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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").



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   Muzak at Skytop
Sunday, February 10 2013
During Sunday morning coffee (our second coffee morning in a row!), Gretchen was finding herself underwhelmed by the difficulty of the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle. The limiting factor on her ability to solve it was simply the difficulty of finding the numbers from the clues in the grid. "Maybe you've broken through to a new level of brilliance," I suggested, "and from now on the world will seem simple and boring to you."
On one of several errands outside, I snapped off an icicle off of the gutter and gave it to Ramona when I came inside. She proceeded to eat the whole thing. I've never seen a dog so crazy about ice. She's also been eating a fair amount of snow.
Later I took Ramona and Clarence down to the greenhouse upstairs, where temperatures where it was nearly 90 degrees Fahrenheit. I took a couple photos with my iPhone, and, though it was difficult, I eventually pried myself up and headed back to the house.



Oh, the cuteness.


Temperature inside and out. 36 degrees constitutes something of a thaw given recent conditions. (Note that the clock time and date were wrong; I'd just reset it and it hadn't yet gotten an update from WWV.)

This afternoon I went into town mostly to resupply my beer and liquor stockpiles, though our house was also in need of beans. Also bought nearly $7 worth of PVC bits to help me seal up the capacitor-based fuel oil level probe, whenever that finally happens. Most of the time I was in town, Gretchen was reading down in the greenhouse upstairs with Clarence.

This evening, Gretchen and I went to Skytop Steakhouse for another of our occasional meals there. Usuaally the bartenders there are awesome, but tonight she was older and battier. A good quality in a bartender is that nothing seems to surprise or alarm them. This is something they share with a good therapist. Tonight's bartender would not have made a good therapist. "What, you brought your own food?" she asked with evident dismay when Gretchen pulled the container of vegan cheese out of her pocket. "No, you see, we're vegan and we bring our own non-dairy cheese..." Gretchen explained, eliciting a somewhat overwrought response of, "That's interesting." After a few incidences of such jumpiness, the bartender calmed down a bit, but one doesn't want to have to work to get a pleasant experience at a bar.
The pizza didn't end up being very good tonight, but the french fries were perfect as always, and we also both took advantage of a small antipasto bar that contained a preponderance of vegan options. As for beers, I had a pint of a not-very-good unknown IPA, though I redeemed it with a pint of Little Sumpin' Sumpin' Ale, which I haven't often seen on tap.
The music being played on the bar-area sound system was surprisingly dreadful. It was a kind of cool jazz, Muzaky sort of thing. Sometimes it was watered-down versions of familiar songs and other times it was a harder-to-place series of optimistic laid-back grooves specifically designed to be inoffensive. Had it been playing a little more quietly, it wouldn't have been so bad, but for some reason the volume had been set at a level where Gretchen and I kept returning to it as a conversational subject. The irony was that the demographics in the bar were completely wrong for such music; in addition to us, there were a couple guys who looked like hipsters. And the bartender. We were probably listening to her favorite Sirius Satellite station.
Inspired by this dreadful soundtrack, Gretchen and I had a laughter-filled fleshing-out of an imagined scenario wherein a woman finds that all of her friends just happen to work in the Muzak production industry. (After all, we've all known people, or perhaps were those people at a certain phases of our lives, who only had friends working in some niche industry.) These Muzak-industry friends are always down at the studio noodling away on undistorted instruments or tapping out beats on drums with brushes. When our protagonist is hanging out with one of them, he will suddenly get an idea for a melody and exclaim, "Excuse me just a moment," and then quietly hum a few saccharine bars into his phone. But then our protagonist gets a new boyfriend and all of her friends are suddenly pipe fitters, and she thinks to herself, "Wow, I remember when all my friends worked for Muzak!"
Another fun idea Gretchen and I had would have made a good Portlandia skit. We imagined a couple of sanctimonious vegans walking into a restaurant such as Skytop Steakhouse, sitting down, carefully ordering what they could from the meat-rich menu, and then looking around in horror at what everyone else is eating. "How can they not know that the veal calf is yanked away from its mother at birth so that they can get their disgusting cheese?" says one. "Let's give those people the stink eye for 20 seconds," says the other. But then our vegans begin to drink, and after a few rounds, the food comes out and they see cheese sprinkled on their pasta. The booze is making them feel relaxed, so they just shrug and eat it. And order another round. Fast forward to closing time: they're slurringly asking their waitress if there is any way they can get their ribs wrapped in bacon.


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http://asecular.com/blog.php?130210

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