Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Just the quickest entry today to wish a very Happy New Year to all and sundry out there on the internets. To celebrate, here's a shot of my youngest niece Anna on Christmas morning. Little bit of flash-induced red eye and harsh lighting going on, but I think that she and her camera and Hello Kitty still come off as pretty cute.

We worked on that puzzle together until her Grandma and Grandpa came over for the Holiday events. 'Twas fun.

For now - I hope that everyone has a safe and amazingly fun time tonight, and the best 009 imaginable (this is the last year we'll be able to celebrate double-Os for almost a thousand years - make the most of it!!)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Home from the Holidays

Well, I was out in Phoenix visiting the Fam for Xmas - had a great time and took a bunch of photos, including a lot with the new lense my adoring and adorable sister got for me. I'll be posting some of those soon: however, I haven't been able to upload them to this computer yet (and forgot to bring the cable with me today). SO - for now you will have to content yourself with this shot that I'm swiping from said sister's blog. I don't feel the least bit bad about it, because I actually took this one myself, just with her camera.

While we were out shooting bottles with pellet guns in the desert (and you thought my family was boring!) I thought it would be fun to get a shot of my niece Mary in Patty Hearst mode.

Hehehe. Fierce.

Anyway, I had a great time, and it's very good to be back.

And in sad news, Freddie Hubbard died today, only 70. One of the greats, and although he hasn't been all that active the last several years, he'll be missed. Great full life - and if you want to listen to him, WKCR has paused their fantastic and brilliant Bach Festival to have a fantastic and brilliant marathon tribute to Freddie. If you can handle listening to Phil Schaap blather on interminably from time to time (I know, I know - Phil's a legend himself, and one of if not THE most knowledgeable jazz aficionados out there, but: sometimes I just want him to shut up and spin some music), it is most definitely a broadcast worth a listen.

Ave atque vale, Freddie.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yo La Awesome

Yo La Tengo finally took the stage in a blaze of holiday fury. Well, ok, it was more of a good natured shuffle, including commentary on the Menorah (sitting proudly on the piano) which had the wrong candle lit the night before, according to them. Then as they picked up instruments there was a quip that non-earplug portion of the evening had about 3 minutes to go. Which minutes were spent on a loverly version of The Weakest Part, and then, true to their word they launched loudly into a fiery fast version of Big Day Coming.

That photo looks like total crap, but I actually love it because it represents how impossible it was to capture Ira in action on keys, vocals and maraccas on that song. Total action, as Steve would say.

The show was wholly rocking throughout - vintage YLT, with a Velvet Underground cover (Guess I'm Falling in Love), cashmere "hits" (does Yo La Tengo have "hits"? Anyway, they did Autumn Sweater), relative rarities old (Five Cornered Drone) and new (Watch Out for me Ronnie), and collaborations with their guests.

Gotta love that pink sparkly 12-string, right??

They brought it all home with an orgasmic Story of Yo La Tengo and then brought Stephin back up to do some Irving Berlin (Be Careful, It's My Heart - thank you Yo La Blog)

Then came Super Secret Guest #3: Doug Gillard, of the later years of Death of Samantha and some of the highest peak moments of Guided by Voices. They started with George Gershwin's Foggy Day in London Town - this being Hanukkah, a premium was placed on the Jewish American Songbook, to universal acclaim (the universe for the purposes of this discussion consisting of the collected contents of Maxwell's)

The encore set was low-key amazing - more covers, natch. Culminated in "Next Big Thing" which was a perfect lead in for the Super Secretest Guest of them all...

...Ira's mom, who sang "My Little Corner of the World" Fun was had, tears of joy were shed. My understanding is that she comes to sing this at one show every year, but I've never had the fortune to be there before.

Did someone say Hanukkah Miracle? Remember, we were this close to missing not only this show, but the whole series of benefits at Maxwell's (this is a good place to mention that the worthwhile causes for this night's show were Burma Border Projects, and Burmese Refugee Project) Maybe I need to bring a representative of the 12 Tribes to all their shows...

Their Shirts

Before I go on to describe the amazingness that was the headline act of the Hanukkah shows, I feel a responsibility to report on the garb worn by The Magnetic Fields. Being that I'm a fashion maven these days and all. They all had on shirts with the names of famous Art Film Directors done up in fonts associated with heavy metal bands. To wit, Stephin Merritt wore a cotton shoutout to Werner Fassbinder:

Now, perhaps I shouldn't admit that I've never seen Berlin Alexanderplatz, but I lose no props admitting that I know Metallica lettering when I see it, do I?

The rest of the band was rounded out by homages to Ingmar Bergman (Iron Maiden), De Palma (Def Leppard), and Ozu (Ozzy Osbourne, natch).

'Twas then a bit ironic that it was so wintery, even in the club, that they had to wear said shirts under jackets and over sweatshirts; but wear them they did, and for that they're due Collective Fashion Credit.

A Hanukkah Miracle!

SO - it won't come as a surprise to most of you that I can be, well, kind of dumb sometimes. That came up recently as I made plans to take Cory to the Big Opening Night of Hanukkah concert by one of my fave bands, Hoboken's own Yo La Tengo (I've written about these shows before. In fact, it occurs to me that word for word, this may well be every bit as much a Yo La Tengo blog as a Dylan blog). Rather, I thought I'd made plans to see the show on the first night of Hanukkah - what I'd actually done was buy tickets for the 3rd night of Hanukkah, and then somehow convince my reliably unreliable memory otherwise to the extent that I made other, unchangeable plans for that same night.

D'oh! YLT would have to go...

Or would they? Out of nowhere, Cory came up with a pair of tickets for the 2nd night of the Legendary Yo La Tengo Hanukkah Benefit Shows at Maxwells, 2008 Version. (well, it seemed like it was out of nowhere... On the other hand, Cory is one of the Chosen People. Coincidence? You tell me.)

So we were off to Maxwell's for what promised to be a night of good rockin'.

And, ladies and gentlemen, that's what we got, with a lot more thrown in for good measure.

The opening band was The Magnetic Fields, rock artistes extraordinaire. Literate, textured, adventurous, funny, sexy, savvy, hip: what more do you want from four people wielding a guitar, a piano (a real piano, people!) a cello and a bouzouki. Think Leonard Cohen meets the Moldy Peaches, but better.

Ok, it's true. These photos were taken with my cell phone. SO - they kind of suck. But I didn't want to be lugging a camera around for this: can you blame me?

Anyway, they were a great way to open the evening. Universal rejoicing.

Next was the comedy portion of the evening, brought to us by everyone's favorite PC, Johnathan Hodgman.

Yes, that's a martini in his hand, and I think it's only fair. He was, after all, the evening's resident Lapsed Catholic, and I daresay he needed some fortification. Later on, he rocked the ukelele for the sultry Santa Baby. This after a diatribe on the tawdry sexuality that you perhaps didn't realize lurked within Christmas Carols. Beyond I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, beyond Earth Kitt growling Santa Baby, beyond Christmas is Coming (the goose is getting fat), beyond the Valley of the Dolls, there's the inescapable nastiness of When Santa Got Stuck Up the Chimney.
Or at least that's Johnathan's story, and he's sticking to it.

That's it for the opening act. The main event comes later.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Hooray 21st Amendment!

Did you know that it's Repeal Day? Well, it is.

I recommend you make some kind of toast to it with a friend, or even just someone you meet in a bar.

Coffee Art

In honor of a beverage that I enjoy some version of almost every day, here's a reblog to Christoph Niemann's piece in the Times from a couple days ago. It's fun, includes lots of good images, and can be digested in small doses.

Mmmmmmm... coffee...

I am not one of those people who absolutely cannot start the day without some java , but I do like to drink it. A lot. [Those of you pro-health/anti-joy people out there should know that I usually mix caffeinated and decaf to mollify the negative health effects, although sometimes that just gives me an excuse to have more.] And I am one of those people who has a grinder and four separate ways of making coffee set up in his apartment ready to go at a moment's notice:

  • Ye olde coffee maker - Mr. Coffee himself, ol' reliable.
  • French Press - gift to myself for my birthday, thanks to a gift card from Lauretta.
  • Espresso/Cappucino maker - one of the cheapos, with a not-really-powerful-enough steamer, but it does the trick.
  • Manual Drip Funnel - when done right, maybe the best of all. Yum!

So there that is. I will surely get a cup of something good to celebrate this entry.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

out of touch...

...Blog-wise. Hey, it happens.

So I've decided to get myself back in the habit a little by entering posts for the next few days in a row if I can manage it. Maybe it'll spur me to write something more substantial, and if not, at least I'm putting something out there while I'm in production week of what may be the most puzzling show I've worked on in many years (maybe since Bits of String, way back when I still lived in Boston).

More on that later. For now, as I finish a rather nice portobello mushroom bisque, I'll show you some shots from this year's T-day in Peterborough, NH (you remember T-day, right?)

First, here's Molly making magic in the kitchen:

That'd be the beginning of her legendary broccoli cheese extravaganza.

Next, here we have Eliza, the lady of the house, wondering what's up with all the people.
She's awfully cool, though. And a couple days after we left, her mom wrote that she kept asking for 'the people'

Speaking of her mom, here's Rebecca, the hostess extraordinaire.

She and Jason couldn't have been more gracious, and her home and hospitality reached great heights.

Here's one of the pie-making part of the party.

Notice there are not one, not two, but FIVE people involved with making crusts and fillings. And this was just one of several sessions. Couldn't resist being what SueBee (naturally) called the Pieparazzi. And, especially for my readers in Beijing, check out the beard that Chris is sporting these days.

Last but not least, here's a shot of the field trip we took to downtown Peterborough, to start up the turkey ovens (we needed three ovens for all the cooking, roasting and baking we did) and get a taste of Our Town today. (Did you know that Grover's Corners was based on Peterborough? Well, it was.)

As if we weren't having enough fun with the tandem stroller, we visited an antique shop, arty places, kitchy places, and Tamiko even picked up a heavy-duty log grabber for her fire pit in Boston. 'Twas a cold and blustery day, but the walk was well worth it.

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, and is enjoying the holiday season.