Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hello? Hi!

Wow, December 29 was my last post, huh?  That was five months ago!  What a ridiculous five months it's been, though!  I've read/cooked/made/done a ton of things worth posting about, so it's not that.  I have almost no excuses, but I blame my non-blogging on thefollowing:

1) Work blocked all blog sites - seriously, I can't even read blogs at work anymore, nevermind write my own.  Not even work-related blogs.  Ridic.

2) My computer was out of commission for quite a while.  Something was wrong with the screen.  Turned out it only took about 3 days to get it fixed, but it was months of interwebbing on my phone or crappy old laptop before we actually sent the good one out.

3) Work has been completely ridiculous busy for the last few months.  Completely ridiculous.

4) I'm pregnant!  Those first few months of being sick and exhausted all the time were no joke.  I haven't even read much this year (I think I'm on my 12th book for the year or something), because I've just been too tired and/or busy with baby preparations.  I'm due September 9, so I'm just about 6 months along now. 

Whew!  Hopefully I'll be better about blogging on a going-forward basis.  Some highlights from the past few months:
  • I saw LP in February - it was awesome, but didn't live up to my super-high expectations, sadly.
  • I made and decorated easter-egg cake balls for Easter - they were delish.
  • I sewed a crib skirt for my new crib - definitely the hardest sewing project I've ever attempted, and I'm so damn proud of how it came out.
  • Devil In the White City was a fabulous book.
  • I got my Soundgarden tickets for this summer  the other day - I'll be 7 months pregnant for the show, but I don't care at all, I'm super-excited.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Linkin Park!

We all know how much I love this effing band.  The new album is on my short list of favorite albums ever, and I have been looking forward to seeing them live for the first time for years now.  So, new album = big tour, right?  Right.  Sadly for me, though, big tour = wicked expensive tickets.  Let's think analytically about this for a minute - who are LP's biggest fan base?  Probably 13-24 year old guys.  The fanboys, if you will.  These are largely high school and college kids.  They don't have the money to be shelling out $80 a ticket, right?  Wrong, apparently.  They're playing two shows around here - Mohegan Sun, which is notoriously expensive, being a casino and all, but it's a great size venue - nice and small - and easy to get to from where I live, and the TD Garden in Boston, and going to Beantown on a weeknight after work is a huge pain in the ass.  I could've bought pre-sale tickets the week before they went on sale, but because tickets were so expensive, I didn't think I was going to be able to go, so I didn't get them when I had the chance.  Still kicking myself.  By the time it was decided that J and I were going to go, Mohegan was sold out, except for seats behind the stage (why even sell those, seriously?), and the GA floor at the Garden was also sold out.  Our seats aren't awesome by any means, and I'm still a little burned up about the fact that I'm not going to be on the floor, but I'M GOING TO SEE LP IN FEBRUARY!!  I've been flipping out a little bit since the day I bought the tickets.  Our seats are lower level, 21st row, straight back from the stage.  It's a long way back in an arena that big, too.  Whatever, I'm SO EXCITED to be going at all.  Sure, tickets were hella expensive, but experiences are so much more important to me than things - I can pass up some things (including some Christmas presents this year) in order to be able to see one of my favorite bands live.  I'm now officially counting down the days until February 1. 

AlternaTickers - Cool, free Web tickers

Sunday, December 26, 2010


For Christmas, I asked for Madeleine pans.  I know, weird, right?  But it turns out I like baking more and more with each new thing I make.  I still wouldn't say I'm really getting the hang of it because I'm still a slave to the recipe, but I'm enjoying it, anyway.  

Madeleines have been one of my favorite treats for a while now, but they're one of those things that I was afraid that if I could make them myself, it would take some of the magic out of it.  But in the end, I couldn't resist the urge to at least try.  If you don't know what they are, I think buttery tea cakes is the best way to describe them.  They're somewhere between a cookie and a cake, and they're light and fluffy and buttery and a little citrusy and just delicious - delicate and cakey on the inside, but with just the slightest bit of a crunch to the edges.  If you've never had one, I highly recommend that you seek them out.  The cafe at Nordstrom has awfully good packaged ones, and if you can find them good in a package, it's a rare and delightful day.  I followed the recipe that I found on 101 Cookbooks, at least in part because the blogger managed to make the recipe so personal and made it sound unbelievably good.  

Oh. My. God.  These cookies are SO delicious.  And look how pretty they came out!

I managed to not even try the batter until I was filling the pans, and then I didn't want to stop eating it.  The batter came together so light and fluffy - I've never made anything like this before.  My only comments are that I sifted the flour over the egg batter, rather than just sprinkling it in; I put too much batter in each cookie mold, so they came out a little huge; and I thought they were just a bit too lemony.  Next time I will use far less zest, and I may try orange zest instead of lemon.  Overall though, I even impressed myself this time.  Thank you, Mommy, for getting me these gorgeous Madeleine pans for Christmas.  I will bring you a tin of delightful little tea cakes as soon as this silly snow storm clears up.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rock Hall 2011 Inductees announced!

Check it out - the 2011 class of inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is as follows:

Alice Cooper Band 
Neil Diamond
 Dr. John 
Darlene Love 
Tom Waits
 Jac Holzman 
Art Rupe
 Leon Russell
The last three on the list were not on the nominee list when I posted it a couple of weeks ago.  Leon Russell is receiving the Musical Excellence Award.  He's a piano sideman who has worked with the likes of The Byrds, Willie Nelson and Elton John.  Art Rupe is the founder of Speciality Records, which was responsible for putting out all of Little Richard's early stuff in the 50s, and one of the first independent labels.  Jac Holzman is the founder of Elektra Records.  

Other than those three, I called Tom Waits, Neil Diamond and Dr. John, and Alice Cooper is no surprise.  I'm glad to see it's his whole band, and not just him, too.  I don't really know much about or by Darlene Love, but from what I do know, she's not really my style.  Still, good for her.  Congrats to all of the inductees.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It's gotten this bad . . .

My mild obsession with the Rolling Stones, I mean.
Since I finished reading Keith Richards' autobiography, Life, my love for him and all things Rolling Stones has only grown.  I'm still working on building my collection of Stones albums, and I'm trying to do that slowly so that I can spend some time with individual albums as I get them, and really feel them out and establish them in their proper place in my head, as if that makes sense to anyone but me.  I think Exile on Main Street might be my favorite favorite album of all time, now that I've spent a good deal of time with it.  I don't mean just that it's my favorite Stones album, but it's like, my favorite album ever.  And I don't really believe in favorites, but there's something about that album that's just mind-blowing.  I think part of it is the whole tax exile - living in a mansion in southern France - recording with a driveable studio, with wires snaking all over that shady basement - everyone's in a different room, suited to make their instrument or voice sound the best - it's hot as fuck - there's no air moving around - everyone's high, and most of them are also half naked - they're recording all night long - or whenever the mood suits - it sounds dirty and gritty and just fucking brilliant.  This is a whole post to itself.  I'm serious, it's already mostly written, I'm just working out the kinks and waiting for the right time to drop it.  It'll be another thesis.

In addition to acquiring all of the albums though, J is harassing me endlessly right now about the DVDs.  I admit that I'm obsessed, and I try not to push it on him or anyone else.  That's what this blog is for, right?  I asked for Shine a Light, the recent Scorsese concert film, for Christmas, sight unseen.  But just after asking for it, one Friday or Saturday night that we were spending at home cooking recently, it was on VH1 and I caught it from the beginning.  So good.  If you like the Stones, this makes for amazing background while you're cooking or doing whatever it is you do at home.  It's worth owning, for sure.  In addition to that, I've recently watched Stones in Exile a couple of times, as well as Gimme Shelter and Sympathy for the Devil.  Since Exile is probably my favorite album ever, I also can't get enough of watching the documentary about the making of it.  Like I said, I think that whole story really adds to how much I love the album as a whole.  Lucky for me it's currently available On Demand from Netflix, so I can watch it whenever I want.  But again, this all goes with that other thesis of a post . . .

Gimme Shelter was excellent.  The whole section about Altamont was really why I wanted to see it in the first place, and it lived up to the hype as far as all that is concerned.  Yup, a Hell's Angels "security guard" totally just stabbed that dude.  Wow.  And it's all on film.  Sure the dude had a gun, but there wasn't a better way than multiple stab wounds in the back?  He was later let off by a jury, finding it to be self-defense because the victim had a gun.  No doubt, he was probably planning to use that gun for no good purpose, but still.  How society has changed, huh?  Not that people don't still get stabbed, and they get stabbed or shot at concerts still, that hasn't changed, but I just mean that no one would ever even think about attempting to put on a show like that nowadays, I don't think.  You'd be crazy to try, and it would be SO expensive to pull off.  Free?  With a couple of the biggest bands in the world?  For 300,000 people?  With the Hell's Angels working security and getting paid in beer?  Sure!  Why not, what could possibly go wrong?  Zoinks.  The Dead pulled out and decided not to play because it was all getting too violent for them.  Good for them.  Even aside from that, though, it was a good movie.  Again, great background, like any music film is bound to be.

I just watched Sympathy for the Devil, though, and that was a whole different kind of movie.  I picked it up because about half of it chronicles the recording sessions for the song of the same name, and follows it from its beginnings as a slow, folky tune through various incarnations and phases as it worked its way into the groovy, fun dance tune that we all know and love.  For that, I was in awe.  Being the way that I am and obsessing the way that I do about certain bands, songs, etc., it was very cool to me to be able to watch a song that I love so much grow and change and get written.  It really captured the feeling in the studio, and in that way, at least for me, it's absolutely a film worth watching.  However.  However.  The other half of the film (and it's not like the first half and second half, it cuts back and forth) is a big clusterfuck of a French "statement" of some sort.  I'm still not sure what sort of statement it's meant to be, though.  Frankly, I started fastforwarding through the French film stuff as the recording stuff started to feel like the song was really coming together.  There's the beginnings of a few other songs on there too - just in the form of the band getting in the studio to jam and see what comes out.  I don't know, there's just something about watching music being made that really impresses me.

Hunger Games casting trailer

This has been floating around YouTube for a while now, but it's worth sharing.  I love the Hunger Games book series, and this is just a really well-made video.  I think these two unknown actresses are excellent choices for Katniss and Prim, IMO.  The blonde is cast as Rue here, but I think she'd be a perfect Prim.  The fact that the guy that made this video used a few songs from the new Linkin Park album as the soundtrack doesn't hurt either.  As far as I'm concerned, the whole new LP album, A Thousand Suns (read my thesis of a review here), could be the soundtrack to this movie, when they ever get around to making it.  Seriously, it's perfect.  Every song.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I'm done with Life.

Seriously, I am listening to music with whole new ears thanks to this book.  I don't know how you did it Keith, but damn, can you put the passion of music into someone.  Thank you.   I might've learned more about music and music history from Keith Richards in these 550 pages than I have in a lifetime of listening to it.  I finished the book the other day, and have been thinking about it constantly ever since.  Part of me wants to start reading it again right now, but a bigger part of me wants to spend a little more time really getting into some of the artists that he talks a lot about, and even a little more familiar with the Stones whole catalogue, and then I want to read it again.

It's funny, it's revealing, it's insightful, it's bitchy, it's unbelievable at times.  Keith has this opinion of himself that is just so skewed - he's in some ways amazingly humble, but in some ways, just so sure of himself and so positive that he is levitating above it all, it's unbelievable.  Arrested again?  Just pull some of that merchandise and a few of those albums out of the trunk, sign it all, pose for some pictures with the cops, and be on your way.  No worries.  It's hilarious at times, just how out of touch with everyone else's reality he seems to be, and in some ways has been, for 40+ years of his life.  But then he'll talk about his family, or his feelings on friendship, or his belief of what heaven and hell are like, and he comes drifting back down to earth.  Never more so than when he talks about playing in to the image that he created for himself back in the 60s - with both a sort of regret that maybe he lost a little of himself to the image, while at the same talking about himself as a latter-day folk hero :

"They imagined me, they made me, the folks out there created this folk hero.  Bless their hearts.  And I'll do the best I can to fulfill their needs.  They're wishing me to do things that they can't.  They've got to do this job, they've got this life, they're an insurance salesman ... but at the same time, inside of them is a raging Keith Richards."
Everybody's got a little Keith in them, then?  The messed up thing is how you find yourself agreeing with him.  Yes, Keith, yes, I believe everyone does have a little of you in them, and thank you sir, for allowing us all to live vicariously through you for all these years.  It's all very tongue-in-cheek, I think.  The whole of the book comes across as this wink and a nudge, stream of consciousness sort of diatribe.  It's really conversational, like you're just hanging out listening to Keith Richards tell you stories.  And in that way, it was really hard to put down - he has some amazing stories.  And he's really quite funny.  But at the same time, there really is a strong and serious sense of humility about him.  He's humbled to his core by his whole life and his whole career, it seems, although he would never come right out and say that.  But you get the feeling that through four decades of the Stones just getting bigger and bigger and bigger, Keith has never ceased to be amazed by what he was actually getting paid to do, and the doors that it all opened for him.  He talks endlessly about getting to play with some of his heroes, and how awestruck he still gets with the fact that some of them want to play with him, and it's that sort of insight that make this book such a great read.

What really had me well and truly hooked on this book so hard, though, is his passion for music.  Through and through, music is in his soul, and it shows.  From start to finish, his passion for music is bleeding off every page.  Learning some of these neat little details about the origins of some of these songs was really interesting for me too - Keith wrote the beginnings of "Satisfaction" in his sleep; "Happy" took 4 hours from when it didn't exist to when it was recorded and done, and KR was the only actual member of the band playing on it.  At the same time, it's also just a hilarious collection of Keith sitting around shooting the shit kind of stories.  His humor is great - dry, witty - I was laughing out loud a lot.  A few of my favorite lines:

On the Stones' decision to put out a cover of Willie Dixon's "Little Red Rooster": "In our arrogance at the time, we wanted to make a statement.  'I am the little red rooster/Too lazy to crow for day.' See if you can get that to the top of the charts, motherfucker.  Song about a chicken."

In the midst of a multiple-page rant about Mick, on the topic of Mick's dance lessons:  "We know the minute he's going plastic.  Shit, Charlie and I have been watching that ass for forty-odd years; we know when the moneymaker's shaking and when it's being told what to do."

You can feel the real brotherly love between Keith and Mick, though.  Despite all of the badmouthing, there's still a deep-seeded sense of respect and love when Keith talks about Mick, and you get the feeling that they are very much like brothers - the seem to be so, so, so alike in so many ways that keep them together forever, but at the same time, they have really unique goals and drives and interests that push them apart.  It's almost sweet.

Like I said, reading this has really expanded my choices of music, lately.  I had heard of a lot of the old stuff that Keith cites as influences, but I hadn't really listened to a lot of it, if you know what I mean.  Chuck Berry, for example.  Everyone knows Chuck Berry, Johnnie B Goode and all of that, but I never really paid much attention to his music, you know?   I've always had a really healthy respect for BB King and John Lee Hooker, as another example, but again, I've never seriously listened to all their stuff.  But lately I have been, and I feel like I'm making up for years and years of not listening to it.   And I've looked into a lot of the stuff that I wasn't familiar with, and I'm really enjoying most of that too.  Seriously, it's been like a little bit of a music education for me, and I love that.

Anyway, the bottom line is that I really and truly loved this book.  I'm adding it to my list of favorites, and I will forever recommend it to pretty much anyone who will listen.

** If you're interested, here's the link to my 1/2 way through book review of Life.