Friday, May 30, 2008

MY PERFECT DAY: EAST METRO EDITION

Somehow I missed it, but Giant Robot published a "My Perfect Day" story from the Twin Cities a couple of months ago. It's a feature where the writer describes the place they live in the form of a diary entry for a perfect day where they could do all their favorite things in a period of 16 - 20 hours. This one was pretty good, the guy works for the Walker and mentioned most of the cool galleries and museums. It's too bad he apparently never steps further east of the river than Dinkytown, though. Where's the St. Paul love? If I did a perfect day, I'd have to do a Minneapolis one and a St. Paul one, otherwise I'd never fit everything in. Here's my East Metro version, based on certain special days with my sweetie Dr. S:

9 AM: Early for me, but it's a perfect day and I have a lot to do, so Dr. S tickles my toes. I look out my balcony at the Mississippi: it looks like a perfect day.


10:30 AM. We walk along the Mississippi River and look for any new graffiti to photgraph. Who needs camping when you have the river in walking distance? I've seen bald eagles, wild turkeys, and a mama duck with ducklings. Then we go over to see if there's some new art at the railroad tracks at 280 and Pelham.

11 AM: Brunch at Key's on Raymond, a nice, homey Midwestern breakfast and lunch place. There are several in the Twin Cities, each run by a different family member, but the Raymond one has the most character.


12 PM: I check out Succotash to see what incredible midcentury-modern finds are there today. This is were I got my lovely tiki bar, they were so nice they delivered it to my house at no extra charge.



12:30 PM: More than just a surplus store, Axman is a museum of oddities. Employees create handmade signs suggesting weird uses for all their stuff. It has to be experienced to be believed. No Halloween is complete without it.

1:3o PM: We stop at Saigon in Frogtown for some yummy banh mi to take along for a picnic in Como Park. Frogtown is a neighborhood full of Southeast Asian businesses. Its name is ancient and shrouded in mystery.


1:30 PM: We check out the animals at Como Zoo. It may not be the fanciest zoo around, but it's one of the cheapest ($2 suggested donation). There is also a lovely park, a conservatory, and a slightly pathetic but sweet amusement park. It is a very St. Paul kind of place, small cute and not changed much by time.

4 PM: The Source is aptly named. Here is the source for all your most geeky needs: Role-playing games, comic books, miniatures, plushes, figurines, funny-shaped dice, DVDs, manga and a calendar of geek events. The staff is friendly and not freaked out by females.



6 PM: Tomodachi is a little slice of Akibahara in the Twin Cities. There are toys, CDs, stationary, stickers, t-shirts, robots, figures, and plushes from Japan, plus some Asian-inspired toys like Uglydolls. Where else would I get a poseable Tachikoma? Items I've purchased there include: a Domo-kun T-shirt, Badtz Maru slippers and a Samurai Champloo calendar. It's a perfect day, so the cosplaying employee with the furry pink leggings is there and some good J-Pop is playing.

7:30 PM: There are a lot of Ethiopian places in the Twin Cities, but Fasika is my current favorite. There is so much food for such a good price, we have to each get a giant platter on a big piece of injera bread.

9:30 PM: We go to the Turf Club and a great local band is playing. The Turf Club is small and unpretentious, just the right size, location, seat/floor ratio, and attitude for a show. The good band ends just in time for us to catch our bus, and we go home thinking of our perfect day.

Note: This is certainly not everything that could be done in St. Paul, only what could plausibly be done in one day (I'm still taking the bus, but I catch every connection perfectly). I didn't even mention the State Fair, the Art Crawl, the cool old buildings in West 7th and Summit Ave., the Black Sea, the Science Museum, Shish, Punch Pizza, Uncle Sven's. Babani's, Taste of Thailand, Peking Garden, the downtown St. Paul library and the three Carnegie branches, the Art Deco City Hall, Pino's, Khyber Pass, and a downtown that's not filled with ugly buildings because they tore most of the good ones down in the 60's.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

10, 000 HITS, BABY!



Well, thanks to recent posts of the new Intermedia Arts mural and the Como Zoo, I have finally achieved my dream of 10,00 hits on Flickr. I would have more, but apparently Name That Film posts don't count (it's technically 18+, but not for reasons of naughtiness). The popular blog Boing Boing mentioned NTF a couple of months ago, so we were swamped for a while. I prefer getting props for my abilities (at least those of being in the right place to capture street art) than because a lot of people are trying to guess what movie my snap is from, anyway.

Friday, May 09, 2008

I, OTAKU


So, I went to Anime Detour last month and a good time was had by all, although I did put my back out for a week afterwards, hence the lack of posts in April. Apparently, I can no longer sit cross-legged for any length of time because the nerve in my leg starts hurting, making sitting in a chair very painful, which makes it hard to share my wit and wisdom with all the Jfro fans.

My dear friend KathySRW let Dr S. and I stay over at her hotel room, which was great and definitely the way to do things. Next time I may spring for a room or split the cost. Kathy's daughter was dressed as Light from Death Note, a 2008 cosplay favorite, along with Bleach, Hellsing, and the ubiquitous Naruto (In my day, ninjas were remorseless killing machines, and that's the way we liked it. Now get off my lawn with your ridiculous orange jumpsuit!) Here's some more pictures from my Flickr account.

We got to check out some new shows, of which our favorites were Flag and Witchblade. Flag was a serious look at war through the eyes of a photojournalist (literally, the whole show has the appearance of being shot through a camera viewfinder), and Witchblade was pure cheesy superhero fun (a superweapon chooses one woman with extremely large breasts to wield it in every generation, giving her nigh-invulnerability, a thirst for combat, and a desire to go without underwear).

Anime Science Theater 3000 was a new feature--a good idea, but it didn't live up to the possibilities. The show being mocked was Desert Punk, which didn't seem to take itself very seriously in the first place. I was hoping for a really, really bad old anime from the 80's, something like the Humanoid, named by Jonathan Clements as the worst anime ever made. Even so, the room was packed so close I could hardly breathe. It's a good thing Anime Detour is moving to a bigger hotel next year. The Thunderbird has a certain mid-century charm with its tacky Native American motif, but it's a motel with delusions of grandeur. Watching the cosplay contest on closed-circuit TV is not my idea of fun. Anime is so big now, a second con is starting up in the Twin Cities. Since it's not too accessible to mass transit, I won't be going (unless L'Arc-En-Ciel or Halcali appear live, not very likely in the Jpop-ignorant Midwest). Dr. S might go if it were all manly anime like Crying Freeman, Golgo 13, or Urotsukidoji.

For more on the anime phenomenon, I direct you to the documentary, Otaku Unite. It's a good history of fandom with some real characters in it. Plus, Kaiju Big Battel, how can you not love guys who dress like monsters and wrestle each other ineptly?


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Now playing: Groove Radio
via FoxyTunes

Friday, May 02, 2008

I AM AN ONLINE PUBLISHER

I recently discovered that Encyclopedia Britannica is giving free one-year subscriptions to web publishers, and I guess I am one, because they gave me one. Awesome! Now I can look up all the real people the characters in Rome were based on.