Monday, April 30, 2007

Que viva el jardin de las mariposas!

I had a flower garden I wasn't so fond of ... actually I use the term "flower garden" very loosely. Except for some daffodils, a tiny patch of dianthus and a little slightly shrubby plant whose name escapes me, nothing really wanted to grow there but weeds. I wanted to mulch the whole thing over and build a pergola there, except for the part about actually building the pergola. That just seemed like too much work, but I'm too cheap to pay someone else to do it. So I just bitched a lot about how much I hated that stupid weed garden and needed to figure out something to do with it.

Mr. Pants decided to help me out yesterday by making a unilateral decision to run over the whole bed with the lawn mower. I guess that's a start. At first I was sort of shocked, but really the only problem now is that the daffodil bulbs may be toast, because they need to re-absorb the nutrients in their leaves in order to bloom again next year. But feh, who needs daffodils? They're pretty for about a week and then they become yet another weedy-looking nuisance. (Digression: What I'm calling daffodils may actually be jonquils. But now that they've probably snuffed it, does it matter?)

Anyway, Mr. Pants says he wants a butterfly garden, presumably so he can take pictures of the little critters. I didn't ask, though ... for all I know he wants to catch them and pull their wings off. But he claims he is willing to do some digging to achieve said butterfly garden, which means that I want a butterfly garden, as well. Hitherto, Mr. Pants has not shown very little inclination toward any type of yard work so if he's willing to dig I'm going to do everything I can to encourage it. Also, it means I get to go buy plants at the Raleigh Farmers Market, which is the funnest part of any garden endeavor.

So I figure it will be a few years before we have to mow the weed patch over again because as Michael Pollan once pointed out, nature abhors a garden. I wonder how she likes pergolas?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

That Carolina thing ...

Time to make my several readers of the British persuasion giggle with this excerpt from an article in today's Raleigh Snooze & Disturber:


It's a Carolina thing. People say it's also excellent exercise and a great way to meet others. Clayton resident Bonnie Rhodes, a shag instructor for the past 19 years, counts at least 50 couples who have met through her shag classes.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ooh, lookee, the NYT noticed us!

There's an article in Today's NYT about how much there is to do here in El Tri├íngulo, expecially if you have a bunch of brats in tow: North Carolina’s Triangle: Nature, Culture and Barbecue. But the first sentence is retarded: "THE Mayberry-meets-M.I.T. appeal of the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill region of North Carolina ..."

Mayberry? Did the writer actually come here or did she just read about us on a website? There's really no "Mayberry" flava left in the Triangle ... unless maybe you count Pittsboro, which doesn't get a mention in the article. And I'm so tired of hearing how great Foster's is. Frankly, I find the place to be overrated and annoying, full of people who would trip their own grandmothers to score a table when the place is crowded. In fact, all the restaurants the writer listed (Lilly's Pizza, Foster's, Mama Dip's and Crook's Corner) are exactly the same ones that always get listed by everyone ... did the writer even bother to research any of the new and really exciting places in the area? (Not that I ever eat at any of them, but still ...) And although we're allegedly famous for our barbecue, or at least famous enough for it to be mentioned in the lede paragraph, the writer doesn't bother to list an actual barbecue joint (maybe that's because Eastern N.C.-style barbecue is actually quite heinous).

But woo! The Festival For The Eno is is "like a giant backyard barbecue for the creative class." Maybe that's why I've never had any fun at it.

But to end on a good note, at least she didn't call us "Raleigh-Durham."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

And a good time was had by all


The whole vegetarian thing hasn't been working too well for me lately. One reason is that in many vegetarian dishes, there are just too damn many vegetables.

There were very few vegetables last night at Casa Needs More Garlic, although they were delish: some (local) asparagus (don't ask me how it was cooked, because all I can say is "by Scott") and some delicately dressed (local) greens (oil AND vinegar!).

Anyway, the star of the evening repast, aside from Mr. NMG himself, was a huge tray of meat--sausage, chicken and slabs of pork and pork ribs--all from local farms where the animals get to wander around eating things that would not alarm Michael Pollan and are presumably as happy as it is possible for a free-range farm animal to be (until the whole gettng killed part, of course). It was all so good that I most definitely won't be eating mass-market meat anytime soon ... it just can't compare. I'll continue my normal diet of bananas, organic bean burritos, peanut butter and jelly sammiches (hold the salmonella) and ice cream.

Mr. Pants and I were on out best behavior in hopes that we may be invited back again.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Early warning!

Stay away from your radio tomorrow from 1-3 pm, for that is when I shall be pantsing the Mondo Mundo wrrld music show. 88.7 FM if you're near, if you're far. I have a plan for world domination. OK, I have no plan at all, actually. It'll be fun, I swear.

I'm fittin' to bust a gut ....

Originally uploaded by natmaconjr.

I can barely write through my convulsions of laughter .. thank you, Chris, for turning me on to Bullshat, the latest in a bevy of new blogs about Durham, and by far the one that has made me spit more half-chewed Qdoba tortilla chips onto my keyboard than any other.

Proprietor Blazer Manpurse, BFA (I don't think I'm cool enough to know this person ... I never hang out at the Federal) had a contest to come up with a New Durham slogan, because the new official one sounds like it came from some Random City Slogan Generator website. The winner (see above) is pretty damn funny, but I'm more in love with a few of tthe runners-up, particularly "F'd up but in a good way," and "Still Less Annoying than Chapel Hill". I think I'm going to have to make one of those into my very own bumper sticker (I have the power).

And I need to agree that the new Ogilvy sign on the Studebaker Building is a travesty.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools

It had been a while since I had done my radio show--Chris had done the last two for me, so I had forgotten how much fun i have with Santa Salsera. She often sticks around after her show (Azucar y Candela, 6-8 pm Wednesdays, the best Latin Show in the Triangle) and hangs out in the MCR with me for a while (OK, I bribe her by bringing refreshments) I pot up mic 2 for her and we get a bit of a chat groove going on during talk sets. I'm not really sure if the listeners enjoy it or not, but I usually have a good time. Salsera sometimes suggests great music and even goes out into the stacks to find it for me so I can work it right into my set. Here's my our playlist from last night. Other highlights of the evening:
  • We talked on the air about the sheer adorability of Wordnerdy's lovely cat, James Bond (Salsera had never seen him so I pulled the Flickr set up on the MCR computer);

  • We mentioned the WXDU victory over WXYC (4-3) in kickball last Saturday, and a former WXYC dj called to let me know she actually has a slight preference for WXDU over that other college radio station. She said we weren't as "hipster" and therefore rocked more. Hi-yah!

  • La Salsera said that hearing me say things in German was like listening to a talking dog. I didn't know whether I should be insulted or flattered. She wasn't sure either.

  • At the end of my show I had an urge to pay tribute to Blacksburg and my first radio station, Virginia Tech's WUVT, so I decided to play some Not Shakespeare. They were sort of the resident Blacksburg band with big ambitions ... they opened for some bigger acts when they came to town (REM, Modern English and I think Let's Active, among others), had a song or two in rotation at WUVT and a cassette for sale at local record stores. From what I remember, their early sound seemed like an attempt to bridge the gap between Flock of Seagulls and REM, and their front guy--George, I've forgotten his last name--had a vaguely Flock of Seagulls hairdo (which I believe may have been the inspration for a song called "Blacksburg Hairs" by B-burg thrash band Megadosage). Anyway, sometime around when I left Blacksburg in 1986, Not Shakespeare recorded a 4-song EP at Mitch Easter's Drive-In Studio that made its way into the vinyl stacks at WXDU, where it remains today (along with a 12-inch single with a 1989 date). I played the song "Susan" from the ep. Dang, I wish I still had my copy of the Not Shakespeare cassette, if only for its nostalgia value, but alas it's a casualty of one of my 8 moves since 1986.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

OK, take 2 ...

Reader "Gary," who I'm going to assume is the only Gary I know (from way back at Virginia Tech, no less) and not some random Gary, said my last post, about the Virginia tech killings, was "a bit flippant ... even for you." My normal response to a comment like that would be something like "Bite me, asshole," but in this case Gary is absolutely correct--even I'm not really, deep down inside, that flippant about the awfulest, most tragic and senseless thing to have happened since ... well, since the last really awful, tragic, senseless thing. They happen a lot in this country.

That post doesn't really reflect the depth of my thoughts and feelings about the incident and was probably more a reaction to having just watched some wretched network news coverage of the killings .. I mean the "MASSACRE at Virginia Tech™," which is now its official name, according to NBC, complete with official Massacre at Virginia Tech logo:

I wonder if they issue staff ball caps and jackets bearing the logo so they can be distinguished from CNN's "Massacre at Virginia Tech" team ... OK, I admit, that was flippant. But that doesn't mean I'm not appropriately saddened and horrified. It's just that I quickly get into sneering/cynical mode after watching a few network anchors wearing their Serious Tragedy Faces (Stone Phillips has the worst best most extreme Serious Tragedy Face) speaking over maudlin montages of grief stricken people and assuring us that The Healing Process™ will begin after the next commercial message. All the appropriate words feel like they were scripted by the news anchors; the word "saddened," for example, seems almost hackneyed because it's been babbled so many times by the newsheads. So it's hard to say anything and not feel like part of the big mawkish parade of national grief

Virginia Tech and Blacksburg are very dear to me, though, and the thought of these things happening there just breaks my heart. I also get a lump in my throat looking at the photos of the people killed and thinking about how the obviously delusional and probably paranoid kid who shot them completely slipped through the cracks ... despite what appear to be lots of warning signs.

I remember that Blacksburg always felt a bit like a parallel universe--it really is sort of out in the middle of nowhere (maybe less so now than when I was there--we had no internet back then) and nothing really big ever seemed to happen there. It has grown a lot since I lived there--it looked quite different when I was back there last August and had lost a lot of its small-town feel, but it still seemed rather cozy.

So I guess I can understand why people would say that Virginia Tech was not a place they would expect this kind of thing to happen, because it did seem rather remote from such real world problems when I was there. But then again, where in the hell DOES one expect such things to happen? OK, the Post Office, maybe, but other than that, is there anyplace you expect some kid to just open fire on people? Should we even expect such a thing? But we do sort of expect it--even classmates of the most recent shooter, Cho Sueng-hui, speculated about whether he was the type to become a "school shooter." And I must admit that I have had similar conversations with co-workers about whether one of our own was likely "go postal," and which one of us he (it's always a he) would be likely to take out first (me, probably because of my flippancy.)

So I have sort of come to expect mass shootings, as Tim Rutten points out in the L.A. Times,
"... the readily accessible databases that now comprise the news media's collective memory contain a category of atrocity labeled "school shooting" with enough entries to make comparisons relevant. (Ultimately, the Virginia gunman would nearly double the previous record, which had stood since the 1966 bloodbath at the University of Texas at Austin.) There's nothing sinister or even particularly callous in this. This country's recent history is what it is, and the parsing of tragedy is one of the journalist's unavoidable obligations. And yet it's hard to escape the suspicion that a practiced news media's routinization of atrocity has made it easier for all of us to rationalize as unavoidable something we all ought to hold as horrifically aberrational."

Anyway, I'd say more but I've gotta go. Radio. 8-10 pm. 88.7 FM if you're local if you're not.

Monday, April 16, 2007

How 'bout them Hokies?

Hey, look, people are talking about my alma mater. Why am I not terribly surprised by today's events. Horrified? Yes. Shocked? No. It's not because Virginia Tech is necessarily the type of place I would expect someone to go on a shooting rampage-on the contrary, it's a delightful, peaceful place. But really, is there anywhere in this country where someone isn't likely to go on a shooting spree? I've just come to expect it.

Scary, yes.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

No good deed ...

It's been, what? A week since I posted or something? Here's the deal: I opened my big mouth and volunteered for something, and now that something is biting me in the ass like a tiger. See, I mentioned that I'm a designer to someone in my neighborhood, and he said something like "Oh, so you could do the Preservation Durham home tour book," and I'm all like "Oh yeah, I can do it in my sleep, blah blah, aren't I cool, blah blah." So now I'm doing the Preservation Durham home tour book ... and no, in fact, I cannot actually do the thing in my sleep ... NOTE TO SELF: Next time, ask how many pages are in the book before you open your big mouth. For some reason I was thinking the thing would be about 36 pages, tops ... it's actually twice that, and maybe even bigger (all the ads are not in yet ... another thing to remember: any time there are advertisers involved, run, don't walk, in the other direction!)

In other news, agility trial last weekend, agility trial this weekend ... which means I will miss the annual WXDU v. WXYC kickball game, to be held this Saturday at 2 pm in the field at the northwest corner of Duke's East Campus (which, I now know from working on the PD tour booklet, was once called "Hanes Field.") I designed a T-shirt for this year's kickball game. Maybe I'll remember to post the design later for the whole world to enjoy ...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Attention HTrouser and Wordnerdy ...

Pastor McPurvis at has a special downloadable treat for you: Manischewitz Presents The Jewish Cowboy:Harold Stern from Centerville, Texas: "A short but fun promotional 45 from the Manischewitz company featuring the laconic drawl of Harold Stern, The Jewish Cowboy. Come hear this kosher cowpoke wax poetically about his ranch, Manischewitz products, and 'GUHH-felt-a-fish'. Also features performances from singer/accordionist Avram Grobard. Corporate shilling never sounded so good, and that's no bubbe maisse!"

Paul is dead, miss him, miss him ...

I'm a bad blogger. I hardly blog any more. I'm either too busy doing stuff to write about it or too happy to have nothing to do to ruin it by sitting in front of the computer hunting and pecking out a blog entry. Did that last sentence make sense? Was it grammatical? Is grammatical a real word? It seems like it should be "grammatic" instead.

Here's a point to ponder: Should I go to my high school reunion or compete in a agility trial? They're on the same weekend. I have a free entry for the dog agility trial. The High school reunion will involve staying in an overpriced DC-area hotel.