November 11, 2009

The Green Man, art, and nature...


one of the characters i'm working on is an exploration of the mythologies and imagery surrounding The Green Man archetype...

tonight, i was astounded by the work of Andy Goldsworthy while watching the 2001documentary Rivers and Tides...

if you're not already familiar, he uses materials existing on location to create wondrous outdoor installations...his work strikes me as an embodiment of the Green Man ethos...a beautiful expression of the joy and folly of life in the face of immutable forces...

November 5, 2009

buzz, buzz, buzz...

this song has been in my ear all year...

October 6, 2009

the last rent party...a tribute/fundraiser for my grandfather...

i kept my mouth shut about it for months...perhaps irresponsibly so...because while this was an intensely personal event for me, it was a public event...one that a wide variety of people have interest in...well, i can only make up for my negligence by shining a light on those who have done the work that i have not...

i cannot say enough about Mr. Ethan Iverson's excellent contribution...considering the depth and breadth of the research he's done, it's not surprising that his renditions of my grandfather's work was the most mind blowing of the night...god, i wish i had video to show you...anyway, here's a sample of his preparations...

"It’s a life and death matter, the clave, and what makes it so is its unyielding consistency and precision. It’s just like the ride cymbal beat of a good jazz drummer: you put the drummer in front a cymbal, give him a stick, and if they are a professional, they will deliver a “spang-a-lang” that is immutable. If the drummer is an artist as well as a professional the interpretation of the beat will be as distinctive as a snowflake.

In stride piano, the left hand going “oom-pah” is like that clave or ride cymbal beat in its unyielding consistency and precision. It’s very hard technically: there is a big jump between the “oom” and the “pah,” and the pitches change constantly.

There are examples of “oom-pah” in Liszt and Chopin, and some of them are very hard indeed. (In Chopin’s Op. 25 etudes, No. 4 in A minor and the “Butterfly” in Gb are good examples of proto-stride.) However, you don’t need the grooving, “clave-aspect” for Chopin and Liszt. In stride piano it is essential. It’s like the Energizer bunny with soul. Probably for eternity, James P. Johnson will be the gold standard for the stride "feel.
" (link to full text of his blog post)

if you're a fan of the bad plus like i am, i highly recommend subbing his feed...

the NY Times even wrote up the event...especially making note of a new artist who's work i hope to discover more of...

"The evening’s revelation was Aaron Diehl, a pianist in his mid-20s who has played with Wynton Marsalis and Wycliffe Gordon. His style, on “Scaling the Blues,” “Over the Bars” and the second movement of Johnson’s “Jazzamine Concerto,” was modest, secure and insinuating, with an iron sense of time. A few different pianists worked in their own tunes as Johnson tributes; Mr. Diehl’s was a slow, gorgeous blues."

Mr. Diehl's website is here...

anyway, a big thank you to Smalls Jazz Club for working with The James P. Johnson Foundation to put this all together...

September 15, 2009

my new favorite word...

lucubration

noun:
1. The act of studying by candlelight; nocturnal study; meditation.

2. That which is composed by night; that which is produced by meditation in retirement; hence (loosely) any literary composition.

i do this all the time...

September 12, 2009

change vs agents of change...story theory 101...

i participated in a writing workshop this morning...these can be either dreary affairs or enervating experiences...kind of a crap shoot...hence my general reluctance to take part in them...i find it hinges mostly on the instructor...luckily this was associated with The Lighthouse...which is always an indication of high quality...and it was helpful in many different ways...

although...

i have a problem with the standard approach to storytelling that insists the central character must be transformed or redeemed somehow by the events of the story...a point of view presented at this morning's event...

my first problem with this is it's boring, boring, boring...three acts laden with obstacles to the protagonist's central desire requiring him/her to learn some valuable life lesson in order to become a more fully realized human being...this has been the central structure to every trite cliched story since...well, since forever...

second, experience has taught me that this is not the norm for human nature...most people do not change...most people will resist change unto death...recent history is an excellent example...
some of the most enduring stories and characters in human history deal with characters that don't change...Galahad, Holmes, Shane, Bond, McGee...and these are fascintating characters with dimension and depth...

what do i know...i'm just an unpublished nobody...

we'll see...

August 18, 2009

saying goodbye to summer...the august playlist...

it's been a great summer, and it's not gone yet, but here's a few songs to hold on to what it felt like...i call it the wedding of foxes...












Crayon Sun - Latin Playboys













i love this video of the dead weather watching the pressing of their records...according to family legend, my father worked in the factory that made my grandfather's records...anyway, i could have easily just posted a link to download the entire dead weather album...that's what i've listened to all summer...

August 12, 2009

today's cool shit...Sons of Anarchy...


i'm sure Mad Men will dazzle, and Lost will try to blow my mind, but this is the one show this fall that i am damn near salivating with expectation for...

August 11, 2009

today's cool shit...new Terry Gilliam...


with Tom Waits as Satan...can I buy a ticket now???

August 4, 2009

man, google & wikipedia are a deadly combination...

more inspirational art...this time from Arnold Bocklin, an inspiration to Franz Stuck...


this is his most famous work...Isle of the Dead...he did five versions of this...this one is my favorite...


here's another one i love...Life is Short... click both to see more detail...

August 3, 2009

more reasons for self publishing...

i wouldn't sneeze at the offer of a $50k advance...but that would be a mighty large pay cut...even for me...

"Conveying news of latest rejection, agent mentions we'll be lucky to get $50,000; explains, "Publishers aren't overpaying anymore. They know they'll just break even if they pay $50,000 and sell 20,000 copies in hardcover, which few books ever do."

I realize if I'm "overpaid" I'll earn $50,000 minus $7,500 agent commission. That's $42,500 for three years' work."

either way, this is a pretty devastating look at how authors get treated by the publishing business...and just another piece of evidence as to why i think self-publishing is a better option...

August 1, 2009

desparately seeking...inspiration...

it's 3:45...i'm sitting at my desk drinking a beer and trying to find a way to end my day on a good note... i woke up this morning...yesterday morning...in a poor mood...i had to go to work on what was supposed to be my day off...strike one...

next, i find out that the one radio station that made me excited to turn on the radio has folded and become...ugh, how to describe this without promoting it in any way...it's now a station who's airtime is bought and paid for, in its entirety by a major local strip club...so there are no commercials, just sad little teases to promote the club...and the name...well, they've named themselves after the most prominant feature on the on the show club dance floor...i'll let you figure it out...the music is not all bad...just mostly bad...it's exactly what you would expect to hear in a strip club...just subtract the writhing naked flesh and the overpriced drinks and you can make the inside of your car as soulless and depressing as closing time on a slow night...strike two...

have you ever worked for someone who wants to impress you how much smarter they are than you, but they're actually not...strike three...

so here i am, trying to prevent my day from being an entire waste...let's try this...


Wind und Welle by Franz von Stuck...another pre WWII German painter has captured my imagination...here, it seems Stuck has personified the interplay between wind and the sea and turned it into something beyond wonderful...

yes, that'll do...

July 27, 2009

fun with facial hair...

remember Wooly Willy...

not that, get your mind out of the gutter...the toy that gave you hours of fun by moving magnetic shavings around to make different facial hair configurations...well now, there's Furry Jimmy...your new digital friend...


start with the all American classic...The Youklis...


or go casual with The Weekender...


you can go all the way with The City Gentleman...


need a quick halloween costume? don't be a pirate, again! try on one of America's most beloved characters...The Lincoln...

(or Amish, if you prefer...)

there's the perennial Fu Manchu...


it's still not too late to go to Comic-con as your favorite comic book super hero...

(the boys in legal said we can't use the real name, so we just call this one Chops...)

add a few chin whiskers...and you've got a Reverse Fu Manchu...


wanna scare the young punks in your neighborhood...nothing beats The Enforcer...


if you really want to make people poop their pants, you can't go wrong with The Cleric...just add a robe and a towel and terrify your friends...


but nothing beats America's all time favorite...Der Fuhrer...


brought to you by FunCo!!!

(FunCo will not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the misuse, or inability to grow facial hair, or any damages that may or may not result in use of facial hair. If your use of extreme facial hair results in the need for servicing, repair, or correction of your equipment you assume all costs thereof.)

July 22, 2009

July 17, 2009

today's cool shit...roller derby movie...


i'll ignore the fact that Drew Barrymore is directing...you had me at Ellen Page...

July 13, 2009

my favorite songs of the year...so far...

let's catch up, shall we...here are 20 songs released this year that i enjoy very much, and i think you might too...

right now this is my top contender for album of the year...i can't stop listening to it...


although the new joint from Mos Def is quietly sneaking up on it...


as is the new one from Mark Oliver Everett...or Mr. E...

it's a concept album about a special kind of love...well, i'll just let Mr E. explain it...

"I was thinking 'what happens when the young 'Dog Faced Boy' (of the SOULJACKER album) grows up?' -- He tries to function in society. But he can't get past the fact that he's still likened to an animal," Everett says. "I was thinking about where he goes from there as he gets older, and it occurred to me that the best a dog faced boy could hope for would be to grow into something that can just squeak by in society with some semblance of dignity. I figured the best he could do was to become a dignified old werewolf."

speaking of concept albums, the latest from The Decemberists is getting a lot of ink for daring to be unified story in this age of playlists and choose your own mixes...it smells like rock opera to me...which is not a bad thing...as long as the music is good...and this album just didn't connect with me...except this compelling little ditty about a man who murders his three children...

maybe i need to give this one a second chance...

no one knows about second chances better than Bettye Lavette...maybe you were like me when she showed up at the Obama Presidential Inaugural Celebration...Bettye who?

but her rendition of A Change is Gonna Come piqued my curiosity...and i found this soul chestnut on a sampler from her label, Anti...

it's recycled from 2007 release The Scene of the Crime, but hey, never too late for second chances right...especially when retro soul is such a hot trend...

and no one is doing retro soul better these days than Black Joe Lewis and The Honeybears...


then there's this bit of blue eyed soul from Jarvis Cocker that won't let me go either...

this is my kind of singer/songwriter smart, funny, and brave...

and my favorite singer/songwriter has been on repeat since February...


Mr. Justin Townes Earle is doing right by his bloodlines with a great version of one of my favorite American stories...

Justin Townes Earle~They Killed John Henry from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.




i was lucky enough to get my hands on the (0) release from local band Wentworth Kersey...they have good internet presence...but nothing embeddable...check out Adore, its a great track...one part spaghetti western, one part Leonard Cohen, and one part dreamscape...i hope to hear much more from these guys...

meanwhile M. Ward keeps churning out his country flavored power pop...
the man is a machine of goodness...

and A.C. Newman is a welcome addition to my heavy rotation...


and Busdriver is finding a permanent place on my heavy rotation with his newest...


Depeche Mode is bringing back that old school new wave flavor...


the search has ended...we have a new heir to the title of the Queen of Rap...Ms. Tiye Phoenix...

all fakes, frauds, and pretenders should just sit down...

other new...to me...stuff includes...

The Thermals...


N.A.S.A....


and The City Champs...


finally, let's wrap up with some hard to find internet download stuff...

dj BC mashup Shorty Shutup (The Tings Tings vs Busta Rhymes vs The Zombies)...


and Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse...i told you about this last month...

the track Little Girl is one of my favorites...

July 10, 2009

today's cool shit...Favreau & Vaughn...


i know, i know...i just love it when these guys work together...

the new micro-patronage...pt 2...

Forget thinking you are going to make any real money from record sales,” wrote Reznor on his message board. “Make your record cheaply (but great) and GIVE IT AWAY [as DRM-free MP3s] … Collect people’s e-mail info in exchange (which means having the infrastructure to do so) and start building your database of potential customers. Then, offer a variety of premium packages for sale and make them limited editions / scarce goods.”

It’s a play straight out of Anderson’s playbook (and, in fact, Anderson cites Nine Inch Nails as an example of a business that understands “Free”).

To put it into practice, Reznor advises that bands distribute through Amazon, TopSpin or Tunecore; set up a simple, Flash-free site outside of MySpace (which he says is “dying and reads as cheap / generic”); never abuse their mailing list; use free tools from Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube and SoundCloud; and give people a reason to keep coming back to their site (Reznor’s own forums are an example of this strategy).

However, Reznor says the strategy of giving away music in return for e-mail addresses, then marketing pricey box sets and other premium goods to those e-mail addresses only makes sense if a band wants to keep all its money and stay in control of its image.
"(click for full article)

this can work for printed media too...

July 9, 2009

today's cool shit...fashion fail...


if it's not enough for you that someone thought mens trousers needed...a third leg...let's add to it by mentioning that this bit of hilarity came from one of the godfathers of the Black Panther Party...Mr Eldridge Cleaver...apparently, this was another way to...stick it to the man...or something...

"My design had to do with an argument against what’s being done with our clothing. Who controls our clothing? If you notice, the clothing industry is dominated by homosexuals. They want men and women to look basically the same."
(scroll to the end of the interview for full blown insanity)

July 8, 2009

your lyric of the day...

"if you are to fall in love
then where should you stand to begin with?
and when the fall is done
how bad should you plan to get injured?
and if you land on your feet
do it count as a fall or a jump?
and do it feel like a fall
when the hands that pushed you are holding you up?"

Pistola, Mos Def

July 7, 2009

Son (Chapter 2) cover...



in case you were wondering...

July 2, 2009

today's cool shit...Busdriver...

Kanye wishes he was this talented...

imagine the Talking Heads trapped inside the body of Charles Mingus...

July 1, 2009

today's cool shit...well, maybe not...

it's official...Pixar has run out of ideas...

June 23, 2009

your word of the week...

viable...

adjective...capable of living...physically fitted to live...able to live and grow...vivid; real; stimulating, as to the intellect, imagination, or senses...practicable; workable...having the ability to grow, expand, develop...

June 19, 2009

today's cool shit...old NYC tv ads...

today is Stevie Wonder day...in my house at least...and i can't listen to You Are The Sunshine Of My Life without thinking about the goofy ad that used to run on television back in that day that had people bungling the lyrics...i searched and searched, but the damned internet can't help me find it...i did find these...enjoy...

i love this block...cable for $15 a month!!!Scooter shilling for The Money Store...Carvel pimping miss half pint...and Space 1999...oh my fraking God...



i'd forgotten all about Korvettes...check out the original Atari at the end...

June 17, 2009

dear designers of the future...very near future...

let's talk motorcycles, shall we...look at this concept...erm, product...

the zero-s...a full electric street bike...here are the numbers...

60 mile range...less than four hour charge time...top speed of 60 mph...not much better than most mopeds...not exciting....yet, it's a good start...if i had $10k (+$500 for shipping) laying around, i would probably put it in my garage...just to say I had it...

but let's talk about real world use...the charge time is decent, but bump up the range 40 more miles and if the top speed was closer to 80 mph, then you'd have something enthusiasts could get excited about...almost...

this thing looks like riding it would feel like sitting on a hobbyhorse...it needs to look more like this...

that's the italian styled Moto Guzzi Nevada Classic 750...

remember, you have to start with a rider's heart, then his head, before you can get to his pocket...

just sayin'...

June 14, 2009

today's cool shit...

new music released last week...


Mos Def, The Ecstatic...


Busdriver, Jhelli Beam...


Thavius Beck, Urban Subsonic...

i've got a lot of work to do...

June 12, 2009

today's cool shit...

God bless the nerds...someone turned...this...into this...and if you know a little something about right clickity, and how to change the tags...you can get this...

June 10, 2009

shameless promotional plug...


I'll be reading portions from my short story collection...previewing new work...and making a special announcement...

June 6, 2009

309-295...two beer can chicken recipies...

yesterday i made two versions of my favorite way to grill chicken...beer can chicken...

i brined the first chicken...here's the brine recipe...


start with a 12-pack of your favorite barley soda...that's the adult beverage otherwise known as beer...you don't want anything too cheap...or too fancy...remember, you're cooking, not drinking...your choice should be based primarily on what tastes good to you...bland, crappy pisswater will not bring good results, and expensive beer is just a waste of good brewing...i'm using Sammy here mostly because it's what i had on hand...and the freshness date was January...

pour the beer into a stockpot...i'm using a 9 qt here...which is just right...you'll see why later...

next, the spices...


a handful of whole cloves...


a handful of whole allspice...


and a handful of peppercorns...


add 2/3 cup of coarse salt...i'm using sea salt...because we're fancy like that around here...kosher salt works just as well...


and 1 cup dark molasses...most brines are some combination of water, salt, and sugar, and there's already plenty of sugar in the beer...in the form of alcohol...i like molasses because it brings the right touch of sweetness...

notice how the level of the beer shot up of from just below halfway to 3/4 of the way...that's from adding the salt..that's why you need a big pot...

if my chili recipe is beginner mode...this is intermediate...not because i'm using any sophisticated techniques...brining, smoking, dry rubs, grilling...these are simple things...the degree of difficulty goes up mostly because you need some non-standard equipment...then again, everyone's got a 9 quart stockpot, right...

anyway...

bring to a boil, cover and let cool to room temperature...

meanwhile...gather your tools...

this is your moisture delivery system...here's where cheap beer is okay...beer canning is about steaming the bird from the inside out...the alcohol burns off, and what you have left is water in a can...well, hopefully, a little bit more than that...

next, you need a cooler, or anything that's food safe and big enough for 5 pounds of ice, your brine, and your 3-5 lb bird...why the ice...this is not a marinade, and you do not want the chicken to cook at room temperature inside your brine...that's what would happen without the ice...so, do the right thing and avoid giving yourself and your loved ones food poisoning...


like so...that's the chicken buried under the ice there on the right...that's a lot of brine for one bird, i know...this recipe is for brining two birds, but...sometimes, in the middle of cooking, your wife calls to inform you that the meal you were planning to have ready for the grill in seven hours now needs to be ready to eat in four hours because you are now serving four people instead of two...

ah well...improvise, adapt, and overcome...the more, the merrier...

where was i...the bird is in the brine...make sure the chicken is fully immersed in the brine, and covered...one hour for every pound...that's all you need...

while we're waiting, let's dry rub and smoke the other bird...

fairly straightforward here...one clean and dry chicken, your favorite spices, and an hour in the refrigerator...

and...you can ignore the fancy grilling apparatus that's holding up the bird...they're available wherever you can find silly kitchen doodads and geegaws, but you don't really need it...unless you're paranoid about cooking a chicken with an aluminum can stuffed inside it...

did i hear you ask what spices...oh, some ginger, some paprika...and some other stuff...use what you know works for you...

when ready, put this on your grill at 300˚ for 30 minutes...this guy is kind of a dork, but he's got good advice on how to make a simple smoke device for grilling...


there should be a photo (or two) here showing you how to open the beer can with a churchkey and pour some of it out and then add two or three garlic cloves and some spices...and finally, how to put the can in the chicken...but sometimes things move too fast in the kitchen to remember the camera...so...

voila...


et, voila...


400˚ for 30 to 40 minutes on the grill or in an oven...


and super tasty delicious chicken...i promise...