Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow....

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Tomorrow we should know* if we get to buy the craptastic-est house evar.

Wish us luck!

*Yeah, I know I said that last Wednesday and then again last Friday... but considering the fact that we're scheduled to close THIS COMING FRIDAY I'd say that Monday is probably the absolute-latest we can hear back about the appraisal without killing the deal.

But then again, crazy things happen every day in the wonderful world of real estate...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Devine-Condo-Bling-Birthday Bash

Naughty smokers out on the balcony.

This is the only pic we got before our camera batteries died. Argh!

Other shots can be found here and here though.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What should Ranty DO?????????



Dear Readers:

Have you ever known a family with problems?

No, I don't mean that family where the one kid rebelled, coloring his hair black and piercing everything before heading off to college, nor even the family where the daughter got pregnant at 16 and the dad collected uneployment and drank too much, and everyone on the block talked about them behind their backs...

I mean a family for whom you actually felt afraid.

I guess maybe the question should be re-phrased... have you ever known a family about which you felt extreme concern and considered DOING something about?

Okay wait - here's a third way to put it:

When do you go beyond "tsk-ing" at other peoples' problems and actually intervene in some measureable way, even if it means calling the police, child protection, or something else?

Yeah, I know, you have no idea what I'm talking about...

So, I'll tell you a little story and maybe you can help me figure out what to do, if anything.



The matriarch is Grandma. Grandma is always very nice to me. We talk a few times a week, mostly when I visit her at her home. (No she's not my tenant, I just know her.)

When I met Grandma, she had four grandchildren in her household: two boys and two girls. The eldest boy, who I'll call "William" is near 18, and like a father to the younger kids. He's without a doubt the most thoughtful, responsible person in the household. He likes to work on cars, and developed a sort of (masculine) crush on the Good Scientist very early on, since they share this interest.

The younger boy, who I'll call "Rob," is an asshole. It's probably part due to his age, which I'd put at about 13. He's barely ever around, and when he is, he's incredibly rude to his family, and embodies the gangbanger stereotype, not only in costume but in mannerisms, including a propensity to shout profanities and racial slurs at his "friends," no matter who's around to hear.

The two smallest children are the girls. They are 6 and 4. (I'll just call them "the girls" because I can't think of any good pseudonyms for them.) They are sweet, curious children, but developmentally behind. (The 6-year-old completed kindergarten last year, but still cannot sing the A-B-C song. The 4-year-old speaks like a 2-year-old.)

There is one other on-again-off-again member of this household, and she is Grandma's daughter, as well as mother of the two girls. (Let's call her Yasmin.)


Grandma doesn't work, because she's caring for the children. She spends most of her day drinking and talking on the phone to people about what stuff is costing her and how she doesn't have enough money.

William goes to high school, and spends his time afterwards working on cars and watching out for the little girls. He tries to watch out for Rob too, but they usually just end up arguing and Rob stomps off to hang out with his friends.

Yasmin is usally out of the picture, since she spends most of her time in jail for crack. Every now and then, however, she gets out... and shit gets WAY worse...

... like recently. Here's what happened:

Yasmin came home from jail last spring.

Her two little girls were so elated!!! They wanted to spend every minute hugging her and playing with her... but Yasmin had other things on her mind, it seems. She proceeded to spend the next couple of months either a) holed up in her room, (was she smoking??? I don't know!) or b) out with male friends. She never got a job, and didn't do much of anything for the kids.

Rob remained gone most of the time.

William moved up north for the summer to work on cars at his uncle's place.

The little girls languished without interaction, as Grandma sat on the phone with her booze, and mom was like a ghost - not really there, even when she was there.

On my regular visits to their home, I often found the girls lounging on the dirt yard, playing with such inappropriate items as: toxic markers; a staple gun; and handfuls of raw ground meat. They were often in various states of undress.

The summer waned on, and in spite of my fumbling attempts to assist the family in procuring summer care for (at least) the girls, nothing really changed.

Recently, things got even worse.

I noticed that Yasmin disappeared. I assumed she was back in jail, and Grandma confirmed this in our most recent conversation. While this alone would not surprise me now, the accompanying tale she told me DID:

Grandma said that Yasmin had gotten picked up on a warrant, (For what this time - I didn't ask) and that she was ordered to the workhouse for 36 days. Grandma pleaded with the appropriate powers to let Yasmin turn herself in a week later, because that was when William was coming back from up north, and could help take over for Yasmin in helping Grandma with Rob and the girls.

That request was granted.

William's return overlapped by a day or so with Yasmin's scheduled departure.

They got into a fight.

Yasmin threw one of the two pots of boiling water (which Grandma keeps on the stove for humidity) at William and burned him. When she reached for the second pot, William threw himself at her and held her tightly, arms at her sides. (As Grandma recounts, anyway.)

Yasmin started screaming, struggled free, and proceeded to call the police, alleging attempted strangulation. When the police arrived, Yasmin (again, according to Grandma,) feigned injury, moaning and groaning and pinching her neck to show how William had tried to kill her.

William was subsequently picked up, brought to juvenile detention, and tried on assault charges.

Yasmin reiterated her story before the judge, while Grandma testified to the contrary.

William was sent to a local detention camp for 12 months. (And then Yasmin missed her turn-in date and got almost another year herself.)


As I stood there the other day with Grandma, listening to this story, I couldn't help but ponder the veracity of her words. The truth is that I don't know what to believe, from any of these guys. I have caught the girls lying to me on a number of ocassions, and I know that it's a learned behavior. I am filled with doubt and uncertainty whenever I talk to any of them...

But there I was, frozen, listening to Grandma, watching as the tears filled her eyes and slowly began to spill over. She kept talking, feverishly, as they dripped from her chin, staining her rumpled shirt. I listened dumbly... numbly... encapsulated in the sad halo of her alcohol-breath, unable to form a thought apart from discomfort at the expanding gassy-bubble of hatred ascending from my gut, on whose surface was the face... of Yasmin.

It was then, as I stood there fighting my discomfort, that Grandma produced the sickening *cherry, brilliant in it's horrifying simplicity, atop this veritable sundae of disfunction:

She said to me: (and I paraphrase)

Yeah, and that's why all them cars been comin' up in here, I know you seen 'em and you don't approve, and I'm gonna stop, cuz you know I know it's bad for me with my asthma, but I just can't handle all a this, and I need me some weed an that stuff too, you know... to relax myself.



Should I do anything???? Say anything???? To anybody or nobody??? And if yes, what??? To whom???


I'm getting an ulcer thinking about all of this - especially those little girls.

*Bad sundae metaphor idea stolen from Jeremy at Afterglide.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What do YOU do?

When you REEEEEEEEEALLY REALLY want something, but it's unclear as to wether you'll be able to get it?

Do you:

A) Try not to think about it or get too excited, lest you be more disappointed if it falls through, or

B) Think about it constantly, plan for it, and actively visualize yourself achieving/possessing it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Electric Arc this Saturday

Here's the scoop:

Saturday, Sep 29, 8pm at the Woman's Club Theatre, Electric Arc Radio
Rolls Again, Recorded Live for Broadcast!

There is a mortgage crisis in this country. Who is the subprimiest
group of writers you know? The four housemates of the Lit 6 Project.
And so it comes to pass. A crinkled foreclosure notice is found in a
spot it doesn't belong. The writers are going to lose the house!
Fear and Loathing in Minneapolis... filled with song! Beer! Beer!
Clarinet! Visits from Pixie Pop Stars! Mortgage Brokers and a Paperboy
in Love! You can't miss it.

Special Musical Guest Haley Bonar!

Special Comedian/Clarinetist visit from Mary Mack!

Spread around these special Door Promotions!
$8 at the door with Student ID! (AARP Card will work, too).
A two-fer ticket ($15 for 2) if at least one ticket buyer has never
seen the show! On your honor!

This is the funniest show ever! Be there! Doors and Bar open at 7pm!

Thanks to our great sponsors: 89.3 The Current, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine,
Hamline University's Graduate School of Liberal Studies, Joe's Garage,
The Loft, and Bells Beer.

Also thanks to our Neighbors who will begin to get their real due on

(This was lifted from an email sent by Geoff Herbach.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Real or Fake?

What do you think?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Okay, I admit it. I'm paranoid and superstitious. Sort of.

I've always been afraid of car accidents.

Often when I am driving, images of wreckage will strike me out of the blue. I know it's in my mind, but believe me when I say that it's utterly subconscious. I could be thinking of kittens and ouzo and Queen Anne architecture, and all of the sudden my brain will be jolted with imaginary sensation of being rammed by another vehicle, complete with the sound of shattering glass and crushing metal.

Once when I was younger, I announced to to my mother quite matter-of-factly that I would die in a car wreck. I have no idea where that idea came from, but come it did. Needless to say, it freaked her out. (And me too!)

So given all of the above, coupled with the fact that I have survived two bad car accidents already, it stands to reason that I was chilled to my very soul when the GS called me some months ago and breathlessly informed me that he'd been in an accident with his brand new dream-car while en route to meet friends for Dim Sum. (I have not eaten Dim Sum since, as a result.)

His vehicle was NEARLY totalled. (Some might argue that it should have been... but that's a different post.) So dramatic was the trail of damage and debris along the I94 ramp from Highway 55 that I thought I might be sick when I saw it shortly after picking the GS up from the side of the road.

We agreed that his emergence unscathed was miraculous.

I, non-religous as I am, then informed him that we must make an offering to St. Christopher in gratitude.

Here's why:

Shortly after the GS made that fateful purchase of his long-sought-after vehicle, his parents sent him a gift. It was a medallion of Aghios Christoforos (St. Christopher,) patron saint of travellers. The GS doesn't much care for saints and religiosity as it were, but since it was a present- and a very fine one at that -he dutifully tucked the icon behind his sun-visor.

Needless to say, when the tow-company allowed him the perfunctory "gather-your-crap" access prior to the insurance adjustor's visit, "the Aghio" was the first thing he grabbed out of the car.

On our recent sojourn to his Patrida, I was determined to do something in acknowlegement of this episode. Sadly, I found that there was no shrine to the good Christopher on Corfu.


Instead, we paid homage to the odd Cypriot mummy that watches over all of Corfu: St. Spiridon. We lit candles and the GS + mama dutifully kissed the casket. (I don't kiss objects, but I tried to look as reverential as I could to make up for that.)

I hope that was good enough.

And now, I'm proud to say that I am in possession of my very own icon of the good St. Christopher. I hope only that he will protect me until my rightful time has come...

Where in the world is the house that Ranty wants???

I love trivia!

Okay, here's a big hint: it's in Minneapolis.

Other hints:

It was built by a semi-famous (to the obsessed like myself anyway) architect who's heyday was roughly the last decade of the 19th Century.

It is one of two homes that he both built and lived in himself.

It's block has historic designation, both nationally and by the State.

And the last BIG hint:

The view from the veranda is, uhhh... BUSY... and NOISY.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Boring, Picture-less Post about Amsterdam

Yes, Ranty and Co. have officially returned from the Ionian Wonderland that is Corfu, and hey, we only missed on flight out of six! Unfortunately that one flight resulted in a complete reconfiguration of the other two inbound flights... costing us over $400 and forcing us to spend a day in Amsterdam... again.

Not that Amsterdam is bad, mind you, in fact I find it quite charming... just not when I haven't had any sleep and am bitter over a missed flight. At any rate, we've done this day-layover thing a number of times now, so it was almost rote for us.

After digging long-sleeved shirts and an umbrella out of our luggage and stashing our backpacks at the Schiphol airport luggage lockers, we typically hop a train into the city and head straight for the floating flower market. This time was no exception. We had our usual (ranty) coffee, (GS) Heineken, and (shared) bacon and egg sandwich at a cafe across from the sea of tulip bulbs, and watched the pedestrian show.

Amsterdam, at least when compared with the homogeneity of Greece, is a delightfully diverse place. I LOVE walking down the street (or sitting around eating a bacon and egg sandwich, as it were,) and hearing a multitude of languages. LOVE IT! I counted Spanish, Italian, Arabic, English, Greek and Dutch among the snatches of convo overheard... and that doesn't account for the languages I couldn't understand or identify, which were at least two more.

The other cool thing?

They had signs in Somali around the airport.

And here I thought we were unique for that in Minneapolis...

The funniest event of all though, was when the GS and I stopped at an outdoor display, lazily browsing postcards and such to pass the time. I made a comment (in Greek) about wanting to go back and look at a print which had caught my eye around the corner.

At that very moment, a gentleman was passing along the sidewalk, directly behind me. He swung around, smiled widely at me, and called out "Patrida!*"

Considering the fact that I'm 110% American, that comment made the GS's day...

*"Patrida" means "homeland" in Greek. It is common for Greeks to use this word as a exclamatory greeting when happening across a fellow Hellene while abroad.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Ohmigod *hyperventilate*

Just made an offer today on the craptastikest house EVER.

Now, the offer hasn't been accepted yet, and it's bank-owned, so this is NOT a done deal.

I'm so scared.

I hope it works.

Cross your fingers please!!!

***UPDATE: We have a counter situation. It's a tricky one. Tentatively confident though...***

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Now THAT's a keeper

Some telemarketer seriously just called and asked to speak with "Dr. Napoleon."

Nope, I'm not lying.

(I calmly informed her that he wasn't here right now, but I'd be sure to give him the message.)