Friday, March 28, 2008

The Pancakes of Deep Psychosexual Peculiarity

I don't know. I really just don't know.

And if you thought that was weird, try this:

(Both videos are possibly NSFW, albeit for subtext more than anything else.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Chicken Antioxidant Soup

Tes (visiting from NYC) started coming down with a cold yesterday, so I pulled out a recipe I first concocted back when we were housemates and we were both sick. It's gone through many revisions since then, but the basic idea remains the same: a supercharged chicken tortilla soup without the tortillas, full of immune-system-bolstering, respiratory-system-unclogging goodness. It's a mighty thing when you're feeling poorly.

Start by sauteing a small onion, six cloves of garlic, half an orange bell pepper, and one or two jalapeƱo peppers (all sliced, chopped, and minced as appropriate) in peanut oil with a tablespoon of chili powder, a half-tablespoon of dried sage, a big pinch of oregano, and maybe a couple of teaspoons of salt. When the veggies are soft, add 1½ pounds of chicken thighs, a bottle of beer, the juice of a biggish lime, and enough water to finish covering everything. Bring this to a boil, then covered the pot and simmer for 30-40 minutes, till the chicken is cooked through. Add a zucchini and a yellow crookneck squash (both chopped) and a cup of cooked chickpeas and simmer a little longer, till the squash is just tender. Bone and chop the chicken thighs and add the meat back to the pot, along with another limeful of juice. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Why does this man hate America so much?

It's old news, but you may have missed it.

Vice President Dick "Dick" Cheney: On the security front, I think there's a general consensus that we've made major progress, that the surge has worked. That's been a major success.

Martha Raddatz:
Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting.

VPD"D"C: So?

MR: So? You don't care what the American people think?

No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls.

Oh, and yesterday--Easter Sunday, not that it matters--the 4,000th American died in Iraq, among the 60-odd other people who were killed in violence there. Lucky thing the surge has worked, whatever that means. Lucky thing our great and wise leaders haven't been blown off course by five-year fluctuations in public opinion polls. Those silly, silly American people.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Urban Verbs

More nostalgia.

Sometime in the Spring of 1981, WREK, the Georgia Tech student radio station, started playing a song called "Acceleration" by the Urban Verbs.

The Urban Verbs were from DC, and in fact in 1978 they were the first DC band to play at CBGB's in New York. They were on a bill with the Cramps, and holy mother of God and all her wacky nephews, what a show that must have been. Their lead singer, Roddy Frantz, was the brother of the Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz, which caused unfair comparisons to be drawn between the two bands and caused (if the conventional music-critic wisdom is to be believed) the Verbs' fall into obscurity. Which I find kind of odd, because I don't hear much in common between the two bands other than a penchant for funky ostinato bass lines. Even at their weirdest, the Talking Heads always seemed to be informed by an unshakable pop sensibility (not that there's anything wrong with that!). The Verbs, on the other hand, were turning out much darker, more difficult stuff.

Anyway, hearing "Acceleration" back then turned my 16-year-old head inside out. (You can hear it on their MySpace page.) The bass and drums start out shaping a dark, repetitive, robotic figure, and in comes this shimmering guitar tracing suspended chords that hang in the air like fireworks. I'd never heard anyone playing guitar like that before. I still get chills listening to it twenty-seven years later.

The tension (or is it the harmony?) between the technological and the organic is at the core of the music I compose, and while there were other artists who pushed me this way (Laurie Anderson, OMD in their Dazzle Ships period, Pylon of course), I think the Urban Verbs were the first.

I'm writing about this because I just found Early Damage, newly re-released, at Melody Records yesterday, and I discovered this morning that they're getting back together for a show at the 9:30 Club on May 24th, at which they'll be recording a live CD. This is the best news I've had in a long while. I plan to be there, acting like the great big embarrassing fanboy that I am.

Here they are playing "The Next Question" with Brian Eno.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Irish Channel

The Irish Channel Pub, just down the street from where I work, has two of these big professionally printed banners up outside their St.-Patrick's-Day-overflow tents.

It's a pretty impressive mistake, considering the number of people that had to be involved in ordering, printing, and hanging the banners. I asked one of the waiters there what a severed drink was, and he just kind of looked at me.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

  • First, a public service message (Thanks, Tina!):

  • Jet and I saw Macbeth (co-directed by Teller) at the Folger last night, and um, yeah, ah. This has been one of my favorite Shakespeare plays since I first read it in tenth grade. I practically have it memorized; I've been in two productions of it, and this show still totally sucked me in. It's unbelievably good and thoroughly harrowing.

    There are the moments of sheer, raw amazement that one can feel ripple through the crowd. Laughs and gasps over Banquo’s ghost’s unexpected comings and goings (which we do in a tricky way that reminds the viewer how vulnerable we all are to misdirection). Gasps at the horrible beauty of Lady Macbeth’s nightmare. And the magic fits. It doesn’t jump out or feel grafted on. It is, I believe, exactly what Shakespeare had in mind.
    (Teller's impressions of opening night, from his Macbeth blog)

    I'm still processing too much to be able to write about the show coherently (I've been trying!). Just, well. You must see this. The entire run is sold out, but seriously. Beg, borrow, steal, sell your plasma for bribe money, whatever it takes.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Shiny and New

Honestly, I can't think of anyone I'd rather see performing Madonna's song "Ray of Light" at her induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame than Iggy Pop and the re-formed Stooges.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sweet Taste of Schadenfreude Mix

  • If you have XM radio, listen to Fine Tuning (XM 76) tomorrow night, March 12, at 8 pm to hear a concert I recorded with Maggie Sansone. It's a little nervous-making to announce this here because I haven't heard the finished, edited show. I hope it's good.

  • It's interesting to me that the hooker Eliot Spitzer met with was told that he would ask her "to do things that [she] might not think were safe." It reminds me a little of the hilariously pathetic downfall of Reverend Gary "Two Wetsuits" Aldridge: I bet this all comes from Spitzer having particular fetishes he doesn't feel he could share with his wife, and seeking an outlet for them elsewhere. With tragic results.

    Even so. Dude's got the worst face of atonement ever. I have no idea what he looks like normally, so henceforth whenever I hear his name I'm going to reflexively imagine this sad, lipless freak. No wonder he had to pay $5,500 an hour.

  • This is me and Kyosaku every morning (baseball bat optional):

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Garfield minus Garfield

This is brilliant. The header on the site says it all: "Who would have guessed that when you remove Garfield from the Garfield comic strips, the result is an even better comic about schizophrenia, bipolor disorder, and the empty desperation of modern life?"

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Years ago when I was living in Atlanta, I had a friend who did furniture restoration and faux finishes. One day a guy came into his shop who worked for Elton John. Elton had recently moved to town, and he had just bought a couple of pretty little gilt tables with carved cupids on them, and he wanted them to look older. "Like this," the guy said, grabbing a hammer and bashing the hell out of one of the cupid faces. "Make them look like that."

That's essentially what I did to "Carrickfergus" after our session gig Wednesday night. I was sitting there thinking about my often conflicted relationship with Irish music, and how that's something I've never really explored in my original stuff, and wouldn't it be interesting to try doing an arrangement of a traditional tune? So when I got home I sketched it out, and I finished it up yesterday. Give it a listen and see what you think. Mind you, it might be a little hard to pick out the melody.

If you don't know the song, here's a more conventional rendition of it, sung by Orla Fallon from Celtic Omen Celtic Woman. I'd embed it here, but I have my health to think of. Good luck getting through the whole thing.