Snow. The picture above, like all the shots at the top of the page this week, were taken last week before the wind stripped everything from the trees and the cold came down and enhardened the world, to use a word that does not exist but would be used by many young poets if it did. Especially if they smoked pipes and threw their scarf over their shoulder in that damn-the-fates-I-shall-follow-my-muse gesture the young poet thinks he carries off with a sense of noble conviction.

Trust me on that one. At least I thought I carried it off.

Today's picture is Jasperwood; yesterday was Diamond Lake near the house, and Monday was a bridge over the creek. The Bleak & Engrim'd City!

Had a piano recital tonight. How we drilled that song the last week. Natalie wrote it, so I had a hard time telling her the notes weren’t quite right. IT’S MY SONG, DAD. Yes, but. You need another note there. You can’t have three notes. You need four. IT’S MY SONG. Yes, but this isn't a recital in 'Nam; there are rules. The ear will expect one more note; it’s your obligation as a composer to provide it. So we drilled and drilled and tonight when she hit that part she played it right, and looked up across the room to see if I was smiling. I was.

I’ll post it here if she agrees. 

We had dinner at Perkins before the recital, as per the tradtion. And we had breakfast. AISOT, “breakfast for dinner” are three of the sweetest words in the English language. It was a good night for Perkins, for carbs and bottomless pots of coffee – rainy outside, dark and cold. Inside, a clown prowled the aisles. Really: they have a clown every so often, and she paints faces and hands out balloons. She’s got full-blown clownatosis, too -  the krazy kostume, the tiny hat, the painted freckles. Diagnosis: wacky. There doesn’t seem to be anything anyone can do for her, alas.

A few random bits of commercial art assembled over the last few days. During the weekend’s great grocery shopping failure I ended up at Lunds, looking at the coffee bargains. I have a set price I’ll pay for coffee – about seven dollars a pound for French Roast – and I usually get it at the charmless warehouse joints. It’s good, too. It’s probably not shade grown,  and I’m sure the trade is so unfair they shoot Juan Valdez’ donkey if he asks for a penny more a pound, but there are times when you just want a flippin’ cup of coffee. Although if they made a blend with a stylized atom on the front and the motto “It’s Genetically Modified – for Flavor!” and words like “Now with Robustitude™” I’d probably pay more. Perverse, yes. Anyway. If I can’t get my two-pound sack of French Roast for $14 at  a store within two miles, I have to hit the upscale stores.

Once there were two brands for the deluxe grocery experience – Lunds and Byerlys, each named after a founding scion. They merged at some point, and have combined their house brands into one inordinately boring style. It’s restrained, and if you buy a lot it gives your shelves a homogenous look enlivened by subtle variations in the colors, but please: no one can achieve that. There’s always something in the cupboard to throw it all off.  Here’s the coffee. Give it a quick look, and tell me which one is ground, and which is whole bean.

At least it’s N! For . . . nice? Natural? Probably natural, lest anyone think they’re fobbing off unnatural anti-coffee variants like “Taster’s Choice.” But nothing in the design indicates the fundamental distinctions here – manly vs. decaf, whole bean vs. ground. Imagine an entire wall of this stuff and you see why it gets tiresome. This is why some people just say to hell with it and grab a drum of Folgers that was roasted around the time Dean Martin left the airwaves.

Some coffees use green for decaf, for no reason I can imagine. Decaf was heretofore signaled by Orange, which was a generally accepted nod towards Sanka.  (When I started waiting on tables, no one had fresh-brewed decaf; ask for it, and you got a pot of hot water with a loose lid, a packet of Sanka, and a plastic stir stick. And that’s all you got, you weirdo.) Now green means decaf. Except when it doesn’t.  

Later, at Walgreens, one of those European confections fobbed off on American bargain stores. If you subjected Donna Summers to cryogenic freezing, dropped her rock-hard body from a height of nineteen feet, you’d be sweeping up:


European candy never looks right. It always looks like it’s aimed at really stupid people who sit around staring at the television, smoking, like the Royle Family. Mexican candy is the opposite – there’s a store in my wife’s office building stocked with dozens of Mexican molar-griefers, and they all look cool and somewhat painful. American candy has lost much of its poise, but it’s still not as ugly as Eurosweets. And not as cool as it used to be:


I’ll admit that the package doesn’t really shout CANDY, and the slogan makes you wonder how difficult candy once was to consume. But it still looks good. I wish I had some Walnettos ads, and I have to confess the website makes me weep. I’ve mentioned this before: Jasperwood was built by the man who invented Walnettos. He ran a candy company. (They also made the unfortunately named “Scotch Loaf,” which sounds like the end result of a haggis stuffed with fiber.) Yes, I sleep in the bedroom of a man who gave the world Walnettos. I walk in his footsteps every day. It’s an honor, and a responsibility. I should remake that website for free.

One question about these guys:

Where are their guns? They never have guns. They must have been a grave disappointment when they showed up. We are here, my liege! The Musketeers! Fine, fine, take up position on the parapet, and aim down at – say, where are your muskets? We have them not, my liege! We life life at swordpoint! All for one, and one for – Fine, you have a motto, I know, but I wanted guns. Why do you call yourselves musketeers if you don’t have any bloody muskets? Tres simplisme, monsieur! We must see the whites of our foes’ eyes, wide with fright! We must – Oh shut up and take these muskets and start shooting at something, for God’s sake.

One more sign, seen Tuesday night at Perkins:

I might eat a Benedict; I might even nod after a few bites and note its rich, tangy flavor, but I will be damned if I celebrate them, let alone do so for the entire day.

The Hotel site has been redone to my satisfaction - for this week, anyway. The previous remodel was just a placeholder until I could figure out what to do. The new version isn't anything spectacular, but the whole point of the Mpls section overhaul - aside from resizing and rescanning EVERY FARGIN' PICTURE and redoing EVERY PAGE - was to have a consistent look, more or less, that would let the pictures speak for themselves. Anyway, here's the Andrews Hotel.

That's it - see you buzz,mn! And on Twitter, of course.