January 2006 Archives

Random Songs

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Another issue of the Random 10, where I grab a bunch of CDs from my shelf, and rip some songs from them. I'm up to 208 tracks now, and still missing my MP3 player. This time, my list may even be cranked to 11.

Mojo Mama
  • Pat Scott - "Today I Sing The Blues" (Mojo Mamas [2000]) : Recently I went to Chicago on a business trip and, of course, we had to hit some blues clubs. One night, we went to Blue Chicago, a very popular club and saw a very dynamic group, Willie Kent and the Gents, with a special guest singer Patricia Scott. They were so good, I went up and bought a CD. Turns out it was this one, a collection of female blues singers, and not one of Willie Kent, but still, there's some great songs on this, including this standout by the women we heard.
  • Michelle Shocked - "Anchorage" (Short Sharp Shocked [1988]) : From her breakout sophomore album, this is the song I first heard from her. But she is an amazing talent, with a wide ranging set of musical tastes. I'd love to get the re-issue of this, which includes a second disc of even more goodies. She recent came out with three CDs all at the same time! One Mexican/Latin music, another of Walt Disney covers, and a third more "normal" CD!
  • Goanna - "Every Passing Day" (Oceania [1984]) : One of my favorite alt-rock bands from the 80s, hailing from my favorite foreign country, Australia. More well known (if you could call it that) for their Spirit of Place CD, with the alt-rock hit Solid Rock (Sacred Ground) on it, this particular song is probably one of my top ten favorite songs of all time. I picked this CD up while we were visiting Australia (see some of my slides posted here on this blog), and it doesn't even show up on the AllMusic.com Goanna Discography!
  • Peter Frampton - "Show me the Way" (Frampton Comes Alive! [1976]) : Okay, we all have our guilty pleasures from our teenage years, and this is one of mine, so stop snickering already! It remains the biggest selling live album of all time, a pretty miraculous thing considering he was virtually unknown before this album. This is a good song, but it pales in comparison to the nearly 15 minute epic, "Do You Feel Like We Do" found on disc 2, with one of the best guitar breaks of all time.
  • Sarah Polley - "Courage" (The Sweet Hereafter Original Soundtrack [1997]) : I bought the DVD for this movie even before I owned a DVD player. A wonderfully complex film by Atom Egoyan, as well as a compelling book with a completely different focus by Russell Banks, the soundtrack had me go out and grab a CD by Mychael Danna, the composer. This song is a heartbreaking lament, echoing the themes of loss found in the story itself:
    Courage, my word
    It didn't come, it doesn't matter
    Courage, my word
    It didn't come, it doesn't matter
    Courage, couldn't come at a worse time.

    There's no simple explanation
    For anything important any of us do
    And yea the human tragedy
    Consists in the necessity
    Of living with the consequences
    Under pressure, under pressure.

  • Peter Murphy - "Indigo Eyes" (Love Hysteria [1988]) : featuring two of my favorite 80s alt-rock songs, this and "Time Has Got Nothing To Do With It", the former lead singer of Bauhaus has some seriously catchy pop songs here.
  • Dead Can Dance - "Rakim" (Toward The Within [1994]) : A great live album, we went to see them play the Berklee a few (probably many now...) years ago, and it was a wondrous thing. Sometimes, these electronica / fusion bands like DCD can rely too much on their machines and end up offering nothing special when you see them in concert (like how I felt after watching The Cranes in concert), but DCD put on a riveting audio/visual feast. And this CD does a good job of reflecting the energy of their performance, even without the eye candy (available as a video release too). Now I need to find a Region 1 copy of "El Niño de la luna", Lisa Gerrard's acting debut.
  • The The - "Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)" (Infected [1986]) : Matt Johnson sings of being a bad boy - traveling and looking for some fun.
    Trying so hard to be myself, I'm turning into somebody else.
  • And three from the previously mentioned Children of Nuggets:
    • The Stems - "She's Fine"
    • The Spongetones - "Maryanne"
    • The Times - "I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape"
    The first two of these songs are very retro sounding, almost 50s-ish. But they sure are alot of fun and great driving songs. The Times song is a very cute song about rescuing The Prisoner; real nice chorus. I been listening to the Nuggets CDs in my car, trying to get the most from them, and I'm enjoying them more and more. I recently RIPped a bunch of songs from this CD (the orange disc one), so it can't be all bad!

We had a couple of new cocktails last night. I've had a hard time finding inspiration for our cocktails the past couple of weeks. Not sure why; perhaps I haven't had a "hook" to use. I often start with a particular ingredient (say, orange bitters or Chambord or even lemon juice) and try to find something interesting from there, but I haven't even had that for an inspiration. Luckily, with my new collection of cocktail books, I have plenty of places to turn for new recipes.

The first one is from one of my new books, this one by David Biggs called, plainly enough, Classic Cocktails. It is almost as high quality as my previously mentioned book, New Classic Cocktails - heavy glossy paper, beautiful pictures, fold over leafs on both the front and the back covers to keep your page. It's a little bit smaller than NCC, measuring about 7 1/2" by 4 1/2" but still a very nice book. Biggs does a nice thing with the recipes - he just does them in "parts" and lets you figure out exactly how to measure it out. That way, it doesn't matter where you are, just get the ratios right.

    Rolls Royce

  • 1 part cognac (Hennessy Cognac)
  • 1 part Cointreau
  • 1 part orange juice

Do the usual - get some crushed ice, pour the ingredients over it, shake well, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I think Cointreau has to be just about my favorite mixer. In my all time favorite movie, Casablanca, several of the patrons at Rick's order Cointreau straight up, but I'm not sure I'm brave enough for that - a little too sweet, I'd think. But it adds the perfect touch to many of my own classic cocktails, like the Sidecar and the Evan. Unfortunately, I didn't have any oranges to squeeze, so we used Tropicana orange juice, which is at least "Not From Concentrate". But still, this cocktail lacked anything memorable. It went down just fine, but probably nothing we'll go back to.

Then we followed it up with another one from my NCC book, which is fast becoming my favorite cocktail book. This time, it was the twist on the classic Bacardi Cocktail:

    Bacardi Cocktail II

  • 1 1/2 parts Bacardi 8
  • 1 part apple juice
  • 2 tsps. Chambord
  • 1 tsp. simple syrup

Bacardi 8 is 8 year old rum, and a very fine rum indeed. Chambord is a good raspberry liqueur, and together it made a very nice cocktail. I later tried the Bacardi 8 in my old standby, a Rum and Coke, but found it to be too sweet, something I've discovered is true with many premium rums. I prefer plain ol' Bacardi white or Capt. Morgan Spiced Rum in my R&C.

I still haven't gotten around to making my own simple syrup, which is a very simple concoction of sugar and water. I think it is because I haven't purchased and sterilized a nice bottle to store it in. I have found a cool looking source to buy some simple syrup - Stirrings, by Nantucket Offshore, makes rimmers, mixers and simple syrup. I received an email from them, telling me about some local places that purport to sell their stuff, so I'm going to have to check them out.

After managing to get through two more levels of Serious Sam II, we watched episode 4 from Season three of The Sopranos. Lots of domestic problems in this one!

New Blog Worm

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Back online!

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Phew! Jiggle The Handle is back online after a catastrophic hardware failure. Not sure what went wrong, but the old server was beeping sadly, like R2D2's death rattle might sound like. So I created a new server, taking this opportunity to upgrade to FreeBSD 6.0 and MySQL 5.0. It went about as well as could be expected, I guess. Still not completely up, but we're getting there!

Friday music

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Children Of Nuggets box shotAs part of my Christmas present, I bought myself Children Of Nuggets: Original Artyfacts From The Second Psychedelic Era 1976-1995, a 4 CD collection from Rhino Records, a sort of sequel to the Lenny Kaye's seminal Nuggets, which celebrated the "garage rock" of the 60s. This massive set includes songs from The Cramps, The Smithereens, The Chills, Julian Cope, etc. It's a real impressive package - four very pretty CDs, along with a 50 page or so full color booklet, describing each song, the genre, etc.

But I have to admit, so far I'm a little disappointed. I was hoping for more "power pop", but these songs don't really seem to have the hooks that reach out and grab me. So far, most of the songs I like from the CDs are songs I already have, or are by artists I already know. I haven't yet run into a song that made me stop what I was doing and investigate further, which surprises me. After reading the booklet, I thought there'd be lots of lost treasures (or "nuggets", shall we say), but they haven't surfaced yet. Here's some notes on the CDs so far.

CD#3 :
 "Unguarded Moment" - The Church : Great Aussie band, I have this CD,
    their debut album Of Skins and Heart.
 "Sunspots" - Julian Cope : He sounds like The Stranglers!
 "Hindu Gods Of Love" - Lipstick Killers : My favorite "driving guitars"
   song on this set so far.
 "Pink Frost" - The Chills : I own Soft Bomb, but this
   is a pretty solid song too.

CD#4 :
 "Like Wow - Wipeout!" - The HooDoo Gurus : A favorite Aussie band of mine
   from the 80s
 "Getting Out Of Hand" - Bangs (good early Bangles song)
 "You're My Loving Way" - The Aardvarks (minimal surf pop, practically)
 "Cheated and Lied" - The Vipers : Interesting, old sounding pop songs.

You can read an excellent full review on this big set here on AllMusic.com.

Roederer Estate Brut bottleWe had a few bottles of champagne left over from New Year's (yeah, we're not quite the same partiers we used to be; but then again, who is?), so I figured we'd try a couple of the champagne cocktails. My new book, New Classic Cocktails, had a number of good sounding ones, so we tried those.

    Classic Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1-2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz brandy (Hennessy again
  • 4 oz chilled Champagne (in this case, Roederer Estate Anderson Valley Brut sparkling wine)
  • orange twist to decorate

Put the sugar cube into a chilled cocktail or Champagne glass and saturate with the bitters. Add the brandy, then fill the glass with the chilled Champagne. Decorate with the orange twist.

A strange concoction, to be sure. Who would've thought to put a sugar cube into champagne? And soak it in bitters, as well? But it worked very well, and we both enjoyed it. I was postulating that it was invented by someone who wanted to mask the taste of a lower end champagne, but the Roederer Estate held its own pretty well.

    The Classic's Classic

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 4 oz of champagne (same Roederer Estate)

This was the "twist" recipe from the book (remember, it has a classic and a "with a twist" variation). You make it the same way, only it has an orange-y flavor to it. This worked out so well, I decided to twist the twist:

    JD Classic

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes of orange bitters
  • 1 oz Grand Marnier
  • 4 oz of champagne

Make it the same way again, only soak the sugar cube in orange bitters. This would, I think, work out very well. But I got too enthralled with playing Serious Sam II that I forgot to take the champagne out of the freezer where I had put it to chill some more :-( So we ended up with a slush! It actually worked out pretty well, and I think I'd like to try this recipe again. I'm a big fan of orange bitters with the orange-y liqueurs like Grand Marnier and Cointreau.

Dawkins quotes

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Some more Dawkins quotes, from his book A Devil's Chaplain amzn, which I just found on Bookcloseouts.com for US$5 (sorry, I got the last one:-):

We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further

and

To label people as death-deserving enemies because of disagreements about real-world politics is bad enough. To do the same for disagreements about a delusional world inhabited by archangels, demons, and imaginary friends is ludicrously tragic.

And quoting HL Mencken:

We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.

Reading List update

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So, how I am doing on my reading list, you might ask. To be honest, not very well. I've read some, but I add them much faster than I read them, so it is much like other parts of my life, where I can't seem to catch up. But at least with books, it is a fun race!

  • I haven't had a chance to do any more reading of the James Agee books, although I was able to renew them for one more go 'round.
  • I finished Old Man's War. It was an okay sci-fi combat novel. Nothing too deep or very meaty, but the characters were engaging enough. I kept hoping for more though. I won't be rushing out to buy the second novel in the series, which is due Real Soon Now, The Ghost Brigades. Probably won't even remember to read it when it makes it to the library.
  • I truly loved Unfinished Business, right to the last word. Bill Simmons was right - this is a great sports book!
  • Speaking of Simmons, I'm currently reading Now I Can Die In Piece and am finding it pretty good. It is a collection of his old blog and ESPN columns, with side notes talking about how he currently feels, what happened in the end, etc. Once again, I can't renew it due to its popularity, so I'll probably give it up soon and wait for the paperback.
  • I did finished The Journey Of Crazy Horse on tape and found it to be an excellent listen. Highly recommended. I would even recommend the tape over the book, so you get the Indian pronunciations correct.

I have added, of course, many more books to my pile. I received a few for Christmas, and requested a few more from the library:Hammered cover pic

  • Hammered by Elizabeth Bear [ISBN 0553587501] : Scalzi posted a question in his Whatever blog, about Gateway Science Fiction, where he asked for sci-fi intro novels, and this one came up a few times. He's also mentioned it a few times himself, so I thought I'd order up a copy from the library. Looks like it could be a cool noir sci-fi novel.
  • The PayPal Wars : battles with eBay, the media, the mafia, and the rest of planet Earth by Eric M. Jackson [ISBN 0974670103] : A description of the founding and growth of PayPal, the online payment center, by one of its insiders.
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley [ISBN 0760732663] : A book on tape. I like the classic horror books (Dracula is one of my favorite books of all time), but this one has been slow going. A little wordy, with emotions over the top. Might be better as a real book, where I can skim some of the excessive language. But we'll see.
  • Drive by James Sallis [ISBN 1590581814] : The cover blurb calls Sallis "one of the nation's most respected and honored writers", but to be honest I've never heard of him! I forget where I came across the recommendation for this book, a short noir about a guy ("Driver") who is a stunt driver by day and an armed robber by night. Looks pretty good, and I might have to try a few others by this author.
  • Gardens of the moon by Steven Erikson [ISBN 0765310015] : I came across author and game designer Mike Stackpool's home page, and checked out his reading list (he's find it as hard as I am keeping his pages up to date:-). It's always fun to see what others are reading. It's a very long and comprehensive list, and includes one by the aforementioned Sallis, but the one that caught my eye was this one. We seem to have similar taste in books, at least where my previous reading had intersected his (his has more sci-fi than mine), and he couldn't say enough great things about this series. And it sounded enough like A Story of Fire and Ice by Martin that I thought I'd give it a whirl. Looks to have great promise, and I may have to get it in paperback. Actually, I just noticed that BookCloseouts.com has the hard cover for only US$5.99!
  • Blink : the power of thinking without thinking by Malcolm Gladwell [ISBN 0316172324] : A book about intuitive thinking, by the author of The Tipping Point, which also sounds interesting.

As for Christmas gifts, I got a few books. I received several very interesting cocktail books, which I will write about as I use the recipes. Otherwise, it was the usual assortment of sports, parenting and movie books: Watching Baseball cover pic

  • Watching Baseball : Red Sox World Series Edition by Jerry Remy [ISBN 0762737492] - I had taken this book out from the library a few months ago, and decided it would be a good one to own, so I returned it. And voila, it showed up under the Christmas tree - and the "World Series Edition" to boot! Local icon Jerry Remy talks about the game behind the game and things to look for while watching a game. Lots of interesting vignettes.
  • Leonard Maltin's 2006 Movie Guide : an annual gift that keeps on giving. While I disagree with some reviews (both Memento and Run Lola Run get the shaft), it is a very handy guide to have around. Now I just have to add his Classic Movie Guide, as he moved some of the older listings over to this book, which is updated less frequently.
  • The Autobiography of Santa Claus by Jeff Guinn [ISBN 1585422657] : Looks kind of interesting, as he weaves fact and fiction in the story of Santa Claus.
  • Fun With The Family : Massachusetts by Marcia Glassman-Jaffe [ISBN 0762734922] : This is the 5th edition of a travel guide to Massachusetts, with a special emphasis on "hundreds of ideas for day trips with the kids". Oddly enough, I gave my wife a very similar book. We love to do stuff with the kids, and I hope to get out and see some things we haven't seen yet.
  • The Little Red (Sox) Book - "Curse Reversed" Edition by Bill "Spaceman" Lee [ISBN 1572435275] : Very funny revisionist history, written as if the Red Sox were the continual champions instead of the Yankees.

Phew! Plenty to keep me busy over the next few lifetimes, wouldn't you say?

Web Links of the Week

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Here are some cool links I've found over the last couple of weeks. I figure I'll just document them here, saving them for future reference, and if someone else finds them interesting, all the better!

  • Ask Yahoo : they answer one question per day, with a nice archive of previous questions. It's pretty fun, and I have it added to my RSS subscription on Bloglines.
  • For the computer programmers out there, the full text of the classic software engineering title, "Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs", and associated lectures from MIT.
  • Alternet.org's 10 best Top Ten lists : in honor of the season, a top ten lists of top ten lists.
  • Flickr.mov : A very cool Quicktime movie; a song that uses free Flickr pictures to illustrate the lyrics. It was written around the images, and not vice-versa.
  • Perils of Java Schools : Joel Spotsky, software developer and entrepreneur, writes an excellent column on software engineering. In this one, he rails against college CS courses that make it too easy on the students by using Java.
  • Microsoft Codename Max : a beta version of Max, which is a photo album/sharing net application.
  • Live.com : Microsoft's take on a Start page, using fancy AJAX technology, for a real live Web application. Be sure to check out their take on Google Maps, Windows Live Local.
  • Writely.com : an online browser-based word processor. Publish to your blog, save as a real web page, whatever. More fancy AJAX technology.
  • Start.com : yet another Microsoft Start page. Not really sure how this differs from Live.com.
  • MSN Sandbox : previews of upcoming Microsoft web and Windows apps, like Virtual Earth and Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware.
  • Protopage.com : Some really fancy AJAX technology at work here on this personalizable start page. Drag and drop windows, add views, etc.
  • Extracts from the Club Diary : cute short story about coffee.
  • this WEEK in TECH : a very cool podcast featuring Leo Laporte, great ex-host of Tech TV before they screwed it all up, John Dvorak and other tech nerds. That's where a lot of these links from this week come from.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

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