Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Diggin On It (Like An Old Soul Record)

Lately I've been having fun with alot of new media, (or at least media that is new to me). Here is a short list of cool stuff that has captured my attention recently.

1) Invader Zim - This is a nickelodeon cartoon show from a few years back (I'm not sure if it is still on as I do not watch TV (can't get any reception, won't pay for cable) and the Nick website really messes up my computer (too many flash elements, me thinks) so I won't be going there to look up a link for y'all (that's what Google is for anyhow)) A co-worker wrestled this DVD of season one away from his 7-year old and passed it our way, and I've been hooked since last week. I haven't even shared it with my daughter yet.

This is the story of Zim a diminutive alien who is exiled to Earth (the farthest planet from his home planet) because he is small, overzealous, and annoying (although he believes he has been chosen to be the lone scout leading the way for an eventual invasion of Earth by his race). On Earth he disguises himself as a middle school child (he is small after all) and hilarity ensues. Good modern animation, and enough action, crazy hi jinks and fantasy elements to keep everyone happy, even the most jaded parent brought up on classic animation (like me). Trust me, this is worth checking out for some lighthearted laughter with the kids, or as a wind down after a stressful day (week) before the main event (movie, whatevah).

2) The DVD included with the Ramones Weird Tales of the Ramones box set - Actually, I dig this whole set, mainly for what it is - an Object d'Art in tribute to the finest of punk rock cartoon bands. This whole set is basically a love letter to the fantasy of the Ramones as the perfect punk band of schoolboy, hoodlum, outsider, chums banding together and making it in the hard knocks world of rock-n-roll. The linked description/review says it in many more words, and in much better detail, this box is a tribute to the Legendary Ramones by and for fans. As the review states "the music here is beside the point - much of it past the middle of disc 2 is of inessential, inconsequential later day Ramone material" but as a whole package, this is a fine summation of the band's entire trajectory (tho' here, most of the tradgedy of the Ramones story is glossed over, or swept under the rug in favor of happy shiny nostalgia and good time rock energy). For me, the DVD is exciting for the glimpses of the ramones in concert (what fun times those shows always were!) and those classic MTV videos from my youth back in the day. Watching this disc with my 9 year old daughter has been a blast. I love that she now will ask if she can listen to the Ramones in her room every once and a while. While my mom probably shook her head and wondered "what's next?" when she heard me listening to this junk back in the '80's, I just smile to myself as the "1-2-3-4" shout preceding every song leaks under HB's closed bedroom door, and think "what can I turn her on to next?"

By the by, so far, she digs the Hives (probably because of the videos on the DVD that came with their singles collection Your New Favorite Band, and The Modern Lovers (she was already a fan of Jonathan's solo stuff, who isn't?), but she just turned up her nose @ the Sex Pistols recently. Go figure.

Lesson for record companies to take note of: DVD's packaged with CD's is a good thing to market music to a younger audience who are much more visually catered to these days anyway. Get a clue man!

3) The TimeLife Legends of American Music Series of releases - These are generally excellent overviews of some of my favorite American musical artists. I have managed to find these sets used for $20 -$30 (for 3 packed discs in a nice book-like case with extensive liner notes). So far the house favorites are Johnny Cash (of course) and Jerry "The Killer" Lee Lewis, Tho' the Merle Haggard collection is in close contention. I'm now searching the bins for the Ike and Tina box (book?) which was released in Oct. of this year. Keep your eyes peeled, and check 'em out, these are great bargins, I think. Great for filling in the rock-n-roll history holes in your sound library.

4) The Cheese Lover's Companion - an excellent little tomme (pun intended) from the people who brought you The Food Lover's Companion (also recently published in an expanded edition) packed with information for the cheese dork in us all. Over 1,000 entries for cheeses and cheese related terms. Easy to use "dictionary" format allows for quick reference while waiting for service at your local cheese emporium (shout out to Steve's Cheese in Portland, OR @ which you may spy yours truly behind the counter on occassion). Study of this book will allow you to hold your own with your favorite cheese monger and actually maybe even understand what the heck he is so excitely going on and on about. I'm a big fan of pocket sized references so this one gets two cheesey thumbs up from this dork du frommage.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Brenda's Iron Sledge (Please don't call me Reg, it's not my name...)

A most fun time was had by all, most especially yours truly and his companion in surreal debouchery and sensory overload, Mr. SJ himself. The occassion was the celebration of musical genius which is more commonly known to the masses as one Mr. Robyn Hitchcock (and his merry band of the moment "The Venus Three" consisting as it does of three other members both nimble and quick of finger Messers Buck, McCoughy and Rieflin). All performers involved are arguably at the top of their game, that game being kick ass psychedellic rock-n-roll.

The evening started after a marathon of early morning schlepping and sausage slinging followed by an afternoon of cutting the cheese and slurping the vino. Mr. SJ and I convined @ Rocket a fairly new eatery in our fine city of bridges. We were greeted by a friend (and co-worker of mine) the lovely Ms. B. who was just finishing her shift, and decided to join us at our feast table. Such a delight!

Many plates were ordered post haste, a couple of cocktails for the wait and we were in blue heaven. Conversation flowed, as the Portland rain tapped at the giant windows beside us. The view of downdown over my shoulder was stunning, even on a murky night like it was. The food we sampled was all quite good. Stand out dishes included the Duck Confit (always a favorite if done right - crisp on the outside, velvet on the inside and oh so richly delicious), a Lobster Spring Roll served with perfectly cooked prawns and a decadent buttery lobster sauce (So good!), a Braised slab of house cured Bacon (soft, smooth, smokey deliciousness), and Butternut Squash Dumplings with microgreens sage and brown butter, (sort of like gnocchi without the potato, light and fantastic). Most playful item sampled was the Lamb Corndog which was the best damn corn dog I've had the pleasure of eating (and yes I've sampled a few in my time).

After a quick perusal of the sweet menu (tempted by the Cherry Pop Tart, and the Apples Carl Sagan) we decide that the concert can't wait, and we leave Ms B @ the bar and head out into the cold rain to ditch jackets, contraband, weapons, and prime ourselves for the event to come.

Again, dashing through the storm, we enter the club (Doug Fir-a new live music venue for me)just in the nick of time, as Robyn and band are about to hit the stage five minutes hence. Quick trip to loo then downstairs. Purchase some pints of ale and position ourselves in the sweet spot - dead center about 20 feet back. Perfect. Two sips into my Pilsner Urquell, the house lights go down and there's Robyn grinning into the crowd, and strapping on his guitar. Most Happy now, we are!

More to come soon!

1/18/08 (Seriously, I need to relate the rest of the evening with a review of the show before I forget it all, I'mm getting older by the minute here!)