Monthly Archives: September 2005

Spooky scary spooky scary

Television. As a left-leaning academic feminist, I abhor television. As a working woman who likes to relax in the evening with a little knitting and a little noise, however, I adore tv. Sometimes I’ll knit or cook or give the cats and the bird the loving adoration that is only their due to a program that is somewhat educational, such as a documentary or National Geographic special, or to something that has pretensions to art or elegance or was at least originally produced by the BBC.

But that’s only if there are no Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns on.

Given my tv tastes* and my deep and abiding love for both Darren McGavin in general and his fabulous character, Carl Kolchak (the grandaddy of tv’s supernatural sleuths), I had to watch ABC’s new version of The Nightstalker, which aired this past week.

Lovers of the original Nightstalker will remember that Carl Kolchak was always a disheveled mess in his white suit and straw fedora, a ink-daubed, cynical (but not really)  newspaper man with a good dose of huckster. He worked alone but had lots of contacts. In true early-’70s fashion, Kolchak often butted heads with his boss because The Man was always out to get the working stiff. You get the idea.

Now, we wouldn’t want a new Carl Kolchak to be a simple mimic of the old. But what the hell? The new Kolchak is pretty boy Stuart Townsend, who wears the name "Carl" about as well as Queen Elizabeth** would wear a gold velour Sean John tracksuit. Monsters killed his wife but one bad-ass investigator is sure that Kolchak did it despite a complete lack of evidence, and thus Townsend-Kolchak is deep and dark and disturbed and has a reason to investigate paranormal crimes. He wears untucked shirts*** because he’s so deep and disturbed and hasn’t combed his hair since high school. He has a partner who is a smart woman who doesn’t believe any supernatural crap because, well, that worked so well on the X-files, but she needs to be more overtly sexy than Scully because she certainly can’t act so we’ll skip the classy suits. And whenever she doubts Townsend-Kolchak’s theories, he just gets more deep and dark and disturbed. Oh, and don’t forget eager young news photographer Jimmy Olsen, who tags along providing comic relief because Townsend-Kolchak is much too deep and dark and disturbed and un-hair-combed to crack his own jokes and yeah, the kid’s name isn’t really Jimmy Olsen but it might just as damn well be. And Townsend-Kolchak is a journalist, like in the old show, but he’s never shown actually composing or typing or editing anything or even talking about doing those things because writing is really for nerds who tuck in their shirts and comb their hair and who aren’t deep and dark and disturbed because some Vegas investigator thinks they killed their wives and in the pilot, by the way, the Vegas investigator, or maybe he’s FBI, which makes even less sense, travels across the county in violation of every procedural and jurisdictional law I can think of to pin the old murder and several new murders**** on Townsend-Kolchak (despite another complete lack of evidence) because that’s just how rotten and dark and disturbed Townsend-Kolchak’s life is and no wonder he never gets around to combing his hair.

I won’t be watching next week. And now I need to go comb my hair.

*I don’t ask for much in a tv show — give me some witty banter and a plot that hangs together on cursory inspection and I’m happy. If monsters or aliens are involved, or the hero is a kick-ass female, or Bruce Campbell makes a guest appearance to get beat up now and then, I’m in heaven.

**Either one. Can you imagine?

***Untucked shirts and jeans and expensive suede jackets. He looks about as disheveled as a Eddie Bauer catalog model.

****Murders committed by rabid supernatural hedgehogs or something. I’d lost interest by that time and can you blame me?

Continue reading


There’s no lake like Storm

I’ve been living here in n.w. Iowa* for nearly 3 months and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how easily I’ve acclimated.

How acclimated, you ask? Well, when I first moved here, I could detect more than eleven levels of offensive odor coming from the Tyson hog works on the other end of town; I closed my windows for all but level one, wrinkled my nose at everything above a 3, and tried to stay indoors during 5-11. Now I recognize just three levels of abattoir odor: What a nice day, Oh yeah, we have a slaughterhouse in town, and Holy Mother of GAAHH! I will shut the windows on a GAAHH day if it occurs to me and I’m already up.

How acclimated? Last Saturday I drove 60 miles to Sioux City for the sole purpose of visiting the Hobby Lobby. I bought a book of knitting patterns and 6 skeins of yarn and then I had a bagel and cream cheese at the cafe next door to Hobby Lobby. I was there and back by noon and it was the absolute highlight of my week.

How acclimated? I’m already contemplating entering some of my knitting in the county fair next summer. I’ve had idle thoughts about learning how to can. I ate some jambalaya in the school cafeteria yesterday — jambalaya meant to appeal to native Midwestern students who find dark-light swirl rye bread disturbingly exotic — and I thought it was too spicy.**

So what does my easy and near-complete*** transition into rural life mean? Am I simply that plastic, molded by my surroundings and possessing little or no true character? Was I somehow warped by my extensive childhood viewing of Green Acres and Petticoat Junction and only now discovering my inner gingham dress? Or (and this is the truth, I feel), is Reno, NV, where I’ve lived the majority of my life, really just a big small town, as it used to claim on its welcome arch?

I guess we won’t know the truth for sure unless and until I put my hair in pigtails and take a bath in the water tower.

*I was going to write rural n.w. Iowa, but then I realized it was a thrice-repetitive term.
**I cut the spicy taste with a slice of white bread spread with oleo.
***I WILL NOT eat Miracle Whip. One must hold the line somewhere.

Continue reading

The rabbit loves you.

Check this out — an art installation in Italy, a giant — and I mean GIANT — knitted pink rabbit. But wait, there’s more! The artists’ description of the bunny, translated into English on their website, and I feel okay posting it here as it is marked "press." We’re press. Hey, I majored in journalism for a year back in the early ’80s.

(Read the whole thing. You’ll thank me, really.)
The things one finds wandering in a landscape: familiar things and
utterly unknown, like a flower one has never seen before, or, as
Columbus discovered, an inexplicable continent;
and then, behind a hill, as if knitted by giant grandmothers, lies this vast rabbit, to make you feel as small as a daisy. The toilet-paper-pink creature lies on its back: a rabbit-mountain like
Gulliver in Lilliput. Happy you feel as you climb up along its ears,
almost falling into its cavernous mouth, to the belly-summit and look
out over the pink woolen landscape of the rabbit’s body, a country
dropped from the sky;
ears and limbs sneaking into the distance; from its side flowing heart, liver and
intestines. Happily in love you step down the decaying corpse, through the wound, now small like a maggot, over woolen kidney and bowel. Happy you leave like the larva that gets its wings from an innocent carcass at the roadside. Such is the happiness which made this rabbit.
i love the rabbit the rabbit loves me.

Happy you leave like the larva, indeed.

Continue reading

Well, Crap. I’ve peaked.

Yes, after only 3 weeks on the job, I’ve reached unimaginable instructorly heights.  I might teach another 25 years* and I’ll never have a lesson plan, a group of students, and the menu at the school cafeteria mesh so perfectly. And how often does one get to illustrate elements of Aristotle’s rhetoric through chicken nuggets?

I was going to explain what happened, but I think I’ll let you wonder. Anyway, I can’t possibly capture the precise, magical moment when minced mystery meat, crispy coating, hungry students, and logos met and soared.

*yeah, might. As if there’s any way I’m going to be able to retire before 67.

Continue reading

Linked for your pleasure….

We have a busy weekend ahead of us here at Left of the Mississippi, and it doesn’t include beaches, novels, knitting, umbrella drinks, M&Ms, or George Clooney. But even with a pile o’work about to avalanche down on me, I’m thinking of my readers — I wouldn’t want you to go away without a chuckle or a sneer. So check out these links and thank all that is holy that you don’t have to dress like this:
Stitchy Mcyarnpants

You Knit What?

Continue reading