Wednesday, January 31, 2007


I've been wanting to write about how I've got a new favorite pizzeria but unfortunately it's 90 miles away. Alas, S. Irene Virbila of the LA Times wrote the review I wanted to write today, so if I write it, I'll seem like I'm copying her. But it was all in my head from the first moment I crunched one of those crusts. Pizzeria Mozza is that good, and not just because it's the brainchild of two superchefs, Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton. It actually overcomes all that, which isn't easy--for hype kills food almost faster than bad food itself can.

But, as Virbila points out, if anything the place goes out of its way to make simple its mantra. No matter the toppings, it's the crust that makes the pizza, and it makes this pizza pretty perfect. Wood-stove crisp and blistered, it still has some give in its lightness. Lusciously balanced, it might be a bit more pita than Neapolitan, but it's far from pitiful. I've never had dough that seems so fresh, either, just the first of the hints there's no skimping on ingredient quality. For, of course, if you opt to preach minimalism, that minimal better be damn tasty. Simple isn't always best but the best is always simple.

Oh, and don't be petrified about how hard it is to get a reservation. Sure, they originally promised to be on Open Table, and now aren't (maybe they're waiting for the Osteria to open?), but you can walk in, wait, and get seated at the bar or pizza bar. (There is a very good time of the week and day to do this, but I don't want to give away my secrets. In fact the last time Amy and I were there to sit at the bar, we even got a table, as long as we promised to be out in an hour. And the service, always meticulous, helped us make that goal right on the dot.) At the pizza bar you even get a free floor show, for each pizza is made directly in front of you. It does make ordering difficult, however, for each pie created is the one you want...till you spy the next one head into the oven. Virbilia is right, btw, about the egg and guanciale pie, which is the best bacon and eggs you'll ever have, and it's a pizza, so that's doubly good.

Sitting at the bar one time we got to watch Silverton herself, and it is something to observe a $50 million woman (or whatever they sold La Bread Bakery for) make pizzas for a living. She's firghtfully zen back there, never exhibiting haste or waste. Just steady, precise motion, slicing, sprinkling, eyeing, placing, ever working. Most shockingly she even looked up at one point and asked me, "How's your pizza?" and I barely got out a "it's great" while blushing. It's too much for modest me to have the star break the fourth wall.

The pizza's so good it's easy to forget that the appetizers and desserts are also worth the visit. (Maybe even the daily specials--the lasagne is ethereal, both full of flavor and so light in the mouth it must break some laws of physics. It's certainly a good omen for the Osteria.) Salads are so fresh you'd slap them if you didn't want to devour them, the arancini--greaseless yet fried risotto balls--are brilliant bursts of flavor, and the fritti misti also manages the near impossible, fried to a crunch without any excess oil and some lilting garlic-lemon aioli (plus wafer-thin sliced lemon fried, too). The desserts often are simple riffs on gilded gelato: affogato (espresso with gelato), budino (butterscotch pudding unlike any any mom, I'd dare say even in Italy, ever made), and coppetta (gelato, caramel, serious caramel, and salted peanuts--it puts the god in sundae).

Geez, I got to the candy without even talking about the dandy wine service--every bottle is $50 or under so you can't go wrong. The servers really know their stuff, ask you wise questions to send you in the right direction to match your tastes, and do it all with a sense of gee-whiz-wine-is-fun wonder and not a drop of condescension.

For if nothing else, this is a pizzeria. Just the best one you'll ever visit.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Last Blog on the Dance Floor

OK. Working from 8 am - midnight isn't necessarily the most restful of vacations. But when each evening ends with lavish parties with open bar, free tasty snacks (from crab claws to eclairs to duck springrolls), half-naked dancing girls, and at least five different blogs on the dance floor shaking it at one time, it's easy to feel one's died and gone to Santa Barbara.

Until the next 8 am, of course.

A Blog from Under the Floor Boards, Part II

This one is even older than the last one. I am scraping the memory barrel, but let's hope it's not the bottom.


Maybe my center has been unsteady since I was christened without a middle name. And although every son has to deal with his father towering above him, I had to deal with my dad’s name blotting out mine, my George hoping to escape the eclipse of his, my penumbra an “i” in width, the name growing to the diminutive Georgie.

Until Confirmation, when I discovered the unspoken eighth gift of the Holy Spirit was a middle name of my choosing. Catholics take saints’ names to remind them how far they are from martyrdom, so each living day is guilt. And George was barely a saint at all, defrocked with Christopher and others for throwing his halo down. Dragon-slayers and car medal models are the stuff of legends and myths, of fiction, not faith. Catholics are realists, which is why they sing passionlessly. I needed a real saint’s name.

So I took two--Thomas--both Aquinas, who I knew liked books (and of whom I now know little more, beyond he made Plato Christian), and Doubting Thomas, who is the Twin, which means maybe I took three names in one. Was I lonely, cluttering my life? Did I know my dad would soon leave, and I would need many males around?

Thomas had the chance to let his fingers take the place of nails. Instead, he believed. I believe he backed down, found faith and fear are synonyms.

And yet there was another Thomas, and now when I see him uncoil his right arm home on tv replays, something stirs in me, my childhood I gave up on, taking names, my dad giving up on us, taking flight, Tom Seaver himself, his given name George struck out, like a batter taking a third strike, looking, hoping for a call to break his way.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

And Pulled Out a Plum

Originally uploaded by ladylatex.

Claire and Missy get busy at the un-dress rehearsal for Centreville's ever-popular You Hug Him and I'll Stick a Finger Up His Ass Festival.

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.

A Blog from Under the Floor Boards

No time for anything new, so here's a 12 year-old....


I really really don’t want to cling to the old saw that all artists are tortured souls mentally sumo wrestling angst the size of Alaska. Please, not that. But it’s a compelling line (lie?): to think is to be aware is to suffer is to dwell is to flail at hope’s taillights leaving you in the dust. Out of that dust, you draw and call it art, or better yet, let others call it art.

You see, I would like to consider myself an #*!@&!#. Even my computer knows enough to keep me from printing what I almost wrote. But, the point is this – if artists must be fucked up, and I even modestly aspire to be an artist, well, it doesn’t take an ace at syllogisms, does it? Tortured I’m happily not. Yeah, I’ve got my dark nights of the soul, and I know the world is screwed. (An early 1996 election joke: “This will be the first time I vote for a Republican for president. [pause] I’m voting for Clinton.”) [2007 note: Little did we know in 1996 how screwed the world could get – a Clinton in the hand is worth a second Bush in the White House...] But I’ve got privilege on my side. White, male. Monogamous lovely companion. Steady job. A clean, well-lighted place walled with books and CDs and records (remember them?) – culture as fortress. A pharmacologically pure life – nothing prescribed or desired or downed, no smoke, and as for alcohol, well, a man’s gotta have something. Still, liquor is best lip-smackingly lovely – perfect Rob Roys up with a twist, martinis made with the deliciously junipered and unfortunately expensive gin from Anchor Brewing, Belgian ales yeasty as bread. My suffering doesn't add up to even a healthy piss in the Pacific.

Given all I’ve been given, you must wonder why I write on and on, must wonder why you should care. The answer is as simple as turning on your stereo, if it isn’t on already. You see, if you and I share nothing else, we share this belief: Music Matters. (Here my computer, inhuman hunk it is, almost edits again.) We’ve found a frequency just outside of public earshot, so I can say Nelson, and you think Bill, not blond twins. I don't mean to pat us on our smug backs, either, and not just because such effusions might shatter our cool. I mean to say the world is large and so is music.

Egad. This rumination began with art and misery and look where I am now? But that’s where art and misery get you – everywhere. Rock plays connect the dots just this way: you connect all the dots, to all the other dots, all at the same time. Now dance.

Perhaps you’re dancing to “September Gurls,” whose guitars ring like we want to think the Byrds’ guitars did. As if the Byrds would toss off a line like, “I loved you, well nevermind.” (As for connect the dots, could a best-selling Nevermind be lurking here?) Perhaps you’re dancing to “Kanga Roo,” because dancing for you is horrorshow and love is strange and you never forget that measure when that seemingly haunted cowbell kicks in – although you can never quite remember when it comes, so it catches you up, every single time. Perhaps you’re dancing to “No Sex,” set to the mythic chords of “Wild Thing” and 644 other rock songs, as if to make normal AIDS, as if to say the song’s zinger line, “C’mon baby, fuck me and die,” is the sweetest I Love You.

Perhaps you know, given you know Music Matters, that all three songs are by Alex Chilton. I hope he needs no introduction, from his teen days belting out “The Letter” with the Box Tops to that early seventies highlight that through its influence made almost all Eighties highlights possible, Big Star, to his reluctant last decade as High Priest of Hep. As a tortured artist, Chilton is hard to top. His biggest chart success came in his teens for music not even his – it’s like the poor schmoe whose ultimate life thrill will end up a high school football game’s winning touchdown. Big Star’s albums barely got released, despite critical acclaim; Chilton sounds the cynicism alarum bells in the interview portion of Big Star Live (recorded in 1974, released in 1992), when he calls the business “scummy,” and later invests his all in the disc’s lone cover, Loudon Wainwright’s “Motel Blues,” a brilliant lament about rock life on the road. Chilton was just 22.

Then there’s all the talk about Chilton being "”difficult,” which, in the music biz, can mean a kajillion things, from drugs to perfectionism. Or it could be as simple, and simply deep, as this – realizing you’re a great pop artist who has never been popular, and realizing even if you were, well, what the hell would that matter? For the paradox is always this: sure, music might unite us with others every odd now and then, music might crystallize our joy or vent our pain, but so? To be enough and so little.

That’s a lot of weight to fend off with only a guitar and a wise guy’s wit. What makes Alex Chilton a wonder is he can be ironic and loving all at once. He was on tour again last summer, in theory pushing his latest Ardent release A Man Called Destruction, a title that is both joke and sad joke. Despite touring, he’s foregoing interviews, for what’s the point? How does one explain it? And what is it?

Rock and roll. Geez, it’s even got a museum now. Rock isn’t monumental, it's of the moment; it's Chilton coming around from a clearly disgruntled start at a Santa Barbara show, remembering that music is fun and people dig him. It’s got to sound as if you could find just the right joint (not a bar) that’s just tawdry (not seedy) on the night you’re just tight (not drunk). Somehow the singer manages to eke out a falsetto that makes a song as possibly silly as “What's Your Sign, Girl” (“Leo, you foxy lion heart”!) seem as sincere as church.

So. Yeah, I know, big discovery, music as a way into the mystic, blah blah blah. Yet maybe we want to make fun of that idea because it is true, and the truth is scary. If Alex Chilton, unearthing “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” can be oddly moving, yet he and you and I, we know it’s complete blather – swoony love for a pug-nosed dream? – does that mean there’s hope (we can be moved) or doom (it’s mush that moves us)?

Faith is what the gullible call their life.

written Summer 1996

How is Santa Barbara Like Montreal?

I was thinking how good it was to see Jane Hulse's article today on the front page of the Real Estate section of the LA Times, but then it hit me, soon every article in a newspaper in southern California will be written by a former News-Press writer. (I guess they had to fire Anna Davidson because they were worried people might think that they still employed some talented journalists.) It's kind of like trying to root for a baseball team with a cheap owner, and you have to watch all the talent walk or get sent away. Maybe we can hope Wendy moves her franchise to another town?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Friday Random Ten

The Ventures "Flights of Fancy" Walk, Don't Run -- The Best of the Ventures
Pixies "Blown Away" Bossanova
Cordelia's Dad "Scarborough Fair" Cordelia's Dad
The Schramms "Talking to Me Poor" Rock Paper Scissors Dynamite
Loyd Cole "What Do You Know about Love?" Lloyd Cole
Ralph Stanley & Dwight Yoakam "The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn" Clinch Mountain Country
Ian Kearey & Ivor Cutler "Wheely Down" The World Is a Wonderful Place
Wilco "Box Full of Letters" A.M.
Morgana King "Ev'rything I Love" I Get a Kick Out of You: Cole Porter Songbook
Peter Gabriel "Fourteen Black Paintings" Us

Belle and Sebastian "The Boy with the Arab Strap" The Boy with the Arab Strap

Well, there are two songs up there I like a whole bunch. Wanna guess?

Shimmy, Shimmy, Coat-Coat Dog

For Dog Blog Friday: Baby, It's Argyle Outside!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Probable Hiatus Status

Blog News Flash: Those of you used to seeing my ISP show up in your counter a gajillion times a day (I have blogroll viewing Tourette's, I think) might have noticed that not only did I barely blog today, I barely read blogs. Such will be the case until February 5, as I'm taking vacation from my regular job to work another job that will keep me busy from 8 am - 12 midnight, daily.

I know how to have fun.

See you all in a week and a half. At least I hope I will.

Home, Home on the Stage

Just because I know the second verse of "America the Beautiful"--not to mention the entire George Carlin parody version--doesn't mean I want to sing either aloud, even with Garrison Keillor and 2000 fans trying to convince me my out-of-tuneness wouldn't matter. Keillor performed in Santa Barbara at the Arlington last night, with regular PHC (not to be confused with the PCH--that's some mighty different geography, if equally based on hopeful fictions, in a few dyselxic letters) musical cronies Richard Dworksy and Robin & Linda Williams, and offered up a standing, sing-a-long intermission that hinted at the heart of his project. Anybody who's done some reading up, or failed to miss his quick Dick Cheney hunting aside last night, knows Keillor is an old-fashioned Democrat, but that doesn't stop him from extolling small (if mythical) town virtue, letting loose with 3-part gospel harmony, and singing four, turns out there's four (even without the Carlin version) verses of "America the Beautiful." He wants his corn and to milk it, too, and you sort of have to mix metaphors for someone so eager to assert that liberals aren't heathens, aren't treasonous, and they're going to darn well sing about it. Perhaps with a radio-friendly full baritone like his it's impossible not to sing, but it's telling the Lutheran in him makes him more often than not sing songs with the lord lurking in them--you can't let yourself get too carried away, after all.

Of course, by focusing on the songs--often so rich with mortality's sting (all this going home, this crossing the bar) that they left me a bit damp-eyed, what with my mom's recent passing and me most decidedly not coming from stoic Midwest stock--I'm leaving out all the joy there is to hear a person tell a clever story well. So detail rich, he is, that you feel by the time he's done that you've seen the photo albums his characters most assuredly keep in attics. The woman downing Kahlua poured up to the third fish on the glass; the entrepeneur astounded she can sell pet aroma therapy; the Minnesota men shoveling their walks as a kind of marking, but ironically making it easier for others to come to their door and steal their women. There's nothing more universal than describing humans in their silly particularity.

It was quite a performance, in so many ways. And as for his enduring popularity, it's sort of like he's the Unitarian Church for the NPR set, offering us artless art just like the Unitarians have made church possible for those who can't quite sell themselves on god.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Guess the "or Anything"

I don't know if I'm more charmed that someone Googled "does leon czolgosz have a nick name or anything" or that I'm the fourth hit that Google offers up.

Two Breaking News Stories:
President Has Huge Hemmorhoid;
Sen. Lieberman Gone Missing

Joe Lieberman, perhaps warming up for tonight's post-SOTU smooch with Bushie-Boy, said this today:

The Senate should "step back for a moment and give you [Gen. Petraeus] a chance…. Perhaps a last chance, to succeeed in Iraq. If God forbid, you are unable to succeed, then there will be plenty of time for the resolutions of disapproval or the other alternatives that have been contemplated."

Sure, plenty of time except for the 100 people a day who die.

Jesus, Adolph!

Here's my prediction for the Best Picture Oscar next year.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Shooting a Heffalump

From the "I've got your back...with a knife" department, we have the latest editorial from the News-Press's Travis Armstrong, which includes the following:

Over these last five wonderful years, there have been a lot of changes, as befitting a living institution. The last six months have seen improvements. Every time a malcontent leaves, I feel the News-Press building on De la Guerra Plaza makes a big sigh of relief.

Beyond the weirdness of personifying the building (ah, the joys of inanimate objects--they think whatever they say we think, for surely they don't think simply nothing), and the weakness of the verb "makes" (c'mon, Travis, write a little), the News-Press has seen over 30 "malcontents" leave in the past six months. The building isn't sighing, it's hyperventilating at this point.

But wait, there's more:

All in all, we have a better workplace today. But as with any company, there always are a handful of Eeyores. I can understand why some of them are clinging to the hopes of a newsroom union because, after working at three metro newspapers, I see some of these folks have nowhere else to go. In my personal experience as a former Newspaper Guild member, unions at newspapers too often are meant to protect the least talented and least productive.

I'll skip the easy remark that of course he knows all about the least talented and productive at union papers, given he worked at one. What's most striking is that Armstrong just said there are still people at the paper who are no good. I find it hard to believe Yolanda Apodaca hasn't sprung into action and canned these poor workers--I mean, has the N-P hesitated to fire others? Then again, 33 Eeyores voted for the union (who knows, maybe there was a Piglet in there, too), so that's a whole lot of firing to do, even for the Mean Mistress of the Pink Slip Apodaca.

That aside, former employees are threatened with legal action when they discuss their time inside the News-Press. But it's ok for Armstrong to suggest--in print--that some of his current fellow co-workers aren't up to snuff? Oh, well, he does say in Sunday's editorial, "My job gives me a great seat to view hypocrisy on display."

I guess there's a big mirror in his office.

The Numb in Numbers

Don't know if you missed it because Sunday isn't exactly a news day, plus many of you were distracted by that football thing, for which we now get two weeks of build-up and lots of stories about how it's the first time two African-American head coaches will face off in the Super Bowl (since we are a color blind country, you know), but the White House released the following on Friday:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Sunday, January 21, 2007, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. I call upon all Americans to recognize this day with appropriate ceremonies and to underscore our commitment to respecting and protecting the life and dignity of every human being.

Of course he really only means the dignity of every unborn human being (might as well hum "Every Sperm Is Sacred" under his official writ), because he didn't decide to call off the Iraq escalation, or stop the sabre rattling with Iran, no, this is all about abortion.

Meanwhile, those listening to NPR's Morning Edition got to hear a terrifying story about the huge number of Iraqis getting kidnapped and held for ransom to raise money to fight each other and the U.S. Perhaps the most heart-breaking detail was this: Iraqis are taking to tattooing their phone numbers on their arms, so if they end up in the morgue they can be identified.

That's the country we've given them.

I guess at least Bush called it the National Sanctity of Life Day--internationally he and his cronies clearly don't give a shit.

Heavenly Bodies and High Mass

Originally uploaded by Matt And Bern.

Gidget just adored her new Weight on a Red Giant Star Diet.

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.

Would You Like Dumfries With That?

Originally uploaded by mdmarkus66.

It was sad how few people visited the most historic spot in America.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Hauer Things Coming Along?

For my money, re-making The Hitcher is kind of like deciding a second Bush should be President after George H.W. --more meanspirited, bad horror, but we all get to be Jennifer Jason Leigh strung up between two trucks.

Friday Random Ten

Pere Ubu "Rhapsody in Pink" Datapanik in the Year Zero: 1980-82
Los Super Seven (w/ Lyle Lovett) "My Window Faces the South" Heard It on the X
Guided by Voices "The Enemy" Isolation Drills
Tom Russell "Prairie in the Sky" Song of the West
Swales "When I Dream" Pleasureland
Franz Ferdinand "Darts of Pleasure" Franz Ferdinand
Television "See No Evil" D.I.Y.: The Blank Generation--The New York Scene 1975-78
Waco Brothers "Chosen One" Freedom and Weep
XTC "Jason and the Argonauts" English Settlement
T Bone Burnett "Criminals" Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett

Joe Henry "Stop" Scar

Very male, this week. But both Tom Verlaine and Marc Ribot play their guitars and then I'm a sucker for the swamp-swing of that Joe Henry cut, with, yet again, Marc Ribot.

I'm Smiling, I'm Just Smiling Upside Down

For Dog Blog Friday: Don't adjust your sets, Mookie flipped last weekend. (And to save you from the comments you're sure to make, yes, he does have a bump on his chest, it's the one spot where all his fat is. Our vet keeps an eye on it. He's fine.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ish This It?

Friday would be the 99th birthday of a man for whom the name Merwyn Bogue wasn't weird enough. Alas, Ish Kabibble passed away in 1994, so now he's Ishnot. For those of you not up on obscure performers of the 20th century with names taken from even more obscure humorous songs with Yiddish in them (how's that for your Jeopardy! category?), Kabbible played cornet and cracked wise in Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical (Not Spelling) Knowledge. For some reason the old KKK had much more success in the South. Maybe more than his musicianship or joking Ish was known for his bibble, I mean, for his haircut, which in its day was described as "like a brutal army haircut, put on the wrong way around. The result was that Ish Kabible looked somewhat like an Old English Sheepdog, but not half as pretty." And I've seen some pretty English Sheepdogs, although I usually prefer the Middle English Sheepdogs, myself. Old English was better for Beowulf, not dogs. The good news--for both Ish and my rambling prose--is that Ish was half as pretty as Grendel. Running with the dogs (theme), it seems Ish was years ahead of the "what would we get if we bred this with a poodle?" craze of late--you know, labradoodles, pugadoodles, cheesedoodles, dipsydoodles (a poodle bred with Jessica Simpson).Evidently, the Kabibble character is caricatured in the 1946 cartoon "Hollywood Canine Canteen," in which there is a dog character named Ish Kapoodle.

That's Right, Iceman, I Am Dangerous

This just in: Senator John McCain (R-Surgistan) has legally changed his name to Maverick John McCain. The Senator, upon receiving the certificate with his official new name and the ceremonial plaque of brass balls that accompanies it, said, "Seemed best for the press, since they used it all the time anyway. Hate to make them seem like the liars they usually are, except when they discuss me, and how I stand up for things, like the President's plan for Iraq that no one else likes."

Meanwhile in other news the Boston Herald reports:

For seven years, conventional wisdom has said that the state’s pivotal independent voters would line up behind maverick Sen. John McCain, as they did so famously in the 2000 GOP primary. But new polling data, to be released later this week, will suggest that might no longer be the case.

Manchester, N.H.-based American Research Group finds that McCain’s popularity among New Hampshire’s independent voters has collapsed.

“John McCain is tanking,” says ARG president Dick Bennett. “That’s the big thing [we’re finding]. In New Hampshire a year ago he got 49 percent among independent voters. That number’s way down, to 29 percent now.”


Bennett says ARG is finding a similar trend in other states polled, including early primary battlegrounds like Iowa and Nevada. “We’re finding this everywhere,” he says.

Maverick McCain replied, "That just shows how much of a Maverick I am. Like President Bush, I find it's best to get little public support. Indeed, I plan to follow in his electoral footsteps and win the Presidency by having the fewest votes."

[hat tip to Shakespeare's Sister]

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

What's the Weirdest Place You've Ever Made Whoopie

Turns out that if you Google "up the butt" you can wind up at INTOBB. It's only the 19th most popular search, though, so I'm not that proud.

(The post title, for those of you not choc-a-block full with tv trivia, refers to a Newlywed Game question; one dithering, too-open wife answered with said Google search.)

Taking Everything as Part of the Game

The more things change, the more the brutes remain the same. If you've never read it, or haven't read it in years, do yourself a favor and read George Orwell's "A Hanging." Here's the end of it:

The Eurasian boy walking beside me nodded towards the way we had come, with a knowing smile: 'Do you know, sir, our friend (he meant the dead man), when he heard his appeal had been dismissed, he pissed on the floor of his cell. From fright. - Kindly take one of my cigarettes, sir. Do you not admire my new silver case, sir? From the boxwallah, two rupees eight annas. Classy European style.'

Several people laughed - at what, nobody seemed certain.

Francis was walking by the superintendent, talking garrulously. 'Well, sir, all hass passed off with the utmost satisfactoriness. It wass all finished - flick! like that. It iss not always so - oah, no! I have known cases where the doctor wass obliged to go beneath the gallows and pull the prisoner's legs to ensure decease. Most disagreeable!'

'Wriggling about, eh? That's bad,' said the superintendent.

'Ach, sir, it iss worse when they become refractory! One man, I recall, clung to the bars of hiss cage when we went to take him out. You will scarcely credit, sir, that it took six warders to dislodge him, three pulling at each leg. We reasoned with him. "My dear fellow," we said, "think of all the pain and trouble you are causing to us!" But no, he would not listen! Ach, he wass very troublesome!'

I found that I was laughing quite loudly. Everyone was laughing. Even the superintendent grinned in a tolerant way. 'You'd better all come out and have a drink,' he said quite genially. 'I've got a bottle of whisky in the car. We could do with it.'

We went through the big double gates of the prison, into the road. 'Pulling at his legs!' exclaimed a Burmese magistrate suddenly, and burst into a loud chuckling. We all began laughing again. At that moment Francis's anecdote seemed extraordinarily funny. We all had a drink together, native and European alike, quite amicably. The dead man was a hundred yards away.

Seems mighty pertinent of late, what with even President Bush, who himself has imitated/belittled a woman on death row, feeling that Iraq "fumbled" the Hussein execution and " it looked like it was kind of a revenge killing."

Yeah, there's no hint of revenge in the death penalty. It's all about goodness and justice and ignoring commandment #5 (Catholic version).

Which Came First, the Chicken Hawk or the Egg?

Appearing on PBS's NewsHour last night, our commander in chief had the following exchange with host Jim Lehrer:

MR. LEHRER: Is there a little bit of a broken egg problem here, Mr. President, that there is instability and there is violence in Iraq - sectarian violence, Iraqis killing other Iraqis, and now the United States helped create the broken egg and now says, okay, Iraqis, it's your problem. You put the egg back together, and if you don't do it quickly and you don't do it well, then we'll get the hell out.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Yeah, you know, that's an interesting question. I don't quite view it as the broken egg; I view it as the cracked egg --

MR. LEHRER: Cracked egg?

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- that - where we still have a chance to move beyond the broken egg.

We know he's never been in a theater of war, but hasn't he ever been in a kitchen? Or a supermarket? Do you check the eggs at the store, find one with a crack and think, "I'm going to buy me this one and take it home and nurse it back to full eggness?" Sure, Bush hasn't met a metahpor he couldn't mangle, but the problem here is that his inability to use figurative language properly is evidence of his inabiltiy to think properly. For in the interview he also claims that to "withdraw out of Baghdad and hope for the best...would...expedite failure."

If you ask me, if you're going to fail--and it seems like we're already past that point in Iraq, since we invaded in the first place--it might be best to get it over with quickly. But Bush prefers the long, drawn out failure, say one that goes till January 2009 and some other poor fool has to take over the problem. In the meantime we know who is cracked, and who has egg on his face.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

No Wonder Bush Likes Lieberman--Neither Takes No for an Answer

Reuters reports:

The White House said on Tuesday a planned congressional resolution against President George W. Bush's U.S. troop increase in Iraq could send a signal to the world that America is divided on the war.

To which INOTBB replies, "It damn well better."

Holed Up Sounds So Dirty

IMDB reports:

Pop star Britney Spears and her new boyfriend Isaac Cohen spent the weekend in Las Vegas holed up in the Fantasy Tower suite at The Palms hotel. The couple stayed in the tower's $40,000 per night, two-story Hugh Hefner Sky Villa on Saturday, with a Jacuzzi pool, glass elevator, rotating bed and full bar.

Guess that means Spears-spawn #3 will be due October 14, 2007.

(Sorry, it was a long-weekend, so have to warm up with a few swings at the low-hanging fruit.)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Languish Poets and Zippy Guitars

The Aughts. As in "aught to be better." As in "aught to have a president who read the Constitution before he shat on it." As in "leaves us hungering for 90s rock, and who thought we'd say that?"

Anybody at the Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks show at SoHo in Santa Barbara this past Saturday might. For not only is Malkmus haunted by his Pavement past, he's now got Janet Weiss as the Jick behind the drums and already integrated enough to add the airy vocals that keep MalkmusMusic deceptively la-la lovely. Of course, Weiss was the thundering anchor for Sleater-Kinney, so in some ways this group is super in a sour Cream, aught kind of way.

I've already taken a shot trying to sum up Malkmus, who tellingly went by the initials SM when Pavement began, in an entry on "Freeze the Saints," which he finally played as an encore the other night. He did it sitting on his amp, as if actually meeting the crowd's expectations wore him down. Not to be a self-quoting fool like Andrew Sarris or one of those folks people forgot aren't dead, but I said:

In “Freeze the Saints” Malkmus rolls “help me languish here” over into “help me language here,” which means bunches if you want it to, especially recalling Malkmus once insisted he was cribbing lyrics from John Ashbery. Then again, it was the far more straightforward poet William Stafford who used to say, “Of course it rhymes, all words rhyme because they sound more like each other than they sound like silence,” which just means trying to nail the positive ID on the meaning you mean ain’t going to be easy when all the suspects look suspiciously the same. Or maybe Malkmus wants to start a new school of Languish Poets.

That's mighty high-falutin', I know, but Malkmus is one of those figures that's hard to figure. Of late he's sporting a bad moustache that makes him look like he's a 70s porn star (as Amy put it), and you have to assume he likes looking like that, for smudging anything that smacks of simple is always at the heart of his project, which is why he's always interesting, even when the songs aren't quite always so too. I have to admit I've probably given his second solo album Pig Lib all of 3 spins for it failed to catch fast enough, and Pavement never did that (from "Summer Babe" right through "Spit on a Stranger" that even Nickel Creek couldn't kill). And now that I've seen him live twice--the first time was as part of a monumental All Tomorrow's Parties set in LA that also featured Television, so all the rest was kind of hard to judge after looking at the godhead--I can say I've liked him twice but trying to say what song was what or even getting beyond "is he playing so much new stuff?" is hard. So maybe we don't turn to him for The Song anymore (which we could still do on solo CD one, what with the indelible anti-anthem "Jenny and the Ess-Dog" and "Church on White," with the loopingly lovely outro guitar solo making the "But all you ever wanted was everything and everything" lines almost possible). Perhaps he offered an answer by playing neither on Saturday.

Instead he played lots of guitar, and somewhere you know he worries about that, but can't help himself, so every solo has that tension of whether it should be even played. That doesn't means he goes staccato, but that he knows the lyrical in art needs room for some yearning. The good news is with Janet Weiss now in the band there's always drive to spare. She's never busy, but she can make "Baby C'Mon" seem more funky than "funky," for instance--her directness blows his archness away. This could become a group to rival Pavement, eventually, if any of us escape the 00 world we live in now.

As for opening act Entrance (as in No Exit, not as in "we'll mesmerize you into liking us"), their blooz-rock can be summed up by the opening line of one song, which made me laugh more than any of the parodies from Spinal Tap: "Children of god, you're playing musical chairs." I'll sit that one out, thanks.

Obstreperous Orators, Tout Your Tourist Token!

Originally uploaded by whirlwindie.

In an obscure corner of Illnois, not even sung about by Sufjan Stevens, two tourists get to mock orate at the original podiums from the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Meet the Beagles

Originally uploaded by tloftus.

We're way cooler than Kiss--Ace Frehley never had a turquoise tongue.

A Little Stinker

Originally uploaded by lbois.

Aren't you glad this blog isn't equipped with Smell-a-Vision?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Where Does He Get Those Wonderful Toys?

The ever-clever Bob Harris, who can blog with one hand while writing a book with the other, points us to this disturbing, but true photo:

It seems that Elmo has been up to something much more serious than tickling. You can fit 4 pounds of meth into the Muppet, but it does leave him with that busted puppet in the headlights look. And to think Jerry Falwell was all worried about Teletubbies while this horror was going on. No wonder people want to defund PBS.

But, alas, Elmo isn't the only "toy" who found himself doing the perp walk this holiday season. Turns out poor Barbie, desperate to keep up the partyin' pace with the younger Skipper, who Ken has sort of had his eye on (and who knows what else) of late, has turned to some artificial stimulants herself. Did you see this picture in the Weekly Toy News?

Yes Virginia, there is a "Snow" Barbie. (We won't even discuss that slutty teddy she's wearing.)

Finally there's this, the See 'n' Say 'n' Shoot Up, that seems innocent enough until you turn it over to discover it's not from Mattel but Patel. He's got a great poppy field in the new Afghanistan that the US has done such a bang-up job bringing about.

The Cow still says moo, but look out for Horse, for he doesn't just whinny, he sticks the holder of the toy with a syringe. Tots will be singing, "When I'm rushing on my run, and I feel just like Fisher-Price's son" without a doubt.

Friday Random Ten

Pixies "Winterlong" Dig for Fire single
Buddy Guy "First Time I Met the Blues" Martin Scorsese Presents: The Blues
Peter Gabriel "Shock the Monkey" Shaking the Tree: 16 Golden Greats
Old School Freight Train "I'm the Man Who Loves You" Pickin' on Wilco
The Buckets "Buckets Theme" The Buckets
Gomez "Love Is Better than a Warm Trombone" Bring It On
Cesaria Evora "Cabo Verde Manda Mantenha" Cafe Atlantico
Bettie Serveert "Palomine" Palomine
Michael Nyman "Here to There" The Piano
The Handsome Family "No One Fell Asleep Alone" Twilight

Liz Phair "Nashville" Whip-Smart

An intriguing bunch, this week, a bit more representative of my catholic (no, not Catholic--go look it up) taste. Too bad I have the German versions of PG 3 and PG 4 on vinyl and not CD (and hence not iTunes), as "Shock den Affen" is pretty remarkable.

If you're a Wilco fan and never heard Pickin' on Wilco you should pick it up (sorry)--all instrumental, blue-grassy style versions of many of their best tunes.

The Spots!

For Dog Blog Friday: Look out, Mookie, Nigel's right beside you!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

You Blogged?!

According to the ever-reliable Shakespeare's Sister, it's National Delurking Week. So if you want to admit you stop by INOTBB every now and then, and not just for the (non-)nude pictures of Monica Bellucci, Chrissy Popadics, Salam [sic] Hayek, Jannel Szyska, Julie Newmar, Denny Hastert, Wendy McCaw, or King Tut, leave a comment.

Oh, and hi, how are you?

P.S. And if you're looking for any of the last three, please don't come back again.

As Youngman as You Feel

At least according to one source, today would be the 100 birthday of Henny Youngman. Perhaps the discrepancy in his birth date is because his mom, while in labor, screamed, "Take my baby--please!" and the delivery room was so convulsed with laughter that he wasn't officially born for a couple of months. The good news is that the delay gave Youngman his first joke to steal. Many don't know that Youngman was born in Liverpool, England, and in addition to once being part of a musical group called the Swanee Syncopators, rumor has it he sat in with a little band called the Quarrymen after the death of Stu Sutcliffe. The band, alas, decided it needed a drummer more than a violinist, but at least kept its sense of humor and went with Ringo. The Ramones of stand-up, Youngman would complete whole sets in 20 minutes and still tell 60 jokes. Here's one of the longer ones:

A guy says, "I'm so old that I forgot how old I am." An old woman says, "I'll tell you how old you are. Take off your clothes and bend over." The man does this. The woman says, "You're seventy four." The man says, "How can you tell?" The woman says, "You told me yesterday."

Here's another:

A man is at the bar, drunk. I pick him up off the floor, and offer to take him home. On the way to my car, he falls down three times. When I get to his house, I help him out of the car, and on the way to the front door, he falls down four more times. I ring the bell, and say, "Here's your husband!" The man's wife says, "Where's his wheelchair?"

A Surge in General Warning

Whoever had 441 wins the pool. That's how many words it took before President Bush finished uttering September 11, 2001 in his speech last night.

Mistakes sure were made, buddy. And while you claim the responsiblity rests with you, if you aren't smart enough to know that going into Iraq in the first place was THE mistake, and that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, well, we are seriously screwed.

Not that we didn't know that already. Thanks for the shout out to Joe Lieberman to seal the deal.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

He's Got an Uncontrollable Surge

It's been nearly impossible for me to write about politics of late because mostly I've just wanted to go AARRRGHHH! So luckily Digby did my talking for me, and be sure to go read the whole thing:

I don't now about you, but I'm all on pins and needles waiting for the big speech tonight. The big question will finally be answered: how much is the president going to escalate the war and increase the American occupation?

Think about that. We just had an election that completely repudiated the president's strategy in the Iraq war. Only 12% of the public supports sending in more troops today. The military is not backing this either. Yet what are we watching on television all day? "How many more troops is the president going to send to Iraq?"

This is not just a slap in the face to the democratic process, it's a slap in the face to our concept of reality. I wrote before that this president has always governed by tantrum, and this is no exception. He is doing exactly the opposite of what logic would dictate, just as he did after the 2000 election debacle when he governed from the far right as if he'd won a huge ideological mandate --- and after 9/11 when he nonsensically insisted that we invade a country that had not been involved in the attacks.

I can hardly believe my eyes that he is getting away with it again. It's truly stunning.

You Go to Court with the Case You Have, Not the Case You Wish You Had

INOTBB, like Spartacus, has many faces, with many eyes and ears. Although some of our "I" has to work, others of us are willing to sit in the old I.Magnin store that's now a U.S. Bankruptcy Court to hear the News-Press have at the Teamsters, claiming they're scary and make people overwhelming vote to join them (or else).

So, here are some of the highlights from Day One:

The fact that Scott Steepleton, Travis Armstrong and Yolanda Apodaca had to come out from behind their office walls and be questioned about their version of events was very satisfying. While Yolanda was low-key and coherent on the stand, the behavior of the other two highlighted their eccentricities and, at times, bordered on clownish. The best part of the whole day was when Steepleton described a procession of employees as a march, with stomping feet, and felt that he had to puncuate his testimony by standing up in the witness box and marching in place, swinging his arms high and stomping his feet loudly. Of course, this was comic when he first did it, but became absurd when he felt the need to do it two more times during his testimony. It really underscores how ill-fit he is for written journalism when the associate editor doesn't feel words can convey that simple of a description.

The audience was full of union and employee supporters (with the only News-Press people being those who were lawyering or testifying) so it felt very congenial in the courtroom.

The judge seems on the ball with a very low tolerance for shenanigans or wasting the court's time. He didn't grant the motion to dismiss the News-Press charges completely, but perhaps he is just trying to give it a full hearing before grinding it into small bits in his decision. After all, wer'e talking about lawyers (for McCaw et al.) who in their questioning of fired Life Editor Andrea Huebner insinuated that as an exempt employee she might not be entitled to lunch. They seemed quite surprised that Huebner, as a journalist, had investigated her rights as an exempt employee.

One great moment overheard in the courtroom: When a lawyer asked Travis what words staffers had used to curse him, Starshine Roshell whispered to her former colleagues, "Here, let me...."

Perhaps the juiciest bit was that Teamster lawyer Ira Gottlieb asked Scott Steepleton if it was true that he was fired from the Ventura bureau of the L.A. Times for lying. The judge didn't let that line of questioning continue, but the fact that it's now out in the public, especially after the News-Press' unconscionable airing of what it claims at convenient moments are private personnel matters, pleased more than a few in the audience.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Blog with Hat in Hand

Sure, I'm more likely to take home a Jon Matlack Award (no, don't say just a Pete Falcone Award) than a Koufax Award, but somebody out there must think I'm worthy of a nomination. I won't pay, but I will cyber-grovel.

And if you nominate my series on the News-Press Mess, then even more people will know the truth.

Here's some help, the entries have been:

Sue, A Lawyer Pulling Threat

When lands were disputed and misgoverned
Came ministers commended as loyal
--Lao Tzu

Wendy's Not the Only Witch of the West

Facts All Come with a Point of View

Never Know What's in Store

This Ad's Left Wanting

Time to Hail a Scab

Be Nice, or Else

Another Bug Up Wendy's Butt

Candle Crack, Candle Break
Correct the Travis's Mistake

Fire All the Journalists You Want--Wendy Will Hire More!

From Suit to Nuts

That's a Stretch, Armstrong

The News-Press Says the News-Press Is the Greatest, According to the News-Press

Catch a Quitting Star

The Goleta Valley Loses Its Voice

The Night They Drove the News-Press Down

What a Tangled Web Wendy Hopes to Leave

Are You Ready for Some Folderol

McCaw Killed the Newspaper Star

Imitiation Is the Sincerest Way to Lawsuits

All We Are Saying Is Give Blogs a Chance

One Stupid Thing the News-Press Does to Destroy Itself

I Fought McCaw and McCaw Won

It's News to Me

A Free Press--If You've Got a Spare $450 Million

OK, that's not a series, it's War and Peace. The sad part is the peace isn't in sight yet.

The PU from Here

The AP headline holds its nose and says:

N.J. eyed as source of stench over NYC

And elsewhere the AP reports that a dog bit a man, Donald Trump is a publicity whore, and that on Februrary 2, if George Bush pulls his head out of his ass and sees his shadow, there will be 6 more months of useless U.S. soldier-deaths in Iraq.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Misty Bloggy Colored Meme-ries

Tom, one of the keepers over at If I Ran the Zoo, tagged me with a meme that will kill me if I keep thinking about it, so I thought I'd just fire away and live with the regret. I'm an American, after all.

  1. Name a book that you want to share so much that you keep giving away copies: I like trying to pair people with books, actually, so this one's a bit tricky. And then as a joke I want to say Writing for the Visual Arts by Bernstein and me, but it's a textbook and we've given enough copies away already. So, how about Lester Bang's Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung?

  2. Name a piece of music that changed the way you listen to music: A shift for the odd happened when I was a senior in high school and I was listening to Peter Gabriel 3 on headphones so as not to disturb the rest of the house and "Intruder" got me all freaked, mostly because I was looking at the spot in our living room where there used to be stairs, but a woman had somehow run her car into the front of the house a week earlier, so the stairs weren't yet repaired yet--there was just a hole into the cellar, and I kept waiting for something creepy and musically-fueled to rise up out of the gash. Of course, I liked this freakiness, and my taste has never been the same since. Just ask the other teens I tried to make listen to the album on a trip down to the Jersey shore....

  3. Name a film you can watch again and again without fatigue: Just one? Shop Around the Corner. Night of the Hunter. Once Upon a Time in America (if I have a spare 4 hours).

  4. Name a performer for whom you suspend of all disbelief: Fred Astaire makes me think it's natural to sing and dance; Buster Keaton makes me think it's natural not to talk and smile.
  5. Name a work of art you'd like to live with: A Cornell box, please. Either of these would do

    Images of Untitled (Penny Arcade Portrait of Lauren Bacall) and Untitled (Medici Princess) from the cool website Artchive.

  6. Name a work of fiction which has penetrated your real life: I was really moved by "Prufrock" as a teenager, which probably explains too much. Therefore I was fascinated later in life to learn that Eliot himself wrote it as a grad student (Hugh Kenner calls it the only good poem written by a grad student), so I wasn't so wrong thinking it was a young-man's old-man's poem.

  7. Name a punch line that always makes you laugh: Anything Groucho says, but in light of the last answer, Woody Allen in Love and Death, composing by the fire: "I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas...naw, too sentimental."

And now I have the great fun of making others do this, or at least strongly suggesting they do. So, to welcome you to the daisy chain that is the internets, I tag Esau, Big Table, Fuller & Fuller, and Mike's Neighborhood (I tagged 1 more than the required three since according to Wikipedia "Some sources consider only groups of four or more people to be a daisy chain.").

UPDATE (1/10/07 11 am): So far three of those tagged have their responses up: Mike's Nieghborhood, Fuller & Fuller, and Esau. Big Table is a teacher, so maybe thinks he can only give assignments.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE (1/11/07 4 pm): Big Table lays his meme out on the table.

Bloggity Blog Blog

It's beginning to get so that you can't throw a rock without hitting a blog in Santa Barbara, but I'd never do that for I'd stone my friends. Both have chosen to go expansive, so be sure to be generous with your visits and your comments at Queen Whackamole's Fuller & Fuller and Patrick's Big Table.

Me Is Tree-Climbing Assassin Monkey

Originally uploaded by Adair Family.

Donations for this child's future therapy fund may be sent via

Monday Random Flickr-Blogging explained here.

Pinkies and the Nipple

Originally uploaded by drakar.

Even though they forced the production into the basement, the high school version of Oh Calcutta! had very few tame moments.

Why I Can't Get A Men Sisters

Originally uploaded by The Prone Ranger.

Sometimes it's awfully hard to tell apart cause and effect.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I Hear Your Shaker, It's Like an Angel Sighing

Before I forget, and if I drink enough of them I might, here's the cocktail invention of the weekend, which brings together two of our favorite in-season ingredients in one well-chilled glass. It's a bit sweet, but the stellar color will leave you sanguine.

The Stigmata*

4 oz. vodka
1.5 oz Pama Pomegranate liqueur
1.5 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 oz Grand Marnier

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Pour into 2 cocktail glasses and granish with blood orange peel. (Makes 2 drinks.)

*Get it? It's blood and pama (palm-a)?

Infinite Orgasm Variations

It hit me I should post this article, something I wrote for the Santa Barbara Independent back in May of 1996, before Amy and I were even married (she makes a guest appearance as fiance about 4/5 of the way in). Note somehow I: 1) reveal too much about how and where I grew up, 2) link both Brown and Gerald Ford, as if I knew.

The Man Who Souled the World

To feel the sub of suburbia you need to grow up in a place like East Hanover, NJ, all of twenty-five miles west of New York City, all of fifteen west of Newark, but miles don’t always equal distance. This is a story about when America still had a middle class. Getting yours meant knowing who else was you, and the ‘burbs that blended into each other on maps refused such blurring in heads, so Catholic us could call neighboring Livingston Livingstein in a not-at-all neighborly way. And it’s not just circular to say you don’t know what you don’t know.

This wasn’t ages ago. It was the mid-seventies, when someone as nothing and non-elected as Gerald Ford could be president and our sense of protest arose so mightily that the most we did was laugh at Chevy Chase making fun of Ford’s falling down. In East Hanover, we had one African-American family-—Elliott Maddox’s, and he played baseball for the Yankees.

But before I get too hemmed in by my haw of social history, let it be put blunt: I will never be James Brown. JB’s the place where soul moonwalked into the future of funk, the place where R&B shimmied a slink like lovers, not mere letters. He could let loose an “Oooowww!” that no typography can bring to life, but it brought to life an Apollo Theatre crowd in 1962 in paroxysms unmatched by anything short of watching your lotto numbers coming up while getting laid (and you shouldn’t be watching TV then, anyway). My crappy vinyl Solid Smoke reissue of that disc recorded a year before I was born can make me feel more alive than most of my living. Something mattered. Someone meant something (of course it had something to do with love, or the lack of it). And those horn lines pulled strings that have left butts swaying for decades.

But I will never be James Brown. And I don’t just mean it in that dated Norman Mailer (oops, didn’t mean to be redundant there, given Mailer might be the literary equivalent of Austin Powers) White Negro way. Although, when Mailer writes, “He lived in the enormous present, he subsisted for his Saturday night kicks, relinquishing the pleasures of the mind for the more obligatory pleasures of the body, and in his music he gave rise to the character and quality of his existence, to his rage and the infinite variations of joy, lust, languor, growl, cramp, pinch, scream and despair of his orgasm,” you have to admit racism and stupidity don’t always go hand-in-hand. Mailer is onto something, but too busy generalizing, too busy ending that essay with references to Das Kapital in an effort to be good ‘n’ learned.

For Infinite Orgasm Variations could be a sick yet snooty title for a JB boxed set. If Brown wasn’t having sex on his records, he was at least working himself up into a lather, or perhaps wringing out the sheets of sweaty nights sadly to be had no more. But then again, if I had the pre-P-Funk Bootsy Collins on bass behind me, as lucky Brown did at one--and let me add it was the “Sex Machine”--point, I might be able to grease a bit of a groove myself.

Or maybe not. I keep seeing Mick Jagger looking scared, and I mean Mick back when he was Mick and not reduced to being the frontman of rock and roll’s IBM-—corporate, once-cutting edge, omnipresent, probably not quite benevolent. It’s on film, a time capsule dipsy-doodle called the TAMI Show (that’s short for Teenage Awards Music International). It’s 1964. James Brown does the full-fledged, cape on the floor, I’m maybe down on my knees, I’m down on my knees, singing “Please Please Please” routine. And Mick doesn’t want to go on after that. If Mick Jagger can’t get no satisfaction, then the rest of us white boys have no hope. (And nothing, not even me trying to dance, is more white boy than the TAMI Show’s performance by Gerry and the Pacemakers, who play as if the whole band could use a few.)

Or maybe we do have hope. It seems there’s a rumor out there that for whatever reason, James Brown gave up Georgia and decided a whole new life was needed. The rumor finishes this way, a way probably about to be printed in the next Choking Doberman urban myth book with a whole host of unlikely white world suburbs filling in the blank. But in this case the blank is very close to home--Goleta. Yep, JB might have decided the Good Land really deserved its name. There are even a few James Browns listed in the phone book for Goleta, and I’ve resisted my fiancee’s suggestion to cold call each and ask, “How do you feel?” waiting for the one to say, “I feel good,” in a way that chest-charges that cliché back into heart-skipping life.

For if he’s here, he belongs here. I couldn’t make it to him in East Hanover, NJ, back when I bought the Carpenters singles album as my first LP, a quiet testament that I was as white as the crummy plastic stereo I played the disc on. (I wished it was a Close-N-Play.) That he’s come to me is only fitting, as he comes to all of us, as all our souls wait to know what their names mean.

If he can be in Goleta, he can be anywhere, which he is in music, a one-man invasion of the sample snatchers. If JB hadn’t existed, hip-hop would have had to invent him to invent itself; one reason it’s hard for anyone to carp too, too much about how music today lives by the sample didn’t pay enough attention when Brown sampled himself, stealing riffs and adding that third repetition to titles to make the song once again new.

Can Brown make it all new at the Bowl this Friday? After all, he’s a whole age of consent older than our president. Maybe, maybe not. But given I’ll never be JB anyway, it’s silly thinking he can’t still come on in and do the popcorn, give us the butter, and make us like it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Random Ten

Lou Reed "New Sensations" Between Thought and Expression
The Mad Lads "The Sidewalk Surf" The Complete Stax Volt Singles
The Boomtown Rats "Lookin' after No. 1" D.I.Y. Anarchy in the UK--UK Punk I (76-77)
Built to Spill "I Would Hurt a Fly" Live
Bjork "Cvalda" Selmasongs
David Bowie "Maid of Bond Street" David Bowie
Patsy Cline "Stop the World (And Let Me Off)" Golden Hits
The Pine Valley Cosmonauts "Brain Cloudy Blues" The Majesty of Bob Wills
Wolfgang Press "People Say" No Balls (comp.)
The Mekons "Psycho Cupid (Dance Band onthe Edge of Time)" Original Sin

Archers of Loaf "Step into the Light" Vee Vee

What a way to end--I love the way that track eases one into one of the best, over-looked albums of the 1990s. If you don't know the Loaf, go have a listen. Plus you have to hand it to iTunes for bringing up "New Sensations" as the first random track of 2007. Sometimes I'd swear there's a little tiny DJ in there, moreso than there's one doing sequencing for Rhino, who made those useful DIY punk comps but somehow thought the Boomtown Rats were punk, and don't get me wrong, I like the Boomtown Rats and know they were at least punk-ergized, but c'mon.

The Long and the Short of It

For Dog Blog Friday: Poor Nigel had it really hard while we were on the East Coast--he had to share a bed with his cousin Ricky.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Here Comes the Groom

Friday would be the 152nd birthday of King Camp Gillette, who was named, yes, after the wonderful site along Lake Titicaca where royalty, as youth, used to wile away their summers, waiting for their beanies to turn into crowns and for the day when they could short sheet entire countries. (I know you know I'm lying. The camp wasn't at Lake Titicaca, but it's so much fun to write the word I can't help myself--that spot is the Uranus of Bolivia.) (Of course all world leaders spent their summers at Camp Crystal Lake.) Oddly, Gillette is recalled as the inventor of the safety razor, but in reality he invented the safety dance and performed it with his band Men without Beards, which perhaps led to the confusion. Speaking of confusion, I can never remember, is Gillette the tall one or the one who is silent?

I'm going to cut this one short, for time is bleeding away from me as I feel the shadow of five o'clock descend.

Catching Up with the News

For me the most amazing thing about the death of our first unelected President, Gerald Ford, is that he got the last laugh on the man who built a career making fun of his stumbling. Who, while wearing his WIN button in 1976, would have guessed Ford would out live Chevy Chase?

Uh, you mean to tell me Chase is still living? There's no way he survived that show of his in 1993.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Wednesday Lobster Roll Blogging

This one's not even mine, and it still makes me happy. That's how good a Pearl Oyster Bar lobster roll is. The lobster is fresh and never funky, and cooked to a tenderness than even the lobster must be happy about--I mean, we're all going to go someday, so might as well perish deliciously. Supposedly the "dressing" is mostly mayo, but if it is, there's just the right little amount with just the right other accents--a squinch of lemon, a passing of a shadow of a caper jar. There's nothing evincing the fancy or effort-full about this sandwich, which is why it's elegant as the slicked-back 'do of Fred Astaire. But in size it's much more Fred Flintstone than Astaire--you keep wanting more and then it's there, and it's hard to describe how pleasing that is. In LA you can have a very good, very dainty lobster roll at The Hungry Cat, but you might still be a hungry cat when you're done.

Of course for food to be perfectly pleasurable (dieters, why are you here, reading this, as if I could ever help you even if I wanted to), carbs must be involved. The roll itself is heavenly. Not brioche or anything tainted by snoot, but honest and buttery and tasty and toasted to tan, evenly, which is hard. And those fries. Thin crisp crunches that you feel you need to eat like you feel the need to hear the satisfying pops when you can't put down the bubble-pak.

You can wash this down with Anchor Liberty, on tap, which is still one of my favorite beers even in an age when I have been seduced by the wantonness of double IPAs and their irresistibly over-the-top hops. Indeed, the hop tang against the lush lobster makes for some fine mouth meld.

This meal is one of the greatest arguments I have ever tasted for living in New York.

For What Is a Blog, What Has It Got...

To paraphrase George Carlin and his classic seven words you can't say on television routine, "We're going to blog you now, but we're going to blog you slow." Silly man that I am, I will be taking time off from work later this month to go work another job for 11 days. That's my idea of a vacation. But some of the work from that job is starting now, so there's less time to make wise or even wise ass here. Just so you know.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I Am the Winner

Got back to the house today, and this major award was waiting on my doorstep. I'm hoping it's an omen for the rest of the year.

Four Touchdowns and a Proposal

Proving that football is comedy, baseball is tragedy (I'm a Mets fan, remember?), the wild Boise State-Oklahoma game last night ended with the promise of a marriage as one of Boise State's players proposed to his girlfriend, one of the team's cheerleaders, live on national television. You can see why the woman might want to get married, as her name is Chrissy Popadics. Alas, her married name will be Popadics-Johnson.

Here's hoping she never leaves her soon-to-be husband for another college football player, for it would be too much for someone to have the name Popadics-Booty.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Death Defeats New Jersey

It's a police escort from the funeral home (aka, life transition center) to the church for my mom's funeral. One woman drives through, past the motorcycle officer, and almost hits me. Later, the police let us make a left from Route 10 from the left lane.

If you know New Jersey, you know how momentous this is. We have defied the state that is synonymous with the jughandle. They might even sell cars in New Jersey that don't have left turn signals.

And in the hearse my stickler-for-the-rules mom, no doubt, wants to rise and give the driver a what for.

Double Your Pleasure

Originally uploaded by sashaballen.

No one knew quite what it might portend when the first babies of the new year were Siamese twins joined at the lips.

Monday Random Flickr Blogging explained.
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