Sunday, December 27, 2009

Yuletide cheer

This year Mister Booze was a very good boy. Santa Claus came and delivered a present most excellent; Jameson gold. Jameson gold is a blended whiskey, with no parts of the blend less than 12 years old. A portion is a pot still whiskey aged in virgin oak casks. This is unusual for an Irish whiskey, I know of no other of it's kind. I am anticipating that the virgin oak will impart a strong vanilla sweetness. I will definitely give a full report here. Will it stack up well against Red Breast? That venerable pure pot still whiskey is one of Ireland's finest; mr. Booze holds it in high regard.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Winter survival from ages past

What seems like 1,000 lifetimes ago I once commuted 3 hours a day for work. The days were growing shorter and the nights became longer. It was a time of darkness, and I found myself taking naps in my car on my lunch break. I once fell asleep to NPR, who introduced me to the ancient Sami art of Joik. They tell me it isn't called "singing", because they aren't songs. But for you gringos it is Finnish folk singing.

Of course because it is in Northern Europe, there is a Heavy Metal version

Naturally, there is also a lame techno remix

And modernist interpretations

Sometimes I wonder if my life is a myth, created by my own nightmares from which I cannot awaken.

This is my favorite version:

Maybe these girls can wake me from my slumber?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Japan is awesome

I have to find a way to get on this Japanese game show:

Why can't American TV be this good?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Internet quests

Have you ever been on an internet quest? I just finished a coat quest recently, which predictably lead to Ebay. In the past my internet quests were a search for music. Call it atavism, the quest I am about to begin will be another music quest.

My newest adventure is to find a CD (old fashioned I know) with this woman singing:

So the first step is to find her name. From the comments I gleam that it is Nely Andreeva. Finding a CD will probably lead to a website in Bulgarian. Let the adventure begin.

Friday, December 18, 2009

End of year list: Revenge!

This is the time of year when people typically make lists. Children make lists for Santa. Guilty make new year's resolutions lists. Pundits make best of lists. Mister Booze makes revenge lists.

First up is the person pictured below wearing my coat, Mr. Carach Angren

Do you see what I see?

Now I know who outbid me on Ebay for that coat! And look, you're going to smear makeup on the collar. Do you have any idea how much it costs to have a coat like that dry cleaned? Do you? Yes, revenge is in store for you Mr. Angren. Side note: don't you feel bad for the gentleman (gentlewoman?) on the right who could not afford a matching coat on Ebay and had to get a cheaper gray one that is only single breasted?

Next up, the makers of Old Charter bourbon. You know what you did, and when we meet you'll know why you have it coming.

Old Charter

It is all fun and games until someone buys a bottle isn't it?

Sgt. D, for getting the following song stuck in my head:

I don't know what ice cream paint job means, but I spent a week saying "Cream on the inside, clean on the outside". Thanks.

Finally, the office fascists who think they can stop the godmachine.

wash your hands

You cannot stop it. Don't even try.

So there you have it. Sadly, I made very few enemies this year, and have a short revenge list.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mister Booze takes a holiday: Doing it our way

Recently I had a chance to visit a magical fairytale land. Through magical forces (alchemy?) beyond my comprehension, water was transmuted into beer.


These are apparently some of the secret ingredients necessary to cast the spell.


The witch's cauldrons.

If you ever find yourself in the Northlands with nothing to do on a Monday, I highly suggest going to visit the New Glarus brewery. I'm not a big beer drinker these days, but speaking as a former connoisseur their beers are really good. You walk into the gift shop and buy a beer. You can walk all around the premises drinking your beer, watching more being made. The tour is "self-guided". You can basically waltz around the brewery like you own the place. Everyone there is really friendly and happy to answer your questions.

Oh, did I mention you should go on Monday? Go on Monday. Monday is bottling day.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 schamiel, schamozel, hasenpfeffer incorporated!

Doin' it our way!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The secrets of aging

The flower of my youth is wilting. Father time is sweeping my leg. Not to worry, I have foreseen this day for a long time coming. There is a secret to aging. You must envision and embrace your future self to become him. This is something Elvis and Michael Jackson refused to learn. Look what happened to them.

This could be you!

There are several roads you can take on life. Will you be a fat old man or a skinny old man? I am gunning for skinny old man. Thus I have cut back on beer and upped my whiskey intake. You don't see old men who've spent a lifetime drinking whiskey on the rocks with fat bellies.

This is what a lifetime of drinking Jack Daniels looks like. Not bad.

Some people try to cover up their gray hair. Why? Don't you love the grizzled old Willie Nelson far better than the young hippie Willie Nelson?

I think I could take old metal artists like Dave Mustaine seriously if they let their grays show and started to write bitter old man songs. Something like this:

I'm not going to even post Hurt. Few men have the guts to age so wonderfully. I can only hope to become so gnarled and grizzled.

So what is my vision like? Simple. I will be the old curmudgeon with a cane and a hat, eating at Denny's and leaving a handful of pennies for a tip. I'll tell you about what it was like back in my day. I will be mystified at all the new technology and listen to weird old music from before you were born that you've never heard. I will wear a tie for no good reason. I will call my daily shot of whiskey my "medicine". I will make air quotation marks with my fingers before using any slang words. And I will tell meandering stories like this:

Good Lord it will be amazing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bring on the New Year

My sources tell me that on St. Patrick's day Paddy's Irish whiskey will have a limited run stateside. It will be good for me to see if I like it, and then horde a half dozen bottles. Or not.

Amrut hopes to clear customs by January. That means we can look forward to a happy Booze Year in 2010.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Overcoat review: Soviet greatcoat

The black greatcoats were out of my pricerange. So I settled for this Soviet officer's greatcoat. Bluish grey instead of black. I like the color though. Shipping included it was 35 rubles dollars. That is recession friendly pricing, comrade.

The red collar tabs are ok, but I am tempted to get black ones. The artillery gunner's pin looks cool, but these days the railroad officer's pin has my fancy.

Choo choo! All aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway!

This is theoretically how it would look if I chose to replace the red felt collar tabs with another color. They also have blue ones for the airforce. The airforce pin is a propeller with wings. Crazy, I know.

Buying clothes on Ebay can be dicey, as measurements may not give you a proper fit. Caveat emptor. Luckily it is not too long in the length or sleeves. The length is perfect but...

This could be the style of fitting, or it could be the unusual proportions of the original wearer, but it was difficult for me to raise my arms. It was uncomfortable to reach the steering wheel of my car let alone fire a Kalashnikov. The problem was the pleat in the middle of the back. It seemed a simple fix to have it tailored. Upon further inspection it seemed a matter of unstitching the pleat; the half belt would keep the look the same and maintain the slim profile.

I decided to fix it myself. Would a bourgeois tailor charge more than the cost of the coat itself? So with a sharp seam ripper I carefully went to work. Verily, those were some tough stitches to remove. But it is finished and looks - and most importantly - fits great. For a handful of kopeks on the People's Ebay I found a real gem. Sharp looking too. It will serve you well during the frigid winter of our discontent as the capitalist system unravels just as Marx predicted.

Oh, and is it warm? I should preface this by stating that this is a very heavy coat. Far heavier than my other wool coat. Probably heavier than my leather biker jacket. And yes, it is warm. Perhaps because of the cut, it is the warmest coat I own. It is also an extremely finely woven wool. In fact Soviet wool was a special hybrid from a mix of Angora goats with native Russian breeds, strangely done with Medelian genetics.

Raise the Red lantern

Does it clash too much with my Maoist propaganda posters?

Supplemental reading: Gogol's The Overcoat.

I hope this doesn't mean I have to start drinking vodka. Vodka is a bit of a scam if you ask me, but that is a blog for another day.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Stuff old people like: Whale pants

Old people like whale pants. Check out this octogenarian back in the day:

Stylin' and profilin'

Maybe the young people will get into it if we sexy it up a little?

whale pants are so in

Does this work for you?

I guess it doesn't have to be whales. Crabs would work too.

Buy them Here. Or if you find them cheaper elsewhere, holla at yo' boy.

Shred the Bach: crank the gain!

Another fusion of Bach and Rock comes from guitarist Ilan Guetta on the disc Ilan Guetta Plays Bach Electric. Here Ilan teams up with the Israeli String Quartet and plays through some classics by J.S. So how does it sound?

To start I should mention that Ilan doesn't crank the gain up as high as Yngwie. For me personally, this is a bit of a bummer because when the gain is turned to 11 that Strat would sing like a violin. Another criticism is that he tends to pluck every single note. Now I'm familiar with many of these pieces and they could use more legato. I think he has to pluck because he doesn't have the gain turned up high enough, which would cause the notes to sing out longer and feedback nicely. Take it from the master. But these critiques aside, it is played very well, much better than I ever could. The guitar marries the string quartet well, and it is a delightful experiment.

Check out samples and purchase Here.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Into the fog

Today it stopped snowing and, with my military greatcoat to keep out the elements, I trudged through the snowbanks and once again sought the Tundra swans.

Tundra swan

Tundra swan

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past

And there they were.

Addendum: the coast is clear, you may fire up your Ebay account and start your own search for a greatcoat. Happy bidding.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shred the Bach

Many years ago I spent long hours listening to J.S. Bach. I had the idea of playing one of his inventions on the guitar. One guitar would play the left hand, and another would play the right. It would be electrified. I searched online to see if someone else had beat me to the punch. They had.

I found an obscure CD called Shimmyo - Metamorphosis that had Invention #8 and #13 just as I imagined.

I also discovered that Alejandro Silva had performed such an arrangement on his live CD/DVD, which is quite excellent.

The video quality on the DVD is much better than this rip, and is quite good.

As far as performances go, I think I prefer the Shimmyo version because the guitars have the gain cranked up higher, whereas Alejandro rolls it back a bit. Anyways enjoy them both.

Turn loose the swans

Every year Tundra swans come south to my town to roost for the winter. They are similar to your typical Mute swan (an invasive species imported from Europe). The differences are noticeable, however. They have a black bill instead of orange. In that regard they look very similar to Trumpeter swans, except they hold their neck straighter, and the neck is shorter. Both Trumpeter and Tundra swans make noises, which is another way to tell them apart. These swans are very shy and thus difficult to observe.

It was a blizzard outside, and the wind was fierce. The snow banks were up past my knees. My approach scared them away, so I ducked behind a bench. After a while, they returned only to leave again shortly thereafter.

Tundra Swans

This was taken with my Yashica 200mm f4, and I cropped it about 30%. If you embiggen it you can see them in the center, still too distant to really appreciate.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Eleven years in the making

The last Borislav Mitic album came out in 1998. Finally, right before Christmas, there is another. I just placed my order. Hat tip to Vinny for the good news.

I usually don't buy new albums because they will inevitably re-release it a few months later with bonus tracks, a bonus CD, a bonus DVD, a bonus BJ, or whatever. But I have a feeling there will be no re-release.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stuff old people like

Old people like shoe horns. How the heck are you supposed to get your foot in the shoe properly without a shoe horn?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The culture of the internets

Lately I have been pondering the culture of the internets. It is a terrible culture to be sure. People type such filth and vitriol that they would never dare say to each other in person. The best place to examine this phenomenon is on youtube.

From the comments:

"hey quit with the insults already, two can play at that game.
ok then how about you explaining the equal and apposing forces of space with space being a vacum how can a space ship thrust forward if there is nothing to push against?.
come on queer explain to us none believers."

" hey if that extremely light weight feather fell like a lead fucking ball then how come those big heavy guys needed fucking heavy ass moon boots to keep them from floating like cum in piss?."

"So thats why the sand drops faster then the wired astronaut. Dumbasses! "

And this is a video of an astronaut! It is all downhill from here. I have been trying to understand this, and I have a few theories:

1. The age theory: The internets are filled with children sitting at home and at the school computer lab acting like...well, children.
2. The societal reflection theory: This is simply a reflection of the nature of American society. Dark, angry, and prone to temper tantrums.
3. The true nature theory: without civilization, humanity descends into the abyss. The internet is humanity without civilization's constraints.
4. The acculturation theory: the culture of the internets was created years ago when the only people on the internet were mildly autistic computer nerds with no social skills. The people who joined the internets later went through cultural assimilation, hence the internet culture with no social skills.

Pick your favorite theory, fuckface!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

LIbraryster: the sheet

For the last few weeks it is really one book: Favorite Arias from the Great Operas

Many years ago I played the guitar, bass, and piano. None very well. Unable to play by ear I became frustrated and hit a wall. I stopped playing altogether for a few years. Taking time off has allowed me to unlearn much of what I had learned.

Now I am starting from scratch, and hopefully this will prove successful. I have always been a classicist, but never had a good blueprint for learning to play. I believe I have a good map now. I am learning to sight read on the guitar. These are all songs I know. They are simple and tuneful. The book is timeless. Just read the following description of the Gianni Schicchi aria O Mio Babbino Caro

"The tune is the sweetest and most easily remembered - if not the best - in the opera. Tinpan Alley may be expected to seize on it the moment it goes out of copyright. That, however, will not happen until 1974."

Booze army heroes

There are many booze army soldiers around the globe. Today, let's check in with Continental Europe. Here is a wine ninja, or perhaps a wine MacGuyver, demonstrating some resourcefulness that would make Mr. Wizard proud.

This is a lesson I won't forget!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Office survival guide: footwear

It is important to balance the conflicting needs to look professional and be comfortable. Often these are mutually exclusive goals; the point of professional clothing is to be constraining and uncomfortable. Dress shoes and sport coats are conspicuous consumption. One cannot wear these clothes and build a house or spot weld on an assembly line. The only thing you can physically do is push papers around. But I like to push the envelope of comfort.

If you work in a more casual office you can get away with wearing shoes that aren't made of leather and don't have hard heels. My choice is Vans Camacho. Skate shoes? Surely you jest?

I kid you not. I haven't found athletic shoes that are as non-descript and all black as these. They are comfortable and I can easily pass as professional wearing these. And I can run in these shoes. They have soft heels so my feet and ankles don't hurt from wearing them. And because they are generously padded and not leather, I don't have a sweat problem with them either.

These shoes regularly go out of production and then come back in a few months later, so if you can't find them be patient. I almost bought a pair of Sketchers instead, but that is another story.

If you can find some inexpensive shoes that look like dress shoes but feel like athletic shoes, let me know. I'm not married to skate shoes.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Golden Snail

Here is a treat that will keep you warm all winter long. It is a cartoon by the Russian master Yuri Norstein, aka the Golden Snail.

They call him that because his work process is so slow. He makes these all himself. No animation studio, just his wife.

I'll keep repeating this: those Russians know how to make the most of winter. Get ready to bundle up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

From my childhood 6: Yacht Rock

Now, I thought I was with the times on internet humor. But apparently I missed the boat with the yacht rock skits. In case you missed it too, here is a video from the yacht rock documentary:

Here's the deal: my parents listened to AM Gold as a child, so I know the tune to every one of these yacht rock songs. However I could not tell you the name of the band or artist, or even the name of the song. The Doobie Brothers are smooth rock? I thought they would be acid rock. Steely Dan is smooth rock too? I would have pegged them for hard rocking classics from the South, opening up for Lynard Skynard. Hah.

So there are my smooth rock yacht rock creds. It was simply from my childhood.

Post Script: I wish I would have known about this several months ago. I was searching for a theme for my summer of unemployment. This would have been perfect for July - September. Maybe next year?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shred guitar you might have missed

I'm sure you know the names of all the essentials: Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, John Petrucci (a lot of paisanos in that list), Michael Schenker, George Lynch, Marty Friedman, who the fuck is Eddie Van Halen, etc.

But you might have missed two of my favorites. Fat Mr. Crab and Uli Con Carne Rotweiler. Their instructional DVD Born to Shred 2: Emotional Playing; Stage Positions and Wild Antics is one of the all time best guitar videos ever. Behold:

After watching this, you will understand why I always pronounce Mesa Boogie as "may-sha". I am also prone to complaining about "slow amps". It is also what changed my opinion about 7 string guitars. I looked at it in a new light, which was furthered my Mithras and Morbid Angel (and of course Vai though he is mostly a Jem player). Don't let a bunch of 16 year old dorks from 1999 ruin your opinion of a musical instrument.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bundle up!

With November's doom settling in, it is time to girdle your loins and prepare for winter. For us Northerners a good strategy is through coats. Yes, you may like your coats just fine down South. But up here, coats aren't just fashion accessories; they are functional as well.

Now I know that many of my fellow Northerners feel experienced on bracing Old Man Winter based on years of living. But I'm here to tell you that even an old dog can learn a few new tricks, and a careful examination of winter coats may be in order.

Are your coat pockets warm and deep? Could you fit a pint of whiskey or brandy comfortably in your coat pockets?

If you answered no to these questions, you might need a new coat.

Does your coat keep you really warm? Is it warm in all sorts of weather? Are you allergic to wool?

If you answered no to all these questions, you might need a wool coat.

In my experience, the best is a big heavy wool overcoat. Christmas is right around the corner (or Hanukkah for my Hebrew friends...though I don't know how you'd divy up a coat over 8 nights). Put in your request now. Or, if you happen to be secular and need to self finance this project, I have just the thing for you: military surplus.

Hopefully no one reads this blog, because I am in the process of procuring a surplus coat myself. I have a long wool coat, and let me tell you it is warm. But it is a bit formal, and though not a bad thing and definitely more appropriate in many situations, I find it easier to pull off the casual look with military surplus.

Again let me tell you: wool coats are the warmest coats I have ever owned. Warmer than down, cotton, or whatever synthetic crap they stuff in there these days. It keeps you warm even when wet. And you won't look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man either.

In my experience, wool is warmer than down, is far superior in wet conditions, and doesn't make you look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

The basic surplus wool coat is the Navy pea coat. These are good coats, and if you do some web sleuthing you can find some real deals. Even better than the pea coat is the bridge coat. The bridge coat is like the pea coat but longer. Longer is better. Longer is warmer. How many layers do you put on your torso? 2 or three shirts of varying insulation plus a coat? And your legs? Maybe a thin sheet of denim? If you are intrepid a flannel layer under your denim. Is that all? Extend that coat down comrade.

We are getting there

Now we're cooking! Longer, and therefore warmer.

If you happen to get one with epaulets you can remove the bars with a seam ripper. And if the brass buttons are too bling bling for you they can easily be replaced with some plain old buttons from a fabric store for cheap.

Even longer than the bridge coat is the greatcoat. And what a coat it is. There are deals to be had if the googles are your guide. For less than sixty bucks you could have this gem:

Could a coat be any warmer? No it couldn't.

Now don't go buying a military greatcoat until I have my gem. I don't think the US army even issues these anymore, and the Canadian ones are single breasted (yuck!). But through used (vintage, dare I say? No no, used!) channels or old Europe or both I will have one. Not this one pictured above though. Oh, it is sharp alright. Grey is alright. But black is better. Black is always better. So off I go to spend this winter tucked away internet sleuthing for a black greatcoat on the cheap. Wish me luck.

Miscellany: you'll notice that a typical civilian overcoat has many of the same design features as the military coats, but in vestige form. The lapels of the coats are designed to fold over for extra warmth. The collar too is made to fold up to keep your neck extra warm. Modern coats often have these designs but they don't work well or are - especially you'll notice in the case of formal business wear like suit coats - pure functionless vestiges. Lapels that can't fold over and collars that can't be turned up.

Folded and buttoned

Up and over. Can your collar do that? Too James Dean perhaps, but hey - warm is warm!

Some people might think of scarves as fashion accessories. But I have learned that it is best to go through life comfortably, and therefor a good warm scarf is necessary for the winter.

Think warm. Especially when you live in Eternal Winter.

Hey, where is his hat? Hmmm, I think I'll cut this short and leave it a coat and scarf edition. Hats for another time. Just remember, don't go ebaying for that greatcoat until I give the all clear, OK? And don't forget which brandy I told you to avoid.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Brandy bust

This week I decided to branch out in the cheap brandy isle, and bought some Raynal brand. It was 12 dollars for a fifth. I'll cut to the chase: I don't like it. This stuff will be used solely for cooking. It was more expensive than Christian Brothers VSOP and tasted much worse. I will give this one a Do Not Buy rating. What a shame, but that's why this blog exists; a warning to others.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

People look east

There is something magical about the Orient. The geography and climate is so different. The cultures out there are different too. In Japan, Yngwie Malmsteen is the biggest selling Occidental musician. He outsold Celine Dion in Japan. Crazy, I know, but in Japan he has played with orchestras.

Where can you find this in America? Nowhere!

Is this just crazy Japan being crazy, or are other parts of Asia filled with awesome? Well, boozers and boozettes, I present to you junior Vai:

I can't play as well as her and I am twice her age. Her youtube page says China. So China has officially gotten a lot cooler. I think I will have to keep an eye on what is going on in Asia.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Opportunity is a knife

Lately I daydream about buying a house in Detroit for a few dollars and fixing it up. It would be a Walden experience. The house would of course have a huge lot behind it and I would farm the land. After much hard work I would sit up on my porch drinking tall boys like in Gran Torino.

That is not going to happen. But I have another daydream. This time I buy a small lot in Chicago and farm my yard on weekends. It is more like a garden than a farm. I take the train to work during the week and generally live a strange mix of urban and rural life. This might actually happen, or some variant of it.

My woman is graduating this spring. Once that happens there are many choices for us. Chicago is a real possibility, but where she would work is in Lake Forest, which is a good deal north of the city. Neither of us are looking forward to the suburbs, but there is a Metra line out there. There is a 70% chance of this.

Detroit is a view from the wasteland that won't happen for me. However, there is another option on the horizon. Vegas. There is a new facility opening in Las Vegas and they would love to hire my woman. It is a city built on dreams and stardust. It is foreclosure city USA. I could spend my days tending to the moisture vaporators and fending off Sandpeople. It would be interesting to see the meltdown so close to ground zero. I have family in Vegas too. The only problem is what would I do for work?

Sometimes it is good to take the broad perspective. If you lived in Rome in the year 1000 you probably thought the good times were gone for good. Rome had only a fraction of the population it once owned. Buildings were empty and pieces were stolen and hauled away to fit in new buildings elsewhere. Spolia they call it. Today it is called scrapping. Today Rome is bigger than ever. Other cities that looked like hits in the year 1000 are gone.

Opportunity is a knife. Sometimes you are holding the hilt, and sometimes you are stuck with the blade.

The nostalgia wagon takes off

Remember when I had nostalgia this spring? Remember when I was pining for the dot com boom and listening to Fear Factory? Well, original guitarist Dino is back in the band and the new lineup has a new song for you.

I'll be honest, it isn't what I wanted from them. I wanted more techno. I was hoping that they could revamp their sound with more trance beats and samples. I am listening to trance sometimes these days. If they aren't working with that Rhys fellow anymore, I suggest they hook up with Buckley. He is a trance DJ out of Las Vegas, and has a great podcast. Episode 2 is my favorite. Come on guys, give me a Fear Factory trance album.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The latest from the Subcontinent

I'm sure that you, like I, have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of Amrut Indian whisky. Where is it? The latest word from my sources is: held up in regulations. Apparently import regulators aren't too keen on letting them use the label "single malt". Hopefully the confusion is cleared up soon. Though at this point, in my head, this is more of a warm weather summer whisky. So as long as it is out by spring, I'll be pleased. That and of course hopefully that it tastes good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Thanks to my buddy Brian for the reminder, today is the anniversary of the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald.

Gordon Lightfoot... now if I could record a metal version of this with a chick lead singer...yeah.

I like the truth in the lyrics. Unfortunately I'm too busy these days to take a trip north to see the November Witch. But I can attest that

"Old Michigan steams like a young man's dreams,
The islands and bays are for sportsmen"

Lake Michigan

Clear sailing


My young man's dreams

Michigan Coast in Fog

I think seeing the old ore dock in a November gale would be interesting. Time is just not on my side.

Ashland Ore Dock

I guess time wasn't on the side of Lake Superior iron either.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Chick lead singers

These days chick lead singers are commonplace. Because I am an old curmudgeon, I remember when they were a rarity. Back in the 90s it was a new and novel thing for a heavy metal band to have a woman sing. The Gathering switched from a Celtic Frost style band with Always to a different style when they added a woman singer (I bought my copy of Always for 99 cents, but I think I lost it, oh well). It worked well on Mandylion and Nighttime Birds. Then they turned into Pink Floyd stoners and I lost interest. But they were one of the first heavy metal bands of the 90s to have success with a woman singer, and I actually liked them.

Did you like her batusi dance? I did!

Some other forgotten lady singer bands have gone by the wayside. I have a soft spot for Crisis. Fronted by Karyn Crisis, they were a bit death metal and large parts hardcore, but back in the 90s when death metal was largely Florida style and hardcore was more like Earth Crisis. Hey, they both have Crisis in the name. She also did singing mixed with grunting, which is very popular now but new back then.

I usually am not a fan of the hardcore style, so I was never a Crisis fan, but I recognized what they did for what it was. Some people probably owe a debt to Karyn Crisis but don't know it.

As I said, before them there wasn't much. The only semi-popular group I can think of is Doro, 80s group fronted by Doro Pesch. I always thought of Doro as being more like Judas Priest and Accept. For me they were too mid paced and I was not a fan, but I still can respect what they did.

After Nightwish, a glut of ladies' metal bands emerged, which I have talked about before. I think that because of Nightwish's success, and the way that their singer joined the band, it was easy for a bunch of guys to recruit women from opera schools to moonlight in power metal bands. Before this, it was rebellious women with problems starting bands rather than joining them. Forgotten along the way was Tura Satana.

Again, I was never a fan of their music, but I remember them coming up at the time when the Gathering was starting to sell records and get noticed. But I guess they deserve mention because they were part of something new, though I don't recall them ever being popular.

Do you remember the Awakening: Females in Extreme Music compilation? By the late 90s women were either sidekicks in real bands, like Opera 9, Therion, and Theater of Tragedy, or fronting bands that were going for something more than novelty. No offense to earlier bands, but I had always thought Anneke joined the Gathering because they needed a singer and she was dating someone in the band. She wasn't really a metalhead, nor was Tarja from Nightwish. So you shouldn't be surprised that they are not in the band anymore or in the band but not playing metal.

I was always hopeful about chick singers for several reasons. One, it is easy on the eyes to watch a band whose singer has boobs. Two, I think women have pretty voices as well, so much so that even an average singer can pass off well in a metal band. I'd rather hear an average woman sing than an average man. Finally, more women singers would naturally attract more women to heavy metal, and increase my odds of meeting a gal. Remember, life is essentially a numbers game, and if you went too far into the "subculture", you were dooming yourself to life as a eunuch. Now I am old and don't care. Most of the bands with women singers didn't pan out. I don't want to be a part of any subculture anymore, and I date a woman that doesn't like heavy metal. And its an experiment that's most popular result was this:

Sad, I know.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane into the 1990s, when the ratio of guys to gals at any concert was about 9:1, and of that 10% most were there with a boyfriend. I don't know what the ratio is like today, but I hear it is closer to a 60:40 equilibrium. Strange times indeed.

Like vultures

At the office my new digs were sparce. I did not even have a pen, let alone the coveted swingline. Sad, I know. Good news; the guy in the cube down the row was fired. As you can guess, like a vulture I waited for the office to clear and then extended my talons. Like a vulture my prey does not move. I now have a stapler, a tape dispencer, and a tray full of pens. Thus is the circle of office life.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Missing in action

I haven't drank since Saturday. I haven't bought any new weird booze in weeks. Where have I been? Working, sadly. I'm sure the mayor of Diamond's will tell me how I used to be. I can only tell you how it is.

Monday, November 2, 2009

In my head

Lately I have been listening to Motörhead non-stop. It is strong and sinewy. It is lithe and quick. It is rough and dirty. It is like a gangly old hobo with a belly full of rot-got and a head full of demon's voices. It will fuck you up. As Lemmy told me "we are Motörhead and we're here to kick your ass". If you don't own it, go out right now and buy Ace of Spades.

If they moved next door to you, your lawn would die.

A year ago when I was shopping for an overcoat I thought about buying a military greatcoat, but I couldn't find a black one. I almost bought this one, but thought the better of it. That's why I'm not as cool as Lemmy. Really I should have bought that Soviet navy officer's coat though. That's the real deal right there, and I've wanted some Soviet memorabilia for a while. From my childhood and all that. It would go well with my Maoist propaganda posters.

Raise the Red lantern

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Post Halloween roundup

Like most people I enjoy this time of year. I never had allergy problems in the past, but this year was bad. I don't know what it is, but I know other people only have allergy problems here. So there it is. The air is crisp and clear, and the fall colors were great. Sadly it is mostly gone. And I watched the video for Love You to Death about 100 million times.

I even bought the DVD and ripped the video onto the godmachine.

As you know last night was Halloween and I listened to Creepy Green Light and All Hallow's Eve about 5 million times. Enjoy what you can of this time of year because it does not last long. Like the morning fog, it is burned away by the day. Or rather, the lack of day as it were.


The fog rolls in, only to burn away


The autumn leaves have an ephemeral display


They are almost finished for the year

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Recession theme song

Many months ago, when the economy fell into ruin, I tried to think of a recession theme song. Unfortunately it didn't hit me until today. Faith No More - Everything's Ruined. Doesn't that sum up the Great Recession?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Libraryster: catching up

I had a few items out and returned them without logging them for you. So instead I'll just mention what I have cooking right now:

Anti-intellectualism in American Life - Richard Hofstadter: originally published in 1963, it won a Pulitzer. In some ways it is a humorous book; the arguments that the American right is making about the left are the exact same today as they were in 1963. While I don't agree with all of his arguments, he makes a few fair points. I'm not far into it, but already I don't agree with the sentiments of intellectuals as "aristocrats". That sentiment is perfectly counterpointed in the book Nixonland (a great read by the way); it fueled Nixon's rise to power in his inquisition against Alger Hiss. I'm less than a fifth through, but it is worth a read.

Penguin Island - Anatole France: winner of the Nobel for literature, Anatole was the spiritual heir of Voltaire. He has the same witty and detached sarcasm. The protagonist in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Offshore Pirate read Anatole France and was an "egoist". So now I read it to understand. Pretty good read too.

Thus Spake Zarathustra - Friedrich Nietzsche: in college I felt that Nietzsche was a product of his time. It reminded me too much of other 19th century industrial revolution Germans: Max Weber, Carl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and the like. I felt compelled to read this one because of our times. These days Ayn Rand is the rage, and the most compelling review of Atlas Shrugged I've read was basically "Nietzsche for stupid people". So I will go to the source and read Nietzsche and then Rand and see for myself.

Beethoven - Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage/Choral Fantasy/Rondo/Preludes and Overtures: What can I say? It is Beethoven. It is good. There are early presages of the ninth symphony, so of course it is worth a listen.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween dilemma

For the past year I thought about dressing as panther dance era Michael Jackson for Halloween. It is a simple concept. I put on dress shoes, dress pants, a black shirt unbuttoned, and a white t-shirt. Some eyeliner, a surgical mask, and a hat. For gravy I was going to get juice boxes and lance them with syringes "for the children".

Now that he is dead, MJ is going to be the most popular costume out there. I'm sure everyone will be milking the panther dance era MJ because it is the least capital intensive.

So simple even I can do it. The dance moves are great, you slap your arms around and grab your crotch.

Well, I'm thinking that this is out. In protest I decided that I would not dress up at all. But now I am starting to get a bit edgy and am looking for a costume. I'm not sure why, I'll be working that day anyways. But then I saw this, and then it all came back:

All hail the King!

So what do you think? Go out as Panther MJ? Any good last minute costume ideas on the cheap? Old Crazy newspaperface?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Navigating the oceans of a new office

In any new office, navigating the new waters can be treacherous. And the first hurdle to cross is the restrooms. Every man needs his Fortress of Solitude. Some place to sit down in peace and put your head in your hands for a spell. Gather your strength, girdle your loins, and prepare for another round.

wash your hands

Maybe the fascists are on to me? Probably not. The Godmachine makes no noise. Thus I disregard their signs. I won't follow your rules!

P.S., yes I do wash my hands, thank you. It is the other sign I technically cross.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Today I took my car in for brake work. It needed to be done; I knew there was a problem more than just new pads. I had thought maybe air in the lines and a flushing was in order. It was worse than that. No matter, brakes are brakes and eventually they all break.

I waited for two hours before they mercyfully drove me home. This was 5 o'clock. They did not have a return ride because of the late hour. Thus, I went home on a one way ticket.

The call that my car was finished didn't come in until 7:30. The place closes at 8. I had thirty minutes to get my ass to the mechanic. So I hopped on my bicycle and put the pedals to the street.

This town requires bikes to have a headlight at night. I couldn't find a working flashlight. This town has been nailing bikes to get cash. Thus I hoped to avoid cops at all cost. Think I'm paranoid? Think again. A few months ago I was issued a ticket for running a red light on my bike. I was on a pedestrian and bicycle only street, and the intersection I crossed was a one way street.

The most salient thing for this ride is having the proper soundtrack. I was riding hard. I was riding at night dressed in black with no lights and trying to avoid cops, and going down a 6 lane boulevard at times. Thus Motorhead it would be.

As I closed in on the main drag I saw a cop car parked. Would I get nicked? No movement. Thank God. I passed by the local porn shop. Lemmy was singing Fast and Loose. Was this fate? Later I passed by a girl on her cellphone. She looked like a "do" from Viceland. Lemmy was singing Jailbait. "Love that young stuff".

Getting close my lungs were burning. The cold October air was like daggers in my chest. Then Lemmy said "The chase is better than the catch". Time was running low. I dug in. Up the last hill I felt like Floyd Landis jacked up on 'roids in the Tour de France.

I made it just in time. I got my wheels back and loaded my bike into the trunk. I drove off the lot with The Hammer taking me home. Tonight there was no finer chase music than Motorhead.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The way it used to be; Heavy Metal edition

Essential reading for the week is this interview from Metal Inquisition with an inner member of the Century Black team. I could probably write a book on this topic. Instead, we'll use the interview as a guidepost down memory lane.

"You'd have bands that would sell 10,000 copies solely by word-of-mouth, and when I say "word-of-mouth", I mean literally, one person talking to another, face-to-face or on the phone with someone. Chain stores didn't carry metal back then, period."

I remember, during summers, biking to the one good record store in town. It was probably a good twenty minute haul each way, and while this sounds like grandpa telling you about walking to school uphill each way, it was dangerous. I lived in the suburbs, mind you, so in many places the sidewalk ended and you had to bike on the soft shoulder. Drivers were often hostile towards teenagers on bicycles for reasons I will never understand. An old parishioner in the family church was hit while biking and cannot walk. That always stayed with me while biking in the suburbs. But I digress. I believe it was Sam Goody, and they actually had a section labeled "Heavy Metal", and I would go with a discount coupon from the Entertainment Book and buy an album. In those days buying albums was a complete gamble because there was no internet, radio only played garbage, and Mtv was mostly a joke (though briefly there was Headbangers Ball through which I discovered some good bands like Slayer, Testament, Carcass, Sepultura, and Morbid Angel). You had to pay your money and take your chances. Sometimes you bought an album based on the cover art and the band photos on the back. I bought the Iced Earth album The Dark Saga based solely on the Spawn cover art. I'd never heard of the band before, nor had I any clue what the album would be like.

"When you saw someone with a cool shirt, or holding a cool album in a shop, you'd talk to them -- I made a lot of my best friends through common interests in music."

Right. In those days it was difficult to get the good stuff. I remember, after seeing Vader play live, trying in vain to get a copy of De Profundis. Back in those days, if you could find a Century Media album at Sam Goody's, they had a short mail order form stuffed in the jewel case. If you found something on the list you liked you ordered the CD and then when your order came it was packaged with a full size brochure.

Naturally, my metal friends and I pooled our resources for an endeavor like this. First, you had an order form that had a few CDs each of us wanted. Then you had to find the one guy with cool parents who would write a check. After all, back then no teenager had credit cards, and my parents certainly wouldn't write me a check for anything. You could send a money order, but back then I had no idea what a money order was. And since there was no Google or Wikipedia, I had no way to find out. My parents certainly wouldn't tell me. They'd probably berate me for asking. "What the hell do you want with a money order? You're grounded". Assholes. Finally, pooling your order saved you precious money on shipping.

So for me, buying a copy of De Profundis involved going to a concert and seeing Vader as the opening act. Then making an order though a mail order and getting the full catalogue, and then placing another order. Also saving up money, because in those days allowance was 2.50 a week, and being friends with people who had the same weird musical tastes and having a cool parent that would write a check for you. This sounds like some economics lesson in pooling resources.

Worth the hassle!

"I remember going to Gothenberg in '93, opening up a phonebook at the train station, and asking people walking by what the word for "records" was in Swedish so I could look up all the stores, mark them on a map, and go hunting all day long. And later that day, I had Eucharist "A Velvet Creation" and At The Gates "Gardens Of Grief" in my hands... and when I bought the At The Gates, it was Tompa who sold it to me, working behind the counter at Dolores Records... holy shit!"

It seems like back then you worked your way through music in sort of a linear fashion. The gateway artists were different for every generation. For my generation, being at the tail end of the Thrash movement, it was Metallica and Megadeth. Then, as you worked your way though classics like Black Sabbath, you started to dig deeper and find more obscure artists. Those crusty old guys were the one with the knowledge. They knew about band like Mayhem and Venom. For a long time, Venom CDs were out of print, and there was no Ebay to find used copies. So getting a hold of Venom required both insider knowledge that they existed and were important, and a serendipitous occurance where you chanced upon their album. Maybe a copy would show up at a used shop or flea market. Maybe not.

"probably the next example after that would be the Swedish death metal scene and how that wound up crossing over to US metalcore where you had pudgy short-haired dudes from Nebraska forcing pit-friendly breakdowns into the middle of At The Gates riffs. Americans are always reluctant to admit that someone else thought of something first that's better, but hey, sometimes you can't deny what's good. I mean, fried chicken and cheeseburgers are fine, but I'll take good Mexican food over that any day, you know?"

So true! I remember when the Identity CDs were available in the rock specialty store in Garbage City, and how they mislabeled the Emperor song. They also mislabeled the Gathering as well. Though I did find a copy of Death is Just the Beginning Vol 2 and Ten Years of Nuclear Blast at the mall. Sometimes you could find real jems in random places. I found Venom in a bargain bin. I also pulled a cassette copy of The Ultimate Incantation from a bargain bin. That's where my lifelong loveaffair with bargain bins originated, maybe. Anyways, I remember being surprised at how most of the good bands were from Europe, and mostly Scandinavian Europe, or else Florida. Florida? God's waiting room? Yes, Florida. Sort of a contrast with Scandinavia, but hey, they're both peninsulas.

Today anyone in any Godforesaken Middle-Western town can hear most any band's music online. And if they are really generous, even buy a CD online. I remember discovering At The Gates in the late 90s, after they'd broken up. Five or six years later, when the internet blossomed, kids in the hinterland started tuning in and then this happened...

I'm not saying its good or bad. But I'm not really a fan, and seeing it makes me feel really old. I find it to be a weak, watered down, American version of the original. Ok, I guess I am saying it is bad.

The original. It like like comparing a good Czech beer to Bud light.

We went went from this

To this?


Anyways, maybe this will explain why, after leaving my homeland in the diaspora, I didn't make any new heavy metal friends. Also, you get bonus points for naming the band that inspired the post title.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dreams in my Motörhead

Last night I had a dream that I was watching Motörhead play Born to Raise Hell live. And then I was in a band that was covering Motörhead. We were supposed to play Born to Raise Hell, but we forgot how to play it and started playing Iron Fist instead.

Enjoy Motörhead's Iron Fist!

As you probably guessed, in my dream I was playing bass but not singing.

Doing Stuff

A few weeks ago I did a photo shoot. It was a free gig, sort of a charity case. Cats and dogs for adoption. I wondered if there is any money in photographing pets? I'm sure there is, but man I hate that hustle of trying to be a salesman and pleasing clients.

Sometimes I wonder if I could have been a good porn photographer, or if there is really any money in it. Do you get paid more for shooting porn photos, or less? I'm guessing less because, let's be real; most people who pay for porn photos aren't appreciating the lighting and angles.

These days most everyone I see has an SLR. When I went to the botanical gardens 4 years ago almost no one had one. Today almost every other person has one. And they all want to do weddings and portraits. That leads me to believe that the market will soon be saturated with wedding and portrait semi-pros. Good for consumers, but that means I will forget about moonlighting as a wedding photographer. Not that I really wanted to anyways, but it was always in the back of my head. Let me tell you it is stressful shooting that sort of gig. If you miss a photo or something gets screwed up, there is no re-shooting. Also, without hard deadlines I procrastinate.

I suspect being profitable is all about finding your niche, and being lucky enough that it is something people are willing to purchase. I mean if your niche is taking pictures of poop then that is good for you but I doubt you will make any money selling those prints. When I first started getting into photography I had this idea to do a coffee table book of artsy pictures of guitars. All different guitars - Fender, Ibanez, Jackson, Gibson, you name it. I don't know if it has been done, but similar things have been tried. Maybe I should make a coffee table book of things collectors are into, like model trains or old Star Wars action figures. You know collectors would have to buy that book. Or maybe a book of 40s; all different ones like King Cobra and Colt 45. All the college kids would buy that, I'm sure. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In ages past

When I was in highschool a new tardy policy was introduced. It was called the tardy tank. It worked like this: when the final bell rang, the teachers shut the door. If you missed the door, that was it. The hall monitors would sweep everyone who was not in a classroom into the "tardy tank".

The tank was great. There are some days when you know that they are not teaching anything worthwhile. There are some days when you just need an hour to zone out in peace and quiet.

The tank was originally located on the second floor of the library. I was not previously aware that there was a second floor because the library was very tall, like an open air atrium. Consequently the view from the tank was nice. I remember sitting in the tank watching the sun rise in autumn and feeling glad that I was not in class.

You could only go to the tank so many times per class or they would call your parents, so I made sure not to go too often. By the end of my senior year it was relocated to a dungeon room next to the cafeteria kitchen, and I stopped going.

I mention this because training at work reminds me of high school. I am bored all day long in a drab conference room with the other drones, and wishing that I could go to the tank next period. Time to implement the office tank!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The folly of work

Going to work tomorrow. Because I am a sucker. It should be better than my last job, based purely on location. Let me show you what I mean.


This is the hallway to my "office". If it looks to you like a dank basement hallway that's because it is a dank basement hallway.


And here is my cubicle. You can't see from this perspective, but the cubicle divider between myself and my co-worker is the width of the desk; only about two feet deep.

This place was drab, and not to get all woe is me but I am a bit allergic to dust and mold. And guess what dank basements are filled with. So as you can imagine my allergies were going haywire from the minute I sat down at my desk to the time I left at the end of the day. It got so bad I had sneezing fits and had to take Benadryl and find some way to not fall asleep by lunch.

So the new place shouldn't be so bad because I've been through worse. Also, closing loans can be a real intense experience when your borrower has no place to live because his lease expires today and the underwriter won't approve your loan because the appraiser hasn't sent a re-cert of value and everyone (loan officer, borrower, realtor) is freaking out and losing their mind. So yeah, I'm not worried about being able to handle the new digs.

I do worry about how I'm going to watch the last half of college football season. Hulu? Should I buy a Tivo? Dust off the old VCR and pray it will still record? Get torrents? I have two weeks to figure this out.

Music is terrible

Years ago when I was unemployed I spent a lot of time looking for new music. It was a chore, I can tell you that. How would you unearth a Russian version of Dimmu Borgir? Too much time on your hands, that's how. Eventually I found myself working and with no time or energy to find wacky music. Good heavy metal is so hard to find. The last good band I found was Lykathea Aflame.

Suffice to say, with my last week of freedom winding down I couldn't help but start a bit of googling. It is all so terrible. Really, I am at a loss. I'd like to show you some great new discovery, some band that is good and new. Sadly, this is what I found...

I liked early Cradle of Filth's music, but hate hate hate Dani Filth's "singing". It doesn't fit the music at all. It wouldn't even be good in a band like Darkthrone. It ruins the band for me. You would think that by now someone would have tried making Cradle of Filth music with good singing. Instead it seems everyone decided to write wimpy riffs and put cheesy orchestra hits over it with some chick crooning. There are so many of these bands. I remember when it was only Nightwish, and of course Theatre of Tragedy. The latter was especially terrible. The woman sang falsetto and the man grunted and growled. The contrasts didn't work at all. And the riffs were boring.

Grunt over the most boring riffs ever invented coupled with a chick singing falsetto with simplistic piano playing. Who buys this stuff?

On Amazon I found a million of these bands. They are: Coronatus, Sirenia, Epica, Imperia, Eyes of Eden, Delain, After Forever, Tarja, Within Temptation...I could go on but I won't. Basically a thousand versions of Nightwish. It is like someone took a good idea and did it poorly over and over and over again. Chick singer, generic fast riffs, orchestra hits. I tell you people this is no good.

In theory, this should work well. When someone besides Dani sings on Cradle of Filth songs it isn't so terrible.

Notice the lack of orchestra hits? Wouldn't this sound better without Dani singing at all? Funny, it is really just an extension of the idea from earlier Cradle of Filth songs. And strangest of all it is the woman from Theater of Tragedy singing. Notice how her singing isn't so bad when she sings in her range? I guess you can't expect people who dress so terribly to get it right. Hey, at least they remembered to put lesbians in their video. Everyone loves lesbos.

Anyways, the point is that music is all terrible, and heavy metal is really terrible these days. There are so many terrible bands to wade through to try and find one good band. And that one good band will either break up, turn terrible, or take years and years to make a new album. Who has time for this? I don't. That's why I haven't found any good new music in forever. Luckily there are plenty of old albums for me to buy to round out my collection. I could spend a fortune just buying Motorhead albums I don't own. Crazy, I know.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

For your autumnal studies

Falling leaves, cold precipitation, and grey skies; these make for a good autumn. And what can be better for a cold snap than something to warm your mind and spirit? I have said before and will state again; the Russians really know how to enjoy a good winter. Perhaps it is the Thoreau I'm reading that brings out the bucolic musings, but they are magnified by reading the Russian Romantics. And that is my advice to you when things get chilly.

Reading list: I have a great love of Anton Chekhov, but am now finding Turgenev to be near equal in greatness. His writing is quintessentially Romantic. We find a love of Western intellectuals coupled with a quixotic pastoralism - in contrast to the industrial revolution I should note - and a wistful longing for the atavism to an ancient lost time (one that surely never really was), and almost a reverence for the hinterland.

Listening mix: Tchaikovsky, naturally. Sure, there are other Russians, but none so good in winter. Blasphemy? Not Myaskovsky or Shostakovich? Surely I write in madness induced by cheap brandy! No sir, Tchaikovsky exemplifies the Russian soul. He is the archetypical romantic. And his love for winter is prevalent in his symphonies (Little Russian, 4th, 5th, and 6th).

Drinking mix: I haven't made any punch yet, but nothing warms the soul quite like hot cider and brandy. Get it while the cider is still in season, kids. Whiskey and water can wait; the cider mill is open for scarcely a few weeks. Also, in lieu of a samovar I have a thermal carafe filled with black tea. But more on that later I suppose.


The buds of spring end up the detritus of fall...


Autumn inexorably gives way to winter


Winter is a wonderland of lights in a time of darkness. The worst we can do is forget this in January and February, two very long months fast approaching.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My surfinbird

Just as Peter Griffin listens to Surfinbird over and over again, I cannot stop listening to the Daler Mehndi classic Saade Dil Te Churiyan Chaliyan:

Get out of my head! Also, isn't that a wacky t-shirt?

Monday, September 28, 2009

From my childhood 5: Spuds McKenzie

When I was a child, beer was sold by beer drinking party animal dogs. Today I see beer commercials where they sell coolers and foam crap instead of beer. Whaaa? Listen kids, this is how it is done:

Here is another classic Spuds, sorry embedding was disabled.

Anyways, this is so brilliant I wish I thought of it. If I were an ad executive I would do crazy stuff like this to sell beer. I'd have keyboard cat beer commercials. I'd have commercials that laud beer's "beer goggle" abilities. It would be crazy. And it would work because, well, it is only beer. Seriously. First of all, beer should theoretically sell itself. If you have to advertise for it you are probably doing something wrong. Second, all pisswater beers like Bud and Miller are interchangeable anyways. So the only difference between the two is brand advertising, hence the need for party animal dogs or some other crazy crap. Amirite?

Libraryster: the slowdown

The libraryster will become less frequent, as this is my last week of freedom. With that, here are some recent gems:

Raymond Chandler - Farewell, My Lovely His second book, and not bad at all. It is not as good as his first, The Big Sleep, which I highly recommend. It is better than his last, The Long Goodbye. Still, it is a good read.

James Joyce - Exiles Joyce's only play, written between A Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses, it is about Irish exiles and their uncertainty at home. It is a quick read, and for me was worth it as I myself am an exile.

Ivan Turgenev - Home of the Gentry I just started this, but usually enjoy the Russian Romantics, so I have high hopes.

I also had a book of George Hurrell's Hollywood portraits. Oooh pretty pictures.

Finally, all the music this week has been a bust, sadly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brandy showdown

Autumn is the time of year where staying warm becomes important. No more cool down drinks like White Russians for me. Instead, warm up liquor comes out. That's right, it is brandy time. Drink it by itself. Pour some in your hot cider. It warms the soul.

There are many cheap American brandies, but are any of them any good? I saw Christian Brothers VSOP on sale for 10 dollars. According to the Christian Brothers website, it is a pot still brandy in the French Cognac tradition, and the VSOP is aged 8 years. Wow, sounds like a deal, right? On the way out I saw the tiny little one shot bottle of E & J VSOP for a dollar. I picked it up so I could do a head to head.

Now I haven't had Christian Brothers brandy since I lived and drank with Fisher. Though it seems like only yesterday, it was many years ago. But first up, E & J.

E & J is Ernest and Julio Gallo. You might remember them as purveyors of cheap wines, like my friend Carlo Rossi and the legendary Paisano. 7 dollars for 4 liters of red wine. You might also remember Ernest and Julio as the makers of Boone's farm. Also Bartles and Jaymes.

How does it taste? It tastes ok. It is a little harsh straight from the bottle, but put in some ice and let it melt a bit and the flavors start to become pronounced. You can taste the underlying wine flavors quite a bit. For good or for bad. It is ok, but price for price I think Christian Brothers is a better deal.

Christian Brothers VSOP is also a bit harsh straight up, but as the ice melts the flavors come out well. There is a strong taste of vanilla in this. I read that it comes from the oak. It could be that more years in the barrel make more of a vanilla flavor. It is sweet, and mellow enough. Neither one are likely to give you a hangover. At my liquor store E&J is a dollar more, but isn't a dollar tastier. Also, there is a rebate coupon for Christian Brothers that takes the price of VSOP down to 7 dollars for a fifth. Definitely a deal worth picking up, if for nothing else than spicing up your hot cider.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Bourbon Reprise

This weekend I had two choices for bourbon. Tondar gave Ezra Brooks a thumbs up. The Kentucky Cats gave Rebel Yell a thumbs up. In my readings I saw that Rebel Yell uses wheat in the mash instead of the usual rye. Similar wheated whiskeys are Maker's Mark and Old Fitzgerald. Well, I seem to recall that Maker's Mark is good. So could Rebel Yell be the poor man's Maker's Mark?

The bottle, sitting on the bottom shelf, was coated in a thin film of dust. People up here in the Northlands probably aren't into Southern whiskey. They definitely aren't into Billy Idol whiskey. Now if this was The Joker whiskey, I suspect it would fly off the shelves.

The answer is yes. I like this bourbon. It is not harsh, so you can drink a lot and not get a hangover. It doesn't have the sharpness of the rye whiskies, so if that is what you are looking for you will be disappointed. It is a sweet whiskey, so if you prefer a dry whiskey you will also be disappointed. If you like Maker's Mark, I suspect this will do when you find yourself in the unemployment line.

I feel like I should write more, but I can't find the words. I don't want to persuade you to try this whiskey if it isn't to your tastes. So much of whiskey is your own tastes. But it meets the minimum requirement which is it doesn't have that rubbing alcohol aroma and kerosene flavor. For the price I won't complain.

Tune in next week for the great American Brandy showdown!