Friday, January 31, 2014

So. The dawn begins. I wonder what kind of day it will be.

The opening sentence of Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf was a single word:  "So."  So from now on I'm going to start everything the same way.  Just FYI.

All this by way of saying they're rebooting my boy Michael Schumacher.  The thinking being that they'll put the transmission in first, engage the clutch, and he'll slowly emerge from his induced coma.  And then we shall then see what we shall see.  I am hoping for only the best.  The process, I'm told, takes a number of days, so patience will be a valuable commodity when it comes to this tricky business.

Two years ago when I was in Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix I attended a Q&A event featuring Joe Seward, one of the preeminent F1 writers of our time.  His blog is the best I know of, and can be visited here.

Anyway, at one point he asked if anybody there was a Schumacher fan.  I, sheepishly, raised my hand while everybody sat on theirs.  Other than that, Montreal was lovely.  You should see their botanical gardens.  The race course was less moving to me -- although one might blame a miscalculation on my part during the seat selection process -- but, like pizza, even mediocre Formula 1 races are great.

It should be noted that Schumacher was an arrogant son of a bitch.  And there's evidence enough to label him a downright cheater.  But hey -- seven championships!  Five of them in the Shiny Red Cars.  Six maybe.

And I have a high tolerance for assholes.  Just look at my friends.

[Note to any friend who might be reading this: I'm sure you are not one of the assholes.]

But the message here is one of optimism.  The dawn is coming.  Part of me wonders if it's gonna rain, but most of me thinks it's gonna be a lovely day.

On a related note: here's the new Red Bull ...

Which looks like bad news for the good guys.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Thin ice

I'm on the train heading for new York,  typing this on my shiny new Motorola.  An act on the face of which seems simple enough but our is annoying that it won't capitalized the new in new York.
Staring out the starboard window, staring on the ice.  All I can think about is falling in.
I'm gonna take s nap instead.  Although I worry about missing the Tappen zee.  I want to see what part of the new bridge they've built.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Shiny Red One

Today's moral is:  be careful what you wish for.

Oy gevalt.

I suppose it could be worse.  Certainly the Ferrari nose is different than the schnozollas on the Williams and McLarens.  But Lordy, from the front wheels forward that's an ugly bit of work.  The back seems more or less status quo -- perhaps a bit trimmer, what with the smaller engine.

The proof, of course, is in the pudding.  And the current best pudding is made by Red Bull.  Surely we'll see what they've come up with soon enough, given that testing begins in Spain next week.

On a positive note, this is kind of fun ...

There's regular talk in Formula 1 of enclosing the cockpit for better protection of the driver's head.  This is a highly-stylized version of how it might look.

The Library

Libraries are good things.  I was once trapped in the Troy Public Library while a squall moved through the area and I got a chance to read the Architectural Digest article about Tom and Gisele Bündchen's house in Los Angeles.  Nice freaking house.  I wish he'd go and live there permanently.

Now, if you remember back a couple of months I said that I had reserved The Goldfinch from the TPL and was hoping to read it before the Frick show pulled up stakes and left town.  This was in November, let's say.

In the end I wound up buying the book -- something I was happy to do, since writers like Donna Tartt need our support -- and missing the show since by the time I got my shit together it had sold out.  The book was great, by the way.  And now, just this morning, the Library sends me a lovely note saying that The Goldfinch is in.

So the system works, friends.  Although there's no way I'm going to the library today.  There's a light, misty snow coming down in Troy that's more fun to look at than to wander around in.

Friday, January 24, 2014


When I first looked at the photo of the new Williams F1 car, I thought the bit of elongation at the nose was attached to the front wing ...

Now, seeing the new McLaren, I realize that it's a proboscis of a sort.  Which is alarming, if you happen to be someone who likes nice looking race cars.

Here's a more illuminating angle ...

Lord have mercy!  I worry that my boy Kimi Raikkonen will have recurring nightmares of trying to win the Drivers' Championship and being chased by Jimmy Durante.

Or Mr. Snuffleupagus.

My Flirtation with Dominos has Ended

I mean, I've got my dignity.  And besides, their pizza, although not as bad as the one from DeFazio's, is still terrible.  And even though lousy pizza is still basically okay, terrible pizza is upsetting on a number of levels.

I will say this:  I loved ordering my pizza online.  The Dominos user interface is quite felicitous.  And the discounts!

The pizza here is terrible!
I know.  And it's so cheap you can order two pies!

Which is a variation on the old joke that goes ...

I didn't eat all day.
Why not, Ma?
I didn't want my mouth to be full in case you called.

My boy Jared from Daisy Baker's is getting ready to open Pomodoro, which means something in Italian.  The golden apple, maybe.  But it must have something to do with tomatoes, not apples.  Anyway, Pomodoro is a pizza place located, ironically, right next to where Troy Discount Beverages moved to.  Just the typing of which pains me.

But I bet their pizza is going to be good.  And they'll deliver.

Perhaps they'll deliver beer too.
From your mouth to God's ear.

I finished a lovely book earlier today.  Titled Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo.  Lovely.  The Amazon blurb goes like this ...

When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he'd planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger--and amuse himself--he decides to show the monk some "American fun" along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world--and more important, his life--through someone else's eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing. 

Although the blurb is accurate enough on a superficial level, I would say that whoever wrote this missed the point of the book by a wide margin.  I would give the book itself 3.75 stars, but I'm a hard grader.  He didn't quite nail the landing.

Merullo is also author of Golfing with God so you can see a bit of a pattern developing.  I think I'll just be happy having read the one book.  Next up is a biography of C.S. Lewis that I got from the library.  Another religious fanatic!  Not counting footnotes and stuff it's just under 400 pages.  Which is the perfect length for biographies.  Enough space to give you what you need but not so much space that you become a victim of the author's obsession with the subject matter.  Who wants to read a thousand words about Steve Jobs?  I mean, really.  But 400-450?  I'd be totally in.

My boy C.S. was best friends with my boy J.R.R., and since I just re-read The Hobbit, of all things, I'm looking forward to reading about the two of them at Oxford.  The Hobbit, by the way, was way more fun than I thought it was going to be.  Two thumbs up, if you're in that sort of a mood.

The Amazon blurb goes like this ...

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

Honestly, who writes this shit?  The last sentence should have gone something like ...

... unaware that his journey to the Lonely Mountain will change him in ways he can't even imagine.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Let the Spectacle Begin

Williams has unveiled its 2014 car ...

Hard to get a sense of what the front wing (wing being such an unsatisfactory word for whatever is on the front of that thing) looks like, what with all the black on black, but I'm excited nonetheless.

I can't wait for the shiny red one.

Post Script:  Under the Attention-Must-Be-Paid category, Williams, which has fallen on difficult times in recent years, is still the third winningest marque in Formula 1 history, trailing only McLaren and the shiny red ones.

So we are not talking chopped liver here.  I wish them the best.

If James Bond was Italian ...

... these would have been his wheels.  Back in the day, of course.

Ahhhh.  Car porn.

I nabbed the video from a site called Jalopnik.  The link is here.  Great video, if this is your cup of tea, but would it have killed them to open their aperture a stop and a half?

I was particularly fond of his comment around the 3:20 mark about the primitive 'mechanical-ness' of the car, if that's a word.

It's time to put a bullet in Mr. Potato Head

By which I refer to the now-inevitable firing of Mike Woodson.  A man of whom I'm very fond and for whom I have great respect.  But he's lost his connection with the admittedly disfunctional Knicks and it's time to shoot him in the head.  Metaphorically, of course.

Do you know that if you Google the words "Mike Woodson Mr" the search bar automatically completes the sentence to read "Mike Woodson Mr. Potato Head."  Go to the image section and you get plenty of things like this ...

... which is him wondering why J.R. Smith cannot effectively harness the considerable gifts bestowed upon him by the Basketball Gods.

Anyway, the point is that when I call Mike Woodson Mr. Potato Head, a) it's not just me, and b) it's done in the spirit of good-natured fun.  Also, it can't be very satisfying coaching this fucked up team anyway, so send the man away with his pockets loaded with millions of dollars and the opportunity to find a better job with a better team and let's move on.

Whither? one might ask.

Excellent question, although the answer -- to me at least -- is clear.  Take a moment and think it through.  I'll even give you a hint.  That being: Old #33.

This is the six and a half inch version ...

This is the seven foot version ...

I love this man.

The good thing about living in America -- unlike, say, Russia -- is that I can declare the deep love I have for this man without repercussions.  And so I say again, I love this man.

Interestingly, I actively disliked him when he was at Georgetown, although that may have been a transference of my considerable antipathy towards John Thompson.  But his Knick career was a thing of deep beauty.  Deep, flawed beauty.  Like a Ming vase.  And I will forever be grateful.

Judging from the cap he's holding, the Knicks must have won some kind of playoff series.  Sadly, there weren't enough of them for Patrick Ewing.  He had the singular misfortune of aligning the zenith of his career with the zenith of Michael Jordan's career.  Big mistake.  And the one year Jordan was off playing baseball, John Starks, who I also love, was shooting two for eighteen in Game Seven of the NBA finals.

Anyway, the Knicks owner is possibly the worst owner in the history of professional sports.  And even if that's not true, the general consensus amongst those of us who know is that he's a miserable little shit of a man, not deserving of a treasure the likes of the New York Knickerbockers.  I sometimes wonder how Walt Frazier goes to sleep at night, just thinking about it.

But there's an opportunity here for James Dolan to do the right thing for once in his life; to give the people of New York one beautiful, shining gift.

Hire Patrick Ewing to coach the Knicks.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lakers Update

In the photo of Elvin Hayes two posts below this one, the Laker beneath the basket, #4 in your program, was the estimable Adrian Dantley.  Dantley and Unseld, the man he's trying to block out (although it looks like his position is poor), exemplified the Round Mound of Rebound school of basketball well before Charles Barkley took it to the Nth degree.

I'm not sure Dantley was that round a mound.
No.  Not as big as Unseld, certainly.  But very much one of those short guys with great low-post moves.  So I lumped him in.
Fair enough, howsoever inaccurate.
Accuracy has never been the objective here.

And, dear readers, that it should always be remembered that Charles Barkley once spat on a young woman in the stands.  He says it was an accident.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I refuse to accept ...

“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.”

--Martin Luther King, Jr., from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, December 10, 1964.

Wow.  If you could write one sentence like that a day, you'd be in great shape.  Legacy-wise.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

And while we're talking sports ...

here is why the Bullets have a better record than the Knicks ...

As everyone knows, they're not called the Bullets anymore.  Which I think is stupid.  Particularly since I've seen some games where they've been sporting some very cool throw-back jerseys that reminded me of the days when Elvin Hayes and Wes Unseld roamed the planet.

This is a cool picture because you can not only see the Big E but also Unseld, Kareem and -- is that Keith Wilkes?  Not sure who the guy under the basket is.

Note:  There is a considerable school of thought that says Elvin Hayes was a big asshole.  Unseld hated him.  And vice-versa.  But I always loved the guy for some reason and when I played in the Fairfax County Adult BB League (the closest I ever got to the NBA) I wore Number Eleven as a way of giving the big guy some cheese.

They should change the name of the Redskins to the Red Storm and the Wizards back to the Bullets.  What's wrong with the people in Washington?

That done, I now turn my attention to football and the food that goes with it.  Am worried that the avocado downstairs is not quite ripe enough for the alchemy otherwise known as guacamole.  Am also thinking of ordering a pizza between the two games.

The problem with Troy is that the best pizza maker -- Bacchus Wood Fired -- doesn't deliver.  Everybody raves to me about DeFazio's -- I mean everybody -- so one day a couple of weeks ago I tried to order one from them.  They told me the wait was 90 minutes.  So I told them I'd pass.

A couple of days later, on a quiet weeknight, I tried again.  Deliver time was 45 minutes, which was fine.  I ordered a large one with some stuff on it and a) it cost twenty bucks, and b) it was one of the worst pizzas I've ever eaten.  Too salty by, like, a thousand percent.  It put the lie to the theory that even bad pizza is basically okay.  I swear, it was like eating the industrial byproduct of one of those desalinization plants they're building on the west coast in anticipation of the Colorado River drying up entirely.

So a couple of days ago, refusing to step away from the theory that even bad pizza is basically okay based on one bad experience (provided it doesn't taste like industrial byproducts), I ordered a Dominos pizza online.  Used an e-coupon and got a fairly crappy pizza in less than half an hour.  It cost like nothing.  It was so cheap that a couple of quarters in the other direction and they would have been paying me.  Enjoyed it quite a bit with some Pabst.

Am thinking of doing the same thing tonight.  Except I don't have any Pabst and the beer store moved away.


Winter Is Coming

Actually winter is here.  Had an inch or three of massive snowflakes last night that left the tree outside my front door looking like it was covered in popcorn.  Beautiful.

But the point of the post is this ...

If you thought last season's wedding was fun, wait til you see Prince Joffrey's!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Today's a black day ...

even though the snow is coming down in massive flakes.

The difference between New York and Troy is that New York has multiples of everything.  Troy ... not so much.  So when your local beer store -- in my case Troy Discount Beverages -- closes, well it's a situation.  In New York there's another place to buy beer two blocks away.  Troy ... not so much.

The good news is that Troy Discount Beverages has not gone out of business.  It's just moved about a mile away.  Which, let me tell you, is considerably different than the previous distance of half a block when the urge to consume Bass Ale strikes you like a hammer blow to the temple and you don't happen to have any.

Which happened last night.  Which is how I learned that they'd moved.

So today's a black day.  Although tomorrow should be fun, what with the football and all.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Miller Williams ...

and a poem by same ...

Love and How It Becomes Important in Our Day to Day Lives

The man who tells you which is the whiter wash,
the woman who talks about her paper towels,
the woman whose coffee holds her home together,
the man who smells the air in his neighbor's house,

the man who sings a song about his socks,
the woman who tells how well her napkin fits,
the man who sells the four-way slicer-dicer,
the woman who crosses tape between her tits,

and scores besides trample my yard, a mob
demanding to be let in, like Sodomites
yelling to get at my guests but I have no guest.
I crawl across the floor and cut the lights.

"We know you're there," they say. "Open the door."
"Who are you?" I say. "What do you want with me?"
"What does it matter?" they say. "You'll let us in.
Everyone lets us in. You'll see. You'll see."

The chest against the door begins to give.
I settle against a wall. A window breaks.
I cradle a gun in the crook of my elbow.
I hear the porch collapse. The whole house shakes.

Then comes my wife as if to wake me up,
a box of ammunition in her arms.
She settle herself against the wall beside me.
"The towns are gone," she says. "They're taking the farms."

Hint:  It's about marketing.  I'm reminded of this ...

I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no
When I'm drivin' in my car
And the man comes on the radio
He's tellin' me more and more
About some useless information
Supposed to drive my imagination
I can't get no, oh no, no, no
A hey, hey, hey, that's what I say
I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no satisfaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no
When I'm watchin' my TV
And a man comes on and tells me
How white my shirts can be
But he can't be a man 'cause he doesn't smoke
The same cigarrettes as me
I can't get no, oh no, no, no
A hey, hey, hey, that's what I say
I can't get no satisfaction
I can't get no girl reaction
'Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can't get no, I can't get no
When I'm ridin' round the world
And I'm doin' this and I'm signing that
And I'm tryin' to make some girl
Who tells me baby better come back maybe next week
'Cause you see I'm on losing streak
I can't get no, oh no, no, no
A hey, hey, hey, that's what I say
I can't get no, I can't get no
I can't get no satisfaction, no satisfaction
No satisfaction, no satisfaction
I can't get no

Nor can I, my friend.  Nor can I.

I was listening to the Rolling Stones last night.  Sitting on my couch, reading first, then just listening to Exile on Main Street.  Which is really something.  Not my favorite, actually, but most people's.  I think mine is Beggar's Banquet.  And I'm surprisingly fond of Some Girls.  Since Shattered could, like totally be my national anthem.

"While I was a junkie, I learned to ski and made Exile on Main Street."
-- Keith Richards

Me?  I was sipping on a couple of fingers of Evan Williams Green Label.

For all you gold traders out there ...

The latest in my series of Golden Bull paintings.  This one being a computer study.  But still.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bertie and Jeeves

So I finished reading Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, the fake Wodehouse novel.  And it was great.  Vastly exceeded my expectations.

Turning the book over, one sees that the back-cover blurbs are about Wodehouse himself, not this particular book.  Which makes plenty of strategic sense, given the givens.  A sampling goes like this:  "A brilliantly funny writer -- perhaps the most consistently funny the English language has yet produced." --The Times; "The funniest writer ever to put words on paper." --Hugh Laurie; and "You don't analyze such sunlit perfection, you just bask in its warmth and splendor." --Steven Fry.

It should be noted that Laurie and Fry played Bertie and Jeeves on British television, so maybe they're biased.  But when The Mothership speaks, one listens.  It's like when they ring those gongs at Lucas Oil Stadium when the Colts have done, or are about to do, something extraordinary.

Me?  I would have to say that P.G.Wodehouse has had more influence on my writing style than anybody else.  One needn't look too much farther than the interplay between me and the Greek Chorus to see this.

If you think I'm Bertie you've got another thing coming.
I understand that you're new around here, so calm down.  Typically you play the role of Jeeves; I play Bertie.
Very good.

Which, for the record, wasn't supposed to be an example of what I just said.

The other fun thing to think about, as you slowly leaf through your library with an eye towards re-reading Carry On, Jeeves, is that the setting in which the Jeeves stories happen is roughly contemporary with the time period in which Downton Abbey happens.  Likewise similar is the collaborative tension between the aristocracy and the serving class that drives the narratives.  The difference would be that Bertie was a Londoner who went to houses like Downton Abby for the weekend, whereas Lord Grantham, shall we say, was a leading citizen of Yorkshire who went to London for the occasional whatever.

And of course that Downton Abbey is a drama, of a sort, and the Wodehouse books are the funniest things ever written.
Nicely said.  I didn't know you'd read them.
Hasn't everybody?
Carry on, Persephone.

A closing blurb to wrap the whole thing together from Julian Fellowes, the guiding force behind Downton Abbey (and screenwriter of Altman's Gosford Park -- a smasher of a movie):

"The greatest chronicler of a certain kind of Englishness."

Which is high praise from the guy who the unwashed and uninformed think is the greatest chronicler of a certain kind of Englishness.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

My Sharona

After seven or eight years in a coma, Ariel Sharon died a couple of days ago.

Me?  I can't stand Charlie Rose.  But his is one of the few places where famous people are actually allowed to actually talk in an extended format with a minimum of partisan nonsense from the host.  So he gets props for that, surely.  He's just so fucking annoying.

Anyway, he did a show on Sharon the other night, the last half of which was comprised of clips of him interviewing the man himself from as far back as the mid 90s.  If Charlie Rose was interviewing guys like Ariel Sharon in the 90s, and has continued to do so, five nights a week, up to the present today, you can argue that Rose has had more interesting conversations with more interesting people than anybody in the history of the world.  Which is really something, no matter how annoying the guy is.

And although Sharon, by the 1990s, was a roly-poly, jolly sort of a guy with a difficult accent, one can never forget the fact that if you put him at the head of a division of tanks and pointed him towards, say, Egypt, that he was right up there with George S. Patton in the meanest motherfucker in the world category.

When it comes to Jews In Tanks I'll always be a Moshe Dayan guy.

But here's a nod to Ariel Sharon.  Who was the real deal, and who, it should also be noted, is the man in the photo with the bandaged head.

Attention must be paid.

Cue The Knack!

Ballpoint Pens

Check this out ...

Very cool.  Titled "Untitled 2011-05, 2011, ballpoint pen on paper" by Renato Orara.  Even cooler than this is an article in ARTnews titled Making Cutting Edge Art with Ballpoint Pens.

At some point they start talking about using Bics versus Pilots versus whatever.  One of the artists, Marlene McCarty says she likes Montblancs (Who doesn't?  I bet she also likes eating dinner at The French Laundry), but says "... they are too heavy to hold upright against the wall for hours at a time, so I take a Montblanc ballpoint refill, force it into a cheap lightweight plastic Bic pen handle, tape the whole thing together, and use that.”

This is the spirit that makes America great, dear reader.  Assuming she's American.  And assuming that a country that is both the richest in the world and yet ranked 178th in infant mortality can be termed great.

Regardless, I'm reminded my '61 Triumph.

Jeff Koons is stealing my shit

Did you see this, from what I assume to be Page Six of the NYP?

OMG!  Jeff Koons is stealing my shit.

People who read these pages regularly know that I'm totally down with stealing other people's shit.  Artistically speaking, of course.  Stealing their watch or their wallet is not cool.  But an idea here or there?  Exhibit A for the defense ... or the prosecution ... would surely be my theft of Picasso's portrait of Gertrude Stein.

The reverse being that people sometimes say to me "I have one of your paintings in my office" and I say "Oh, lovely.  Did you buy a print?" and they say "No, I just downloaded a file from your site and printed it myself" and I nod, understanding that this is both a high compliment and stealing my shit.  And I feel proud, friends, not angry.

So I don't mind people stealing my shit.  But Jeff Koons?  He of the ceramic sculptures of Michael Jackson?


You forgot to mention Harbour stealing your Greek Chorus idea.
Good point.  Although he didn't actually steal it.  He asked if he could nab it.
Yeah.  If the situation was reversed I wouldn't have said a thing.  I would have just skulked away with it in the dead of the night.
That's what I was told when I took this job.
Who are you, anyway?
I'm Persephone.
What happened to Xerxes?
He's in Sicily, waiting for the heat to blow over.
Like Pacino in The Godfather.
He never should have shot that dog.
You're lucky he didn't shoot you.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Health and Wellness

I can't tell you how great I feel since I've started this simple nutritional regimen.  You should give it a try.

Since some of the terms may be complicated, I've attached an explanation of the difficult ones on the right side.

Note:  it's easier to read if you click it once.

The downside is virtually zero.  I've had an outbreak of acne on my back.  I screamed at the dog for no reason yesterday.  And my Johnson has virtually disappeared.  But other than that, all good.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Football Day In America

Three out of the four teams I was rooting for this weekend lost.  This is why I don't bet on sports.  But, all that said, the final two pairings are compelling.  San Francisco traveling to Seattle -- I hadn't watched that much Seahawks football but I was left agog by the general ferocity of their defense and the specific ferocity of their running back, Marshawn Lynch.  I think they'll beat SF by four points, which is fine with me.

And then there's Baron Manfred Von Richthofen and his Flying Circus (the Denver Broncos) versus the hated Boston Patriots [I refuse to call them the New England Patriots because I think that's stupid] and the much-loathed Tom Brady.  Who surely must be getting old by now because, honestly, enough is enough with this fucking guy.

I would describe the Broncos defense as alternately stout and porous, and that's not as good as just plain stout.  Which may be a problem.

Speaking of stout, I'd recommend this as a nice alternative to Guinness ...

The smart money says Denver vs. Seattle in the Soup, with the Broncos winning.

Heliotrope and gold

Heliotrope isn't a word you bump into that much.  It's both the name of a color and a plant, and a picture of the plant tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the color ...

I say this because it pops up twice, I think, in Saigon: Too Big To Fail.  The one passage I'm particularly thinking about, which describes the protagonist in what he calls his "Sergeant Pepper" phase, goes like this ...

    I wore Winklepickers, tight black jeans, a ruffled pirate shirt topped with an 18th century vintage naval tunic.  Heliotrope, with gold piping and a pair of fringed golden epaulettes.  She wore a dark red gown that looked like it had been sprayed on.  She parted her straight, black hair in the middle and it fell half way down her back, with a little bit near her left temple gathered into a thin braid.
    I could tell she wasn't strapped.

It should be noted that Winklepickers are pointy-toed boots that musicians wear, and that strapped is a term for carrying a weapon.

All of which is well and good.  Then last night, about a third of the way into Jeeves and the Wedding Bells, which I am enjoying more than I thought I would, I read this ...

    Ten minutes later, agreeably capped, I went up to the bedroom to find that Jeeves had laid out my heliotrope pyjamas with the old gold stripe.  It had been a long day and I felt ready for a full ration of the deep and dreamless.

It should be noted that in S2B2F, being capped is a bad thing.  Here the author uses it to describe the condition of having just had a night cap.

Anyway, sometimes a man feels at one with the universe.  Other times he feels like a nut.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mastering the Double Axel 3

The record should show that my prediction of which female skaters will and won't be going to the Olympics next month was exactly correct.  Unlike the potato salad I made this evening, I take no joy in this.

I used fingerling potatoes, so instead of square chunks of potato [the sort of thing you would get from chopping up larger potatoes] I have little round cross-sections.  To which I added hard boiled eggs, a little bit of onion [which I don't usually do], a cucumber [peeled, seeded and diced], a chopped kosher dill pickle, and some salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper.  Were this, say, August I might have thrown in a chopped tomato as well.  Which would have been unbelievable.

Mayonnaise holds the contraption together like the duck tape I used to use on my '61 Triumph ...

Hint:  If you're the sort of person who puts chopped tomato in his guacamole, the secret is to salt the tomato after you've chopped it but before you've stirred it in.

You're welcome.

Mastering the Double Axel 2

While we're on the topic of Axels, I present this classic post, one of the greatest ever if I do say so myself, from November of 2007, when I was a younger man ...


Concert Chronology

Readers tell me they love my blow-by-blow chronologies. One was even quoted in The New York Times, so I guess, how bad can they be? We'll see. When I'm done with this one, we'll re-poll the readership; consult Times editorial management. Based on response, decide how to proceed from there.

Somewhere between eight and ten, Saturday morning--Wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head. As I eat my cereal I'm humming "Hungry Like The Wolf."
11:00--Drive to laundramat, however you spell that. Find a great space.
11:07--Realize while loading my load that I've forgotten my sheets. This angers me, as I had taken them off the bed and tucked them into a pillow case but neglected to bring them with.
11:25--While the first load is in, drive back, get sheets, drive back, find an even better spot (which, if you had seen the first one you would realize how extraordinary this is).
11:32--Still waiting for a small machine--which I wouldn't have been doing had I remembered the goddam sheets in the first place. A portion of my anger is self-directed.
11:35--Some officious little man with a big stomach steals the machine I have my eye on. The previously self-directed anger is now focused tightly on this sonofabitch. I toy with kicking his ass. But the place is packed and I don't want to injure innocent bystanders. A smaller part of my mind toys with actually killing him. This, I realize, is not healthy thinking and I just let it go.
Let's say 12:45--The laundry is done--folded and bagged. I stash it in the car and then, since I'm literally thisclose to the R train, jump on board, jump off at Canal Street, jump into Pearl Paint and buy about four yards of canvas and a set of 4x5 stretchers. This costs, for the record, ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. This angers me. I'm not an angry person, but today I seem to be getting angry quite a bit.
Fast forward to five pm--Washed, dried and dressed, I, reeking of Old Spice deodorant AND cologne, arrive at the bar Eric and I usually meet at prior to doing our typical Mercury Lounge/Bowery Ballroom/etc. outings. It is exactly equidistant between where I get off the F train (Broadway/Lafayette) and Eric gets off the 6 (Bleeker Street). I would describe the temperature as not fifty, but not forty either. I'm wearing so much Old Spice that when I walk into the bar people lift their heads to see what the problem is.
5:01--The consumption of beer ensues.
7:00--We go to the NoHo Star, sit at the bar, order wings, some kind of dumplings, and a third thing which, despite my inability to remember what it was, was really tasty. Worried about peaking early, we switch to red wine. In retrospect, this may have been what brought Eric down.
8:00--We arrive at the Bowery Ballroom and take a seat at the downstairs bar.
8:03--Eric goes to the bathroom. I engage in conversation with a woman named Emily. She is so young that it must be a toss-up as to whether her entire lifespan would be more conveniently measured in years or minutes. I can't believe that Management has allowed Emily to even come into the place. But--AND THIS IS IMPORTANT--Emily turns to me at one point and tells me that the Guns 'n' Roses cover band we are here to see is ACTUALLY BETTER THAN THE REAL GUNS 'N' ROSES.
Note: Were this a book, the previous sentence would be called forshadowing, however you spell that.
9:45--Eric gets back from the bathroom. Emily is now 102 minutes older.
That's just a stupid bathroom joke. Forget it. Let's say it's 8:15.
8:15--We find out that the feature act doesn't start until 11:30. Eleven-thirty! Had I not been holding onto the side of the bar, I would have fallen over. I am way too old to hang out at the Bowery Ballroom bar for another three and a half hours. I mean, if the Rolling Stones were waiting at the end of the line, ok. I'm in. But a Guns 'n' Roses cover band? I mean, really! It wasn't even my idea. And even though the act that precedes them is billed as a BeeGees heavy metal cover band (a notion that makes me at least say to myself ok, let's see what that's like), it seems like a mighty long grind.
8:20--We head upstairs to get seats at the balcony bar. Eric is pulling my arm. Did I tell you Emily is a dead ringer for Sarah Jessica Parker? "Pull yourself together, man," I remember thinking.
8:24--At the upstairs bar. Everything is fine, except they won't put salt on the rims of our marguaritas. So I guess you could say everything is NOT fine.
Let's say 10:45--Eric tells me he's going home. This strikes me as an extraordinary betrayal. Et tu Brutus. That kind of thing. Like Riggins sleeping with Street's girlfriend while he's still in physical therapy. That kind of thing. In the background I can hear the Ramones cover band playing "I want to be sedated." Join the fucking club, I remember thinking.
10:46--I realize that, despite Eric's pending departure, I am totally feeling my oats. I ascertain that he is "okay." I then decide to stay.
11:20--The BeeGees, so to speak, come on. They are about the worst thing I've ever heard. The only thing that remotely qualifies them for the job is that one of the guys can sing high. As for the rest...really I'm just speechless at how bad they were. We're right in the middle of "cover band night" and I'm thinking they're terrible, even within that context. They are like a Sha-Na-Na/Village People fusion. Only more shtick. Read that last sentence again. Imagine, as John Lennon might have said. Lennon was more his own man than I'll ever be. Even if the Rolling Stones had been next, he would have walked out of the place. I thought my eyeballs were going to bleed. I thought about leaving too. I mean, it was terrible. And despite what Emily had said, there was a voice in my head saying "Get the hell out of here. You don't give a shit about Guns 'n'Roses, so who even cares if this band is better?"
11:21--This internal dialogue is taking so long I've moved forward one minute in time. And I'm staying. The reason? I had also heard that somebody from the GnR band belonged to a band called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and I have, for reasons way too complicated to explain here, a passing interest in that band. So I stay.
11:45--The BeeGees mercifully gone, I get a marguarita for the road, so to speak, and wend my way downstairs. The place is full, but not packed. And during the downtime between the two bands, there's enough space to slide up to what one might call the second row, if they had arranged chairs in rows. If they even had chairs.
Let's call it Midnight--Mr. Brownstone arrives. Mr. Brownstone is the name of the band. It's also the name of a GnR song. It's also a reference to heroin. It's all making sense to me now, as I wrap that piece of rubber around my arm and start slapping the inside of my elbow with my two fingers, trying to find a vein.
12:01--Can't find a fucking vein. Decide not to do any heroin. Do you know what they call a cup of coffee and a marguarita? A beatnik speedball. Somebody tell Belushi.
12:02--Mr. Brownstone launches into its set with a song that I, unlike literally everybody else in the place, had never heard even once in my life. Far be it from me to be a wet blanket, however, so I start bobbing up and down like everybody else.
12:04--I am standing close enough to the lead singer so that when the first half-filled cup of beer thrown from the audience hits his shoulder, we both get wet. Hmmm, I remember thinking.
12:15--The place is starting to go bananas. I look down and to my left where there, at first, appears to be an empty space in the crowd. It turns out, it's a guy in a wheelchair. He's going bananas too, only he's not standing up. Were it me in a wheelchair, I would have honestly been scared to death.
12:30--We've moved past bananas. It's bigger than bananas. The place is now plantains. Which, really, are just massive bananas. Just massive! I find myself screaming words to songs I didn't know I had in me. I wonder for a moment if this is what speaking in tongues is like.
12:45--It's possible that drool is coming out of the side of my mouth, but I can't tell. The lead singer has just taken a swig of Jack Daniels and then spit it back out. Right on me. Thank God I'm wearing my Manhattan College t-shirt.
12:50--Somebody--maybe a roady--leaps into the crowd from the stage. I'm worried he's going to kill my boy Street, so I help out as well as I can. And then it hits me:

I am Tim Riggins!
Does any of this make sense to you? Do you know who Street is? Former star QB of the Dillon Panthers football team. Number 6? Throws an interception at the beginning of last season, breaks his neck tackling the guy, paralyzed from the solar plexus down? Stuck in a wheelchair. Like the guy next to me. Tim Riggins? Star fullback on the same team. Number 33? Street's best friend ('til he starts banging his girlfriend Lyla. I'm beggin' darlin' please...)? 6'4''--brooding, muscle-bound loner, but one of the most beautiful men you will ever see. Hey, men can be beautiful. Look at me.

If this guy in the wheelchair is #6, I think to myself, then I must be Tim Riggins.
Wow. I've spent a long time trying to figure out what it all means, and now that I've got it, what do I do from here? I'll tell you this--the next time the roady came flying off the stage, I gave him enough of a shove that tomorrow he'll be shitting his adam's apple. Nobody jumps on my boy Six.

12:53--The first bra comes flying over my head. It lands on the neck of the rhythm guitarist's Telecaster. Everybody appears to be playing Fenders, for you completists. Plus more beer. I like how the band members lean over the audience and flip us the bird. We, in a group, flip it back and scream "Fuck You" at the top of our lungs. So much beer is being transferred back and forth (the band likes to drink some and spit the rest), that the guitars are dripping wet.
Let's say Twenty of Two--Who knows where the time goes? I think I'm confused about what happened when. Suffice to say that at some point they slide into the kind of jammy, sloppy rendition of Knocking on Heaven's Door that makes you think two things: first--who knew Guns 'n' Roses wrote Knocking on Heaven's Door? and two--they must be wrapping up.
2:05--The bass player falls off the stage backwards. Me and this other guy catch him and push him back up. I try to steal his wallet, but he's not carrying one.
2:10--Slash falls off the stage a little ways from me so all I can do is flip him the bird and shout "Fuck you."
2:15--Bras and whiskey and beer and plastic beer cups fill the air. The band is slamming through another song (I must say, they were really good). I turn around and stare back at the crowd for about the hundredth time. I realize that nobody in this room is even close to my age. Is that odd? What, exactly, does that say about me? I wish I could figure out a Young Frankenstein brain scene joke, but I can't.
2:30--I can't type any more. Besides, the concert is over. I get in a cab. The cabbie asks where to? Before I can stop myself, I throw the rest of my beer at him and scream fuck you. Then I realize that you can't just act like this in public. I have to pretend to be normal now. My name is Abbie Normal. I go home. The rest is history.
2:45--Actually, the rest is not history. I have the cabbie stop at the deli at the corner of 7th and 7th. I order a tuna salad on rye with lettuce and tomato. Now, at first glance this would be the behavior of somebody who is consuming drugs. Me? I lead a relatively drug free existence. I was just so freaking hungry. Besides, had I been stoned, I would have bought one of those pint containers of chocolate-chip cookie-dough. If that's how the hyphens shake on on that one.
2:50--I go home. The rest is history.

Shit -- it's One O'Clock

I'm rooting for the Broncos and the Panthers.  I wonder if there's any skating on NBC.

Mastering the Double Axel

The fun thing about Olympic season is that both NBC and The Mothership Herself (She being, of course, The New York Times) are devoting way more timeslashspace to covering winter sports.  The Times in particular, it seems everday, has lengthy roundup of the bobsledding and luge and biathlon, etc.

I bring this up because yesterday both of the football games went the wrong way for me.  So I was switching away.  And in most cases, I was switching to NBC to watch some skating.  The US championships, more specifically.  With the Olympic slots somewhat on the line.  Got to see White and whoever the woman is with the interesting face, unless she's White, set a record score in the dance competition.  Not my favorite event, but you watch these two and you have to appreciate what is obviously the best pair in the world.  By like a mile.

And I like the woman with the interesting face more after I read an interview with her in which she laughed at what she calls her "ambiguous ethnic makeup."  And it's good to be able to laugh about stuff like that.

Then, during the Patriots game -- Lord have mercy, seeing the Patriots run like that puts the fear of God into a person, doesn't it? -- I managed to watch Gracie Gold win the gold and Ashley Wagner blow herself to smithereens.  It should be noted that Ms. Wagner spent so much time sitting on the ice rather than skating over it that they should have charged her a rental fee.

Anyway, enough with the meanness of spirit.  Are you aware that Daughter #2's middle name is Grace?  So I had to root for Ms. Gold.  And I've always been fond of Mirai Nagasu, who was once the cutest little kid you could imagine ...

... then lost herself (skating-wise), but who now appears to have found herself again [Cue here Amazing Grace].

Finding oneself is always a good thing, particularly after you've been lost.  But because the Olympic experience in general, and ice skating in particular, is a petrie dish awash in ethical toxins, the smart money says that today, as some point, the powers that be decide that our Olympic representatives will be Gold, because she won the championship, that skinny 15 year old, because she came in second, and      ...      Ashley Wagner because of her total resume.

And my girl Mirai will be left on the cutting room floor.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Brown Sugar

Given my track record, you're probably thinking I'm going to say something about the Rolling Stones.  But no, friends.  I'm talking about the brick of actual brown sugar I had in my cupboard.  A fused-together lump that was virtually useless.  Until I put it in a plastic container with two slices of bread.  Which I did two days ago.

This morning I open the thing up and the brown sugar was as soft and fluffy as the snow they get in Aspen.  Or Telluride.  Only brown.

This is me making your life just a little bit easier.  Magnificent.

I'm told you can also do this with shards of clay pottery.  Go figure.

Friday, January 10, 2014

1:45 am

live blogging my life:  am thinking of either going to bed or playing Assassins Creed 4:Black Flag until the sun comes up.  Will report ack.

Giving Wodehouse the Cheese

Okay, fine.  I tried to quit but couldn't.  I'd be sitting downstairs, typically reading the paper, spy something and think "Shit -- I've got to run upstairs and write something about this on the blog."

Then I'd realize I couldn't do that anymore.  And instead of making me feel free, the way I thought quitting the blog would do, it made me feel sad.

A friend of mine told me the other day:  "You're a man with things to say."

Which was a wake up call.  It would be nice to wake up next to Suzanne Pleshette but that's probably asking too much.

Besides, I think she's dead.

Anyway, it was a slap to the head, in a good way.  A cup of the old perk-me-upper, as P. G. Wodehouse might have put it.  I'm reading, with two minds, a book titled "Jeeves and the Wedding Bells" by a guy named Sebastian Faulks, who frankly admits that it's an homage to one of my top five writers of all time.

Or fromage.  Whichever isn't the cheese.

Coming To ...

The Artist lies sleeping in the bed of a well-appointed bedroom.  Night tables on either side, a small van Gogh hangs on the wall above the headboard. Next to him, also sleeping, is Suzanne Pleshette. 
Suddenly, The Artist awakens violently, sitting bolt upright in bed

Oh my God!

MS. PLESHETTE (Sleepily)
What is it?

I just had the most disturbing dream. I can't even begin 
to describe it, but I was having dinner in a diner with a 
talking dog and then there was a loud bang and everything 
went blank.

Sounds horrible. Lie back down and relax. It was just a dream.
Everything will be fine in the morning.  Go to sleep.