Friday, November 28, 2008


Today I learned to play this.

It's much easier than it sounds, and like most of Mastodon's stuff it's a beautiful example of the elegance and logic of the guitar. Much of the piece is built around artful little symmetrical shapes on the fretboard. The bit starting at 0:42 in the video, for example, is simply a three-note pattern played repeatedly, shifting up one fret and down one string each time, making a perfect zigzag line. It ends up as a CM7 chord, but that seems incidental to the geometry that's going on. It's very, very cool.

Today I also made stock using a clever method that Ruhlman recommends and that I haven't tried before: I turned my oven on to 180 degrees, put my chicken carcass in the pot, covered it with water, brought it to a simmer, and stuck it in the oven for four hours. Just a few minutes ago I cut up an onion and a carrot and threw them in, along with some thyme branches and peppercorns. I'll pull the stock out and strain it in an hour or so, and use it to make risotto.

Yep. Wild rock 'n' roll lifestyle I've got going here.

By the way, my friend, the amazing banjo-playing confectioner/budding trapeze artist/personal trainer Mary Duke, who kicks ass in all kinds of ways, has a blog now. Everybody go and leave her interesting comments.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tone Deafness Writ Large

I had promised myself I wasn't going to post another word about Sarah Palin unless she did something really scary/hilarious/outlandish. Well.

Seriously. You really have to admire a politician who gives a TV interview with turkeys being slaughtered in the background. (A word of warning: that's exactly what's going on in this vid; if you think it might disturb you, it probably will.)

I'm not entirely joking when I say I admire her for this. A lot of hysteria has been raised today over this video vis a vis Palin's insensitivity to the suffering of animals and oh ho ho, she "pardoned" a turkey and then stuck around to see what happened to all the others, etc. But look. If you eat meat, critters die to feed you. More to the point, they get killed to feed you. Either you come to terms with that, or you'd probably better abdicate your spot in the food chain and go veg.

And this is a pretty cool little farm actually, one I'd be pleased to buy a turkey from. You can see that the birds are roaming around inside the coop there and aren't crammed into tiny little cages where they go insane and peck each other to death. And the fact that they get slaughtered on site is a major plus, much better than getting stuffed into a truck for a ride to the meat packing factory. You can read a description of this style of slaughtering in The Omnivore's Dilemma; it's as quick and humane as such a thing can be.

Not that this vid doesn't show a breathtaking, nearly surreal lack of political savvy on Palin's part, of course.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sartorial Outrage Mix

  • Gentlemen do not wear pleated pants.

    "But they're so comfortable!" you will exclaim. Of that there can be no doubt, but they also make you look like you have wide childbearing hips. This destroys any hope you may have of projecting a ruggedly masculine sexual aura. They make you look like a dork. Stick with flat fronts.

  • I just found out that the DC location of Les Halles closed last night. There are a bunch of other excellent frogponds in our fair city, but Les Halles was in a class by itself. I mean, they had free tripe on Beaujolais Nouveau day last year. Free tripe! What a damn shame.

  • Also, if you're wearing a suit, do not wear a shirt with a button-down collar. In fact, button-down collars are best avoided in general. They get all squished down and tubelike in the first hour you wear them. A straight collar (with stays if you're wearing a tie) makes you look cool and worldly. A button-down collar makes you look like a harassed office drone.

  • Thanks to Reuben for turning me onto the best of Craig's List, wherein I found the Best Personals Ad Ever today.
    I cannot stress this enough however, you must play as a ROBOTIC dinosaur. This is very specific, my interest lie entirely in animatronic dinosaurs, not real ones. I thought I should mention this as there have been unfortunate miscommunications in the past, leading to performances that have left me without an orgasm.
    Really, sometimes the immense and inexplicably beautiful variety of human sexual appetites fills me with awe. If I lived in Vancouver, I think I would already have dropped this woman a line. Just to congratulate her, if nothing else.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Wanna know something really cool?

I just read this at Firedoglake:

With 4.5 million members, MoveOn is now bigger than the NRA. Maybe our leaders should think about that for a while.
Holy shit. Dare I hope that our country now stands on the threshold of a new era of progressive politics? One where the preachers of peace and justice and equality are seen as the grownups in the room, and the gun nuts and the racists and the warmongers and the gay bashers and the Christofascists are irrelevant as a political force? Wouldn't that just be something?

After Tuesday night, I'm almost willing to believe it might be so.

Not the end of the story, not by a long shot

As should be obvious to any but the most hunchbrained ignorami, Proposition 8 is a direct violation of equal protection under the law. This was the basis for the California Supreme Court's decision allowing gay marriage in the first place, and I really don't see how the decision can be reversed without undermining one of our basic rights as Americans. Do even the most unreconstructed homophobic knucklewalkers on the Right really want to go there? Of course, if habeas corpus can be thrown out, anything's fair game, but still.

At any rate, it's going to be really interesting to see how the legal battle over this plays out.

I have to say, Obama's failure to come out explicitly in favor of gay marriage is one caveat I have about him. Make no mistake, I think he's going to accomplish great things, and I'm immeasurably proud to call him my president. But this is one point on which the people -- that's us, ladies and gentlemen -- will have to lead our leaders. I'm still optimistic, if for no other reason than the fact that we've got love and compassion and justice on our side. And this issue is never, ever going to go away.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More About Tonight

So there I was, a little past 11:00 tonight, in a crowd at 14th and U grooving to a bunch of drummers pounding out a perpetual,interweaving jam. (They're at about 5:30 in the video.) The drummers stopped playing for a minute, and one of them shouted "Hey! You people want to hear some news?" The crowd whooped and hollered. The guy said, "Well, the news is... WE WON!" The crowd went crazy. Drums cranked up again. Everybody chanting OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! and YES! WE! CAN! YES! WE! CAN! YES! WE! CAN!

Today I finally started to recognize America again.

Now we begin.

Update. DCist has more pics and videos of the festivities.

About Tonight has a good piece on how to watch the election results:

6 PM EST. Polls close in portions of Indiana and Kentucky.

Traditionally, these are the first states to get called by the networks, spotting the Republicans a quick 19 points in the Electoral College. This year, however, is liable to be a little bit different. Indiana is far more competitive than usual, and is probably the state with the greatest disparity in ground games: the Obama campaign has 42 field offices open there, whereas McCain neglected the state entirely until recently.

The responsible thing to do would be for the networks to hold off until at least 7 PM to project Indiana, when polls have closed in Gary and the northwestern part of the state just across the border from Chicago—where Obama hopes to rack up huge margins among black and working-class voters. If for some reason the state is called before 7 PM for John McCain, that probably means we're in for a long night. If, on the other hand, the state is called for Obama in the first hour after the polls close, that could indicate that the force of Obama's field operation has been underestimated, and that McCain is in for a catastrophically poor evening.
There's more.

I got to my polling place at 8:00 this morning and there were about three hundred people in line in front of me. The process took me a little over two hours, which is much, much longer than it ever has before. I found myself feeling a little awestruck by it all.

Tonight I'll be at Busboys and Poets with some friends, watching history happen. Oui, on peut!