Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to all! Here are a couple of my favorite Holiday songs-

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Quick Draw McGraw mashed with German Expressionism

This is awesome, Merrill Markoe,former writer for David Letterman, took an old Quick Draw McGraw cartoon, and spliced it with parts of Peter Lorre's monologue from "M."

How did she think of this? The parts synch up so beautifully (albeit with a little artistic license in the translation.) "M" is a classic of early cinema,and cinema in general. Fritz Lang is a master of Black and White, Shadow and Reflection, and Peter Lorre is one of the best creepy actors of all time! Here is a clip from "M", along with the parts that Merrill used:

Would you buy a used car from this man?

This photo of J. Edgar Hoover from Shorpy caught my eye today- he definitely doesn't look like a man who was one of the most powerful people in the USA for what, 50 years? (Or a guy who dressed in woman's clothes for that matter, but jeeze those are scurrilous and unsubstantiated rumors- so disregard!)

As it is, If you haven't checked out yet, you do yourself a great disservice! You can spend hours looking at the amazing vintage, hi-res images on the site. I am a big fan of the nature shots and the baseball-related pictures myself.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"The Amazing Screw-On Head" Pilot

I am a huge fan of Mike Mignola's comics and his artistic style in general. In particular, I love his use of shadow (I see him as the Caravaggio of comics) and preoccupation with Lovecraftian villians (I love Lovecraftian horror as well.) Here is a pilot for a TV show based on the character made in 2006. It maintains a great deal of Mignola's original artistic style, and throws in some sweet 1860's Steampunk in for good measure. Too bad it wasn't picked up!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fallingwater turning into Sleepover Camp?

It seems that Frank Loyd Wright's masterpiece "Fallingwater" is being opened up for overnight stays for a few lucky tourists. I would probably donate a major organ to sleep over at that place! Hopefully they will extend their sessions soon, as it seems like they are all booked up already. FLW and Antoni Gaudi are probably my favorite architects of all time- they had fantastic imaginations and whimsical ideas. I wish more of today's architects thought outside the box a little more- sure, some of FLW and AG's ideas turned out to be a bit impractical, but can't a bit of practicality be sacrificed in order to make a work of unmistakable beauty?

Anyways, here is a great tour of Fallingwater off of Youtube- the place is just stunning!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Cartoon from the Archive: Betty Boop and Cab Calloway

The Internet Archive has a lot more than great live music, it has tons of old films and cartoons as well. Here is a great example- a 1932 Betty Boop cartoon featuring Cab Calloway and his Orchestra. The version of "Minnie the Moocher" that they do here might be a little slower than people familiar with the song might be used to, but it still is a great one!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Ahh, if I could afford a band to follow me at all times and play theme music for my every move, this song would be playing most of the time:

(From Here)

Chainsaw Maid

Jeeze, this is a far cry from the days of Gumby and Pokey! This is a great little Claymation film from Takena Nagao, check out his Youtube page for more clay blood and gore! I am a big fan of the Zombie genre, but I think that it is geting a little cluttered these days. However, I think this film gives the genre a fun twist!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Good from Haydee's- Mariachi El Bronx!

Well, Haydee's was not a good experience, but it reminded me of Mariachi El Bronx (MEB)- MEB is a side project of The Bronx, a punk band out of Los Angeles. The Bronx has recorded a few punk albums over the last 6 years, but recently released an album of Mariachi music to expand their sound and challenge themselves. It sounds great! Here are two videos, one for "Cellmates" the first single off the album:

And here is an awesome cover of Prince's "I Would Die for You":

So at least Haydee's wasn't a total loss!

Restaurant Review: Haydee's: not good but good came of it. . . .

So Friday night the Doebunni and I wanted to go out on the town, and check out one of the many Mexican/Salvadoran restaurants in Mount Pleasant. I have heard good things about Haydee's from some of the local blogs, so we checked it out. The inside is very festive, with tables in just about every nook and cranny imaginable, and all decked out in red, white and green happiness. I kind of got a "locally-owned ChiChis" vibe from the place.

Our waitress came up, took our drink orders and gave us a basket of chips and salsa. The salsa was my first red flag, as it tasted like a mild, store-bought salsa, with a watery quality and a strange metallic tang. We soldiered on and ordered:

Ceviche: Perhaps it was a bad idea to order Ceviche in a place like this, but we have ordered Ceviche in DC Mexican-Salvadoran restaurants before (e.g. El Tamarindo) and had it turn out pretty good. Haydee's Ceviche was pretty horrible- mushy fish and little if no shrimp. I also think that I saw some chunks that looked raw, not good at all!

Chicken Quesedilla: DoeBunni ordered a Chicken Quesedilla, which she loves to order at restaurants. She said that it was probably the worst Quesedilla she has ever eaten! She especially hated the chicken, which was cooked or marinaded in a sauce she could not describe or trace it's contents. How can you screw up a Quesedilla anyway? It is like the easiest thing out there to make!

Beef Enchiladas: I had the beef Enchiladas, which were not horrible, but not great either. They were garnished with what looked like fried rice from a box, and decent cheese covered beans.

So, the food was pretty bad. The margaritas were ok, and they had a nice mariachi band that played for most of the night. However this is not a place that I would return to for food, in any concievable scenario! There are plenty of other Mexican-Salvadoran restaurants in Mount Pleasant though!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fela Kuti Biography

Here is an embed of the first part of a great (1983?) biography on Fela Kuti, a Nigerian-born originator of Afro-beat music (the other parts are available on Youtube as well). It is a great piece of work, and really shows a lot about Fela and his struggle against the Nigerian government of the time. There are some awesome excerpts from some of his live performances, showing the driving grooves, strident political messages, and charismatic stage presence that Fela is known for. Fela Kuti is a perfect example of how someone can use music as a weapon to fight injustice and corruption in society.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Restaurant Review: Nava Thai, a spicy gem in the 'Burbs!

Generally when the DoeBunni and I go out for Dinner, we go to a place in DC proper not too far from our home in Columbia Heights. However, I have heard many stories about how much better ethnic foods like Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai are in the Va. and Md. Burbs. Friday night, we put on our pith helmets and ventured into the Md. wilds for Thai food. Nava Thai was the highest-ranked Thai place in the Washingtonian's top 100 restaurants list, so it seemed like a good place to check out.

Getting to the restaurant was not too hard, but we did overshoot the place just a bit. Nava Thai is located in a side street just off of one of the main Wheaton Thoroughfares- the sign for the restaurant is not lit up, so we did not see it at first. We entered the restaurant just before 9 on a Saturday night, so it was a little packed. Nava Thai's decor is warm and woodsy, with exposed wood beams on the ceiling, and happy reclining Buddha statues on mantles. We waited at the bar, and got a round of drinks right before we were seated.

The menu was filled with Thai favorites, and hot dishes are clearly marked with a 1 to 3 pepper heat system. I went a little overboard, ordering two appetizers and a soup to go along with our entrees.

We got the Appetizers and the soup first:
Spring Rolls: Three lightly fried spring rolls- good, but nothing spectacular about them. The dipping sauce was generic sweet and sour sauce (the bright red kind) which I skipped, but the Fish Sauce that Nava Thai supplies as a tableside compliment went great with them.
Hot and Sour Squid Salad: Awesome! Slices of squid cut so it takes a spiky tube quality when cooked, matched with onion, carrot, cabbage and a great spicy and tangy lime sauce- think Tom Yum soup in sauce form. We loved it!
Gulf of Siam soup: Another great dish- think Tom Yum with mixed seafood. There were mussels, shrimp, fish, squid, and unfortunately crab (crap) stick along with some good straw mushrooms. The broth was delicious and had a good spicy kick to it. Aside from the crab stick, a real gem.

The first course was great- but I was worried that I overreached with the second appetizer. My worries were well-founded, as the entrees came out just before we finished up the soup:
Hot and Sour Curry with Shrimp: This was DoeBunni's entree- a soupy curry of shrimp, green beans, cabbage and cauliflower. This two-pepper dish was tasty, but was seriously spicy! When we first ordered it, the waitress warned DoeBunni that it would be very spicy, and DoeBunni asked that it would be "Medium" level, which we both thought would be ok. Unfortunately, the spice hit her hard. Doebunni already dislikes eating rice with her dishes, so she really had nothing to cut the spice of the dish. She was in such a state that we ordered a soymilk to help cut the heat. It was the first time that I have had Thai soymilk, and dang, it is yucky- sweet, and with a palpable soy taste that is great in edamame, but not good with milk! Doebunni toughed it out and ate about half of her dish, the rest now maintains an ominous presence in our fridge at home! Don't get me wrong, the curry was spicy, but had great flavor- each bite had the malty-saltiness of fish sauce, and the shrimp were great with it.
Stir Fried Crispy Duck: My entree- slices of duck in a spicy brown sauce. Some good fire in the dish, I savored the flavors and made a point to avoid the slices of Thai Chili that were intersperced in the sauce. Midway through the pain of her dish, DoeBunni reached over and took a slice of chili with her chopsticks and prepared to bring it to her mouth. I quickly told her "thats not what you think it is," but she soldiered on. A short minute later, she was attacked by more spicy pain! Apparently she thought that when I said "thats not what you think it is," I meant that it was not a pepper. Obviously, I should have been more explicit in my warnings. So, the dish is great, but go easy on the Chilies if you can't take the heat!

So the meal was great! Nava Thai has some great food, and the spice is authentic- they do not water it down for the western palate. We will definitely go back, but we definitely have to watch how much we order, and stay away from the two-pepper dishes for now at least! Our first trek to the hinterlands was definitely a success!

Taken by Trees- "My boys," an Animal Collective cover.

I love Animal Collective- great harmonies and grooves. Taken by Trees is a side project of Victoria Bergsman, the lead singer of the Concretes, a Swedish indie band. This cover is great- the musical box feel and understated lyrics are a really captivating spin on the original.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Dilettante's concert for the day #2:

For my second concert from the Internet Archive, I bring you Tegan and Sara at the Dinwoodie Lounge in the University of Alberta in 2003. If you aren't familiar with Tegan and Sara, they are twin Canadian sisters. They still are pretty young, but have been making music for a long time- they first came into the US music scene on the Lilith tour like a million years ago! They started out as a mainly accousitc punk/folk duo(polk?), but over the years they have gone electric and their songwriting has matured somewhat, becoming a bit more rock-oriented, with a lot of catchy pop hooks.

My favorite thing about Tegan and Sara is their propensity to "banter" at their concerts- they often tell stories and jokes between songs. It definitely helps create a strong rapport with their crowd- I think that if you just listen to their CDs, people assume they are always serious and depressed. But listen to their banter on tracks 10 and 15 for example, they come off as smart, funny, and totally cute! Their newest album "The Con" is my Favorite of theirs so far, but they are playing larger venues these days, which hurts the banter rapport in my opinon. My favorite songs from this concert are "Monday Monday Monday" and "Living Room." Enjoy!

Concert Imbed:

Concert Link:

UK's Mercury Prize won by Speech Debelle

The Mercury Prize is an award given to the year's best album from the UK or Ireland. Generally, the award is given to an indie or alternative band, and it can be a great way to "get the word out" about a particular artist. This year, there were a lot of great nominees, such as the Friendly Fires and Bat for Lashes, and even Kasabian who dont ususally have a lot of artistic heft (but damn, I can't get the song "Fire" out of my head). On September 8th, the UK gave the prize to Speech Debelle for her album Speech Therapy. Speech is a British, and generally fits into the Rap/Hip-Hop genre. Her stuff is pretty good- here is a sample:

--> She is a talented rapper, and I love rap tracks with jazz backing music and/or samples. Congrats!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

DC Pizza Poll- it is coming down to the wire...

The Washingtonian has been having a vote in a pool format in order to find the Best Pizza in DC, and it is down to the finals! The finalists are Red Rocks, a brick oven pizza place about four blocks away from my house in Columbia Heights, and Flippin Pizza, a California-based NY Style pizza chain with four locations in the area but none in DC proper.

I must admit that I am biased- Red Rocks is in my neighborhood and I have had their pizza a few times. It is good stuff, and paired with a nice beer and wine selection and patio seating, it makes a fun night out. I haven't actually eaten Flippin Pizza, but the fact that it is not a local chain and doesn't even have a DC branch yet is dissapointing. Plus, the whole "Californians making NY style pizza" thing rarely works in California, much less DC.

I see that Flippin is advertising the poll on their website, and it looks like the comment section on the poll is being spammed by teens from California. Could Red Rocks be up against unsurmountable odds? Still, at about 12 on Wednesday, Red Rocks is only down 49% to 51%! So get in there and vote for a great local DC place, and strike a blow against the Flippin Corporate Machine and pimply California Teenagers!

UPDATE: Flippin is actually offering subscribers to their email list a free pizza if they win the poll, and there is some disagreement as to whether the offer was sent to their CA branches as well. Talk about stacking the deck! Well, it seems obvious that the poll is about loading up on votes and not actually about who has the best pizza. As of 4:15 on Wednesday, the vote is 53/47 in favor of Flippin. Plenty of time to get on and vote Red Rocks!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

New Favorite Indie Band Flow Chart

Every day and every way I try to be a better music snob, and this chart is a big help:

--> From the Daily What

Monica Hesse has two strikes against her. . .

A few weeks ago, Monica Hesse of the Style section of the Washington Post wrote an article about my neighborhood (Columbia Heights) that pissed off a lot of locals. New Columbia Heights and DCist had great takes on the subject, and my take is that the article was filled with self-referential Gen-X snark that would be better off on Wonkette or The Onion. Sure, if you look at the comments on the article in these sites and the venerable PoP, there were plenty of people who ate the article up- I think it played to their stereotypes of "hipsters" "quasi-hipsters" and whatever other crappy iteration that Hesse came up with to describe newcomers to my neighborhood.

A couple of days ago, Hesse wrote another stinker, a cloying puff piece on Brian Brown, Executive Director of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes same-sex marriage. Say what you will about Brown's politics, but the article itself is full of statements like:
He takes nothing personally. He means nothing personal. He is never accusatory or belittling. His arguments are based on his understandings of history, not on messages from God that gays caused Hurricane Katrina.
Give me a break! It is fine to be supportive of a person's views, but please stop making your opinions sound like facts Monica! Take this quote from the Columbia Heights article:
But this complex is not why the quasi-hipsters of Columbia Heights had moved to the neighborhood. They were seeking bragging rights, and bodegas spilling over from Mount Pleasant. They were seeking urban.
Ms. Hesse seems to love to "tell it like it is," but when she uses tired Bushisms like "speechify" or "adultification," one begins to wonder if she truly understands what the definition of "it" is.

Well, the bell did toll for Ms. Hesse- on Sunday the Washington Post Ombudsman wrote an article on Ms. Hesse and her profile on Brown. It turns out that the mail an comments on her article made Monica burst out crying. For the Ombudsman to mention this in the article, probably Monica did more than just have a simple cry I bet. The WaPo Ombudsman then took a look at the Brown article and basically tore it apart. Lesson learned Monica? I know I should have low expectations for the journalistic standards of the Style section, but I feel you can do better than snarky polemics and one-sided puff pieces on controversial figures.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Lets Get Fired Up!!!

President Obama gave a speech today, and in it he told a story about Edith Childs, a councilwoman from South Carolina who gave him some inspiration on a drab cold day. Here is a clip of her doing that little chant- it is totally infectious coming from the source! For Labor Day and the coming weeks, football, politics, whatever you need to get you goin, just play this clip a few times and you will be ready to do what needs doin!

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Very Best- Warm Heart of Africa

This is a pretty sweet song I just heard on BBC6- It is by the Very Best, which is a collaboration between Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and Euro DJ duo Radioclit. I love AfroBeat and all of the American/English artists that are heavily influenced by it, like The Talking Heads and Vampire Weekend. Ezra Koenig from VWeekend helps out on lead vocals here- buoyant and bubbly - a great summer song!

P.S. - I have no idea what is going on with the visuals in the YouTube clip though. Gotta love those crazy Japanese game shows!

Thursday, September 03, 2009

More proof that BACON is the center of the Universe!

Ahh precocious kids- they bring us so much joy, yet they can be so damn serious about things:

Thanks GP!

The Jim Jones Revue

These guys kick so much ass it's illegal! This band is from the UK and I don't think you will hear much of them in the US, but BBC6 plays a good deal of their music. They are a cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and the Sex Pistols, if you can believe that. Check out this video- the piano breaks are my favorite part:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Thoughts on Football 2009

With the new Football season beginning soon, a couple of points to make:

1. If you don't already know this, I am from Philadelphia, and I am a die hard Philly fan from the Eagles to the Flyers. I was not a huge fan of Michael Vick before he came to the Eagles, but he is saying the right things, and he has sacrificed a lot for his sins (which were reprehensible). He will not play in a real game for a good chunk of the season, but it looks like he could add some interesting wrinkles to the offense- it was pretty sweet to see Vick and McNabb in the same backfield. As for your sucker Rashes fans out there, I predict 7-9 and more pain and suffering for Dan Snyder!

2. Al Davis is looking more and more like a Skeksis from the Dark Crystal:

--> Am I right or what? We all know that the Raiders have been a crappy team for a long time, and Davis' crazy way of running the team has been a huge part of that. How can this situation be remedied? I have a theory: According to the Mythology of the Dark Crystal, the world of the Crystal would be made whole when, in part, the Skeksis would merge with their good alter-egos the Mystics and become the benevolent UrSkeks again. So, in order to heal the world of the Raiders, Al Davis will have to merge with his Mystic counterpart and be made whole once more. The question is- where can we find this reclusive Mystic?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Dilettante's concert for the day #1:

My first concert from the Internet Archive is of Pinback live at the Showbox in WA in February of 2008. If you haven't heard of Pinback, they are a great Indie Rock band from San Diego. Primarily composed of two guys, they evolved from a side project into a band with a solid following. They feature great harmonies and distinctive bass play. Highlights of this concert for me are the songs "Barnes," "Devil you Know," and "From Nothing to Nowhere" - Enjoy!

Here is an Embed of the Concert:

And Here is a Link to the Concert:

While I was away. . .

A friend sent me this YouTube clip- gotta feel for this guy, but these days you have to check your email at least once in two weeks even if you are out of the country right?

Friday, August 21, 2009 one of the best sites on the net!

If you haven't checked out before, I suggest you run and give it a look-see! This site is an amazing repository of knowledge and media- from the written word, to movies and concerts! The content is completely free and easy to download. Personally, my favorite part of the Archive is the Live Music Archive, with thousands and thousands of free concerts to download! If you are a Grateful Dead Fan this site is manna from heaven, about 7,000 thousand Dead concerts alone! I must admit that the concerts tend to favor Jamming Bands like OAR and Blues Traveler, but there is a little bit of everything there. I will post links to my favorite concerts in the archive from time to time- you can listen to many of the concerts on an embedded music player on the concert's page, so there is no downloading necessary. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Born to Die. . .Stevie and Zoya!

Stevie and Zoya was a cartoon that used to run late nights on MTV in one-minute segments. I remember seeing these shorts while I watched 120 Minutes, back when MTV still played videos! What I used to love about them:
- The soundtrack, complete with mistakes and outtakes integrated into the cartoon, and crazy sampling from disco soundtracks and completely random noises- The "Alien Invader" noises are my favorites.
- The great narration by Russell Johnson, the Professor from Gilligan's island! "All Crime!" - The Animation- crude in some cases, but things move fast and a lot is conveyed in the minute long segments- packed with action and supreme coolness! The series was made by Joe Horne, who later worked on cartoons for Disney and the Cartoon Network. Horne has recently made some new Stevie and Zoya cartoons, but I am not as big a fan of the new ones- the style is based on Flash Software and does not have the cool use of sound and the sensibility of the first cartoons. And Russell Johnson is totally irreplaceable!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

An ode to contract lawyering. . .

This is 90% BS- but funny in parts-


I spent several years in Philly and DC as a simple coder, and my experiences were good ones for the most part. I have many stories of my time in contract law, and I still have many friends that do it, and do a great job at it! This guy lays it on pretty thick- but I guess you have to use hyperbole to get attention these days.

Come for the wars, and maybe learn a little along the way!

One of my favorite local/DC sites is the Columbia Heights News Forum. It was started some years ago (Before my time in DC) because the Columbia Heights Yahoo Forum had degenerated into threats and name calling. Who ever started the site had good intentions, but most of the site has not been updated for about a year now, and the site has fallen into disrepair. However, the News Forum is still goin' strong!

The Forum is characterized by a ongoing debate/war/eternal-mutual-headbanging-against-wall-session between (generalizing here) two points of view:

1. First are people who are newer additions to the Columbia Heights neighborhood, and support general business development and gentrification.

2. Second are people who have lived in Columbia Heights neighborhood since pre-gentrification times and their supporters, who support business development along lines that support the improvement of the pre-gentrification community, and condemn the class-divisions that gentrification can bring to a community.

I say that I am generalizing, because you have to understand several points about the site. First, there is a lot of overlap between the views of people on the two sides, even though they don't always like to admit it, and second, the latter point of view is supported by two posters, who have their own agendas and do not always do a great job of supporting themselves. Of course, the "defenders" of the former point of view have their own faults- they generally make decent arguments, but spend too much time repetetively insulting the defenders of the "anti-gentrification" view. If you look at the different discussion threads on the site, the threads always seem to start with a nice post about developments within the community, and then degenerate into the same old arguments over and over again, ad nauseum, ad infinitum!

Now you might say- "Wait this sounds boring, WTF do you want me to sit through these repetitive arguments?" I would agree that many people would be put off by sites that have these constant wars, but personally I think I thrive on conflict! And additionally, I think it is interesting to get a window into the minds of people in a gentrifying neighborhood like Columbia Heights- there are many ways to develop a community, and finding the right way or ways is a great cause for debate. Sometimes, I just wish that the "anti-gentrification" crowd had better defenders, who expressed their views cogently and did not constantly lead threads off target! My personal views fall somewhere in-between the two camps, but it does not look like either side is really searching for a "gray" area!

So please check out the site- if you live in CH or the NW of DC, it might be actually be helpful for you. And you can even try to post yourself- though good luck on getting approved by the ghost moderator!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

BBC6- Is there a better way to stream?

Streaming BBC6 music is probably my favorite way to pass the hours and get focused on my work. The DJs on BBC6 are probably the most knowledgeable people that I have heard play music- and the station actually supports them and gives them the freedom to play what they want. If you can stream music at home or at work, you have to check out the station.

As for the music on BBC6- the DJs play a great deal of new Indie/Alternative music before it comes across the pond to the States, great bands you know or should know. What separates BBC6 from other Indie/Alternative stations if that the DJs play music from the 60's up as well- a lot of punk, Bowie and obscure stuff you might not have heard of before! So check it out and enjoy- my favorite DJ is Marc Riley- he was in the seminal British New Wave band The Fall, and is on Mon thru Thurs from 2-4 PM Eastern time!

Getting back into it. . .

Boy i think I started this blog in March of 2006, one post and then silence. I deleted it, and I am going to start anew! This blog is going to focus on whatever I want to talk about- local affairs, food drink or music. Enjoy!