Monday, December 14, 2009

Weekend Wanderings - Part IX

Last week, Minnesota and forty-four other states received their first taste of winter, as the initial Queen Bitch of all winter storms raced across the continental U.S. As most of you saw, every network news broadcast led off with stories and pictures of blizzard conditions, and the obligatory shots of cars and trucks that had skidded off the road into ditches across the northern U.S.

Of course, as is usually the case, each of the networks eventually followed their "the-sky-is-falling" lead with: "We take you now to (insert random Weather Channel reporter here) live from BUFFALO, NEW YORK, WHERE IT'S THE END OF LIFE AS WE KNOW IT, AND THEY'RE ALL GOING TO DIE FROM THIS HORRIBLE STORM..."

The camera then shows us Kristin Bell, Paul Goodloe, or some other Weather Channel "personality", clutching a microphone, and dressed from head to toe in the latest L.L. Bean foul weather gear, looking like a modern day Antarctic researcher, (with the L.L. Bean logo clearly visible on the right shoulder of course) standing knee-deep in a snowbank, while lake effect snow swirls around them.

What the networks always fail to mention is that 99% of the time, the weather personality in question is NOT in Buffalo, but usually someplace like East Aurora (20 miles south, and at a higher elevation), or Springville (30 miles south and higher still). It was always a constant source of amusement to receive phone calls from panicked friends and relatives not familiar with the Western New York region who were convinced that we in Buffalo were cut off from the rest of the world, and were in grave danger, then trying to explain to them that the reporter they were watching was easily thirty to forty-five minutes south of Buffalo, and in fact we in the Queen City were still in the process of raking the last of the fall leaves from our snow-free lawns. To the Weather Channel personalities credit, they always correctly identify exactly what town in Western New York they are in, and often point out that they are thirty, forty, or even fifty miles south of Buffalo.

Hearing about the blizzard raging across southern Minnesota sparked a few concerned e-mails from some of you back in Western New York who were convinced by the networks that we here in the Twin Cities were in the same type of imminent danger.

We were not.

While part of the western portion, and the southeastern corner of the state did indeed receive a blizzard-style kung-fu ass-whipping from the Jack Frost/Mother Nature tag team, here in the T.C., we received maybe four to six inches of the white stuff. The only thing that was an issue here was the fact that it went from forty-seven degrees last weekend to single-digit temps, and wind chills in the negative double-digits Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Even that wasn't much to be concerned with, as Saturday afternoon temps rose back into the low thirties.

The past weekend was a foray back into the Performing Arts world for me. It started Thursday night at the Southern Theatre where I attended the world premiere of the play "S. Gunter Klaus and the Story Before". It was a somewhat amusing, and rather odd take on another look at the origin of Santa Claus. Being a brand-new play (the cast was still getting rewrites from the author a few days before the premiere), there were a few bumps in the road that were noticeable by me (maybe because I still consider myself a stage actor), and while it had some good moments, I must report that outside of the Upper Midwest, it's a play that will have trouble finding an audience due to it's Scandinavian-centric attempts at humor. (In it's defense, two of the actors, a tall, skinny, red-haired Swedish guy, and a short, chubby kid who couldn't have been older than sixteen or seventeen had a couple of moments that had me roaring with laughter, because of their sense of timing, and spot-on delivery.)

Friday I ended up at the Driftwood Char Bar where I had dinner with my compadre Tara and checked out, I kid you not, Wain McFarlane and the Appalachian Hip-Hop band.

That was NOT a typo.

Appalachian Hip-Hop.

There was a banjo involved, and that's all I'm going to say about that.

Saturday ended up being the busiest day of the weekend, and was not without a small amount of excitement. I headed over to the Midtown Global Market with Tara, since she wanted to purchase some specialty Middle Eastern spices for her brother, who is a bit of a gourmet cook, and didn't mind if I tagged along. The excitement stemmed from a phone call from my landlord, just as we were about to arrive at our destination. It seems that Misplaced suffered some type of mental meltdown, and forgot to close the front door when I left. My upstairs neighbor, who just moved in on the third floor was on her way out, and noticed my open door, Victor and Roxie (pictured above in next to no snow) with their heads jammed through the screen door and correctly assumed that my absence in that situation was unusual.

Fortunately, the Midtown Global Market is not all that far away from my house, and a quick U-turn, and Baghdad-style driving placed me back home where both dogs had for some reason decided to remain in the house, even though they could have easily left through the hole they created in the screen door.

After I secured the house, (and gave both dogs a handful of treats each for NOT leaving the house) we returned to the MGM where Tara purchased the spices for her brother, and we ended up eating a late lunch/early dinner at the MGM location of the Holy Land Grocery Bakery and Deli. The dining choices available at the MGM make it worth the trip all by itself. The Greek/Mediterranean/Middle Eastern buffet that the Holy Land offers is probably the best nine dollars you can spend on food in the Twin Cities. Even though it was after 2PM, their seating area was crowded, so we ended up sharing a table with a friendly gay man who introduced himself as Ian. When I asked him if he minded if we sat with him at his table I was surprised that he agreed without a second thought. I think I've mentioned before that most Minnesotans do not like strangers... especially forward strangers who have no qualms about asking to share a table in a crowded dining room. Of course it turned out that he wasn't originally from here... Misplaced is beginning to find it a bit disturbing that nearly every new friend made since the Great Neighborhood Relocation is NOT a native. My new quest is going to be to find a gregarious, outgoing native Minnesotan... there HAVE to be some of those here... I'm going to keep looking until I find some.

Saturday ended with an invitation from Tara to accompany her to the 2009 Dance Film Project film festival at the Intermedia Arts Center. It was a series of short dance and movement films, ranging from four to ten minutes. Ms. Tara herself was in one of them, a seven-minute piece called "Haven". It was a striking enough piece that Misplaced is attempting to acquire a copy of it and post it here at some point. There were a total of ten films shown, and each was very interesting in one way or another... except one, a ten-minute nightmare entitled "Close-Up". It was ten minutes of point and shoot digital camera-quality video of a close up of a male dancers face as he "performed" in what appeared to be a downtown Minneapolis skyway. I don't want to badmouth the "artist" who produced that particular piece, but perhaps a better title for it would have been "A Study In Motion Sickness" as it was actually hard to watch.

With that one ten-minute exception it was a pretty decent weekend here in the T.C.

For those that are interested, the graphic novel is ahead of schedule, and the first installment will appear as promised on Friday.

See you tomorrow.

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