Search Lobsterland

Wednesday, January 31, 2018


Okay, I get that Alex Smith is too expensive for the Chiefs to keep. And I'm psyched about Patrick Mahomes starting next year, I think he's the most promising thing I've seen in a Chiefs uniform since Dick Vermeil's years coaching here.

So they've traded Smith to the Washington Redskins, frees up umpteen million in cap space they desperately need to shore up an iffy defense (and I hope maybe upgrade their offensive line so the green quarterback doesn't get creamed too often).

But the Eagles this year illustrate how you can have a Super Bowl caliber team, a promising young quarterback and really need an experienced backup QB. Without Nick Foles, they don't go to the Super Bowl this coming Sunday.

I realized today that the perfect solution for the Chiefs would be Colin Kaepernick. He's had a year off to get healthy, he's a big, strong, fast quarterback with plenty of experience (and his talents are very similar to Mahomes' from what I can tell so he'd plug in to a Mahomes-centric system pretty readily), and he's unemployed.

The Chiefs already have a kneeler or two during the anthem, so I don't think that'd be an issue. And as far as reclamation projects, Andy Reid took fucking Michael Vick and gave him another chance, surely wearing idiotic Castro t-shirts isn't as bad as dog fighting.

And I think they could structure the contract in a way that would be hard to resist: say $2 million guaranteed, with incentives like $500,000 for each game he starts and another $500,000 for each game he stars and wins. So if Mahomes goes down in the preseason and Colin leads us to a 16-0 regular season, he would make $18 million, a very respectable salary for him and a very reasonable deal for the Chiefs. If he spends the season watching from the sidelines, he's got his $2 million, still healthy and fresh, and probably has better prospects of getting some team in the league to try him as a starter again.

Honestly, I don't know why the NFL hasn't given me a job making big money. I can figure this shit out on the fly.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Big Grin IV

It's been four years since my friend Joel, aka The Big Grin, died of that all too common, you'd never expect it but probably should, accident in the home. I believe he was trying to fetch something from the loft above his workshop when he fell. He had a young son, and his wife had just gotten pregnant with a daughter he never even got to meet. Incredibly sad.

But the memorial ride we've had for Joel each year since the tragedy is not sad. It is a celebration of a goofy guy who touched a lot of people. An avid cyclist, he would post things to Facebook like, 'Just so you know, riding to work in the snow is super awesome fun!' (on a day when he knew damn well the bike shop would be closed, but he rode to work anyway because it gave him a chance to ride his Pugsley in the snow). He loved to explore the city, he loved to push his own boundaries and see other people do the same.

A couple years ago, it was five degrees Fahrenheit and we rode anyway. Joel would have been delighted to see us all out there despite it being stupid cold. This year, it was warmer but snowy.

And for me, snow is a challenge. A little bit of snow, no big deal. But refrozen snowpack can be like a freaking skating rink and I don't have a sense of humor about falling down. I fall with the grace and dignity of a sack of dishes.

Gravel is hard for me too, and while it's pretty tame gravel, the Big Grin ride always includes a bit of it along the levy. Fitting, since Joel was one of the founders of the Dirty Kanza, one of the premier gravel grinder rides in the world. I remember one year he got hurt right before Trans Iowa, which is another of those. So someone who thought it was good fun to attempt 200 or 340 miles of gravel roads in a race, you gotta do some gravel on his memorial ride.

Gravel with snow on it, yeah. That's even trickier I learned. Fortunately someone hung to warn me of a frozen puddle that had put a half dozen riders down by some railroad tracks, and I managed to stay upright but there were a few patches where I was pretty terrified. I kept telling myself, these other fuckers have stayed up, you can too.

Riding in the wet snow on pavement was tiring, too. It was in the upper 20s, so the snow kind of clumped up on the tires and made them heavy and sluggish. I didn't make the start of the ride, that seems to be a tradition. I got to the Trek Store for the first one right as they were leaving, and every year since I've met them somewhere on Merriam Lane. I guess I've heard that I will be late for my own funeral, so I guess it's fitting that I'd also be late for my friend's funeral.

I was proud of my beard-cicles. I don't think I've ever grown a good set of ice on my facial hair before, even though I've ridden in much colder temperatures. My friend Jones who has a gnarly, grizzly bear type beard is always a great one for icing up. I've always been jealous, but mine this time was pretty decent.

I was also really touched that Jofess, Joel's son, asked me to pick him up at this party. He's not shy, and he's never been standoffish with me or anything, but I think this is the first time he's really engaged with me on this level. I picked him up, and he asked where my hair had gone. Hilarious.

So I told him straight, my hair went to the Eyebrow Farm where people get eyebrows and ear hair and big long nose hairs. I mean, you're not gullible enough to think eyebrows just grow on faces, right kid?

Friday, January 12, 2018


I've tried my best this past year to avoid blogging political posts. I mean, why bother? If you voted for the Cheeto Benito, I'm not going to change your mind. And if you thought I was sexist for not being fully enthralled with Hillary Clinton, well, I'm probably not going to change your mind either.

I got a response the other day to my comment that Trump calling for an examination of our libel laws, so that someone who makes false and defamatory statements can be held accountable, should be careful lest he be hoist by his own petard. "You're still upset about losing the election?"

I'm like, are you even awake a few hours a day? I'm not upset that Hillary isn't President. In fact, I blame her because in the cockamamy scheme we've created, she was the alternative to an obviously bigoted and ignorant jerk. And she was a shitty candidate. I voted for her, but I puked in my mouth a little bit doing so.

So this week Trump is supposedly negotiating a bipartisan deal on immigration, and he complains about why we can't have more Norwegians and fewer Haitians and refers to African countries as 'shitholes.'

Now calling African countries or Haiti 'shitholes' isn't automatically racist in my view. Good government is unknown in Haiti and honestly most of the African continent too. American and European foreign policy is a lot of the reason why these countries are, to varying degrees, shitholes, but that doesn't change what they are.

You prefer Norway? Well, yeah, those people are mostly white. They also have a robust social safety net and universal healthcare so how exactly do you propose to entice them to emigrate to a country where what little of that they'd have is under fire from you? What is the big force driving Norwegians to emigrate to America?

But even if those African countries are shitholes, leaving aside the fact that a head of state should know better than to talk of his peers that way, are you upset that people want to upgrade from their shitholes? Norwegians might not have much to envy in American life, but folks in Haiti, El Salvador, the Congo, etc, even with Donald Trump as prez we might seem like an upgrade.

The people who come from these places enhance our country, they contribute to our economy. And when we 'chain migrate' their families in, that's a plus, too. If you had to start over in a strange country where you might not even initially speak the language, are you less of a burden for having no family and community links there? Personally, if I had to learn Hungarian and figure out life in Budapest, having a dozen family members who had already navigated this world would make that all seem much, much more doable.

Wanting to emigrate to America to make a better life is not a goddamn crime. Even people who do so 'illegally,' pump your brakes. Betting on NCAA brackets is illegal, speeding is illegal, we don't throw people out of the country for it.

I'm not upset about 'losing the election.' I didn't lose it, but America did. I'm skeptical of Democrats as an alternative, the enemy of your enemy is not automatically your friend. Trump isn't a Republican, he isn't a conservative, he's an existential threat because he doesn't even know what he's gotten into and wouldn't care about anything that matters if he did.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Through the Eyes of a Copycat?

Just to get it out up front, I am a Picasso fan, and nothing about this makes me less so. Like Miles Davis and Salvador Dali, he managed to reinvent himself over and over, and understood how to be a rock star at whatever you do.

The Through the Eyes of Picasso exhibit at the Nelson features a lot of Picasso paintings and sculptures, and that alone makes it worth the price of admission.

And not to digress too badly, but memberships at the Nelson are worth the price, too. On street parking around the museum is scarce, and the membership gets you free parking in their covered garage; for a hundred bucks I got me and Corinna the 'duo' membership which includes up to four tickets per day for their special exhibits. Between the tickets and the parking, the ROI is about two visits.

Anyway, unlike the Met, the museum generally is free will donation as far as admission goes, something which made it a go-to destination for me and my kids when I was struggling with the single daddy thing, but if you can find the scratch to join it's well worth it.

But back to Picasso. There's a lot of his works on display, and even if you've seen a piece online or in books or whatever, it's never the same. For one thing, scale, your mind fills in a size when you see an image online or in a magazine. Like how people comment about how small the Mona Lisa turns out to be, I found myself repeatedly thinking, I didn't know that was so big. Or in one case, so small.

See what I mean about scale?

Speaking of scale: size doesn't matter? Please, go on...

There's also a lot of African art he collected. And it's astonishingly hard to tell which is which sometimes. Sure, the canvasses are pretty much all Picasso, but the sculptures, I can't tell without the plaques which is which. And a lot of those canvases look a lot like objets and masks he had in his collection.

And a lot of the paintings are basically faithful reproductions of ceremonial masks and whatnot. I guess it's true that talent robs and genius steals.

In his defense, while you can clearly see that a lot of these things didn't just spring from Picasso's fertile imagination, there is some originality in the fact that he pursued art traditions outside Europe at a time when most trained artists considered those traditions lesser disciplines (or not even disciplines).

I'm going to go back. I had Mo with me, and that dictates a little bit of pace. She doesn't have the patience for me to read everything, and there's a lot there. Being a fan of the artist, I had seen a lot of these canvases online or in print, but chills went down my spine when I encountered the real thing.

I had similar experiences when I went to the Met on my New York pilgrimage about fifteen years ago, and when I visited the Modern Wing at the Chicago Art Institute

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Infinity and Infinite Aggrandizement

When I was coming out of Through the Eyes of Picasso, I wasn't really spending much time on the work that fills the Bloch addition as we made our way up to the Dreams of Kings. But this caught my eye, a neon and mirror affair that has a really cool infinite loopiness to it. I think I need one of these for my house.

I didn't spend much time in the second exhibit actually, I was pretty wore out from the Picasso. The artifacts included a lot of jade, the pale kind the Chinese were into back in the day (the dark green stuff a lot of us think of is a latecomer). The stone is hard to work, and this king's burial suit was made of over 4200 plates of the stuff sewn together with silk and then bound with gold wire.

The resources that went into this burial suit, the hours of labor to mine the jade, cut it, polish it, fit it together, sew it, I wonder how many poor Chinese people starved to death or went without basic necessities so this cunt could be buried in the most expensive set of pajamas ever conceived. On behalf of the subjects of this 'king' I want to ask, who the hell do you think you are?

Don't show this suit to Donald Trump, he'll want one of his own.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Are You Mocking Me?

Long tradition: I don't think Mo has ever not struck this pose when passing the wax guard at the Nelson.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Sub Zero

Set a personal record today. A record I'd just set yesterday. Prior to that, in February of 2011 I rode to work when it was 2ºF, that was a record that stood for almost seven years.

So New Year's Eve, in my neighborhood, there is an unfortunate tradition of shooting guns in the air starting about 11:00 p.m. and going into the wee hours. It's asinine and dangerous and enough idiots do it the cops really can't do anything about it. So while Corinna and I were stoked at the prospect of setting a new record for a cold bike ride, we weren't going to try a midnight ride on New Year's Eve. A roof will do a lot more to stop a bullet than a bicycle helmet.

So we figured we'd try a short ride about 8:00. It was in the low single digits as we got dressed to go get ice cream from Tropicana. Here's the thing: people on Facebook and whatnot have been asking me if I'm insane to ride in such weather, and the answer is no. Not if you dress for it.

The Hawaiian shirt is mainly for aesthetics, it doesn't provide a whole lot of warmth, but everything else I put on serves a purpose. Wool socks, then think layers: bike shorts under light thermal underwear under heavy thermal underwear under pants; long sleeve cotton t-shirt under cycling jacket (mainly a windbreak) under a heavy virgin wool sweater under the Aloha shirt. Heavy balaclava, extra face guard, ATV goggles (ski goggles would work but they have tint, and winter riding tends to be riding in the dark). Mittens (I have some Carhart mittens that get downright sweaty even in single digit cold, a pair of black mittens almost as warm, and some army surplus sniper mittens from the Korea/Vietnam era that pair a heavy wool inner mitten with a leather and canvas outer mitten.

We rode up towards Tropicana and when we got to a bank that shows the temperature it was reading 0ºF. We took the obligatory selfies, congratulated each other on a new record (Corinna isn't 100% sure it was a new record for her, she thinks she may have seen -1ºF once a long time ago), then set off to find ice cream.

Yes ice cream. I know it's cold, but think about it, cold weather makes you crave fat and calories in general, ice cream is fat and sugar.

Anyway the ice cream shop was closed when we got there even though their Sunday hours said they were open until 10:00. So we rode home and I toasted my chilly toes by a space heater. The thing about riding in the cold, if something's uncomfortable you figure out an improvement to your setup for the next time. Chemical toe warmers would have been nice, we were only out for about an hour, but I made a note of that, I have a station of them, I just hadn't thought of them. And in the army mittens, I found my thumbs got a little cold too.

So when I woke up New Year's morning and the temperature had dropped to -6ºF, I was excited to set a new record. Not excited enough that I didn't hit snooze a few times and stay in my nice warm bed, but we got up and moving way earlier than we would have if there wasn't a new record to set. So it had warmed up when we got by the bank at 7th and Minnesota. -5ºF. I had my toe warmers in, and my hands were actually sweating up the Carhart mittens.

We delivered a bit of holiday cheer to a friend of ours in Strawberry Hill, and I thought that would be about it for me. But I was comfortable enough I went ahead and rode with Corinna to her office over in the Crossroads district. Hung out there for a bit, drank a hot tea and three coffees (I rarely drink coffee, or hot beverages in general, but somehow they hit the spot today).

Riding home I spotted a few more cyclists out, but mostly I noticed the handful of car drivers giving double-takes that anyone was out riding in such weather.

It was tiring but truly fun. It's challenging, mainly figuring out the wardrobe. But as I've pointed out to people who can't believe someone would ride in such weather, you wouldn't cancel your ski trip because it was cold in Colorado. You'd just harden the hell up and dress for the wether.

Truly, the hardest part is keeping your phone from dying. Those chemical warmers are pretty good for that too, I figured that out today. Two toe warmers on the phone case, then put the phone in a pocket of my cycling jacket shell so it was under a couple of layers and relatively close to my body. Cuz without Strava, it's like your ride didn't happen.