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Showing posts from March, 2011

The CIA is in Libya...

First off, I already assumed the CIA was there. But now knowing that the CIA is on the ground in Libya fills me with a mixture of relief and apprehension. Relief, because, in my mind, there's nothing the CIA is incapable of doing if they want to. If they want Qaddhafi gone...that dude had better start packing his bags. But apprehension, because what this essentially means is we're going to prop up another government or another wacked-out ruler that we're going to dredge up from god-knows-where, put him in office, arm him, and in five years we'll be bombing his palace. Even in my quarter century or so of cognizant years on this planet, I've already seen it before too many times. Now that the G-Men are there, this whole thing will be over shortly. Just you watch. You'll know the CIA has done it's job when a new little guy pops up as "the people's choice" to take over the new, democratic Libyan state. Qaddhafi, the clock is ticking, sir.

Black Orpheus...or, "City of God" before the hard drugs

I just saw the movie Black Orpheus (1959), a film set in the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janiero during carnival, and paralleling the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice from Ovid's Metamorphoses. As 50s films go, it's really not bad in and of itself. It's fun to watch because of the exotic music and setting, and doesn't have that " yawn -when-is-this-going-to-be-over" quality like a lot of films of the period. What's especially cool is that it's a more innocent look at favela life before the advent of hard drugs, which is where the film City of God comes in. If you've seen and liked City of God , you should watch Black Orpheus , just to see what I'm talking about. Briefly... Black Orpheus is a technicolor re-telling of the legend of Orpheus, a musician and son of the sun god Apollo. Orpheus is legendary for his ability to charm all things--people, animals, even rocks--into obeying his commands. When his wife Eurydice is killed and sent to th

Dumpster Diving: Beaten at my own game...

I, like many people who don't have as much money as they'd like to, am somewhat of an amateur dumpster diver. You'll never see me actually go inside a dumpster, mind you, but when I see something nice sitting on the sidewalk with someone's trash, it's mine. Hey, I'm only human. I used to live in Manhattan, which is a dumpster diver's paradise. There you have all levels of wealth living in close proximity, and you'd be shocked at what people throw away on the street. I've found perfectly good peices of furniture, books, CDs, suitcases, paintings, even electronics equipment just sitting on the sidewalk waiting to be swallowed up by the city...or me. I also lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a neighborhood that has to be one of the most literary neighborhoods in the city. There you will routinely find whole boxes of discarded books on people's stoops. At one point half my book collection came from found merchandise. All this is to say, I've got

From the Vault: Led Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door

Aha! You forgot about In Through The Out Door , didn't you? This often overlooked Led Zeppelin album is one of my absolute favorites. One summer it was the only tape (yes...I said tape ) that I had in my jeep, and so I listened to it no less than five dozen times. When you listen to an album that many times, it becomes part of your brain waves forever. You memorize the changes between the songs so well that, forever after, when you hear one of the individual songs on the radio you expect to hear the next song from the album and it seems almost PREPOSTEROUS that anything else could come next. That's the relationship I have to In Through The Out Door . This album has some sublime songs on it, like the opener "In the evening," which has that classic, Zeppelin heaviness about it, to the oddball jump-blues sound of "Hot Dog," to the eerie, wending darkness of "Carouselambra." And let's not forget the bittersweet "All of my love," and

Rocky Balboa and the Butler Bulldogs

So the Butler Bulldogs once again snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in another David vs. Goliath match up. If you're looking for serious basketball commentary, forget it. I'm officially a Fair Weather fan. The first Butler game I watched this year was during the tournament. BUT...that doesn't mean I can't see the glaring parallels between my favorite college basketball team and my favorite fictional character: Rocky Balboa. The Butler Bulldogs and Rocky Balboa have a lot in common. They're tough, scrappy, and they don't give up. They're always the underdog but somehow, through sheer determination and grit, they come out on top. I mean, time and time again Rocky Balboa came into the fight expected to be OBLITERATED. I mean, that was the plot of Rocky's I, II, and IV. The only one that broke the trend was Rocky which Rocky made the cardinal sin of forgetting his roots, and therefore got clobbered by Clubber Lang. He only succeeded by gettin

The Pork Tenderloin Sandwich: An Indiana Classic

One of the joys of living in Indiana (and these are manifold) is the infamous Pork Tenderloin Sandwich. No...I did not say plain old pork tenderloin ...which is a short, tubular thing that you roast and slice up--and which is also great--I said pork tenderloin s andwich . It's basically a piece of pork that is pounded until it's razor-thin (sometimes even thinner. I ate one once that was one pork-molecule thick), then breaded, fried, and eaten on a bun. I used to turn up my nose at these things for some reason, but then I actually stepped off my high horse and tried one. Amazing. I've eaten the pork tenderloin sandwich at at least a half-dozen locations now and it's become one of the simple pleasures of my life. I need not describe how it tastes: it's a razor-thin peice of breaded pork on a bun. You get the idea. The only thing is, I've NEVER encountered one of these things outside Indiana. In fact, anywhere else I've ever tried to order a pork tenderloin

Music Review: Cut Copy's new album "Zonoscope"

In one sentence: Take 80s electro-pop dance music and remove the shrink-wrap, rough it up with some stronger beats, spaced-out techno sound-effects, and edgier lyrics and you've got Cut Copy's Zonoscope . Heyo...just spreading the word about a group I've just gotten hip to: Cut Copy. I just got their latest album Zonoscope (2011), and it's just about the most entertaining thing I've heard in my several months long quest to get updated on modern music. Before I get to the complex, music-writing mumbo-jumbo about their "sound"...lemme just say, the second song on the album, "Take me over," sounds eerily like Fleetwood Mac's disco-ish "I wanna be with you everwhere," but with a stronger beat and some really nice techno sound effects and more fun lyrics thrown in. This track definitely has that "wait-a-minute-what's-this?" quality about it. It will stop you in your tracks and make you think you've been transported

Is anything made in the U.S.A. anymore??

I just got a new shirt from the Woolrich Company (based in Pennsylvania); a style of shirt that just happens to be named after a creek where I like to fish. But when I looked at the tag it said "Made in India." It's not that I'm surprised, necessarily, but I have to say a certain feeling of disappointment came over me. I always assumed Woolrich to be one of those companies that's a last bastion of Good Old Fashioned American Tradition, making rugged outdoor wear--right here in America--for the rugged outdoorsman. Right? Wrong. Same thing with L.L. Bean, so I've learned. And it's probably the same thing with Orvis and Pendleton and all the other companies that I've come to respect as quality American brand names. What does it matter, you might ask? Don't I realize that the garment industry employs millions of people in third world countries who might not otherwise have jobs? That the purchasing power of the ordinary American citizen still basicall

Gadhafi vows "long war"

Yeah, well...the Colonel vows a lot of things. In 50 years of dictatorship, this guy's still a Colonel? You'd think he'd have made General by now. Sheesh... Seriously, it's amazing how times change. Twenty-five years ago this guy was Public Enemy No. 1. His people were hijacking planes and promising the death of Western Civilization. Reagan had to level Gadhafi's palace to get him to shut up and behave. Fast forward to the mid-2000s...two short years ago we were hosting this guy and his bizarre, traveling circus tent full of Amazon body gaurds; we were enduring his eight-hour rants in front of the U.N.; we were hailing him as an ally in the fight against terrorism. What a joke that all seems now. The guy should've just gotten out while he could've. Now we're going to bomb his army back to the stone age and hope for the best. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

When in Central Pa....try Straub Beer. It's tasty and diabetic friendly, too!

Whenever I come back to the central Pa. area, I always make it point to drink about a gallon of Straub Beer on draft. The reason being a.) it's damn good, and b.) you can't get the stuff very far outside this area, and c.) even if you could, you couldn't get it on draft, and d.) they advertise with this cute little German gnome-looking guy! Okay, look...I've had fancier, more "complex" tasting beer in my life, and that seems to be all the rage now. You can't throw a pint glass in Indianapolis without hitting another new microbrewery. But frankly, I like a lighter and more crisp beer, which is what Straub is. There's nothing fancy here, in fact they pride themselves on using all natural ingredients, no preservatives, etc. Who knows if that's actually true. But what I know is it's always fresh and easy to drink. In terms of flavor, it's on the order of a Budweiser or Coors regular, but with much more body, less "fizz," and a bit o

Book Review: Manthropology, by Peter McAllister

As far as I know, there's no such thing as Pop Anthropology, but Manthropology , by Peter McAllister probably qualifies. The book uses seemingly genuine anthroplogical methods to tap into one of the deepest and most commonly held laments of modern man: that we are nothing more than pale immitations of the previous milennia of machismo that have come before us. In other words, that Men aren't what they used to be. So what? I'm not really sure. I already know that I have never been in a war, ploughed a field, sailed the open seas, or fathered a half-dozen children by the age of 30...all of which my anscestors have been doing for generation upon generation. I don't need a book to tell me that my predescessors in maleness were more rugged and lived harder lives than I do. I already know that, taking a look at all of history, most of my contemporaries and I would be considered "girlie men." But, what McAllister's book also does is to show that modern males

Music Review: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears new album Scandalous

I'm just starting to shake myself out of a lifetime of subborn resistence to contemporary music, and in that process, I've discovered Black Joe Lewis. Other than hearing a few of his songs here and there, his new album "Scandalous" is my first prolonged exposure to this group. For those who don't know, BJL draws on every variation of blues (Texas, Chicago, jump, etc.), a good deal of James Brown-style soul (lots of horns), with straight, old-fashioned guitar Rock n' Roll. Their sound is reminscent of (at times) James Brown, Sam n' Dave, Eric Clapton, Buckwheat Zydeco, and a souped-up Stevie Ray Vaughn, with each track taking on a different on a subtlely (sometimes not so subltely) different flavor. In fact, the tracks on this album vary pretty widely from the up-tempo opener "Livin in the Jungle," to the slow and sultry "I'm gonna leave you." To the downright James Brown-ish "Booty City," to the Lenny Kravitz-ish title t