Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Nothing Could Be Finer than to Be in Argentina in the Morning

Right now, Bill Clinton is thinking, "Damn! Why didn't I think of that?" For here's more (thanks AP) from Mark Sanford, who now seems as loose with his lips as he was with his zipper: "This was a whole lot more than a simple affair, this was a love story. A forbidden one, a tragic one, but a love story at the end of the day."

See, Republicans take the high road even when they cheat on their wives--they fall in love. No simple boning for them. (Although if he blames the affair on Piazzolla playing in the background, I'll personally fly to South Carolina and punch him out.)

All Clinton had to do was say he loved Monica Lewinsky and everything would have been alright. Not that Democrats can love, since they think people of the same gender can love each other and they think sex is for something other than procreation. (You don't see Palins making that mistake now, do you.)

And I have to make one very obscure film reference, but it's funny to the both of you who will get it (not that those people probably read this blog, but oh well, I have a forbidden tragic love for this joke). The AP story says:

Sanford, who also admitted meeting his lover more times than he had previously claimed, told The Associated Press in emotional interviews that he "crossed lines" with a handful of other women during 20 years of marriage.

Gee, did he go to a cadet school in Indiana run by Ray Milland? ("Have you heard the story of the Maginot Line?...")


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Crash Course

We know David Mamet is fond of stacking the deck, given he's buddy-buddy with Ricky Jay, given his plot-twisters like House of Games and The Spanish Prisoner. He stacks it nowhere more than in his 1992 play Oleanna, which is currently being revived at the Mark Taper in Los Angeles. A two-hander (starring the equally compelling Julia Stiles and Bill Pullman) about a college professor and the student who seems intent on ruining him, the play, when written, became a litmus test for a post Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill he said/she said world. Carol is a struggling college student, not even sure the professor believes she should be in college. John is a professor about to get tenure, about to buy a bigger house, about himself more than anything. He can write a book calling the university process for all students hazing and still hope the university will promote him--as his book jacket has it, he is a man of "polite skepticism."

Mamet, however, is an impolite cynic. While John finally opts to try to help Carol--mostly, it seems so he can prove to himself he can really teach anyone, even a student who says she doesn't understand his book, he's that full of himself--Carol finds a very different path to get around her lack of understanding. Oleanna is sort of like a word noir, eventually, and whoever holds the language asks the questions. That means John's hand on Carol's shoulder to comfort her is suddenly something much more. And comfort is the least of anyone's concerns.

John relishes reason so he believes he can use it to find fault with the university system while profiting from it. Carol, meanwhile, finds strength in her "group," which, given the language/jargon she suddenly finds accessbile, seems to be composed of feminists that might make Andrea Dworkin seem moderate (it's completely a straw woman argument, but what else do you expect from Mamet?). The rest of the play is reason v. fundamentalism, and as we know, reason never stands a chance there. Check either 9/11 or eight years of Bush for evidence, if you'd like. The escalating violence as the play continues simply stresses Mamet's belief language only goes so far--it's at best the patter that gets us through the cons of our lives, most often just veneer that keeps society social, too often exposed for how little it means.

The current Taper production features what almost seems an off note, as the blinds to John's office hyper-dramatically rise and fall between acts as a clearly taped and heavily mechanical sound effect plays. What is it that we view we see? What is it that we see we know? That's what the blinds ask, sort of a chorus. As for the actual actors, Pullman makes John just enough pedantic but just enough insecure, full of pauses and tics. It's easy to believe he's a man who is uncertain of his standing enough that he puffs himself up to make up for it. Stiles has the tougher role, but essays it well. In the first act there's enough defiance in her confusion that's it's not totally surprising when she suddenly grows strong when accepted by her "group." And while the staging doesn't play up her attractiveness, her good looks are sort of crucial--it would be a very different play if people might question whether John might sexual harass the student. That might even been Mamet's ultimate insider joke--the only way Carol can prove herself to the patriarchy is to make them be men first and foremost.

For Mamet, it's not just Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus, it's that all humankind has its head up Uranus.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Everybody Say, Is He All Right?

For Dog Blog Friday: That's not Montgomery Clift, honey, but it is the right profile.


Friday (Somewhat) Random Ten

For this week, decided to take a cue, two weeks late, from Tom at If I Ran the Zoo, and so here's a random ten only from 2009 adds, just over 900 in number (which means it can be music from pre-2009, of course):

Richard Thompson "Sunset Song" 2008-10-04 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Golden Gate Park San Francisco
Peter Blegvad "Powers in the Air" The Naked Shakespeare
Nickel Creek "Best of Luck" Paste Magazine Sampler 17
Los Fakires "Mira El Bodeguero" Mi Casa Su Casa
The Pipettes "Guess Who Ran Off with the Milkman?" Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me ep
Moonlight Towers "I Sleep Alone" Paste Magazine Sampler 19
The Pipettes "A Winter's Sky" We Are the Pipettes
A.C. Newman "Take on Me" Sweetheart
Cotton Jones "I Am the Changer" Paranoid Cocoon
Shannon McArdle "Summer of the Whore" Summer of the Whore

Ida Maria "Keep Me Warm" Keep Me Warm

"Say someone stole a line from Ezra Pound/ Whose to say it hadn't lay their for centuries/ waiting to be found." That's very true, I've found, as there aren't too many "pop" lines that might earn the Hugh Kenner seal of approval. And yes, I did finally add all those Paste Mag cds I had for a few years. And yes, that is A.C. Newman doing a-ha. Damn well.


Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ox Me No More Questions

Charles Newbold knew he had to be an inventor or he'd let his surname down. What's more, Newbold didn't settle for inventing the bong/vibrator that finally lays to rest the question "do you smoke after sex?" or the weed cutting golf club that allowed duffers to say "rough? what rough." Nope, Newbold opted to be Mr. Plow. For on Friday 212 years ago he patented the cast iron plow. (Note: if you patent something, do it on a Friday so you have a weekend to celebrate.) Oxen were pulling for (haha) the plow to be made of Styrofoam, of course, but no one had yet invented the ox-voice-decoder, so their grunts were hard to understand. While his invention broke new ground, the cast iron plow didn't sprout up like weeds on farms throughout the land as farmers worried cast iron would poison the ground. In fact, many complained loudly about that as they spread the latest fertilizer from Monsanto.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hollywood Parties Like It's 1939

Sorry I have barely blogged for nearly 48 hours, but I was busy on the Appalachian Trail. I mean, I've spent hours discovering that I can't be a Republican or a Christian since I don't cheat on my wife. I would blog something about Iran, but I don't know anything to act like I do. And who would go on and on about what the U.S. should be doing without some knowledge? Oh, yeah, more reasons I'm not a Christian Republican.

But I do know something about movies--I've even seen some--so let's talk about those. Today the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (or AMPAS, which only sounds like it should be pronounced Ample Ass) announced it's going to have 10 films nominated for Best Picture starting next year. Surely that means even better best films will win the Oscar; after all, 11 Republicans ran for President in 2008 and look how that turned out. Plus, that means the cinematic equivalent of Duncan Hunter can soon say "Oscar nominated." Basically, I think this change means the Razzies are out of business.

Of course Hollywood sees this as a win-win-winfinitum. More films get to brag. More ad campaigns get to be run. (Yes, this might mean that someday soon all that will be left of the LA Times is the Envelope tab. Joe Pulitzer is more-or-less on permanent rotisserie in his grave.) More big studio films will get nom nods, including genre step-children from comedies to Michael Bay-blow-shit-up-fests. It will be easier to deny how middlebrow Oscar is when pictures like The Reader (Kate Winslet as your favorite naked Nazi!) can be diluted in a pool of, well, all the spit Harvey Weinstein can fleck. Pixar will never longer have to be piqued. There will be no more dark (k)nights for Christopher Nolan. TV will be happy, as the Oscar telecast will now have to be a miniseries. They'll have to get Richard Chamberlain to host.

AMPAS is trying to suggest this is simply a return to tradition, as even 12 films were nominated in Oscar's early years. But to pretend that the state of filmaking today is what it was in 1939 is historically hysterical. There is no studio system now that give a moderately talented hack like Victor Flemming the opportunity to make a Wizard of Oz. There was no TV, then, let alone computers etc. to distract everyone from the distractions that Hollywood wanted us to be distracted by.

Plus, ten 1939 nominees still didn't do the trick--where was Midnight or Only Angels Have Wings or Gunga Din or The Women? And if you want to dump on that last one as simply a stagy campfest, then please tell me, would you rather have the George Cukor version or the Diane English? And we need more films nominated why? Just to keep Meg Ryan in botox?


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Things I Do So You Don't Have To

Turns out you can get a splinter from a stone.


Monday, June 22, 2009

When Yeast and Cheese Aim to Please

You know an event has to be a jim-dandy if at some point you think, "If I was a cheese, would you wash me in beer?" and that's exactly what happened this evening at the Beer & Cheese Tasting at C'est Cheese, co-sponsored by Hollister Brewing Company. (Digression, as if every one of my sentences doesn't suffer from at least one, as this poor sentence even has: it might just seem like all I do is eat, drink, cook, make drinks, and write about eating and drinking. That's just how this blog rolls of late, if rolls might be an unfortunate term. The sell-out on health care "reform," say, by the people who are most supposed to be like me politically is just too painful to discuss...without another drink.)

Turns out, as you might know, the good monks and the lay people they hire who are rumored to be even better than the holy folk (no comment from the agnostic gallery, promise) at Chimay in Belgium not only make terrific ales--as Hollister brewer Eric Rose said "the reason you see it everywhere is because it's perfect"--but also cheeses. The most common one to be imported into the U.S. has a washed rind, bathed in Chimay Blue. Hence my opening query, which, alas, didn't get as enthusiastic a response from Amy as I had hoped. I think she'd prefer the tasty cheese to a cheesy husband.

Or one that takes copious notes through an utterly delicious tasting. Part of that is that Kathryn from C'est Cheese and Eric from Hollister are so excited about what they do (and they darn well better be--they sell beer and cheese!) that they impart factoids without pain, so you learn stuff as all the good food and drink go down. But they also simply nail pairings, like the Morbius Double IPA (Rose's latest creation) matched with Shropshire Blue, for as Rose says, "salty foods need hoppy beers." TNT needs a detonator cap, too, but couldn't match this pair for explosive flavor. And then there was my favorite match of the evening (if neither was my favorite cheese or beer--now that shows the complexity of this synergy thing)--Midnight Moon with Allagash Dubbel. Kathryn said she felt the sweet saltiness from the goat's milk cheese brought out the chocolate notes in the beer, but I felt it was more a deep caramel, and for me caramel is a sort of taste safety blanket, so you can't top that (and don't take it away from me or I'll cry).

Obviously, this time around the 5 pairings didn't just feature Hollister Brewing beer, but also beers Rose helped C'est Cheese choose to sell itself. So along with that Allagash Dubbel and Chimay Blue (from the 5 liter bottle, too! they spoiled us so) we had Ommegang Hennepin, which got us so close to the valley girls and gals saying "O-my-gang!" but that's probably not as much a joke near where the beer comes from, Cooperstown, NY. And then I learned there's a Belgium Comes to Cooperstown Beer Festival, which means amazing beer and the Baseball Hall of Fame in the same little town. If I ever do get to go, I might just tremor, fall over, and die of too much joy at one time, the non-sexual version of that me, Neko Case, Julie Delpy threesome. But, like, possible.

Sorry, now that you're all too grossed out to keep reading.... That Ommegang, a wonderful saison style ale, lit up with champagne-like notes for the creamy goodness that is La Tur, the cheese so nice, they had to milk animals thrice--it's made with cow, sheep, and goat cheese. (Kathryn calls it "the scrubby effect of carbonation.") Then there was one more Hollister beer, Rose's new Belgian Country Ale that he says, "Shows the difference between a farmhouse and a saison...bascially I ripped it off from my friends at Russian River." Given as much as I like Perdition in Santa Rosa, it's a 6 hour plus drive, so being able to get an excellent facsimile in Goleta is a big plus. That beer matched well with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, a new cheese to the store from Vermont, pleasingly pungently cheddar-like, but trading in some of those more ammonia-y after-tones some English cheddars can have for some lovely nuttiness (which the Belgian yeasties--I believe that's the technical term--helped accentuate).

Afterward, we still felt a bit peckish, so picked up some sushi to take home from the ever-reliable Ahi and washed that down sharing a bottle from dear Michigan beer friend Smitty--a New Holland Brewing Golden Cap Saison. It fit the rest of the Belgian-dominated night like a beer named cap caps a fine evening. And it was.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

I Put a Spell On You

A little something for your weekend--he had a run of great songs for awhile there nearly, uh, 30 years ago, didn't he? And even in this more recent clip, you can't go wrong with Brinsley Schwarz and Steve Goulding backing you up.


How Pillow Can You Go

For Dog Blog Friday: The king of comfortable.


Friday Random Ten

Laurie Anderson "Washington Street" Life on a String
Fenton Robinson "You Don't Know What Love Is" The Alligator Records 20th Anniversary Collection
Mikel Rouse "Candy Cane" Music for Minorities
Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong "They All Laughed" Our Love Is Here to Stay: Ella & Louis Sing Gershwin
Portastatic "The Soft Rewind" Bright Ideas
Shawn Colvin "You and the Mona Lisa" A Few Small Repairs
PJ Harvey "Beautiful Feeling" Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Fountains of Wayne "Barbara H." Fountains of Wayne
Old 97's "Old Familiar Steam" Wreck Your Life
Son Volt "Creosote" Straightaways

Los Super Seven "Talk to Me" Heard It on the X

Back to that old standby, lesser tracks by greater artists.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

How I Day-ed Your Father

Friday is the 99th anniversary of Father's Day, which you would think would make it Grandfather's Day at the least by now but what do I know having not spawned myself. (People have made colorful suggestions to me along those lines--"go spawn yourself, George"--but I've never taken them up on it. Or do I mean take myself up on it?) Prior to 1910 there were no fathers, but on the other hand storks had more work. Of course, it's hard to fit more than one stork on your hand, unless it's a baby stork, or storkling, as they're called, but not by their fathers, at least not before 1910. Unable to get "I Am Not a Crook" Day approved by Congress, President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of Father's Day in 1972. Luckily we do not have to call it Tricky Dick's Father's Day. Although the Monday after the third Sunday in June is still called "Scrub Till It Hurts in the Shower" Day in many states, perhaps the queasy one you're no doubt in right now.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I'm Waiting for the Expiration Sampler

Is it just me, or have the ads alongside Yahoo Mail got more and more provocative of late? Here's one that popped up (no pun intended) this morning. And while it might be a lovely idea that undie-clad Russian hotties were staring at their cellphones waiting for my ring (if I were a single man, of course), I know better. Plus it's hard to trust anyone who offers me a "free trial dream marriage." They might not get what's supposed to be the point of marriage. And anyone says marriage is a trial, just go read Sandra Tsing Loh's new Atlantic articles and be happy, I guess.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Everybody Wants to See Gerty McDowell's Underpants

It's not just Bloomsday but it's also the day I put the counter on my blog back in 2006 (almost 2 years into this ever-burgeoning mass o' words). And, if you count visitors including reloads, and I'll take all the loads I can get, 264,983 people have surfed on up upon INOTBB's sour shores in just the last 3 years. And a quarter million people can't be wrong. Even if a good 100,000 of those have to be me opening my own blog page each day (but I kicked this off with a play on Nausicaä, so that's kind of fitting, no?).

This momentous occasion, and Bloomsday, means it's time once again for poetry with the most common, and when they search they put the common in common, search words that get people to INOTBB. So here goes:

the morganna bandit kissing king
tut blog not audrey tatou julie and nude
one blogspot newmar drunk
bellucci monica but
you barbara santa wife
calcutta roberts morgana twins
ass siamese for nubiles
jenna jannel poison durbin hastert
that szyszka george with lauderdale
what sex over dennis
pictures finger clock debt dog


Monday, June 15, 2009

My Favorite Waste of Time

I don't care what anyone says, pop isn't short for popular. Exhibit A: Marshall Crenshaw. Sure he dented the Top 40 in 1982 with "Someday, Someway" but that's so long ago I got to interview him while still a college radio DJ in the depressingly decrepit dressing room of the old 930 Club. He never took off his dark glasses as he probably didn't want to give away his impatience with a dopey 19-year-old.

But now a dopey, older man, that his debut album wasn't what oh, say, Thriller was, still makes absolutely no sense to my ears. Marshall Crenshaw is 12 perfect cuts of straight-ahead rock and roll, perhaps a bit too roll-y for some, too straight-ahead for others. No cut is longer than 3:10, and not surprisingly, it's always third verse same as the first--it's practically neo-classical, in spots. Its obsession, as well as the title of its third song, is girls, but the one he most longs for is cynical (never mind they'll be lost in love, sung to notes that begs you to wag your head from side-to-side). He even covers a Beatles song know one has ever heard and it fits right in. We're talking Beatles 1963.

For there's that line Robert Christgau used to delineate similarly archival sorts Rockpile: "Nick Lowe loves rock and roll for everything it implies as culture while Dave Edmunds loves it for everything it is as music." Marshall Crenshaw loves it for everything, period. He's penned a book on rock and roll in the movies, penned a tune for the movies (the title song from Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), and he's written more memorable melodies, more hummable hooks, more heavenly harmonies, more rapturous riffs than most. And has bupkus to show for it beyond the admiration of old farts like me who got moved by Marshall Crenshaw and Field Day back in the day to the point where his just released album is called Jaggedland.

Crenshaw is going to play SOhO tomorrow/Tuesday night, and I'll be there. Hoping he's with a band, remembering all those shows with his initial power pop (sorry, he hates that phrase but I mean it in the great lineage of folks like Alex Chilton, Tommy Keene, Matthew Sweet) trio of his brother, a true excitable boy, on drums and Chris Donato on bass. Hoping to hear, once again, ear worms I don't mind burrowing into my brain.

In the meantime, someone on YouTube recently posted some vintage Crenshaw (with a band of 5!) that's too good not to include:

Notice here the cliched lines "As life goes on, as time goes by," are meant to be cliches--you can sense the persona singing them hoping to convince himself. That's why we listen to pop songs in the first place, no? Tell us what we want to hear and make it sound simple, sound purty.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Ab Fab(io)

Top Chef Season Five Fan Favorite (he joked "that meant I didn't win") Fabio Viviani stopped in Santa Barbara last night to help raise money for CALM. That he did, at a $100 ticket price plus auctioning himself off--for cooking not canoodling, ladies--for two private dinners for a cool $7 grand total. And let's put it this way, his continental charm wasn't edited in by the Bravo TV folks--he's sort of Chico Marx in a much prettier package and a chef's coat.

To be honest, the actual cooking demos weren't much, as he had merely a burner he almost dumped from the table once, but he did insist that anyone can cook, so the simplified dishes--Caprese with heirloom tomatoes and pesto dressing, amatriciana, and veal salad-- made a sort of sense for his message, too. (We got to eat deftly prepared versions put together by Cynthia Miranda of Elements Catering.) He brought along the equally Italian and dashing Jacapo Falleni, one of his compadres from his Moorpark restaurant Cafe Firenze, to make matched cocktails that were actually more involved than Fabio's dishes, even if Jacapo had to steal Fabio's balsamic glaze to pull of his balsamic martini. After Jacapo's first demo, Fabio quipped, "Hey, I saw that exact same thing on Sandra Lee!" and that became his running joke for his co-worker, as he later, talking about the ease of his recipes, riffed, "Forget 30 minute meals, we're going to outdate Rachel Ray. It's 15 minutes meals with Fabio, 15 minutes drinks with Sandra Lee!"

And yes, he said minutes. His battles with English, which he's spoken for a mere three-and-a-half-years, only add to his charm, as when he related he tried to order pine nuts but instead got a "big bag of what the monkeys eat." That doesn't mean he's not savvy, though. He wanted to let us see his carefully arranged Caprese but knew if he tilted the plate for too long, the pesto's olive oil would turn into a runny disaster: "Then you're going to put on Facebook that my salad looked a mess."

In general, though, he exuded charm and made good food seem a simple, comforting, comfortable thing. While he joked, "This is tactics: if you can't convince them, confuse them," little he did puzzled. Instead, it seemed perfect common sense, as when he said, "People ask, 'How do I know when my wine is reduced?' And I say, 'When it's no longer there.' Cook is a simple procedure."

Some other choice Fabio-isms:

On pesticides: "If I find a little snail in my lettuce at a restaurant, I'm happy. Today is a rare gift to find something alive in your salad."

On salads: "I don't think there's any reason to eat vegetables if there's meat around."

On artichokes: "The very first twenty leaves of an artichoke not even a goat can eat one of those."

On grinding one's own pepper: "You get to go to the gun show [points at his biceps] after the pepper."

On tossing a pan's contents, not stirring: "I toss everything. I can't wait to have the kids to toss them in the trolley."

On avoiding calories: "They have light ranch dressing in the supermarket. C'mon, this is like a light hangover, like a light punch in the face."


Your Swimming Pool Eyes in Sea Breezes They Flutter

For Dog Blog Friday: Yes, at times we stare at them in wonder.


Friday Random Ten

Waco Brothers "Make Things Happen" Electric Waco Chair
The Schramms "Side of the Road" Little Apocalypse
Sleater-Kinney "Jumpers" The Woods
Charlie Musselwhite "Harlem Nocturne" Rough News
Bright Eyes "Method Acting" Lifted, Or the Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
The Paley Brothers and the Ramones "Come on Let's Go" Just Say Sire: The Sire Records Story
Freedy Johnston "Until the Sun Comes Back Again" Blue Days, Black Nights
Lene Lovich "I Think We're Alone Now" The Big Stiff Box Set
Elbow "Buttons and Zips" Cast of Thousands
Andrew Bird "Not a Robot, But a Ghost" Noble Beast

Luna "Sideshow by the Seashore" Luna ep

Yes, that's a Lucinda Williams cover. Yes, Dave Schramm is the best guitarist no one knows. Not a bad list, and the best is left for the bonus: "And all the comfort in words, provide no comfort. We can all go mad together, that's what friends are for."


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Always Late to the Party Even If It's a Party of One

There are some songs that just sort of get frozen in time as that time and nothing says 1982-83 for me more than New Order's "Temptation." Must have played that 7" version, my favorite then and yes there are numerous versions oh you of little NO-knowledge, a billion times, back when there was this wonderful thing called a turntable to play it on. It probably didn't hurt part of my infatuation time with the song paralleled an infatuation with a woman, and cad that I was in my youth I left another woman for her, changing the famous lyrics to "oh you've got blue eyes, oh you've got blue eyes" (seems I've always had the blue-eyed bug).

Then, years later the song floated up during one of the most gorgeous chapters in Daniel Handler's wildly clever Adverbs, not that he mentions New Order themselves, just lets us do that, pop peeking up at us from his perfect prose as a teen at the multiplex crushes on one of his co-workers.

And now there's this, what's almost a hippie-dippy celebration of the tune (we'll get to Jenny Owen Youngs in a bit...).

I guess it's only fair to let New Order have their song themselves, but it's them doing it more recently, rocking in their middle-aged old-sod-dom instead of their youthful asshole-punk-dom. Saw them live back in 1984 and it was a disaster of drunks not communicating with each other--later learned that Peter Hook came out late as he was passed out backstage. Still, anyone around 20 in the early 1980s probably has some of these basslines permanently implanted in his or her brainwaves.

But then there are covers you don't know are covers. I wound up actually following some of my blog links I don't check too regularly, given so many of my regular stops haven't been blogging regularly (you un-blog, accused), and at Addicted to Vinyl I discovered Jenny Owen Youngs and felt really dumb (this happens regularly). Her own songs are great--go check out this video, for instance--but this one below really got me. Then I found out it's a Nelly song, which means nothing to me as I pay no attention to anything more than 50 people like. But this I do like, so take off all your clothes and enjoy (it is practically Solstice in SB, so parading naked is called for):


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oh Moi God!

One of the last lines for me to cross in the kitchen has been cooking whole fish, if for no other reason than knowing juvenile-humored me might giggle through the delicate if unfortunately named operation de-boning, lose control of the knife, and cut myself in a fit of silly sniggering. That could only get worse when confronted with Polydactylus sexfilis on my cutting board. Luckily, I hadn't met the fish in Latin until just now, for the wonderful worker at Kanaloa was just willing to introduce me to moi as a special, snapper-like fish from Hawaii. That's moi as in oy, not moi as in bwaah (and yes, I just tried to make a Raving Rabbids joke, a wii little joke, you might say). The worker at the fish shop told us she was from Hawaii herself and was amazed they had the fish in, and was taking some home for herself.

Once we saw them, beautifully silver and spotted, and were told the store could scale and gut them, we could not take a couple home.

Sure enough, I had remembered seeing a gorgeous whole fish recipe in one of our cookbooks, and off I went in search of that. Should have figured it would be in Gordon Hammersley's Bistro Cooking at Home, one of our favorites (which includes our go-to roast chicken recipe and our go-to braised short ribs recipe). We tinkered a bit with it--subbing in fresh shiitakes for the dried--but otherwise, his snapper became our moi. Nothing like cooking with a sauce rich in Chinese five-spice to make the house itself seem edible. But then there were sugar snap peas and bok choi and ginger and garlic and scallion and red pepper and finally fish after baking that looked like this:

It tasted better, though. It was easy to pull the succulent white flesh from the bone, after eating through one side then pulling out the skeleton, almost whole, and then devour the second half. It's easy to see why it was long the favored fish of Hawaiian royalty.


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Stop or I'll...Toss My Gun at You

One of our local-ish TV stations* KCOY ran a fascinating story the other day:

GROVER BEACH - As handgun sales continue to rise the supply of the bullets that go in them keeps falling.

Grover Beach gun shop owner Lee Schlitz [the gun-seller that made SLO famous!] says he's never seen anything like it.

"9 millimeter, 45 auto, 38 special, 357 magnum, 380 automatic, 25 automatic, anything basically that goes in a small handgun is hard to get right now," Schlitz says, "they are basically buying anything and everything that they can get their hands on."

Not to be the grammar police--especially since the grammar police carry nothing more frightening than a red pencil--but what is the antecedent for "they"? That's mighty important to know. If "they" is my neighbor, like, say, the guy with the sign "Asshole's Garage" on his garage door and the "I'm the NRA and I vote" permanent lawn sign up, I might like to know. Or move.

Schlitz says there's only a few boxes of bullets remaining on his shelves.

Geez, this empty shelf thing is just like Russia before it fell and was no longer Communist. But we're about to be Communist. Therefore, having food is socialism.

He says people are stockpiling ammo mostly out of fear and rumor that the Obama Administration will tighten gun control laws.

"The fear that it is going to happen is out there but nothing really is happening," Schlitz says, "people are over-reacting, that's my honest feeling, you know we're totally over-reacting to the situation and almost creating this problem ourselves."

Luckily, they can shoot their way out of any problem, I guess.

"It's one of my fears," says Army veteran and gun enthusiast Timothy Krynak, "I do not like the fact that there is even rumors about the Constitution being amended to take away our rights."

That the Constitution might be amended to take away other people's rights, well, he had no comment on that. (If we take away their right to marry, will only the gays have guns? Discuss.)

Krynak says the stockpiling is driving up the price of ammunition.

"I know of at least 7 or 8 individuals in Santa Maria alone that have well over 20,000 rounds in their garage because of the ammo shortage," Krynak claims, "when they find it they buy it."

So there's not really a shortage of ammo, it's just that it's mis-distributed. Perhaps the problem is that maybe 1% of the households hold 38% of the ammo. If we could only spread the ammo....

Krynak says he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and would regularly go to an indoor shooting range to relieve stress. Now he says he's given up competitive shooting and sold some of his weapons because he can't afford it.

"You're talking 25 bucks for low-end ammo for 20 rounds," Krynak says, "it's ridiculous."

One, I get a stress disorder thinking that people with PTSD believe the best way to let off a little steam is to shoot things. Two, sold off some of his weapons? How many does a man need? Three, "low-end ammo"--I'm assuming that doesn't go as far, or gets bought from Acme if the Coyote passed on it? Four, it is ridiculous.

While handgun sales have gone up there's been no noticeable increase in requests for concealed weapons permits in either Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo counties.

Probably because it's hard to ask for a permit from the person wielding a gun. "Permits, we don't need no stinking permits. But can we bum a bullet or two? We need more margin for error if our aim isn't true."

*Don't get me started on what Direct TV thinks is local. Los Angeles TV stations, which often provide very useful news for Santa Barbarans, for example if fires happen, are NOT local, or so we are told. But Los Angeles sports teams ARE local, so they get blacked out. Makes sense to me.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

Nice Job If You Can Leave it

January 28, 2009
Dear diary, have a new job with the exciting new White House. I think I can help be an agent of change. They haven't quite told me my details yet, but they said I would work very closely with the president himself.

January 29, 2009
OK ok, I could see this as not as important a job as I had hoped. But it goes like this: Some are the eyes and the ears of the president. I am his tongue.

January 30, 2009
This is a piece of cake. Sometimes several. Job does come with full privileges at the White House gym. They won't let me in while Barack or Michelle are working out--and she's in there a lot. You've seen the sleeveless dresses. I can go in when Emanuel's there, but all the cursing on the weight machines makes me nervous.

March 22, 2009
Sorry I haven't written in awhile, dear diary. But my days are like this: Ate. Didn't die. I cannot deny there's a thrill to it. But it seems to defeat elaboration.

June 6, 2009
We are in Paris. It's hard not to feel like an affront to the chef, and I hate to be a bad American, but my very existence suggests a failing now, doesn't it. Obama is in for some terrific cassoulet tonight. Sadly, they don't let me have more of it even though there's an entire Staub pot left. I think it's the place's way to teach me a lesson. As lessons go, it's better than them poisoning me.

June 10, 2009
Back in the US of A. I taste the White House chef's food and suggest a bit more herbes de Provence. I am told my job is only to live or die, not criticize. I suggest that if I died that would be criticism. Chef hits me with a souffle.


Friday, June 05, 2009

There's a Run in Your Stalking

For Dog Blog Friday: Mookie and Nigel thrill, briefly, to meet their genetic cousin whippet Lola. And Zippy the dachshund dreams of longer legs.


Thursday, June 04, 2009

Friday Random Ten (Thursday edition)

Earth Wind & Fire "Sweetback's Theme" BaadAsssss Cinema
R.E.M. "Flowers of Guatemala" Life's Rich Pageant
Neil Young "This Note's for You" Lucky Thirteen
Fellow Travellers "GTO" Sample Some OKra
Charlie Haden "Transparence" Nocturne
Chris Mars "Outer Limits" Horseshoes and Hand Grenades
They Might Be Giants "In the Middle, in the Middle, in the Middle" No!
Jack Logan "Heaven on Earth" Bulk
The Baseball Project "Long Before My Time" Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
Sugar "Believe What You're Saying" File under Easy Listening

Elvis Costello "Still" North

Since I didn't post yet on Thursday, I figured might as well put this up tonight and spread out the bloggy goodness. Mediocre week fueled by delicious Sugar, Fellow Travellers well worth sampling.


Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Do Come A-Knockin' If the Submarines Are A-Rockin'

It's a lovely story and the lovely couple make lovely songs. They were together, they fell apart, they separately wrote songs about missing each other, then recording those songs made them realize they belonged together. Now two CDs into their career and marriage they record a tune that questions consumption and shills for Apple. It's a complicated world.

The good news is that the Submarines, for all their loveliness, opt to put so much oomph into their live shows it's hard to sometimes tell if they're doing a cut from one of their CDs, as we learned at SOhO last Thursday night (thanks, Club Mercy). It helps they have a drummer in J Stare who not only whacks away at his kit so energetically that you think he might have to chase it around the club, but, as one concert-goer suggested, he has Sideshow Bob hair. While drumming, the hair more than bobs, is far from a sideshow.

Not that Blake Hazard (supposedly a great-granddaughter of F. Scott Fitzgerald, so there's something to live up to), who sings most of the songs, isn't the real center of attraction. Possesor of the most precious overbite since Gina Gershon nibbled her lip in Jennifer Tilly's direction, Hazard was ever quick with a smile, even mid-song. Plus during between song chatter she was enchanted to learn that "huevos" can be slang for "balls," even after her muscial compadre John Dragonetti made the joke, "That puts huevos rancheros in a whole different light."

So yes, they can be light themselves, but charm can go a a long way when you're putting out max effort on delicious pop songs. (Think, maybe, Luna without the guitar solos.) In that song Apple ads made famous, "You, Me, and the Bourgeoisie," there's the repeated lines "We choose love/ We choose light," and they do choose light, but they really mean it. Non-ironists having a good time singing happy songs with sweet melodies. That they can convert a cynic like me to like them, they have to be really good. After all, too many performers seem to feel it's miserable agony that they have to be performing, have to reflect the inordinate and impersonal yet total and devotional love from fans. Have a goddam good time, you. Millions would do anything to have a stage-ecstatic moment like your many.

Here's a pretty good clip from the actual show (thanks mmMarco17, whoever you are):

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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Dear Ms. Internets Manners

I never thought I'd be writing you, but I have this one concern. Checking my counter today, I discovered that INOTBB was visited by someone from the Department of Homeland Security. And that this someone has my blog as part of his or her Google Reader.

Is there a way to know if this someone likes me for my insouciant humor, my gorgeous greyhounds, or has other motives?

Patriotically yours,


Monday, June 01, 2009

Jing-Jang, Jing-Jang

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, it's summer time (despite the Santa Barbara gloom that at least means it's very hard for us to be on fire). Time to break out the barbecue tongs!


Pregnant Pause for Thought

We need to impregnate Bill O'Reilly and Terry Randall (at least as a start, as any man who thinks he should make a peep about abortion needs this treatment too). For that's what it might take for them to get it--women don't do the late-term abortion thing on a whim. Indeed only 1% of abortions occur after 21 weeks, but the specter of a fetus getting closer to something viable was too good for the anti-abortion terrorists to pass up as a way to rally their troops. So they didn't, and now Dr. George Tiller is dead.

Then O'Reilly and Randall need to end up like one of these people "the pregnant woman who was diagnosed with metastic melanoma and needed immediate chemotherapy, the woman who was carrying conjoined twins that had only one set of lungs and one heart, the woman whose baby had a three-chambered heart and would never live." Perhaps that would then help them do this: "imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right."

Here's how Jessica Arons, Director of the Women's Health & Rights Program at the Center for American Progress, put it in The Nation last year:

If we trusted women to bring an appropriate moral weight to the decision to end a pregnancy, if we put our faith in a woman's own determination of when an abortion is necessary in her life, if we believed a woman's life is ultimately more important than the one developing inside her and if we recognized that her right to live her life according to her own conscience trumps our opinions about what we think we would do in her situation, then we would not even be having this conversation.

If it were only just a conversation.


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