Monday, March 27

If you're fond of sand dunes...

I love the Groove Armada song "At the River" which states:
"If you're fond of sand dunes and salty air/Quaint little villages here and there"
and then....stops.

Yes, I am fond of those things, Groove Armada, but what is the "THEN" of your "IF" statment please?

Turns out they're borrowing from songstress Patty Page, who sang the above lyrics and then added:

"You're sure to fall in love with Old Cape Cod."

I can't tell you how much that had been bothering me...

Friday, March 24

A Day in the Key of Life

To promote the long-delayed 1976 release of "Songs in the Key of Life," Stevie Wonder's fifth consecutive nearly perfect album (following Music of My Mind, Talking Book, Innervisions and Fulfillingness' First Finale, if you're keeping track), his record company rented a farm/recording studio in Massachusetts and bussed in about a hundred reporters and photographers.

Stevie greeted his guests "dressed in a light beige cowboy outfit" the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported, and they enjoyed "a lavish country-style luncheon" as "the smell of marijuana wafted through the air."

Check out the 30 minute movie documenting the day, with a guest appearance from Stevie's daughter Aisha ("Isn't she lovely/Life and love are the same /Life is Aisha/The meaning of her name).

And keep an eye out at the beginning for the amazing billboard advertising the album in Times Square, which cost a whopping $75,000 and was then the biggest in the world.

Sweet Soul Music on YouTube

YouTube has an treasure trove of vintage soul video clips. Here's a selection:

Aretha Franklin - "Daydreaming"

Only the Queen of Soul could perform in front of a giant sign with her name on it!

Donny Hathaway - "The Ghetto"

Sadly only the middle portion of the song but well worth it to see Donny in action.

Stevie Wonder - "Don't You Worry Bout A Thing"

Everybody's got a thing, but some don't know how to handle it.

Otis Redding - "Try A Little Tenderness"
Gladys Knight & The Pips - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"
Curtis Mayfield - "Superfly"
Al Green - "Love and Happiness"

(idea for this post stolen from Moistworks)

UPDATE: I had to add one more clip of Aretha singing "Don't Play That Song For Me." She just kills it.

More Aretha here, here, here here and here.

Friday, March 17

Oddly Enough

I love the Reuters 'Odd' wire -- Some of my fondest moments have been getting my stories up there, along with the cannibals and sex fiends.

One story today may have been the perfect 'Odd,' with a sublime 'kicker' quote at the end.

Elderly lovers stopped on dangerous Italy joy ride

ROME (Reuters) - The zig-zagging car gave them away.

When Italian police pulled over the vehicle, they found a completely naked 70-year-old woman who had been trying to have sex with the driver -- 11 years her junior.

After demanding the joy-riding couple get dressed, the police tested the semi-nude male motorist for drunk driving.

"He was three times over the legal (blood-alcohol) limit," said police commander Angelo D'Anardo in the city of Cologno al Serio, northeast of Milan.

"We assume they must have been drinking at lunch and then things got out of control."

Asked if the couple were married, D'Anardo said he wasn't sure -- but somehow doubted it.

"Married people wouldn't probably do anything like this."

Thursday, March 16

How to Survive a Robot Uprising

(Recommended listening: "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots")

I, for one, would like to welcome our robotic overlords. But they do pose problems for day-to-day survival. To quote Old Glory, the world's leading supplier of insurance against robot attacks, "When they grab you with those metal claws, you can't break free -- because they're metal, and robots are strong." (see video below)

Luckily, David H. Wilson has compiled a handy guide to surviving the coming robot onslaught. You can trust him, he's a doctor -- in robotics!
Sensors are by far the most vulnerable, exposed parts of any robot. Destroy or disable outward-facing sensors such as cameras. A handful of dirt, mud, or water will suffice. It is hard for a robot to wipe mud from its eyes when it has whirring buzz saws for hands.
You know Wilson is bringing the smart when the eggheads at Google -- who are vying for their own "I, for one, welcome our new [insert name here] overlords" status -- invite him for an emergency briefing.

A long list of robot countermeasures here, including:
1. Vote emergency powers to the Supreme Chancellor. He'll create a clone army ...
2. Launch multiple nuclear strikes to bring about nuclear winter and deprive the robots of solar power.
3. Send someone back in time to kill the original designer.

In the robotic overlord system there are two separate but equally important groups: the robots who attack senior citizens and the companies that insure against them. These are their stories. Chung Chung.

Tuesday, March 14

Sounds Like Dynamite

I've already blogged about my fascination with the Panasonic "Dynamite 8" portable 8-track player. But now! Now, Monkeydaemon would like to bring you this EXCLUSIVE offer.

While supplies last you can buy this AMAZING 8-track "sounds like dynamite" T-Shirt!

It slices, it dices, it makes julienne fries!

But wait, there's more!

Ok, there really isn't. No C.O.D.'s, bitches.

Click here for the goods, courtesy of Google Pages and Cafepress.

Monday, March 13

Strawberries & Skim

....and a diet Pimms on the side, please.

It ssems the copious buttocks of spectators at the All England Lawn Tennis Club have run amok, forcing Wimbledon organisers to refit Centre Court seats to make them two inches wider.

Undoubtedly fans will now find something else to whinge about.

But it does not answer the unanswerable conundrum of the sport: Why do fans wear tennis warm-up suits to watch tennis matches?

Monday, March 6

NY Eats

UPDATE -- I've created a Google map of all the places listed below.

Just got back from a gut-busting trip to New York, where I managed to pack in a ton of great meals into my nine-day stay. I ate amazing food with friends and family for (mostly) very little money -- that's my definition of the perfect trip. Let's jump in and get started, in chronological order:

East Village foodie haven located near the nexus of the universe, aka 1st & 1st ("How can the same street intersect with itself?!"). We went for brunch, and though it took a while to get seated, the extensive Bloody Mary menu soothed my soul. I had a Bloody Maria with tequila and spicy peppers; my Dad opted for the mind-boggling Chicago Matchbox: pickled brussels sprouts, baby white turnips, caperberries, green beans, and radishes, plus lemon-infused vodka. Brunch food was generous, straight-ahead and just right. ($30/head)

Charles' Southern Style Kitchen
Fried chicken n' waffles in Harlem. Need I say more? ($7)

My favorite Times Square spot: a hole-in-the-wall lunch counter serving up Cuban and Dominican food buffet style. Don't miss the roast pork or chicharron de pollo, served with beans, rice and platanos maduros. Belly-busting goodness for about $7.

I almost cried tears of joy when my waitress confirmed the presence of burnt ends -- the fatty ends of beef brisket cooked up twice for your artery-clogging pleasure -- and then nearly wept when she cruelly reneged on her offer. A half pound combo of brisket and pulled pork with hushpuppies on the side eased my pain. After I had stuffed myself silly, she brought me some burnt ends after all! Oh waitress, why must thou mock me so? (I ate them cold for breakfast the next day.) ($20/person)

Spotted Pig
It seems bizarre to travel from London, home of the gastropub, only to seek out New York's homage to same, but this one was a winner: Gnudi, dumplings filled with ricotta cheese, in a butter, parmesan and sage sauce. Broccoli rabe on the side. This place is stupidly crowded at nights and on the weekend, but at 2 o'clock on a Thursday afternoon it was the perfect spot to read and nurse my way through my third glass of vino. ($35)

Sushi Yasuda
When someone sits down at his sushi bar, is moved by his fish and announces, "I've never tasted anything like it," Yasuda will matter-of-factly say: "as usual... only one-quarter inch above average."

The best. I'm not dissing Itsu, but it may have forever ruined takeout sushi for me. We sat at the bar and met our own personal sushi master who led us through many, many courses of very fresh fish in delicious combinations. Favorites were the shrimp, drizzled with lemon and crunchy sea salt, and of course the o-toro nigiri.

Only after the fact did I remember the great How to Eat Sushi FAQ I'd read a few months before, and now I wince to think of all of my gaffes. You're supposed to turn the sushi upside down (so the fish hits your tongue first), eat it in two bites, not one, and DO NOT dunk it in soy + wasabi, as a really good sushi chef will have already adjusted the seasonings. Oh well, there's always next time. My friends and I left with that unimitable sushi glow, for only about $50 a person.

Cercle Rouge
Lovely Tribeca bistro, recently opened by former Lutece chef David Féau as a way to (I quote his website) "bring 4-star cooking to the streets." We all had perfect west coast oysters to start, and I followed with a blood rare steak frites. Lots of additional dishes sent out by the kitchen (my dining companions were regulars there). ($? -- thanks for dinner, Peter and Siobhan!)

Jing Fong

The most massive dim sum palace I have ever seen. We're talking mega-banquet room huge. Within five minutes we were plucking scrumptious dumplings from the carts. A gelatinous item made out of turnip and pork (??) was the surprise winner, with pork buns and veggie dumplings also making the honor roll. ($10/person)


Kick-ass noodle and soup joint. This place has mega-buzz as an after-hours chef hangout, and I'd say the masses have gotten the message. It opened at 5:30 on a Saturday night, and when I walked in at 5:35 I got the last seat at the bar! Pork ramen had massive amounts of shredded and smoked pig, piles of veggies and a poached egg. I'm sure you could get the same for cheaper in Flushing or Sunset Park, but I was not about to complain! All for the price of a Wagamama's in London but much, much better. Didn't try the dumplings, pickles or pork buns but they looked damn good. ($20 with a beer)

El Jarro

I know it's a cliche, but Queens is foodie heaven. Didn't get a chance to try the Thai or home-made Korean tofu near my friends' house in Sunnyside, but they did take me to this great Mexican spot where I had beef brisket with a BYO Negro Modelo. ($8/person)