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Your NHL Champion... Ducks?

I broke down and watched the end of tonight's game to see the Stanley Cup get passed around and it was a little weird not knowing any of the year's storylines or even who was on the teams (turns out a guy I covered in Junior A was on the losing Senators).

One of the greatest traditions in sports is that as a Cup winner, you get it for at least a day, to bring it home, drive it downtown in a parade, feed a horse out of it, launch it into a pool or whatever you damn well please. (those are all true stories, btw).

If I were prone to captions on this blog, I'd surely make a "What's been filled with weirder stuff - the Cup or Lohan?" reference, but I'm not that savvy with the coding.

At any rate, it was nice to see guys who grew up dreaming of the Cup, for whom this all still means a great deal. While I've written off the sport, rating continue to free fall and your last two Cup winners are Carolina and Anaheim - ahem... that's just unnatural - it's still cool to see.

For a guy who never watches hockey, it's pretty silly to have a whole tag devoted to it on this blog, huh?

(Image from

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Thanks for nothing, Microsoft

A little over a week ago, one of my e-mail accounts went a little haywire.

I assumed our crappy server at work, a recent switch to Windows Vista or some other online gremlin was to blame. When I was finally able to badger Microsoft into giving me access to my accounts several days and dollars later, I found that I'd become an awful, awful eBay customer with plenty of online sellers wondering why I refused to pay them.

The whole time Microsoft refused to release my account password to me was time spent by someone trying to rack up my account - which, luckily they couldn't because I have different passwords all over the place and PayPal wouldn't open for them.

In short, thanks for nothing Microsoft... you fucks.

So, I won't spend too much time bemoaning the fact that I couldn't get into my e-mail - it's a dump account as is - or that eBay didn't notice an unusual amount of activity for a week - a big hole in their customer service - but I will say that it's worth having backup account info for any of your e-mail addresses set in place, just in case.

Had I set an address for them to send my a password reset - whoever took over the account changed my password, secret question, secret answer, address, etc. that I needed to "prove" my identity to MSN - I could have caught this sooner.

It ended up being the equivalent of someone stealing your wallet and then crank calling people who you had business cards for, but it was enough to put a little start in me and you can be sure I'll be hawking my accounts all week.

Still, what went from simple frustration to outright anger - I ended up badgering my password out of a call center employee this morning - really opened my eyes to the whole Microsoft mess.

While they will claim they care about you, they don't. If it wasn't for the excellent customer support via Xbox and Xbox Live, I'd have never gotten my account back and someone would still be trying to hack into my PayPal.

For the record, a call center employee told me Saturday that the "free" version of Hotmail everyone uses is "not supported at all" by Microsoft. For the record, the Hotmail team can go fuck themselves.

(Image from: