Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Minnesota Style Pizza

So I'm not sure what sort of socio-culinary uprising it takes to anoint such a title, but I think greasy, thin crust, cut-into-squares pizza should be called Minnesota Style.

New Yorkers do it thin, but cut in triangles.
Chicagoans do it deep (again with the triangles).

Minnesotans do it like this:
(thanks to S4xton for the pics)

Carbone's (pic not me)

Pizza Flame

Moose on Monroe


Classic Pizza

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Song of the Day by New Pornographers

In 1986 televangelist Jimmy Swaggart called rock music "the new pornography". Today, the New Pornographers are a terrific pop-rock band from Vancouver and I caught them live for the first time yesterday at the Walker Art Center's Rock the Garden outdoor concert at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Show was quite good, but lacked a bit because amazing singer Neko Case was unable to be a part of the band. She has a solo career, too, and is busy working on a new record. So that was a bit of a bummer, but the New Pornographers still write some of the catchiest songs around. It's not too often I find myself singing along to a song the first time I've heard it.

One of my favorite lines of all time is from a song of theirs called "The Slow Descent into Alcoholism":
My ever loosening grip
on the commonest courtesy slipped

Here's that example of their pop genius. Not sure if this is the official video or not.

Previously (and still) recommended songs:

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Picking up Pennies

Yesterday's entry on my Living Green calendar was from Gandhi: "You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

The other day I was in the nice, new lockerroom at work where they offer two hair dryers for the gentlemen to use. However, they were just sitting there plugged in. Talk about a great opportunity to reduce some energy drain! I mean, c'mon, does a hair dryer in a men's lockerroom get used more than about 90 seconds per day?

It has recently been documented that all those appliances sitting unused, but plugged in, each consume a little bit of energy and it all adds up to a massive amount. To read more on phantom energy, click here.

So I made up this little sign, unplugged the plugs, and taped it next to the outlets. Feel free to download, print out and do the same to hair dryers, microwaves, coffee pots, et al in your work area.

I'm just trying to live my life according to Gandhi (quoted above) and this bumper sticker I saw a few months ago: Quit yer bitchin' and start a revolution.

Oh, and "picking up pennies" is what Iditarod dog mushers call the act of poling with a single ski pole while riding on the back of the sled. They think that over the course of 10 grueling days every tiny bit will help.

Yellow Pages & Catalog Opt-Out

Sick of receiving the yellow pages (and the white pages)? Go here to opt-out. I just submitted so I'm not sure if it actually works or not. I've also signed up for a similar deal at for unwanted catalogs (like the damn Pottery Barn catalog that has been haunting me for 10 years and 5 different addresses after I bought my sister a Christmas gift there way back when). However, I am still pestered by Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma regularly, so I'm not sure how well the catalog choice one works. Can't hurt, though. I haven't noticed any evil alterior motive and I'm under the impression that more upset consumers opting out just gives them more leverage with the retailers.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Shine A Light

It's been a long time since I've spent a Monday night at the Entry for a rock show, but tonight reminded me what I love about life: live rock music and not having to worry about tomorrow morning. Life is better when you're donating blood at 9:15 and don't have any meetings until 11:00.

Kickass Canadian rockers The Constantines were in the Entry tonight. Mikko and I decided to go even though it was a school night. In the olden days this was a regular occurrence, but of late we have been much more discerning about which acts are worthy of our weeknight attendance. The Constantines were absolutely worthy.

They played a lot of their older stuff, with which I am more familiar, and sounded great to the 100 people in the Entry. Frankly, I thought there'd be more people there. It's one of those deals where you think this is one of the gret rock bands of the day and assume that others feel the same, so I was a little surprised it wasn't sold out. The Entry only holds about 200 packed to the gills. But all the better for the rest of us. I don't care much for crowds anyways.

Anybody want to roadtrip to Winnipeg to catch 'em Tuesday night? We should probably be gettin' a move on.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I Baked!

The last couple weekends I've walked past the fresh rhubarb at the farmer's market, wishing I had the interest to go shopping to pick up all the staples I would need to bake my mom's famous rhubarb cake. I'm not much of a cook, so I don't have all the different pan sizes, baking soda, vanilla, flour, etc. laying around my kitchen.

But I really wanted to enjoy that fresh rhubarb.

So I scourged the interwebs to find a simple rhubarb recipe that I could crank out while only requiring one bike trip to the grocery store for the aforementioned staples. Here's what I came up with. Muffins turned out great. I might have to try this "baking" thing again sometime.

Rhubarb Muffins
2 1/2 C. flour
2/3 C. brown sugar, packed
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. milk
1/4 C. oil or melted margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg, beaten
2 C. finely chopped rhubarb

Heat oven to 400 degrees; grease or paper line 12 muffin cups. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add milk, oil, vanilla and egg. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Divide batter between muffin cups. Sprinkle tops liberally with sugar, if desired. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until light golden brown.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Top Five

Okay, some friends are listing their Top Five albums of all time and I'm gonna jump on the bandwagon. The album is a piece of art and should be treated as such. A quality album is not just be a collection of pop songs, but should contain greater meaning as a whole.

First of all, it's extremely hard to stick to just five. Maybe on a later post I'll list the runners up, but I will stay true on this one and only post five. And they can't just be records that are fun to listen to. To get into the Top Five they have to also stand for something and be influential. If it was easy to get into the Top Five, your favorite band would be here.

Second, these are as-of today and are culled from the 600+ albums I own. They evolve as I evolve, but at this moment they are (in no particular order):

* Double Nickels on the Dime (Minutemen) -- this album blows me away with its jazz influenced punk rock in 90-second bursts. Best lyric: "Our band could be your life".

* March 16-20, 1992 (Uncle Tupelo) -- I never would have thought it at the time, but this is Uncle Tupelo's best record. You can't tell which songs are "traditional" and which are time-undistinguishable originals. That's a good thing. A timeless thing. Best lyric: "I spent all my money on whiskey and beer".

* Bulk (Jack Logan) -- I actually first heard this album in Verbier, Switzerland while visiting a ski bum friend. Through 42 songs its variety, artistry, and simple poignancy continue to impress. Best lyric: "Why oh why did you become an optimist?"

* Grievous Angel (Gram Parsons) -- One of America's all time best songwriters at the peak of his brief career. Best lyric: "Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down and they all led me straight back home to you".

* Pet Sounds (Beach Boys) -- Not the Beach Boys you may be familiar with, but moreso the brainchild of disturbed genius Brian Wilson. Best lyric: "I guess I just wasn't made for these times".

What are your Top Five?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Built to Spill Charitable Beer

Saturday night I went to the Finnegan's Sham Rock outdoor show over by the Cabooze. If you're not aware, Finnegan's is a local brewery that is also a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Good beer for a good cause, what could be better!

Built to Spill
was the headliner and the only other time I saw the was down at SXSW 4 or 5 years ago. They're a great band and played a fantastic set of their 5-12 minute soaring 3-piece guitar rock jams. Best band ever from Idaho, perhaps.

Playing before them was local bar band Ol' Yeller who came up with the highlight of the day when, for their last song, they called out the Brian Boru [Bag]Pipe Band who joined them onstage for a beautiful version of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (if You Wanna Rock 'n Roll)" with bagpipes!

We were planning on heading home at 10pm when Built to Spill ended, but learned that local rock band Chooglin was playing later at the Cabooze. I have heard a lot of positive things about this band and have been wanting to check them out, so we stuck around. Chooglin delivered extremely well in a very one track way. They were a balls to the wall 7-piece rock band playing at 110% for the entire show, with little or no variation. I thought they were great, but Mikko had a good point that they didn't vary their style at all. If they're gonna stick around and continue to be appreciated I think they'll have to broaden their musical stylings a bit. Reminded me a bit of the Supersuckers, actually, one of my favorite bands.

So it was a good night all around, though we missed the last train by about 2 minutes and ended up cabbing it home.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Evening Bicycle Commute

And here's my route home in the evening. It's slightly different than the morning route for a couple reasons. First, it was more the same around downtown Mpls until the bridge collapse last year. My bike route took me under the 35W bridge and I rode under it 1 hour before she went down, but had to adjust my route afterwards. And 1 hour really wasn't that close. One of my co-workers died on the bridge and I know of 2 other co-workers who were within 2 minutes of being on it.

So for a few more months I have to deal with more of downtown Mpls and can't just jump on the river road as early as I would like. Last year I biked down Washington Ave, took a left at Bullwinkle's and made my way across the U car/ped bridge. But the path along the east river road around the U is in horrible shape, and that coupled with Washington Ave and the traffic did not make for a pleasant start to the ride. This year I've adjusted and am enjoying the ride down 11th avenue to Franklin, through Seward and across the Franklin bridge.

To wit:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Obama Draws Quite a Crowd

Barack Obama was in downtown St. Paul Tuesday night and accepted the nomination for President at the Excel Center. Since I have class Tuesday nights (but only for 1 more week!) I didn't get home until 10pm and was completely unaware of the turnout. Wednesday morning a couple people asked me how my commute went on Tuesday, assuming I was trying to get to my downtown St. Paul condo at the same time as the Obama event.

It turns out there was a line of people almost 2 miles long winding its way from the Excel through downtown waiting to get into the arena.

MPR has a photo essay the documents the whole thing.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Morning Bicycle Commute

Here's my morning bike commute to work every day. It's a great way to start the day -- biking along Summit Avenue and the River Road. Have I mentioned I'm a huge fan of the river? At work they now have nice, new shower facilities, but so far I've been able to just change shirts. And no, I don't wear spandex. I'm the dorky guy wearing his work clothes on the bike with rubber bands around my ankles (but I still pass far more bikers than pass me). This morning was the first time someone walked in on me in the bathroom shirtless. I should probably at least go into a stall, but what the hell. I'll wait until I get an anonymous complaint. But actually when it starts to warm up I'll have to shower so I'll use the proper facilities soon anyways.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Stanley Cup & Sleep

Nothing better than overtime playoff hockey! But don't they know its past my bed time?

I've just figured out how to go to bed early enough so that my alarm doesn't shock me awake in the morning. It's amazingly simple: Just go to bed 8.5 hours before I need to get up. My body tends to want 8 hours of sleep and that's about all it needs. A friend recently acquired this "alarm" clock that actually wakes you up slowly by slowly brightening a light that is meant to simulate dawn. So instead of awakening to the annoying BZZZZZZ of an alarm, you wake up more naturally. That's pretty cool. But I've realized that it's even better if you can just go to bed at a reasonable hour and awaken naturally after about 8 hours. Not always possible, of course, but recommended.