Thursday, April 30, 2009

This May Day Is No Swett

Be sure to trod lightly about your May Pole Friday, or else you might end up like Dick Swett, former Congressman, whose birthday May 1st is. It might strike you as odd he chose that sobriquet over Richard, but I assume "Dick" was thrust upon him as it so often is with Richards. Lord knows he might feel at home in Hawaii, for the day is also the 82nd "May Day is Lei Day" festival in the 50th state. And I'm not just fucking with you--it's an actual festival. Last year Honolulu went balls to the wall for the fete, setting the record for the World's Longest Lei. This made mayor Mufi Hannemann very happy, and not just because Mufi never met Dick. Hannemann was quoted as thanking, "the dedicated and hard working members of our Department of Parks and Recreation for making Lei Day 2008 the biggest and best in recent memory." He then fell asleep. There is no word if former Playboy model and May 1st birthday celebrator Tawnni Cable gave a hand in making the lei. BTW, parents, if you name your daughter Tawnni, neither a heart as the dot on the i or taking off her clothes for a living are optional.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

If a Fantasy Team Fell in a Fantasy League Would It Make a Fantasy Sound?

This might not get any better, so I have to gloat a bit now. As of today's two fine starts (Yovanni's so Yo-Fine-EE, Johan's the Man even if Putz puttered the lead away), my fantasy team's pitching staff has a 2.77 ERA over 218 innings. And those have been dominating innings--234 punchouts, more than 1 per.

17 wins, 18 saves, 20 quality starts.

Oh yeah, the Oberkfellows are in first place.

Please please let me say that as September ends.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Irritability Keeps Me Alive and Kicking

Despite all the times I feel as if I've had conversations with the generally brilliant essayist Katha Pollitt, it turns out I really don't know her. For last week she wrote:

I know a lot of people who supported Obama, and every time I see them I ask how they think he's doing. The only people I've found who've given up on him, who feel betrayed, misled, and foolish, are those leftists who didn't like him in the first place and voted for him in a weak moment as the lesser evil.

She was writing this in response to fellow-Nation writer Naomi Klein, who set up a taxonomy of hopefiends and hopelash (that my fellow-blogging and drinking friend TL has also addressed at The Average Man). And while I agree with many of the points in Pollitt's essay--she's always so reasonable--I think she's discounting people like me who did like Obama in the first place.

Yeah, yeah I know--it's all about me. But I do feel a bit misled, despite the good things Obama's done (Pollitt lists them well). For I find it harder to dismiss what she does in one quick sentence: "Like everyone, I'm worried about the bailout, Iraq and Afghanistan." First, everyone isn't worried. Second, those of us who are worried are worried for all sorts of reasons. I refuse to get lumped into the batch of crazy tea-baggers angry enough to know something is wrong but not smart enough even to choose a name for a movement that isn't instantly be-littlable. Third, isn't it all about the money in the end? I certainly didn't expect Obama to be perfect, but I did expect something better than Timothy Geithner. (I guess "change we can believe in" in means most of us get stuck with chump change while the usual elites get the bulk of the bucks.)

It's one of the reasons it's been hard for me to blog of late--I'm just not sure what's worth saying anymore. Republicans are such a dying breed they can't even keep Arlen Specter in the party, but remember he's still the guy that helped defame Anita Hill to get Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court in 1991, and we're somehow supposed to be comforted he's socially liberal. But he won't vote for union rights, of course. Like the world needs more Joe Liebermans and Ben Nelsons. Dems welcome these losers without expecting anything of them. I could imagine an 70-30 Dem-controlled Senate that was still not able to get legislation through.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

I Like to Watch...

TV producers beware--as of Thursday I have your future in my hands. You know how to reach me if you want to make offers I can't refuse to watch your shows.

And I'm totally bribable.

I mean, the 5 bucks Nielsen sends isn't enough to keep me honest.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Doc, It Hurts Me When I Blog Like This

Yesterday was my annual physical that I'm sure to get every three years, and I just have to share, as you would have known if you saw me in my little gown. Speaking of those, they really need to rethink the gown colors. The one I had to pretend I wore--c'mon, they rip off faster than costumes for a road show version of The Full Monty--was some dull tan print which simply isn't flattering. You want to look your best when a professional is judging your health.

Speaking of that, if the doctor is so smart, why does he have to ask so many questions? Deduce, my man--what is my HMO paying you for? If I were a smoker, wouldn't he be able to tell by listening to my be-cruded lungs? wouldn't the flat-out cancer-defying sexiness of my Leonard Cohen-like rasp be a hint? Now, I don't smoke, but I did have to answer when it came to drinking, which regular readers know I have been known to do (the worst part about a steady job is there's all this time you can't be drinking). Alas, this isn't like confessions back in my Catholicism days, when I'd say I disobeyed my parents and the priest would say don't do that and for your penance say 5 Hail Marys. I mean, it wouldn't hurt the Doc to say, "For your penance drink 5 Bloody Marys." I admitted Amy and I often share a bottle of wine an evening starting with our dinner. He asks, "Three glasses? two glasses?" I say, "How big a glass do you pour, Doc?" He doesn't find me funny. I mean, geez, it's my liver and brain, er, what's it you call them little brain parts you lose from drinking?

Speaking of questions, they leave a "review of systems questionnaire" for you while you undress, I guess to distract you from not being covered by the not-flattering gown. First, I don't like being a "system." If someone's going to hold a sensitive part of my body and ask me to cough, we might as well relate on a level more personal than system-to-system. This questionnaire runs through the usual red flags you don't want to have as the doctor will say they mean bad things, including the buried in a sentence "other concerns that should be discusses such as physical or sexual abuse." Guess they figure if they just sneak that in with the insomnia, you might blurt something out.

The questionnaire ends, however, with two different directions to go, one for men, one for women. Here's the whole section verbatim:

For Men:
Troubles with erection or sex, decreased urinary flow, dribbling, losing your urine, waking up frequently at night to urinate

For Women:
Breast lumps or pain, abnormal vaginal bleeding (spotting between periods, extremely heavy bleeding, or bleeding after menopause), painful sex or other sexual problems

First, is "troubles with sex" like the Irish Troubles? Is not getting enough sex trouble, or just bothersome? They really need some definitions here, or perhaps visual aids. Second, I'm pretty sure "losing your urine" is a mental problem, some sort of odd Alzheimer's--"Honey, do you know where I put my urine? I mean, I took a piss, but lord knows where I left it after that." But the most striking thing is this--the men, right up top (no pun intended) are drilled (no pun intended) about their sexual problems. Can't get it up, modern medicine, and everyone who advertises during sporting events on TV, wants to help. For women it's all about the health first. Nothing like reinforcing the notion that women are from Venus, men are from penis.

Last, there's the joy of the final moments of a check-up (and I mean up) if you're male and over 40. I'm not as very good patient in general, assuming a doctor can only tell you something's wrong, so even a physical makes me a bit nervous. Plus I have this habit of instantly assuming I have whatever sickness people talk about, so being near the sick isn't easy for me (I'm just too empathetic, with or without the "em"). So I admitted the doctor's office isn't my favorite place. Doc, finding a sense of humor (maybe it's in the glove he was suddenly wearing), says, "C'mon, this is like Disneyland! Now put your elbows on your knees."

I'm never going to Disneyland again.


Old Dog, Old Tricks

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie says, "I might be old and sometimes feeble, but I'm still in charge."


Friday Random Ten

Lene Lovich "Lucky Number" The Big Stiff Box Set
Calexico "Sarabande in Pencil Form" Carried to Dust
Billy & the King Bees "Bango" The Complete Stax-Volt Singles 1959-1968
Marshall Crenshaw "Somebody Crying" This Is Easy: The Best of Marshall Crenshaw
The Mekons "Makes No Difference" F.U.N. '90
King Kong "King Kong" Funny Farm
Graham Parker "Durbin Poison" 1989 Live! Alone in America
John Greaves "Le Gargon Vert" Little Bottle of Laundry
Outkast "Behold a Lady" Speakerboxxx/The Love Below
Kronos Quartet "Lara: Se me hizo facil" Nuevo

Trevor Pinnock "BWV 988 Variato 12 Canone alla Quarta" Bach: Goldberg Variations

Well, the last three in regulation have to set a weirdness-up-against each other record, no? Figures harpsichord would take us out. Crenshaw gets pick of the litter, with a strong second from one of my favorite songs by one group covered by one of my favorite bands.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Drive Free or Packard

As ways to get into the history books, there has to be something better than "organizing the largest automobile touring company to cross the continent" up to that date (1908). Maybe "cleaning the most frathouse toilet bowls with a toothbrush in an hour" or "eating the most food made by a tongueless, noseless chef," or "listening to James Blunt for the longest time without retching." OK, that last one is beyond human endurance, but the same might be true of a car ride for 32 days, 5 hours, and 25 minutes (of course they counted the minutes, wouldn't you?) from Pasadena to New York with 6 people including children 16, 14, and 10. But Jacob and Anna Murdock did just that, starting the trip 101 years ago this Friday. Which is how Route 101 got its name. You can't spell murder without Murdock, of course, despite what the denuded -ock might say, and the trip ended badly when Aunt Edna dies and they have to tie her to the top of the Packard. Jacob also became obsessed with Clara Bow driving a souped up carriage, but of course she was only 3 in 1908, so Jacob wound up going to jail. As for me, I need a long vacation.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You're Getting Warmer

First, it's warmer than that. Second, we find that lizards living under the thermometer is sort of cute--cold blooded critters hanging out where they can check the temp. Third, we don't dare move the thermometer from the garage wall, cause if there are like 20 lizards under there, it's no longer cute. Then it's a goddam infestation.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hollister Bags a Cooking Cat

While the ever with the scoop Restaurant Guy points out today that Chef John Pettitt, formerly of the Wine Cask, is now the chef at Santa Barbara's Hungry Cat, that's only half the story. For what happened to former Hungry Cat chef Dylan Fultineer? He's starting at, and I hope you're sitting down, Hollister Brewing Company.

What does this mean for Hollister, which after a bit of a rocky start got into a groove of solid beer-friendly typical brew pub food favorites, from good fries to tasty pizzas? Only time will tell (and more reporting, soon, at the Indy, I promise). Head brewer Eric Rose did confess that there will be beer dinners as a way to start the shift at Hollister; Rose wrote in an email "we are both committed to throw down some serious stuff. Barrel-aged imperial stout, short ribs, etc." Those who have had the good fortune to eat Fultineer's meatier creations at events like The Winehound's high end "wines you never tasted" tastings know his culinary skills are not limited to seafood.

This could be a marriage made in culinary heaven, two young talented men pushing each other with what they can do. Clearly Rose is a restless brewer, offering countless styles of beer in the brewery's almost two years of operation, from bier de tables (let's see Stone try to pull one of those off) to huge hop and alcohol bombs like Hip Hop Double IPA (there's no more pleasant bomb to blow oneself up with, btw). Matching him with a talented chef could make Hollister something special like Father's Office in LA. In fact, Fultineer, who came from Chicago's acclaimed Blackbird to work at Hungry Cat, almost had this opportunity before--he was slated to work at executive chef Paul Kahan's now flourishing Chicago gastropub Publican. Check that menu out, but beware of drooling.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

The Old Piercing Wit

I'm completely with Charles Pierce on this one, so figured might as well quote his fine prose verbatim:

I have now lived through three major episodes in my life where the political elite have told me quite plainly that neither I nor my fellow citizens are sufficiently mature to suffer the public prosecution of major crimes committed within my government. The first was when Gerry Ford told me I wasn't strong enough to handle the sight of Richard Nixon in the dock. (Ed. note--I would have thrown a parade.) Dick Cheney looked at this episode and determined that the only thing Nixon did wrong was get caught. The second time was when the entire government went into spasm over the crimes of the Iran-Contra gang and I was told that I wasn't strong enough to see Ronald Reagan impeached or his men packed off to Danbury. Dick Cheney looked at this and determined that the only thing Reagan and his men did wrong was get caught and, by then, Cheney had decided that even that wasn't really so very wrong and everybody should shut up. Now, Barack Obama, who won election by telling the country and its people that they were great because of all they'd done for him, has told me that I am not strong enough to handle the prosecution of pale and vicious bureaucrats, many of them acting at the behest of Dick Cheney, who decided that the only thing he was doing wrong was nothing at all, who have broken the law, disgraced their oaths, and manifestly belong in a one-room suite at the Hague. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm sick and goddamn tired of being told that, as a citizen, I am too fragile to bear the horrible burden of watching public criminals pay for their crimes and that, as a political entity, my fellow citizens and I are delicate flowers encased in candy-glass who must be kept away from the sight of men in fine suits weeping as they are ripped from the arms of their families and sent off to penal institutions manifestly more kind than those in which they arranged to get their rocks off vicariously while driving other men mad.

Hey, Mr. President. Put these barbarians on trial and watch me. I'll be the guy out in front of the courtroom with a lawn chair, some sandwiches, and a cooler of fine beer. I'll be the guy who hires the brass band to serenade these criminal bastards on their way off to the big house. I'll be the one who shows up at every one of their probation hearings with a copy of the Constitution, the way crime victims show up at the parole board when their attacker comes up for release. I'll declare a national holiday -- Victory Over Torture Day -- and lead the parade right up whatever gated street it is that Cheney lives on these days. Trust me, Mr. President. I can take it.


Friday, April 17, 2009

Friday Random Ten

Matthew Sweet "If Time Permits" In Reverse
The Magnetic Fields "Come Back from San Francisco" 69 Love Songs
Giant Sand "Wishing Well" Giant Sandwich
The Supremes "You Keep Me Hanging On" Heaven Must Have Sent You--The Holland/Dozier/Holland Story
Elvis Costello "Satellite" Spike
Willard Grant Conspiracy "Day Is Passed and Gone" Regard the End
The Wolverton Bros. "Posse Comitatus" Sample Some OKra
Travis "Driftwood" The Man Who
Jack Logan "Suicide Doors" Mood Elevator
Brian Eno "Burning Airlines Give You So Much More" Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)

Galaxie 500 "Oblivious" Today

Pretty darn listenable, anchored by superb Magnetic Fields and Eno.


Beachy Keen

For Dog Blog Friday: Running's easier when your legs don't touch the ground.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I ♥ Readers

I appreciate you all so much, I'm going to be sure to push the poem further down the page and spare you that. It would take more than a day to say thanks for reading, thinking, commenting, lurking, folding, spindling, and mutilating. I think that covers all 9 of you.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We Find the Body Difficult to Speak

It's poetry month, which is sort of like saying it's breathing week, but oh well. You see, I once thought I was a poet, but then decided two very important things: 1) I'd rather be happy than be a poet, 2) you can only write "language is a tool that fails us" poems for so long before you have to at least convince yourself. But poetry is everywhere, so it's one reason I don't have to write it, that it's pretentious for me to try to. Language is lovely--we're the ones who play hard to get. Still, today at a poetry reading by three fine poets (thanks, Bob, for getting me to go), I felt a bit of the old tug. So figured, hell, why not--I'll post my last poem. Bet you can guesss for whom and when I wrote it and everything.


“I don’t want to go to your party
I don’t want to talk to your friends
I don’t want to vote for your president
I just want to be your tugboat captain.”
--Galaxie 500, “Tugboat”

You would think
there are too many
wings for flying.
Cherubim, they are,
but baby bodiless,
just heaven-sent similar
faces, smiles sort of,
and wings, six, each.
Only for an age
before science said science,
let alone a mouthful
like aerodynamics. Faith
just enough to be airborne.
The busy beating of wings
must make the air furious
yet the centered religious
seem serenely at peace.
Even the angels seem
untaxed by their burden
of wing waving work.

Enough of the angels,
this is about you, my....
Enough about art,
this is.... No escape,
and to know the goodness
in that, now a prayer
punctuated by an ellipsis.

Before the tourists
the tower leaned enough
for Galileo, for gravity,
for feathers, for cannonball.
For the Church
to say enough, faith
just is an is. Yet.
So. Even words have a science
we call logic, an architecture
of questions improbably
piled and somehow pretty.
This tower they cannot
close from us, we risk
the wobble and drop,
climb to spy dizzying views,
for love is as much
hypothesis as faith,
a pulling, a falling, a proving.

No yes big enough,
no beauty artful enough,
no enough to be uttered.

May marriage be
the perspective of our love,
all dimensions possible,
all colors crisp, and beauty
off-hand and everyday
and everywhere like air
stirred by angels somehow
untangled in their overdose of wings.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Liking Your Women and Food Fast

She titled her first book--and if you look at the cover she's the one surrounded by the bananas--Easy Exotic, so it's sort of hard to yell at Padma Lakshmi for letting the sexy out of the prude barn at this point in her life. But the new "love affair with food" (her, ok, the copywriter's words) commercial for Carl's Jr. in the West, Hardee's in the East, it sort of needs some deconstructing. The always well-written Dan Neil (heck, I read about cars when it's his prose) took a shot at the commercial today in the LA Times, but that never stopped me from desiring to bring my bacon to the party. For Neil pretty much ended here:

The sexualization of fast food takes us down the same path of old cigarette advertising that showed doctors, athletes and cowboys smoking like crazy and living active, aerobically challenging lives; or beer commercials, in which everybody is as sleek as ferrets. These products have definite, measurable health consequences, and it's the job of the advertising's imagery to push these consequences as far offstage as possible.

And so you have the impossibly lean and beautiful Lakshmi wolfing down a 1,000-calorie burger. Now that's hard to swallow.

Alas, Padma more or less deep throats the burger, so I think it's more than just a "forget the calories, think sex" switch. For this ad is about getting away with it, as we can see if we pay attention to the voice over and the images separately. First, she reminisces, "There's something about the Western Bacon," leaving out it's a burger at all, or, as it painfully gets billed at the end, a Thickburger (paging Mr. Jeremy!). Turns out the burger reminds her of being in high school--which is sort of fair enough (she did go to school in the U.S.) since fast food and high school often coincide (oddly enough so does high school and visits to the dermatologist). But what Padma recalls isn't a fun time after the football game with her BFFs, it's "sneaking out before dinner to savor that sweet spicy sauce."

OK all you former high schoolers out there, what did you sneak out of the house to do? Either, drink, smoke, or get laid (all three, time permitting, of course--who said lazy teens can't multitask). Extra points if you managed to do any of the three before dinner--didn't you do sports or glee club or homework or something? It is something that Padma can get that 1000 calorie burger down before dinner, too, although perhaps all she did was (alliteration alert) savor that sweet spicy sauce. For, she says, very slowly (cause that's sexier, you know), "and leaving no evidence behind." To copy Neil, now that's hard to swallow.

I have to assume the audience for this commercial is primarily young men. While many might dream of sneaking out to savor a spicy Padma, that's just not going to happen (and will get harder with each Thickburger consumed since we have such a weight-obsessed sense of beauty). But they can substitute and have the burger she loves, and I mean loves. Beefiness is next to godliness, I guess.

For, of course, she's our eye-burger to be consumed--let's call her the Eastern Spice. One of the first shots of her in the market lines her up with ristras, a clever pun as she's one more bit of strung-up hot stuff for show. Our "author/culinary expert" is also seen amid scales all at 0, perhaps hinting at her dress size, but also giving the accurate weight of our fantasy, too. She then pops a pepper, spilling its seed, yet savors its smell in her hands (what a woman). This is followed by a voyeuristic longer shot over some melons. She continues getting her hands dirty and enjoying it.

Finally she takes her spot on a stoop, adapting a stance Larry Craig could love. the Carl's/Hardee's bag she didn't have at the farmers' market--she surely didn't get it there--suddenly appears. (How many calories can something that just appears have?) Then she digs in, and the burger must wonder, "Padma, what a big mouth you have!" The treat is so yummy she even licks the fingers on her hand that hasn't held the burger--perhaps it's some atavistic thing. She pulls out a slice of bacon, needing her pork, and that moment makes her hike her skirt up a bit more. (Note she's got a Carl's Jr version of the Big Gulp, too, so she soon will be author/culinary expert/defensive lineman I guess).

There's one long shot, emphasizing her legginess, but also a parking meter thrusts into the frame. It's really not that phallic. But after that, she's got sauce in inappropriate places--how did that get on her ankle now. But she scoops it up--remember, she leaves no evidence behind--in a shot where her head is out of the frame. For those just get in the way sometimes, especially when we're busy turning a woman into a hunk of meat. We do get to see her face again, as she holds the bursting burger, leaking its juice, at a 90 angle, so it's easier to lick up the crack between the buns. Never know what evidence might be there.

Then there's the Thickburger tag line: "More than just a piece of meat." Dan Neil takes the devil's advocate position and argues:

This was the cri de coeur of feminism back in the day, and though it refers to the burger, it is also a tweak of conscience to males slobbering over the accomplished actress-author-chef. Take that, you objectifying pig.

I know he means this only bacon-burger-in-cheek, but it's actually just the opposite that's true. Carl's Jr./Hardee's wants not Padma but the burger to be more than a piece of meat. It's an all purpose fantasy, the thing we should sneak out for to satisfy hungers only some meat can please.

Here's the ad, if you haven't seen it, the extended version. If enjoyment of your Thickburger lasts longer than 4 hours, consult a media critic. (And look out, it's so extended, so thick, it breaks the design of my blog.)

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Nothing on My Tongue But Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen is a man of contradictions--big time Buddhist, yet in his "I'm Your Man" pose he's the Canadian Jewish guy's answer to Muddy Waters (so much for renouncing need). His venerable baritone, aged and cigarette-smoked into something deeply delicious, is generally balanced by what he appropriately calls his angels--sweet-singing female back-ups (in the case of this current tour, Sharon Robinson and Charley and Hattie Webb). He might seem a relic of the 1960s--beyond Judy Collins making him famous by covering his "Suzanne," check out his album covers where he even looks like a brother to Graduate-era Dustin Hoffman--but his prophetic mode, most evinced on 1992's The Future, now nearly two-decades on seems like history (let's hope democracy is coming, someday, to the USA). Or as he so cleverly put it Friday night at the Nokia Theater in LA, "I turned to a rigorous and profound study of the religions and the philosophies but, uh, cheerfulness kept breaking through."

Cheerfulness is far too small a word for what it was like to be at the show, part of Cohen's first tour in 15 years, which means something, as his last tour was when he was 60. It doesn't hurt that he's always been an old man for rock 'n' roll--more of a folk-singer with jazz leanings, or a poet hoping to talk-sing his way into our hearts, or at least our heads, and if you're part of the female our, beds. The nine-piece band (counting the three women vocalists) rounded out his sound with just the right amount of oomph--for as good as his lyrics are, he can write some clever, simple tunes, too. So while people are quick to pick up on the cabaret-influence on "Dance Me to the End of Love" (as Madeleine Peyroux did covering it), there's the gospel haunting "If It Be Your Will," the country lope to "Closing Time," and what I like to think of as white man's bogey soul (AKA last three album Roxy Music--you can only swing so much with Andy Newmark as your drummer) in numerous tunes like "Ain't No Cure for Love." Standouts in the band included Neil Larsen on the B-3 Hammond, especially on a showy "Hallelujah" solo, and Javier Mas on Spanish guitar, giving the songs a wonderful exotic pull. I could have done a with a bit less of Dino Soldo--Cohen called him the "maestro of wind" (I thought that was our dog Nigel)--who was a bit too David Sanborn-again for my tastes.

But the show is about Cohen, who was our man for over 3 hours. What a catalog he has to draw on: he even offered up "Chelsea Hotel" and "Famous Blue Raincoat," both notably absent from the recent double CD release Live in London that pretty much captures the show if you couldn't make it. Even the patter is almost the same, which might suggest a certain inflexibility, but I like to think of it as a Buddhist exercise, an attempt to make each omm mean as much or more as the last. He certainly never seemed to coast, often beginning a song crouched down, rising up into it as it built and grew. Cohen also liked to focus on the musician most in conversation with him at any point, a kind of on stage seduction that seemed to draw even more out of his talented crew.

He is sort of a religious figure, after all, and not just because he's worshipped by generations, now, from feeling '60s sisters to '80s Nick Cave-loving punks to '00s bohos who think the old cool cat cuts a fine figure in his fedora. It's that he embodies our world so well, sensing exactly why we need to be depressed (his songs have been dropping class warfare critiques for decades before Geithner gave our moolah away) and therefore exactly why we need to sing. It's always closing time, and if the gates of love budge an inch, that's something, isn't it.

Sure enough it will end as he put it:

But you'll be hearing from me baby, long after I'm gone
I'll be speaking to you sweetly
From a window in the tower of song

Here's "Democracy" from the Live in London DVD, to give you a bit of the flavor of the fine evening:


Friday, April 10, 2009

There's a Hog in the Dog at the Bottom of the Bed

Bonus for Dog Blog Friday: The boys are at work with me, and have now settled down, but at first we had this little problem--Nigel wanted both beds. Mookie was displeased.


Beach Blanket Dingo

For Dog Blog Friday: And then Athena, AKA Nigel, burst out of Zeus, AKA Mookie. Or the alien burst out of William Hurt. Or something like that.


Friday Random Ten

Feist "Gatekeeper" Let It Die
The Embarrassment "Train of Thought" Time for a Change--Bar/None Sampler #2
John Cale "Fear Is a Man's Best Friend" The Island Years
Sleater-Kinney "One More Hour" Dig Me Out
Yo La Tengo "Night Falls on Hoboken" And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out
Ed's Redeeming Qualities "Falls Church, Virginia" It's All Good Times
Magnetic Fields "The Things We Did and Didn't Do" 69 Love Songs
The Minus 5 "Bought a Rope" The Minus 5
Matthew Sweet "I Wanted to Tell You" (live) Son of Altered Beast
Superchunk "Foolish" Incidental Music 1991-95

Moebius & Roedelius "Grenzganger" Apropos Cluster

Lots of goodness here after the first two okay-nesses get out of the way. Great Cale into S-K, the YLT is lengthy but interesting, the ERQ one of my fave lyrics, the Magnetic Fields and Minus 5 surprisingly strong out of their album context, then a great Sweet song done well enough live and a Superchunk song that's normally pretty buzzed and blurred. And Cluster closing with Germanic noises--why not?


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Senseless as We Want to Be

It's partially because they're athletes, a projection of all we could hope to be, physically. That's why it's such a shock, to hear the news rookie Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart was killed in a car accident last night, a few hours after his first start of the young 2009 season. We don't want any 22-year-olds to die, let alone those who just starred on our tv sets, who play a game so well it can be a job. New season, young, rookie--all things we don't expect to hear in the same sentence as death. Someone runs a red light, and that's it. We don't want death to be so sneaky, ruining our games, let alone baseball, the only major sport that can possibly go on forever.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

What's My Deal?

We've got this little occasional poker game that's more cards than gambling, as host Big Table likes to put it. Max bet is a quarter, so usually you get a good night's entertainment out of $5. Very friendly. We can't play much Texas Hold 'Em as you can't go all in. You can barely bluff people out, when the pot odds generally mean it's best to hang in on a hand. To make up for that we play many silly games, Baseball, with its two wild cards and chance to purchase extra cards, Crossroads, with all those cards in play, 7-Card No Peek, as it keeps drama up. We always close with Liar's Poker, a whopping $6-take-all pot to the best liar.

My luck, it comes and goes.

Last Friday it came more than a movie star in the San Fernando Valley. (Boy, that was an ugly metaphor.) I drew a 7 card straight in No Peek, going above and beyond in winning that hand. I split every high-low pot, it seemed. Playing Utah, one fellow player practically had the pot in his hands with a straight flush, till I broke out my five deuces.

Then I won Liar's, too, not even losing one of my stacks in the process. An unsullied lucky liar I was.

But as the night progressed I found the perfect way not to be a bad winner. First, always ante for the table when you're on a run. Second, convince yourself everyone there, friends all (it's that sort of game), knows you've got something horribly wrong with you and they're letting you win to be nice. As in last nice. Poor guy, give him one last poker thrill. That they'd need to be Ricky Jay with the dealing skills doesn't matter; I'm still sort of convinced it was all a plot. But luck's like that, and I'd rather assume I have it in friends than in spades.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Busy Belgian All Afternoon

So we decided to really put the fest in Pizza Port's 2009 Belgian Beer Festival this year, and that means I have to thank all the people I knew there drinking along with me--Amy, Debby, Larry, Ken (all the way from SF, so he wins a prize), Chryss, Patrick, Robin, Kate. I also need to thank someone who helped put the Belgian beer in me. The basic set up is you pay your entrance fee and get 8 tickets for 4 oz. tastes. You can buy additional tickets. But we didn't have to as we were there for about a half hour when brewer extraordinaire Eric Rose from Hollister Brewing, who was featuring his tasty Hollister Abbey Dubbel, was on his way out, saw us, and promptly dumped a good 20 extra tickets in our hands. Than meant sampling heaven. For, as you can tell from the picture, there was no way to sample everything. (Well, you can't tell everything from the picture, as it's not detailed enough so that you can see the alcohol levels on these beers--many ran 8% or higher. Those monks don't fuck around.) There were 25 choices on tap, and another 92 in bottle. It was almost intimidating, approaching the bar--it was enough to make me feel like an AIG exec on bonus day, but I didn't have to shower my soul. And if I did, I could have showered it in something lovely like Russian River's Consecration, aged in Cabernet barrels, a winy, sour, but very dry-finishing treat. Or Ellezelloise Hercule Stout, deep and dark and earning a "wow" as my note (one of the few I can read--my handwriting in general stinks, and my guess is the beer didn't help any, either).

There were so many highlights that it might end up sounding like a kindergarten "all our kids are special" roll call. Of course you have to like the sour--I opted to open with something classic, a Rodenbach Grand Cru, which I found a complex delight, but others in our group soured on its sourness. Then there were fascinating oddballs (no, not the group I was with!) like a Baladin Al-Iksir, made in Italy, but a strong Belgian ale made with Islay whiskey yeast. Packing a surprising amount of fizz, and then more malty sweetness than I expected, which got pleasantly cut by the whiskey overtones (like a Belgian beer boilermaker with Lagavullin or something).

And we drank, and laughed, and seemed extra witty. And drank some more. Ate some pizza. Tried sips from everyone else's tastes, so got more of a handle on things that more or less slipped away as we got more. Just more. You've had Belgian beer, haven't you?

My official last beer, lucky 13, was a Pizza Port San Clemente Faceplant, as you have to end hours of drinking with a faceplant. Zippy with coriander and orange zest, it wasn't the best of the day, but at that point I wasn't probably, either.

Other beers tasted:
Gouden Carolus Hopsinjoor
St. Bernardus Abt 12 (6 liter bottle)
St. Feuillien (3 liter bottle)
Russian River Beatification (3 liter bottle)
Alvinne Podge Imperial Stout
De Dolle Oerbier
Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca
Kerkom Winter King
Malheur Dark Brut
Mikkeller/De Proef Monk's Brew

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Monday, April 06, 2009

Neither a Geithner Nor Lender Be

A huge hat tip to Mike at Mike's Neighborhood for pointing to the clarifying, scarifying interview Bill Moyers conducted with William K. Black--the economics scholar who helped expose the Keating Five (hi, Senator McCain!)--last week. Just go read the whole thing. But here's one of my favorite chunks:

There's a saying that we took great comfort in. It's actually by the Dutch, who were fighting this impossible war for independence against what was then the most powerful nation in the world, Spain. And their motto was, "It is not necessary to hope in order to persevere."

So we learn, once again, perhaps the best journalist in the U.S. is Bill Moyers. And we learn, again, Geithner has got to go.


You've Got to Win to Be Saved

I know it's only day one of a very long season. But it's still great to see:

S. Green (H, 1)
J.J. Putz (H, 1)
F. Rodriguez (S, 1)

and not (sorry Arizona):

S. Schoeneweis (BS, 1)


Friday, April 03, 2009

Brighter than Nothing, Smarter than Nobody

A little something for the weekend. This song popped up on the random when I was drowning out James Blunt today, and it reminded me why I loved it so back in the day. Can't think of another tune that so captures torpor yet it drives so much that you know there might be hope he can break out of it. Maybe. Listening with the headphones on leaves you mighty insulated.

Still, for paralysis to be expressed so forcefully (even on acoustic guitar!) has to mean something. Too bad the lyrics aren't easier to hear on this version. If you don't know the song, there's this clip that has the original audio from President Yo La Tengo with images the person though fit. (oh well) And the homeboy in me has to relish how Ira lets his New Jersey out when he sings "dawn."

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Open Your Mouth and Say "Pill"

For Dog Blog Friday: We get to see Nigel a lot like this, so figured you should too.


Friday Random Ten

Golden Smog "V" Rykodisc 15th Anniversary Sampler
Le Grande Ecurie et la Chambre du Roy "Royal Fireworks. I. Overture" Handel: Music for the Royal Fireworks
Pixies "Distance Equals Rate Times Time" Trompe le Monde
Graham Parker & the Rumour "Back to Schooldays" Passion Is No Ordinary Word--The Graham Parker Anthology
Bob Mould "Sacrifice/Let There Be Peace" Black Sheets of Rain
Nick Lowe "Lover's Jamboree" Basher--The Best of Nick Lowe
Freedy Johnston "I'm Not Hypnotized" Never Home
Kate Jacobs "Because I Have Forgiven Everyone" Hydrangea
Yo La Tengo "One Self: Fish Girl" Genius+Love=Yo La Tengo
Pavement "Flux=Rad" Wowee Zowee

Maximum Joy "Stretch" (Disco Mix/Rap) Rough Trade Shops: Post Punk Vol 01

A lot of the singer-songwriter, a trip to Hoboken, a song and an album with mathematical symbols. Not my best, but certainly interesting.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

For They're Jolly Young Oberkfellows

It was fantasy baseball draft night, and I know hearing someone talk about his fantasy baseball team is about as exciting as watching dry paint (yes, it's past the point of the action of the paint drying), but I beg your indulgence. Plus it's my blog.

We get to carry over 7 players from season to season, so that's fun but hard, as it's sometimes tough to kiss young guys goodbye you know will be good but can't hold over people good now. So I had Brandon Webb as a rookie, Tim Lincecum as a rookie, etc. but a lot of good they do me now. The freezers also mean you don't start each year's draft until the best (supposedly) 84 players are already off the board. That's a tad unsettling.

In the meantime, in draft order, here are your 2009 Oberkfellows:

1. Johan Santana SP
2. David Wright 3B
3. José Reyes SS
4. Miguel Cabrera 1B,3B
5. Brian McCann C
6. Manny Ramírez LF
7. Kelly Johnson 2B
8. Matt Kemp CF,RF
9. Javier Vázquez SP
10. Justin Upton RF
11. Rich Harden SP
12. Yovani Gallardo SP
13. John Danks SP
14. Frank Francisco RP
15. Lastings Milledge CF
16. Max Scherzer SP,RP
17. Travis Snider LF,RF
18. Heath Bell RP
19. Billy Butler 1B
20. Cristian Guzmán SS
21. Mike Lowell 3B
22. Brad Ziegler RP
23. Cody Ross LF,CF,RF
24. Tommy Hanson SP
25. Mike Fontenot 2B
26. Kenshin Kawakami SP
27. Dexter Fowler CF
28. Russell Branyan 3B

Themes? Mostly young with upside. Lots and lots of starters early, as that's what I had little of. Some position flexibility. Too many Braves starting pitchers for a Mets fan. A team Baseball Prospectus could love, I think.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Alas, I See Neither Julie Christie or Alan Bates*

So today I got my first paycheck at the new federal tax rates that are supposed to incentivize the economy. And I use the ugly word incentivize on purpose, as language should be mucky for stuff like this. I am making a whopping $66.71 more a month.

Today is also the day that the California state sales tax goes up 1%, which means in Santa Barbara County it's 8.775%.

I feel wonderful being the middleman in the federal to state fund transfer system.

*It will take you longer to get this allusion than it will to read this entry. Sorry.


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