Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Guaranteed laughs

A friend of mine forwarded me a link to the following blog yesterday:

Absolutely killed me. Comparing it to my recent blog posts, I didn't realize I could be so white. In the last ten posts, I hit on: Starbucks; iPod; not owning a television; sushi; and wine.

Monday, February 25, 2008

More Cowbell

I was at Starbucks on Saturday afternoon, and my iPod kicked out Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper." Of course, that song will forever be associated with the SNL "More Cowbell" skit, and it occurred to me that the cowbell is really not all that pronounced on that song. In fact, you really have to listen for it. That made me think about cowbell songs in general, and I decided to come up with a list of the top five cowbell songs out there. Well let me tell you, coming up with a list without the assistance of Google is a near impossibility. We've just become lazy as a list-making culture. Came up with two off the top of my head, but could just barely come up with even a third song that had pronounced cowbell in it. I had to scroll through the 'pod to even come up with a fourth, and I never found a fifth. I wrote down my Google-impaired cowbell song list and present it here.
  1. Low Rider, by War. This one was easy. In fact, I'm pretty sure they have a dedicated cowbell player in addition to their drummer. Gene Frenkel would have fit in well with War.
  2. Honky Tonk Women, by The Rolling Stones. It sounds like the cowbell on the opening to this song was actually hanging around the neck of a cow in the studio.
  3. Funky Cold Medina, by Tone Lōc. This song may feature a sample of a cowbell, rather than the real thing. I don't know. Actually now I do, as I just looked it up on Wiki:

    This song contains samples from six songs, "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones, "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner (whose guitar riff dominates the song), "Christine Sixteen" by KISS, "All Right Now" by Free, "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and the introduction to "Get Off Your Ass and Jam" by Funkadelic (from which the drum break during the song's bridge is derived).

    Damn you, Tone, I don't know if that deserves an asterisk now. I'll keep it on, as it's from my initial list.

  4. Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, by Terri Clark. I had to scroll long through the iPod to find this nugget, and I don't know if many folks even know it, but the cowbell permeates throughout the song. There's originality points here, too, since she's covering a Warren Zevon song that features no cowbell.


So we went out to a wine bar with the Fulbright scholar and her entourage this past Saturday. It turned out to be pretty fun, but I left without thanking her for setting everything up and planning. I sent her a quick text the next day just saying thank you, and her response was:
thx jack-i really appreciate it, u r a great friend : )
Not that any of this story is particularly interesting, it's just that I've detailed how I feel about her before, and I don't think I've been much of a "great" friend to her, except to show up at stuff that she coordinates. Having seen the lengths to which chicks go to compose text messages, I've determined that she must just not have very many good friends or something. It's always strange when that happens . . . when you think somebody really doesn't like you much and it turns out they have good things to say about you. As a strange aside, the periodic-table-man was there as well, and it turns out he used to work with Keri (the ex). Small world. It was obvious that he didn't care for her much. We didn't dwell on it, as it was a mixed crowd. There were two girls who seemed interested in Frankie, both were cute in different ways, but he went indecisive on us, and like the dog chasing two rabbits, caught neither.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


As an adult, I didn’t have a television until after September 11, 2001. The events of that day convinced me that sometimes radio just isn’t enough, and the internet is too slow to update for certain newsworthy events, so I broke down and bought a TV. With the television came the obligatory DVD player, TiVo, and cable (which had the unintended consequence of giving me high-speed internet). With the cable came my “shows,” and with the internet and my shows, I filled significant chunks of my evenings.

Before 2001, I read for pleasure a lot more than I do now. I had numerous magazine subscriptions, as well as a subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I used to tell people that my personality could best be described by the three magazines that I read religiously at the time: the Economist, Harper's, and Playboy. That about summed it up. I also read a book a week, on average – everything from cheesy sci-fi to the Classics. I was a regular at the used book store and my queue of books to read was as impressive as the list of books I had read.

So, when Bonnie asked me for a list of books, and I noticed that Andi had started a new blog devoted exclusively to lists, I couldn’t help but oblige with the following list of five books that I’ve read numerous times – to the point that if I had to rattle off a “favorite” list, I’d hit y’all with this one, and a very brief summary of why:

  1. 1984, by George Orwell. The man was a prophet. Unfortunately, I think this book may be more relevant today than ever before; unfortunately few people seem to care. As an aside, Winston’s conversations with Julia about sex and the correlation between political orthodoxy and sexual repression is one of my classic “go-to” discussions when I’m trying to close an intellectual chick.
  2. Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Beautiful, beautiful book. See entry here.
  3. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. One of the few books that has made me cry every time I have read it. Pip’s feelings for Estella, and his climactic outburst to her may be among the greatest paeans to unrequited love ever written:
    Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets. You have been the embodiment of every graceful fancy that my mind has ever become acquainted with. The stones of which the strongest London buildings are made, are not more real, or more impossible to be displaced by your hands, than your presence and influence have been to me, there and everywhere, and will be. Estella, to the last hour of my life, you cannot choose but remain part of my character, part of the little good in me, part of the evil. But, in this separation I associate you only with the good, and I will faithfully hold you to that always, for you must have done me far more good than harm, let me feel now what sharp distress I may. O God bless you, God forgive you!
  4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I still read Gatsby at least once a year. It is the one book that I read in high school, in college, and as a “grown up” that has spoken to me with equal poignancy each time, but for very different reasons.
  5. Ernest Hemingway. Collected works. As trite and clichéd as it may sound, Papa changed my life.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Got tagged by Andi with a pretty easy meme regarding one of my favorite things: books.

Here are the instructions:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more. (No cheating!)
Find Page 123.
Find the first 5 sentences.
Post the next 3 sentences.
Tag 5 people.

Here are my 3 sentences:

“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never really been that fond of penises.”

I tired to get her to talk more about this, but she wouldn’t except to say that she could never tell her family about any of this, at least not the lesbian part.

From the book Self-Made Man, by Norah Vincent, wherein she chronicles an eighteen-month experiment in which she disguised herself as a male. I haven’t actually read the book. I bought it, and before I had a chance to read it, Sam borrowed it from me over the holidays, and returned it looking like she had taken a swim with it and then given it to her pet badger to store for a couple of weeks. It was, however, the closest book with more than 123 pages. The nearest book was actually Elie Wiesel’s Night, but that weighed in at a mere 120 pages. Lesbians are more fun to blog about than concentration camps anyway, I suspect.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Vice Report

The market for vodka is pretty much over-saturated at this point. Seems like three-quarters of any given bar these days is vodka-based. My two favorites: Ketel One for the mixed drinks and Grey Goose on the rocks. Sometimes I end up with strange and interesting vodkas in the liquor cabinet, though, and it’s rare that I find one that I don’t like. I’d been holding on to an unopened bottle of Estonian vodka for a couple of years now: Türi. I’d had it as part of a “Soviet Union” flight of vodkas at Red Square in the Mandalay Bay back in 2005, and had bought a bottle shortly after getting back from that trip, but hadn’t opened it since then. I remembered it being pretty good, and the bottle looked cool in the liquor cabinet. I had a couple of folks over last night, and ran out of Ketel. I decided there was no time like the present to open the bottle of Türi, and let me tell you, folks, it was a wallop of disappointment. It had some real “burn” to it, and smelled like rubbing alcohol. I had poured myself a rocks glass half full of the stuff, and had to cut it with soda just to finish it off. Life’s too short to drink bad vodka, so I’m off to Costco to buy another bottle of Ketel One today.

Friday, February 15, 2008

And out of left field . . .

One of the oddities on my iPod’s most recent “Top 25 Most Played” list is “Chaiyya Chaiyya,” from the Bollywood movie Dil Se. I discovered it as the opening song to Spike Lee’s Inside Man and downloaded it immediately, only to learn its original source much later. I get a kick out of people’s reactions when they happen into my office and it’s playing. I’m afraid one of these days somebody is going to call Homeland Security on me if I don’t keep my musical tastes in check.

Friday Afternoon Randomness

Saddest thing I’ve read today: evidently even koalas get the clap. Poor little buggers. The male koalas need to learn to stay away from the pick-ups and the “good time” girls. Here’s a job I’d hate to have: “At the Koala Conservation Centre, we test the koalas for Chlamydia every few years.” Maybe they should look into passing out little koala condoms? And they should probably put this poster up in the habitat parks:

Bust of Mao Revisited

They say only Nixon could go to China. But Kissinger is the guy that had to deal with Mao. The conversation below is awesome and hilarious and absolutely batshit crazy all at the same time.

Now if I ever get another opportuntity to leverage my Bust of Mao, I'm totally referencing this negotiation between Mao and Kissinger:

"You know, China is a very poor country," Mao said, according to a document released by the State Department's historian office.

"We don't have much. What we have in excess is women. So if you want them we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands."

A few minutes later, Mao circled back to the offer. "Do you want our Chinese women?" he asked. "We can give you 10 million."

"It is such a novel proposition," Kissinger reportedly replied, "We will have to study it." I wonder where I could find the results of that study?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

I had a strange memory-flash to my childhood just now, and remembered scraping myself and my mom applying Mercurochrome to the scrape. And then I thought – you know, I haven’t seen Mercurochrome in over 20 years probably. Upon reflection, the last I had even heard of it (and remember noting the reference) was when I saw Rent, and one of the lyrics in “Today 4 U” is “The Nurse Took Him Home For Some Mercurochrome,” and I’m pretty sure that’s because of the rhyme and meter of the word, rather than the probability that Angel would actually have had Mercurochrome at his (her?) place.

Thanks to Google, of course, I found this article by Cecil Adams on “What happened to Mercurochrome?” Apparently, in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration declared that Mercurochrome, generically known as merbromin, was “not generally recognized as safe and effective” as an over-the-counter antiseptic and forbade its sale across state lines. What the hell? I remember it being safe and effective . . . . How did I ever get out of childhood alive?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Apropos of Valentine's Day

A public service announcement:

I've been looking for an excuse to post this classic WWII poster, directed at our men in uniform back then, but the message rings true to this day. I have a buddy whose uncle once told me that he had been to whorehouses all over Asia when he was in the military, but it wasn't until he came back to the hometown that he got a dose of the clap. I'm not sure what a "pick-up" is, or how she differs from a "good time" girl, but I have an idea. Syphilis and gonorrhea, while no cakewalk I'm sure, are nothing compared to the other diseases folks of my generation have to deal with.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Watching every move on her face

All Right Now,” by Free just played on my iPod. That song reminds me of San Diego in July of 2006. I was waiting for Keri to pick me up outside of the Embassy Suites on 601 Pacific Highway in the early afternoon. She drove up in a rented red Mustang convertible with the top down, and that song was playing on the radio, and she was wearing sunglasses and a hat and a smile. It was a perfect moment . . . the kind of moment you see in movies and doubt ever happens in real life. Moments like that, and the hope for moments like that, make life worth living.

The opposite of Neil Diamond

Vincent van Gogh: artist, absinthe drinker, lunatic. I confess I’ve never been a big fan of Van Gogh, but I think that’s mostly because when I was in college all the wannabe hip pseudo-intellectual girls had posters of Starry Night on their walls. Dude’s gotta be the king of the art calendar/museum print circuit.

Well it all caught up to me this year, when the guy in the office next to me asked me if I wanted a calendar that somebody had given him for Christmas. I’m pretty lazy about my calendars; last year’s was a pharmaceutical company’s free calendar that Laz gave me, which advertised some epilepsy drug. Well, this year, courtesy of the guy in the office next to mine, I’m treated to twelve months of old Vincent Van. Weird thing is this month it’s his Le Café de nuit (The Night Café), and every day the picture drives me a little more crazy.

Here’s Vince’s own take on the piece, in a letter to his brother Theo:

I have tried to express the terrible passions of humanity by means of red and green. The room is blood red and dark yellow with a green billiard table in the middle; there are four lemon-yellow lamps with a glow of orange and green. Everywhere there is a clash and contrast of the most alien reds and greens, in the figures of little sleeping hooligans, in the empty dreary room, in violet and blue. The blood-red and the yellow-green of the billiard table, for instance, contrast with the soft tender Louis XV green of the counter, on which there is a rose nosegay. The white clothes of the landlord, watchful in a corner of that furnace, turn lemon-yellow, or pale luminous green.

I swear, I think I’ve drank myself senseless in this place, if only in my dreams.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Making it happen.

There’s a sushi place that opened up within walking distance from my house last summer. Aside from being super convenient, the place is fabulous. The fish is always fresh and the quality is unrivaled. It’s not the fanciest place, and there’s not much flash, but when I get the craving, I invariably find myself there. They don’t have a liquor license, so the place is BYOB, which is actually pretty cool, since I’ve found myself trying out different types of sake that I pick up either from Cost Plus, or the local “fancy” grocery store. Last Tuesday, I walked there, but forgot my sake in my refrigerator. I ducked out to go get it, and Koji, the sushi chef was out back for a “smoke” break. I’ll leave it to you to figure out the quotation marks. I laughed as I caught the unmistakable scent, since I’d describe Koji as demure, if that adjective can be applied to a male, and I’d never really said much more than a couple of things to him. As I jogged past him, I commented that I’d forgotten my sake. “Bring me back some vodka!” he called after me. I knew he was joking, but when I got home, I half-filled a plastic juice tumbler with Ketel One from the Costco-sized bottle in my freezer, and took it back with me. I gave Koji the vodka, and was delighted when a couple of chef’s choices came my way gratis. Among them was some delicious toro nigiri. When the check came, it was surprisingly less than I had expected.

Last night, I had the sushi craving again, so I went to the fancy grocery store to pick up a bottle of sake. As I was in the liquor aisle, I noticed that they had a sale on Rain vodka. I’d never tried it, but it was regularly $24 for a bottle, and selling for $17. In light of the “access and cachet” moment I’d had at Robertson’s on Friday, I decided to try an experiment. I bought the vodka, intent on giving it as a gift to Koji. I even bought one of those fancy little wine carriers so it would look gift wrapped. Let me tell you . . . after I got there and presented the bottle to him, as far as access and cachet goes, it was indescribable.

Koji came from around the bar, shook my hand and bowed, thanked me repeatedly, and told me that he was going to do something special for me. One of the waitresses opened the bottle on the spot and poured him a long draught of the hooch. She also brought me a sake cup full of it for my enjoyment as I waited for a table to open up. Served neat, I was pretty impressed with the smoothness of the Rain.

I paid close attention to my order, since I was sort of experimenting. I ordered some yellowtail, some snapper, a Vegas roll, and a California roll. When my order came out, Koji had doubled all my orders, and had included some toro sashimi, and a couple of other morsels that I’d never tried or seen. He also included some pickled wasabi. I actually struggled to eat it all . . . I was literally gorging myself on sushi. When I finally threw in the towel, I was spent. The vodka and the sake had also gone to my head a little and I was glad that I’d walked to the place. I asked for the check, and when the waitress brought it to me, I couldn’t help but chuckle. $31. I glanced at the sushi-menu just to gauge the net worth of what I’d been served. By my estimates, it was about $75 worth of sushi. The toro sashimi by itself would have been $20 if I had ordered it.

Sometimes, if you actually know somebody, or if you’re a regular at a place, greasing them a $20 bill can come across a little gauche. For those folks, the access and cachet requires thoughtfulness. Thoughtfulness always pays off.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Access and Cachet

One of my clichés when people ask me why I carry cash in this age of credit cards is: “Because at the end of the day there’s no better travel agent than Benjamin Franklin.” I believe that, and there are times, like last night, when the cash money talks in a way that the credit card never will.

My buddy Dan called me late last afternoon and asked if I wanted to get dinner with him and his co-worker Albert. Dan and Al are good guys, and word on the street is that Dan had recently broken up with his girlfriend of a couple of years. I said sure, and asked where they were going. Dan said he’d had a craving for Robertson’s for a few weeks and nothing short of Robertson’s would do. He suggested we meet there at 7:00.

Now, I know from experience that Robertson’s is a hot-spot for dinner on the weekends, and they don’t take reservations for parties smaller than four. When I pulled into the parking lot and saw the number of cars there, I knew we were in for a long wait, and I didn’t feel like waiting; I was hungry.

I took a $20.00 bill from my wallet, folded it in quarters, and put it in my front pocket. I walked in, worked my way through the crowd, and found Dan and Al, who had just gotten there as well. We walked up to the host, and Dan told him we had a party of three. He informed us that they were fully booked with reservations until 8:30, but he would put our name down and we would be in the queue with the other folks, behind the ones that had gotten there before us. I saw the look of disappointment on Dan’s face. I thanked the host, shook his hand, discreetly slipped him the $20, and told him that we would wait at the bar, and if there was anything he could do to minimize our wait, we would appreciate it. We weren’t at the bar long enough to even order our first drink, when he approached us and told us that our table was ready.

Dan and Al bought my dinner as a thanks for that moment of élan. $20 well greased will open doors for you. But it’s all about doing it right. I’m a firm believer that any gentleman worth his salt should know when, where, and how to grease a palm. It just makes life easier.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Bachelor life

I finished my Costco-sized bottle of Crown Royal last night and had to break into my bottle of Crown Special Reserve. I have to tell you, strange as it sounds, I prefer the regular Crown to the Special Reserve.

Got home from work late last night, and had two boiled eggs and a can of tuna for dinner. As it often is, the Crown was the highlight of the evening.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

fly on the sitemeter wall

Somebody in Atlanta, Georgia must have been horribly disappointed when their Google search for "big dick fever" led them to this entry here at Mad Shoeshiner.

Because you can't unring a bell . . .

Courtesy of my buddy Robb, one of my first e-mails of the day:

I'm listening to the song "goodbye horses" by Q Lazzarus. It's not a bad song--very techno 80s. But there's no redemption for the song that was used in the "tuck" scene in Silence of the Lambs.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Back in Black

Well, it’s back to the grind. I wish I had a truly good adventure story to tell y’all, but nothing really emerged. Had a good time, and time spent with friends is always awesome, but not necessarily blog-worthy. Not even a great miss to report. Three thoughts from the weekend:
  • Sometimes if you want to have a good time, you have to spend money. If you’re not going to do something right, you might as well stay home. I should have slung the shekel and gone to one of the “good” parties in Scottsdale (ranging from $100-$400) on Saturday night, rather than the $40 block party that turned out to be the ghetto/overflow party.
  • Alka-Seltzer is a surprisingly effective hangover remedy. It tastes like carbonated saltwater, but it had me feeling like a million bucks unlike most “remedies” out there.
  • People watching never gets old if you’re in a target-rich environment.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Двете споменати по-горе реакции също изискват преобразуването на NAD+ в NADH. За да може да обработи прекомерните количества NAHD, черният дроб отклонява киселината pyruvate от останалите процеси които я използват. Един от тези процеси е синтезът на глюкоза, а когато този процес е нарушен, черният дроб не успява да снабдява своевременно с глюкоза тъканите и най-вече мозъка. Глюкозата е основната енергийна суровина за мозъка, и при недостига ѝ се наблюдават някои от типичните симптоми на махмурлука – умора, слабост, промени в настроението, понижени внимание и концентрация.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Epicurean truth

It was 35 degrees in Phoenix this morning. Good thing I brought my coat. Can’t believe I actually debated whether to do so. Had a very nice, relaxing dinner with Carlos last night at a place called Durant’s. Ended up getting a little lit. Had three Crown Royals during the interview, and half a bottle of wine at dinner.

Let me tell you, Durant’s is a “Jack” kind of place, down to the red wall paper. The founder, Jack(!) Durant’s words are prominent there – words that speak veritas to me:

Good Friends, Great Steaks, & the Best Booze, are the necessities of life.