Wednesday, December 29, 2010

up on the [lounge]top

to all those who visit this blog, i hope you're having a wonderful
holiday season and i wish you all the best in the new year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

[freezin'] in the moonlight

it was freezing, and late, which made me cold, and tired, but who could pass up an event that hasn't happened since 1638! with a camera, tripod, and a thermos of coffee, i drove out to lake afton at 2 a.m. this morning to witness a winter solstice eclipse. it was worth it.

Monday, December 20, 2010

the social [nut]work

the other week, i was feeling nostalgic for the christmas's of my youth. as a child most holidays were spent at my grandparents house visiting cousins, aunts and uncle's. i specifically remember, during the holidays, both sets of grandparents would have large bowls of mixed nuts sitting out. the un-cracked kind, the kind which required a set of dentist-like tools to open them up to enjoy. which got me thinking, "does anyone even buy whole nuts anymore?" for the life of me i couldn't remember the last time i had seen nuts laying out anywhere. with the vast boxes of mixed, already-shelled nuts, that are passed around during the season, i decided this would be how i could bring some nostalgia back into chirstmas. i would buy a big bag of mixed nuts, and have them lying out just like my grandparents did.

first thing i needed to locate was a nut cracker. i have a large drawer of utensils in my kitchen collected from various graduations gifts and past roommates. under the whisk, and to my disbelief, i actually had a nut cracker. i have no idea from who or where it came, but i had one. next, to find the nuts. i visited the local grocer, and sure enough, sitting amongst the fruit, was a huge bin of nuts. as i scooped up an even amount of pecans, brazil nuts, walnuts, and almonds i thought to myself, "maybe this isn't as lost of an art as i once thought". this had all been way too easy.

at home is when the adventure really began. i poured the nuts into a large bowl, readied my cracker and went to town. it went horrible. nuts, as it turns out, are hard to crack. not only did i pinch my fingers and scraped my knuckles, but when i finally got the nuts out, they were nothing but mush. chewing on the few pieces i salvaged, i would occasional hurt my teeth, by apparently biting into a piece which should have been removed. in the end, not only did i have bits of shell all over the place, but to top it all off, they weren't even that tasty. i found whole experience, to literally be, a pain in the nuts.

i related this story to friends and family, who all remembered nuts being apart of the holidays. after laughing at my misfortune, it was discovered i was missing two key elements of the whole nut-cracking art. first of all, i did not have all the tools. i needed a little picker, a tool normally found in a set which would help remove the nut in a tidier fashion. the second item i was forgetting, and probably the most important, was the fact that nut-cracking was more of a social action instead of a simple snacking activity. most nut-cracking sets included one "cracker" and four "pickers". this was so a group of people could sit around a table, crack the nut, and spend the majority of time picking out the correct parts, all the time socializing with the other people around the table.

as it turned out, the social aspect is what made the whole thing nostalgic and a little bit of a lost art. i remember my grandparents, parents, aunts, and uncles sitting around the table talking, chatting, drinking, and laughing. the nuts were merely a means to that conversation, and that's the part i miss the most. people still like to keep their hands busy, but in this day in age, it's filled with texting, gaming, or whatever app was recently purchased. activities that kill conversation with the people actually in the room.

that being said, my goal this christmas is to try to get friends and family to replace their iphones and androids with pecans and filberts...but only after i check to see if there's a "nut-cracking guide" app out there.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

while visions of [tamale's] danced in their heads

by far one of the best holiday treats and office perks during this season is being invited to the annual christmas lunch put on by a local electric company. every december, they invite anyone they've done business with to their warehouse and prepare a homemade mexican meal for everyone. no exaggeration, it is by FAR the best mexican food i've ever had. chicken with mole' sauce, tamale's, enchilada's, taco's, chile verde, all amazing.

as tasty as this meal is, what makes it great, is the fact it's such a personal gift. in a season filled with countless generic cards and boxes of mixed nuts, this lunch stands out as a real and sincere treat. with this being the third time i've attended the lunch, it is rapidly becoming a beautiful, and tasty, beacon during my christmas season.

Friday, December 03, 2010

gone but [now] not forgotten

the demolishing of a building along north broadway exposed a sign on the side of the adjacent building, and i finally made time to go and photograph it today. needless to say i was thrilled when i pulled into the parking lot. walking along side it was like stepping back in time, which if you've followed this blog long enough, know is a favorite theme of mine. what really captured the feeling for me was the vibrancy of the colors. decades of being encased in a brick time capsule seem to have left it in it's original condition. there's something very romantic about this. a tiny piece of marketing history, tucked into a mortar tight corner and forgotten. stores moved in and out, people walked less and drove more, roads were paved, then widened, families moved from downtown to the suburbs, and "mom & pop's" lost out to big box's. then one day, a wall comes down, and we're reminded of the way things use to be, a simpler time, a time when people were asked to "insist on gold medal soda crackers".

Monday, November 29, 2010

[stoned] ambition

a sculpture by artist pete felten from hays, kansas. a man simply doing what he loves to do, and as a result, creates art which not only enhances his home town, but the entire state.

...there's a lot to be envious about that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

me [write] pretty one day

last week i attended a book reading and signing by david sedaris. as i sat in the audience, looking around at the very bookish crowd around me, i felt like a poser.

i'll explain.

i've never hid the fact i hated reading and writing. i put forth the absolute bare minimum of effort in both subjects through high school. one would have thought this void in my education would have been exposed eventually, however, due to my studies in college, i rarely had to read any books that didn't have large pictures of buildings in it. i could have very well gone the rest of my life not giving much thought to "books".

however, during my last year of college, i became friends with two girls who had immersed themselves into the study of writing and composition. the timing of our meeting couldn't have been better. in high school i would have despised these girls. i'm guessing they were the girls in class who quickly raised their hands when the teacher asked if anyone could explain the significance of the conch shell in "lord of the flies" which would have pissed me off. i say despised, but let's be honest, i would have had a secret crush on them. as life would have it though, i met these two shortly after my discovery of the lit-rock band "the decemberists". these two situations combined, i found myself with a latent love of literature. through the years, we've kept in touch through witty e-mails and occasionally i'd ask for suggestions on reading material. years ago it was suggested i read david sedaris. however, due to a large, unread stack of books, and my incredibly slow reading speed, i never got around to it.

then, a few months ago, a local bookstore announced, david sedaris would be reading and signing books in november. the recommendation made years ago was remembered, so i picked up two of his books, quickly read, and fell in love with them. i found the stories to be quirky and witty, and enjoyed how the smallest, most insignificant situations could be comically strung out over several pages. upon finishing the first book, i sent a text to one of my friends, stating i had finally read "me talk pretty one day". the response i received back was "geez, do i have to hold your hand through everything?" see what i mean! writers...such a way with words.

so, that's how i found myself amongst a very literary crowd last thursday. like everyone else there, i waited in line to have my book signed. now, after years of hating any form of literature, the discovery of an indie-lit-rock-folk band, the making of two friends who opened my eyes to the creativity that can be found in writing, countless suggestions, two book purchases and a few days of reading, what could this best selling author have written in my book to finish this whole story off?

writers, such a way with words.

Monday, November 08, 2010


who knew the arkansas river actually got used, let alone was home to wichita's own "frostbite" regatta.

i was amazed to find out wichita held a regatta every year, and was embarrassed to hear it was the 19th annual one at that! i egotistically pride myself in the fact i usually know everything going on in this small community, but this regatta thing took me by surprise. i guess i just don't run with the regatta/rowing/boating crowd here in town....probably because they''re all athletes. upon hearing about the regatta, i was bound and determined to check it out.

the whole event was very surreal. with all the spectators on the river banks, the boats in the river, and hundreds of rowers preparing to race, it almost didn't feel like wichita. it felt like i had accidentally step onto the campus of some ivy league school. the trees in riverside park, with their autumn wardrobes on, completed the effect. the only missing piece would have been a group of friends, named buffy, muffy, and todd, dressed in lacosta shirts, blue blazers, and topsiders. we would have strolled the shores, drinking our cape cods, discussing where we were to summer next year....

so here's to you wichita, for surprising me with a new and classy side of yourself. now, if you could, please hold another similar event, so i can wear these madras shorts one more time.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


there's something about this time of year, that makes the number of miles davis songs played on my ipod increase. with "autumn leaves" creating an internal soundtrack in my head, my mind is allowed to wander. as i listen to the extended trumpet riffs, my mind pictures, dark, smokey coffee houses, poetry, and eventually the beatnik culture.

with this mood already set, you can imagine how thrilled i was when i heard of the several "beatnik" activities that took place last week. first of all, newman university, had a gallery showcasing kansas's own beat experience. in coordination with the exhibit, they also held a reading of poems by allen ginsberg. topping off this beat week the movie, "william s. burroughs: a man within" was featured in wichita's tallgrass film festival.

attending these three events made me realize two things. first of all, the romantic, idealized, hollywood-esque image of the beatnik culture i had in my head a few years ago, is diminishing rapidly. it goes far deeper and darker then the beret-wearing-goatee sporting-maynard-g-kreb-types, i had once pictured. reading kerouac had given me a better description of what it really was, but discovering more about ginseberg and burroughs took it to a whole other level. secondly, i was amazed to found out how much kansas played in this sub-culture. not only did burroughs spend the last years of his life here, but one of ginsberg's most famous poems is entitled "wichita vortex sutra" an anti war poem heavily laced with city references and counter-culture feelings.

i feel like i've taken way too big of bite from the beatnik buffet this weekend. looking into the meaning ginsberg's poem, and visualizing the places he mentions, has me exhausting the internet for as much information as i can find. expect another blog on this subject later. for now, i'll crank up "so what" and see what wikipedia knows.

Monday, October 18, 2010

pumpkin patch [kid]? was suppose to be a group outing with several people.

it turned out to be just my mom, my dad, and me.

did it feel like it was 1984 again, and my parents were taking me to the pumpkin patch? yes.

was it slightly awkward i was 25 years older than the other kids there with their parents? yes.

did i still have a great time? yes.

was it a wonderful way to spend a sunny october sunday? yes.

did i get that ice cream i was promised if i behaved? no.

....i guess i shouldn't have thrown that tantrum when i wasn't allowed to get the 400lb pumpkin i wanted.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

[acl] tradition

i operate under the general assumption that whenever an event takes place for a third year in a row, it becomes a tradition. that said, heading to acl is now on the list, and the third time was a charm. not too hot, not too muddy, just right. call me goldilocks, because i felt it was just perfect.

as much as the general schedule seems to be the same each year, each trip has had a different feel to it. this year seemed to be the year of new discoveries in both music and taco carts. with the line up consisting of many bands i'd never heard of before, it was a great opportunity to discover some amazing artists. also, for some reason, i seemed to have tried out several taco carts, both at the festival and around town.

some of the bands i really enjoyed:

those darlins
mayer hawthorne & the country
local natives
edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros
matt and kim
the national

some taco's i really enjoyed:

green chile pork taco - torchy's tacos
bahn mi taco - the peached tortilla cart
tinga verde taco - el naranjo cart

as amazing as the music and taco's turned were, the highlight of this [tradition] will always be spending time with some wonderful friends. more photos can be found here.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

personal af[fair]

a generous gift of a free admission ticket, and a lack of anyone to take along, meant i enjoyed a little [self]date to the kansas state fair this past weekend. just [myself] and [i].

the day didn't start out too terribly early. [i] let [myself] sleep in a bit. mostly because i know [myself] isn't a fan of getting up early, but neither am [i], so it all worked out. after getting up and around the car left a little before noon. the drive was fairly uneventful, but the radio was tuned to the classic country station, which [i] thought was the perfect way to get [myself] in the mood for a good ol' time at the fair.

both [i] and [myself] had been involved in 4-h growing up, so the first visit was to the livestock barns, filled with every breed of chicken, rabbit, sheep, goat and cattle imaginable. in the poultry exhibit [i] got a little too close to a rooster cage while trying to take a picture, and the little, for lack of a better term, cock, bit my finger. [i] was pissed, but the humor of the situation was not lost on [myself]

after that, it was time to get something to eat. [i] really wanted to try this year's "fair food fad", which was a krispy kreme cheeseburger. however upon inspection, [myself] thought it was gross, so [i] decided to spare [myself] the scene of devouring it. pronto pup seemed a more fitting and slightly healthier alternative. after finishing an amazing corn dog, it was decided to enjoy some ice cream. however, [i] apparently have never eaten ice cream from a cone while sporting a beard before, and accidentally got ice cream all over [myself]. it might sound cute, but it wasn't. [i] got a napkin and cleaned up [myself].

after the ice cream mishap, a stroll through the rides was next. [myself] would have probably enjoyed a ride or two, but [i] was too cheap to buy [myself] any tickets. [myself] then thought about trying out one of the games, but honestly, if a prize would have been won, [i] didn't want to walk around the fair awkwardly trying to hold a giant jamaican banana, especially with [myself].

just when the [self]date seemed to be failing, the pig races happened. as hokey and cheesy as it was, it ended up being a riot to watch and was enjoyed by [myself], [i], and everyone else in attendance.

as the day started to come to an end, it was time to head back. during the ride home, it was discovered [i] smelled like corn dog and barn, a combination of odors not enjoyed by [myself], so the windows were rolled down. heading into wichita [i] thought about getting a few drinks to end the night, but it was easy to see [i] wore [myself] out, so the date ended.

i'm not terribly sure [i] would ask [myself] out again. [i] really wasn't thrilled spending the day with [myself]. honestly [myself] is a little boring. then again [i] probably didn't help things out being more focused on taking photos, instead of enjoying a day getting to know [myself]. who knows? maybe [i] could find something better to do with [myself], but at this point in time, [i] should probably look for someone else to spend time with. [myself] would probably agree.