Archive for April, 2011

Johnny Thunders

Johnny Thunders died 20 years ago today. So take a moment to remember one of the greatest punk/rock guitar players to ever turn 2 chords and a sneer into pure fucking magic.

Categories: Uncategorized

In The Year 2088…

Japan becomes all robot economy.

Missed this by a couple days, but check it out, this is awesome. I’m totally going to print this out so I can keep score for the next 90 years.

Categories: Uncategorized

What Do Spys Do Exactly?

My favorite movie series is the James Bond franchise. Sure they have their goofy moments. We’re not exactly talking about the well crated realism of The Wire here. Still, I think at their best they try to at least trick you into believing that they’re somewhat plausible.

Most of the little things I can overlook. The guy who can throw a hat so hard it’ll cut the head off a marble statue? No problem. Christopher Lee building a laser powered by the sun, and run by a machine that needs vats of coolant no warmer than absolute zero, or the whole thing blows up? Sure, why not? But what gets me is that our hero, James Bond, and his team of crackerjack spys at British Military Intelligence never seem to have any idea what these bad guys are doing.

It’s a weird ritual at the beginning of most Bond movies that M calls 007 into his office to brief him on his target. Then Bond makes a show of already having this character’s case file memorized. He knows plenty of intimate details about this guy (and it’s always a guy), like what his vices are and where he vacations. But for some reason something like “he’s spent the past 3 years working on a team of dozens of engineers and hundreds of lackies building a supertanker that can swallow nuclear submarines” or anything to that effect.

So how are we to believe that this great, almost omniscient spy organization can consistantly miss something like this being built in the waters off Sardina:

Seriously? No one knew about this?This is the sort of thing that would cost millions of dollars! Involve hundreds of subcontractors. Use metric tons of steel. Necessitate some of the worlds best engineers. And MI6, the KGB, and the CIA were all caught off guard?

The net effect of years of Bond movies has been that I now see the world’s great architectural masterpieces as potential supervillian hideouts. The pyramid outside the Louvre? Obviously where they are creating an army of zombie/vampire hybrids. CN Tower in Toronto? Can transmit death rays at the drop of a hat. You laugh now, but do you really think that was built just to pull in the rubes? Who’s crazy now?

Categories: Uncategorized

Japan Closes Area Around Nuclear Facility

It’s been over a month since this thing started melting down and they’re just now setting up a perimeter. Is this good news or bad?

Categories: Uncategorized

Sweet Caroline

I admit that I’ve always avoided Sweet Caroline at karaoke. We’ve always had our group songs that we do. Love Train. What’s So Funny (’bout Peace Love And Understanding). But last night we had a big, drunken, rowdy gang taking over the Sudsy Mug, and there was no way we could do anything with too many words. We tackled Elvis earlier in the night, but this was Joe McCall’s birthday, and we were closing out the night.

So the question came down. What song do we do? There wasn’t time to go through the book. It’s a massive sea of songs to troll through. At times like this you need a hit. This will be the song that all the barflies and hipsters and casualties will have running through their heads when they leave.

I’m not saying I made the right call. We could maybe have done a passable version of the Beatle’s Birthday. It could have been the night for a wild card, like Wagon Wheel. But it felt like something big needed to be done.

So Sweet Caroline it was. This was some “in case of emergency break glass” type shit. We gathered around the mics and started into one of the weirdest classic pop songs in the cannon. It’s half Vegas style schmaltz and half jazz age burlesque. There’s a slow build. The chords methodically build up the scale. Then there’s release. We’re all at the top of our lungs and the song hits it’s stride. It was drunken karaoke melee at its best. The song is a roller-coaster and everyone in the bar was along for the ride. Good times never seemed so good.

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Old Habbits Die Hard

Listened to She & Him Vol 1 last night. Forgot how good an album that was.

Categories: Music

Pizza with Bacon and Broccoli Rabe

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Pizza dough is a pretty simple enterprise. If you’re doing it right, it’s no more than four or five ingredients, so you best make them count.

Started this dough on Sunday. Been trying different flour combinations. I found some Italian flour online, ground superfine, and have tried a few different combinations. This one was 60% King Arthur Bread Flour, and 40% Caputo “00” Flour.  Been trying to use as little additional flour as possible needing. Wetter dough gives you a better oven spring and a fluffier crust. But that dough’s harder to work with, and I don’t think it browns as well. Also, not loving the 00 flour. I think that was made more for ovens that go up to about 800° or so. The rickety old firepit in my apartment can’t get much past 500. The first attempt didn’t turn out so good.

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Stuck to the peel. Didn’t brown too great. Was luckier with the second one. Used more bench flour. Lighter touch, maybe. Threw some blanched broccoli rabe and bacon on there. The bitterness of the broccoli rabe cut through the fat of the bacon. Also let it cook a bit longer. This pie went almost 10 minutes. Not what you’d get in a professional oven, but not bad for my tiny ass little apartment.

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Categories: Nom Tags:

The Science Of Pringles

The inexorable march of progress, as embodied in a potato chip.

Categories: Nom

The Bones Could Stay

Inside McSorleys

Part of the first 100 beers of the night

Every year around this time, I like to take a trip to McSorley’s Old Ale House in the East Village. It’s kind of a tradition. In fact, McSorley’s is a place that’s built on tradition. The bar has been in existence since around the time of the civil war. No one knows exactly when they first lay down sawdust. It could have been 1854. Maybe 1861.

It doesn’t matter, because the purpose of a good tavern is to promote legend over fact. It is a place where memory necessarily gets hazy. Stories merge on retelling.This is role of a pub. History and bullshit are slapped together like bumper stickers.They overlap and give each other unintended context.

When the sun is out, McSorley’s gets plenty of daylight, pouring over top of the Orthodox church across the street. But at night the light comes from low wattage lights along the walls. The chandelier that hangs above the front room doesn’t put off any light. For the past hundred or so years, it’s been holding wishbones, left by soldiers on their way to war. Some say they started during the Civil War, but most likely it was WWI. Either way, the dust was thick. Every year, every war, more got kicked up. Problem is, sometimes it came down, and it looks like the health department didn’t appreciate that.

Joseph Mitchell, the inimitable chronicler of old New York, once wrote that the founder, John McSorley, simply liked to save things, including the wishbones of holiday turkeys. But Mr. Maher, who has worked at McSorley’s since 1964 — he predates some of the memorabilia — insists that the bones were hung by doughboys as wishful symbols of a safe return from the Great War. The bones left dangling came to represent those who never came back.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, a city health inspector gave the establishment a grade of A, but strongly, strongly, encouraged the removal of those wishbones above — or, at the very least, removal of the dust enveloping them.

“The chandelier had numerous strands of dust,” said a health department spokeswoman. “The inspector encouraged the operator to clean the dust, or at least avoid storing or serving open drinks directly beneath it — to avoid the dust from falling into the drinks of their bar patrons.”

The way Mr. Maher heard this was with a faint touch of hope: At least the bones could stay.

The dust was a tradition, but not the important one. The real meaning was in the bones. A soldier leaving for WWI didn’t think about the dust that would end up there. Somehow it got tied into the myth, took on a life of itself. Going into McSorley’s is gonna be different now, no doubt. But I wonder what it’s gonna be like, seeing the bones, not the dust.

Categories: Dive

Watching The River Flow

The Rolling Stones new track Including Bill Wyman. Covering Dylan in tribute to founding member and eventual road manager, piano player Ian Stewart.

I once heard Keith say that whenever they played Wild Horses live, Stu would defiantly lift his hands above his head at every minor chord. Because there should be no minor chords in rock and roll.

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