Monthly Archives: June 2010

My Froat Hurts

29 June 2010

I can’t believe it, but I’m down with another sore throat.  For once, I actually think this one can be blamed on allergies, but I’m not taking any chances.  The headache, the fatigue, it could be anything.  This may cause me to miss The Lost Boys in Santa Cruz.  Aww piss!

I had an exciting birthday weekend that included another great show by Slim Cessna, as well as some dinners and lunches with friends and family.  This weekend is a merciful three-day, but as I’m too lazy to drive down to SoCal for Hootenanny (I-5 on a holiday weekend?  No thanks.), I’m left with some time to kill.  Could this be the weekend I finally make some headway with storage?  Let’s consider:

The Facts
When I left the East Bay in 2004, I put everything I owned (that I wasn’t taking with me to S.F.) in a storage unit out there.  We’re talking years of toys, sports equipment, baseball cards, school papers, books, and God knows what else.  I haven’t even cracked the door on this place in the last six years.  I don’t remember all of what was in there or even how much of it there was.  For all I know, the unit was broken into the day after I left it, and I’ve been paying monthly rent on an empty unit for the better part of a decade.  This is hundreds of dollars going out the window every year, and for what?  Because I haven’t gotten off my ass to take care of it.

The Options
The way I see it, there are four possibilities, and they are as follows:

  1. Do Nothing
    There’s nothing that says I have to do anything about it now.  It’s not that expensive, and I could leave it all in storage for another 10 years if I wanted to.  The upside is that it costs me no effort.  The downside is not only the monthly rent but also the mental and spiritual weight of knowing I have all these possessions in my name that are going to waste and occupying space in my consciousness.
     
  2. Keep It
    There’s too much to move in my car in one trip, and it’s a 45 minute trip one way.  But I could take a few trips, or else rent/borrow a truck and get all of my stuff out of there.  The question is: what would I do with it?  I don’t have room in my place for all of that crap unless I want it in a big pile in the middle of my living room.  And then there are the spiders to consider.  After all these years undisturbed, I shudder to think how many critters — alive or dead — might be lurking in all those dark boxes.  The last thing I want to do is bring that nightmare into my house!  All I’d really be doing here is trading the cost of the storage unit rent for space in my living room.  No me gusta.
     
  3. Give It Away
    Now we’re getting into the more serious options.  I think the reality is that I have lived this long without this stuff, to the point I don’t even remember most of what’s in there.  Do I really need it anymore?  I guess I always thought I’d have kids someday and that they’d inherit all this stuff and it would find the perfect use.  Even if I do have kids though, they’re going to be all about Nintendo.  What would they want with an old G.I. Joe or a box of baseball cards?  I feel like the era of passing toys onto your kids has started to pass.  It’s not the same as it was with our parents’ generation, is it?  Or is it?  I can see the value in going through all these old toys again and the memories it will surely evoke.  Is that final going-through-them-in-preparation-to-give-them-away a sufficient final extraction of value?  Or do I need to keep them longer?  Or could I get away with taking and keeping pictures of them?  The memories could be preserved that way.  It feels like a scary proposition to just give all this stuff away.  For all the time and effort and money that went into collecting it and storing it for what amounts to almost my whole life… to just wake up one day and sweep it out the door?  That’s huge!
     
  4. Sell It
    This feels about the same as just giving it away.  It has the bonus of at least feeling like it’s going to someone who appreciates it.  I mean, if someone bothers to track down a Hot Wheels from me, he probably really wants that car.  So it would be like it was serving a purpose again, plus there’d be at least some money in it.  If I could snap my fingers and sell everything in that storage unit for its fair price, heck it might not even add up to what I’ve spent on storing it the last six years.  And of course it won’t be that easy.  It’d probably be a big pain in the ass to catalog and sell all of that stuff.  Ebay?  Craig’s List?  It might take weeks to move it all.  And this isn’t exactly the economy to be selling trinkets.  But I feel like I should be getting some money for it at least.  I mean, my parents paid for most of it with their hard-earned money during my childhood.  The least I could do is get a return and pass it on to them.  Just getting rid of it feels like it would be an insult.

The Horns Of A Dilemma
On the one hand, I feel like I need to shed this weight, but on the other it pains me to think of the wasted money and stress of keeping it for all this time just to suddenly dump it unceremoniously.  So in all seriousness, I’d love to get your input.  Surely some of you have been through some variation on this same experience.  Am I being ridiculous?  The Buddhist in me says “give it away, let it go, it’s served its purpose, and it’s only hurting you now.”  And I secretly fantasize about what it would feel like to know all my material possessions are right here with me, easily tracked, easily moved, and easily disposed of.  Like I’d be more mobile.  Lighter.  What to do?

The Sudden Change Of Subject
That debut album from The Drums finally came out.  It’s pretty good, kinda like Joy Division with an upbeat surf slant… and a healthy dose of new romantic.  In terms of accessibility, I think their “Summertime!” EP was a little catchier, but this album is still worth a hear.

Show mommy how the piggies eat!

28 June 2010

Before I begin, how is it I write about food so much on here?  I didn’t intend that to happen, but somehow it has.

Anyway, it came up again the other day that over the years, so many of my favorite sinful foods have disappeared off of menus and shelves — often not long after I discover them to begin with.  So for no reason other than pure junk food nostalgia, my top 10 delicious-yet-extinct snacks:

  1. Cheddar Beer Kettle Chips – Kettle Chips are pretty fantastic in general, but they’re made better by the fact that they occasionally release strange flavors that are suggested to them by customers.  Well for a few years (2005-2007?), they had such a flavor called Cheddar Beer which sounds disgusting but actually tasted exactly what it sounds like.  There was a malt aftertaste!  So weird!  I don’t really even like beer, but I was obsessed with them and had them with lunch almost every day for a couple of years.  Then, for no reason I can guess, they were retired.  I was, and remain, crushed.
     
  2. WWF Superstars Ice Cream Bars– This was the prize of catching up with an ice cream truck.  Never mind if you weren’t into wrestling.  You could ignore the trading card that was included, and even the wrestler that was stamped on the bar itself.  The point was the ice cream sandwich that was chocolate on one side and a to-die-for shortbread cookie on the other.  I am sadly aware of no substitute for these.
     
  3. Peanut Butter Boppers– Sugary peanut butter rolled in chocolate chips?  Yes, please.  This was one of my original “long-lost foods,” and no one I knew remembered them.  Thanks to the information age, we can easily find proof of their existence, but for years my only evidence that I wasn’t crazy was the brief appearance of a box of Boppers in grampa’s fridge near the beginning of The Lost Boys.  which reminds me: this Wednesday Corey Feldman and his band will be hosting a screening of The Lost Boys at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk (where the movie was filmed).  I am so there.
     
  4. Tato Skins– Back to chips here, these Keebler snacks were amazing.  Really thick almost like a cracker.  I thought they disappeared completely, but I saw a bag in a vending machine in the Midwest a few years back.  I guess it’s one of those things where they stopped selling in certain markets?  According to Wiki, they may be related to T.G.I.Friday’s chips?  Must research this.  This is all reminding me of some other long-lost chips.  O’Boise’s?  Chachos?  Both also made by Keebler.  Keebler apparently ruled my chubby little world in the late 80’s.  Thank God we all still have lime Tostitos to fall back on.
     
  5. The Potted Plant – For a short while, the Hungry Hunter restaurant had a desert on their menu that was as follows: vanilla-cheesecake custard served in a clay-colored plastic bowl that was shaped to resemble a flower pot.  It was then covered completely with crushed Oreo.  Finally, a plastic flower was stuck in the top.  The overall effect was that they’d set a potted flower down in front of you, and as you ate it, it would at first appear that you were scooping up soil and eating it with a spoon.  As a kid, this was beyond fascinating to me… not to mention insanely delicious.  With a lot of effort, I suppose I could reproduce it.  When it went away, I instead ordered their Bailey’s Irish Cream pie.  Which was an excellent backup, and was my gateway into drinking Bailey’s and eventually real drinks.  So if I’d turned out to be an alcoholic, just think, I could have blamed Hungry Hunter for nixing the Plant!
     
  6. Chocolate Lasagna– While we’re on the subject of chain restaurant deserts, did you ever try this creation from Olive Garden?  It was just several layers of chocolate cake, butter-cream frosting, and chocolate chips.  Seriously delish.  And since I liked it so much, of course, they took it off the menu.
     
  7. Cookie Sandwich – OK, if we’re going to do this, let’s do it.  Me liking a dessert has proved to be the kiss of death time and time again.  The Elephant Bar’s awesome and massive chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich went the way of the dinosaur as well.  I know there are even more than these last three examples, but I’ll end this theme.  Just trust me, if you like a dessert, never introduce me to it or else the chef will make it his highest priority to stop making it.
     
  8. Out Of The Blue-Berry Snapple– I used to be a major lemon iced tea junkie.  These days, I can rarely drink it anymore because it’s so sweet.  But there was a short-lived variation around 2007 that used blueberry flavor instead of lemon.  It’s with us no longer, and my attempts to reproduce it with my own ingredients have failed.  But it did serve to hook me on blueberries which I now eat all the time in all forms.
     
  9. Orbitz Cola – This was basically like a fruit drink with little balls of like gelatin floating around in it.  Come to think of it, I only had it a few times.  I think some girl I liked talked me into it.  Well, these days we have bubble tea, and it’s actually probably better.  So maybe never mind on this one.
     
  10. 1980’s Cereal– This is a simple three-way tie between a trio of my faves among the scores of entertainment-themed breakfast cereals of the era.  Smurf Berry Crunch were red and blue and tasted very much like what is modernly known as Cap’n Crunch Berries.  E.T. cereals had a peanut butter thing going for it, not unlike the modern Reese’s cereal.  Mr. T cereal tasted pretty much like modern Cap’n Crunch, and has the added distinction of being featured in a memorable scene in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.  I’d have also mentioned Count Chocula, but all the monster cereals seem to get “re-issued” every so often.

There’s a good chance #1 on this list would have been Mother’s Cookies, had they not been miraculously resurrected last year.  They’re back in stores, so we can all rest easier.  But they deserve honorable mention for sure.  And you know on second thought, those may not actually be the top 10.  But they’re the 10 I can think of at the moment.  I’m sure more will come to me later.  And I know there are whole websites dedicated to discontinued foods of the 80’s and 90’s I could look to.  How about you?  Any bygone dishes you still long for?

I’ll leave you with this bizarre one from the early days of the internet.  G’night kiddies.

… in which I see the world!

21 June 2010

And by “world,” of course I mean “Bakersfield.”

Well, it seems Old Man Hudson’s birthday is coming up.  And what better way to celebrate than to relive some of my fondest memories of the few decades?  By which of course I mean running down the last few TCB shows…

Bakersfield / Fresno
It’s been over a month now, so my memories are fading.  I meant to write about this earlier, but alas.  That Bako/Fresno weekend was a hell of a trip.  I drove out to pick Nick up at the farm and got the whole tour, goats and all.  Loved it.  Saw a bunch of meerkat-looking things on the side of the freeway just standing and watching cars drive by.  (This was a little north of Morgan Hill on 101.)  Blazing hot Bakersfield, as a town, was interesting.  We stayed at the newly renovated Padre Hotel, and though it was pricey, it was totally worth it.  I wish we had more time there, because it was pseudo-Vegas and gaudy, but undeniably comfortable.  One of the nicer rooms I’ve been in, honestly.  Downstairs was a different story, because it was packed to the gills with locals.  The prevailing style and attitude of the town was as douchey as I expected.  A lot of big pickup trucks, awful club clothes, and general meathead-ery.  Like our own West Coast Jersey Shore kinda.  The overall effect was not unlike Biff’s casino in Back To The Future II’s alternate 1985.  There’s just a weird vibe in that city.  But that doesn’t apply to everyone.  We had a good crowd at Fishlips, and after a little while, we even got some of that seated room up dancing.

On the way out of town, we visited Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace museum and had Macaroni Grill for the first time in years.  I myself even made a detour to see C-Po in Visalia, tucked almost in the shadow of what I think were the Sequoia National Park mountains.  Saw the Moz-friendly Velouria Records.  The place we played in Fresno (the all ages Starline) was actually great, and the show itself was probably the best of the last few months.  The crowd was way into it.  Nick rocked his electronic drum-kit.  I joined For The Masses for “Personal Jesus.”  I’m hoping we get to play there again.  Have I mentioned how much I love playing Fresno?  That town just fits us!

And so does its Claim Jumper, which of course we hit the next morning.  So yeah, great trip.  Special thanks to For The Masses.  I’m so glad they’re back together.  Such nice guys, and they sound amazing.  That “Pain That I’m Used To” intro gives me chills.  The shows were fun, had some side adventures, and saw a lot of California roads I’d never driven on before.  Me gusta!

Slim’s (San Francisco)
The Slim’s Moz birthday show was another huge night, with 450+ in attendance.  Fascination Street’s San Francisco debut went every bit as well as we all expected.  I’m sure they’ll be back soon.  Love Vigilantes put on a great set, and TCB overcame several obstacles to have a killer show.  We had to cut some songs, our big intro video plans were botched at the last minute, ans some other drama too.  My brand new Les Paul got a big gash in it at some point during the evening, but I didn’t see it happen.  But despite it all, it was good times.  The Jenny Wehrt raffle situation went over well, and I think she sold all of the paintings she brought.  Hope to have her back next year!  I’m telling you Bay Area folks, our annual Slim’s show is the one not to miss.  It’s been pretty consistently epic if I do say so myself.  🙂

Seattle
It was always going to be a quick trip.  Barely 24 hours, but in that time, holy shit did we eat some good food.  In just one day, we accidentally found Beth’s Cafe which turned out to be some hip locals place.  Among other things, I had the best blueberry muffin.  So good in fact that I assumed it would be the culinary highlight of the trip.  How wrong I was.  Before the show was a delicious arugula salad with chevre and pistachios.  Then after the show, we were looking for a 24 hour place.  A punk rock girl at the venue directed us to The Night Kitchen, a place so hip that no one we asked on the street could help us find it… despite us thrice circling and asking around on the very block it’s located on.  We eventually found it, and with it the true culinary highlight of the trip.  Everything we had was amazing, but the prize goes to the fried cheese curds.  Delicious and revolting at the same time.  Picture bits of fried mozzarella sticks where the batter is like salty donut batter.  My mouth said yes, but my conscience said no.  Whew!  OK, so then the next day we hit up Luna Park, and with a few hours to kill before heading home, a waitress suggested Full Tilt in White Center.  This is a homemade ice cream parlor (that serves beer floats) and has old arcade and pinball games.  (Operation Wolf!)  Despite being stuffed from Luna Park, I managed to squeeze in some salted caramel ice cream.

Sorry for “fooding out” there, but believe me, this trip warrants it.  Now, the Yang to that good food Yin was, without question, our dirty hotel in the meth part of town.  Let’s just say I chose to lay down some towels to avoid too much contact with the sheets.  The show itself at Tractor Tavern was great!  We played solidly and drew a big and fun crowd.  Our friend and fill-in singer Virgil helped us out and did an amazing job, with some real vocal chops and showmanship.  A total success!

Fin
I’ll leave you with some new music.  When I was in Chicago a while back, I heard a song playing in the background while checking out some antique shop.  Mainly I noticed the glammy guitar tone, and I knew I had to find out what it was.  Turns out it was — quite unexpectedly — Monsters Of Folk.  And that killer guitar work was not at all representative of the rest of the album.  But just the same, it ended up being a great find, and believe that I am no fan of most modern folk music.  My assessment?  A lot of the singing reminds me of Yes.  I hear a Simon & Garfunkel influence in songs like “Magic Marker.”  But the glam factor is in there too, where you hear a Bowie sound in many track, including the one that boasted the aforementioned killer guitar solo “Say Please.”  Other standouts included “Ahead Of The Curve” and “Dear God.”  At the end of the day, I wasn’t blown away or anything, but it’s certainly worth a listen.  I love how that happens sometimes where you come across new music when you least expect it and occasionally end up finding a gem.  Hell, it’s how I’ve found some of my favorite bands over the years… including The Smiths!

Idea: 3-D Chic

14 June 2010

OK, so I meant to write this a couple months ago, and so now it’s not exactly “current,” but oh well…

So with the popularity of Avatar (and the 3-D craze it’s brought with it), I thought maybe it was time to let this little idea go.  The already ill-conceived remake of my childhood fave Clash Of The Titans was the first casualty of Hollywood embarrassingly falling all over itself to try to cash in.  You’re probably aware that they actually delayed the Clash remake’s release so that they could go back and make it 3-D as an afterthought.  Cringe!  There are so many things wrong with that statement, I can’t even keep it all in my head.  Amid all the bad reviews I heard, none summed it up so well as Bob Mondello’s review on NPR — which is worth a quick read/listen.  I still have fond memories of that old red/cyan 3-D effect (which in my case is most closely tied to some 3-D Jaws trading cards Dad got me at a flea market when I was little).  But in those days, that was what 3-D meant.  And then I guess eventually we had Captain EO, but hey, that was 4-D!

Anyway, so here’s my idea.  Every greaser crew needs to have one guy who wears 3-D glasses all the time.  I make that judgment based on whatever combination of 50’s movies and TV shows has amalgamated in my head over the years.  But seriously, you know the guy.  If he has any lines at all, he’s usually the joker of the group.  Probably a ginger.  When someone asks him what’s with the glasses, he replies he’s trying to see his whole life in 3-D (genius right?).  Yeah, you know the one.  I realize this sounds a little crazy, but I mean, rockabilly fashion often goes over the top.  I myself have a letterman’s jacket, and I’ve seen plenty of (admitedly unfortunate) poodle skirts and even a few satin Pink Ladies jackets.  So yeah, it’s out there, but it’s not out of the question.  I’m just saying I need one of these guys for my crew.  And those little white paper glasses are as cheap as can be!  Something tells me I’m gonna have a hard time talking anyone into this though.

But I have hope!  You see, 3-D televisions are already hitting the market, hot on the heels of the Avatar trend, and viewers have to wear the 3-D glasses for them to work.  We’re talking about people sitting around at home, wearing special glasses to watch TV.  Now I myself cannot imagine wearing special TV glasses at home, but then I guess they used to think no one would ever pay for cable, and look how that turned out.  I suppose if nothing else, it pushes the technology forward and gets us closer to some future innovation that I might actually be into (like a holodeck).  But I digress.  My point is that in time I’m sure some company will start selling retro-looking-but-fully-functional 3-D glasses for 3-D televisions, and when that happens, my hope is that someone will wear them all the time for me.  Volunteers?

What would you little maniacs like to do first?

3 June 2010

Some random stuff to share here, and I don’t even know where to start.  In no particular order…

It appears, friends, that I spoke too soon.  You may recall a couple months back the elation I expressed at I hearing that Boudin’s butternut squash soup was to become a regular weekly event.  Well I’m here to tell ya… be careful what you wish for.  You see, in my constant proselytizing for the delicious soup, I failed to think through the possible consequences.  For the past few weeks, I’ve faithfully gone to the local Boudin for my mid-week lunch ritual only to find that they had already run out of butternut squash soup for the day.  The message about b-squash got out all right, and now it’s come back to bite me!  Once I could see as a fluke.  But several weeks in a row now?  That’s a trend.  In fact, that’s a deeply disturbing trend.  And it simply won’t do.

Missed Opportunity Of The Day:  I was thinking about that infamous and hideous bust from Lionel Richie’s “Hello” video (see below), and it occurred to me that the legions of ridiculous Mission hipsters would gladly give their most prized pair of vintage L.A. Gear for this most iconic and ironic of sculptures.  Somebody ought to market reproductions of that bust.  Hell, make it a Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia!  (Incidentally, the fate of the actual bust — which I suspect would go for a pretty penny on eBay — is recounted here.)

In other music news, you need to check this out.  Coming to you by way of Paul, it’s The Swinger.  This is some code that someone put together that takes and existing song and puts it in swing time.  It’s hard to explain, just check out the link.  Slick! 

H.P. Lovecraft was a dadgum genius.  I wish there was something I could do to make him more famous than he already is.  I just finished “The Case Of Charles Dexter Ward,” one of the most entertaining stories I’ve read in ages.  And it’s just the latest of several of his short stories that are knocking my socks off.  I don’t know what it is, but this guy’s got my number.  I’ve picked up several more volumes of his stuff, waiting to be read over the summer!

Finally, I’ve found myself on another kick of trying to organize my massive “to do” list.  There are a lot of reasons for why that might be.  For one, I actually have made good progress on it, and I dare say I can almost see the light at the end of the tunnel (in terms of organizing the list not completing it).  I’ve been giving more thought to why I even have this list.  Do I really have any serious hope of somehow finishing it all before I die?  I recently read a quote that was something like, “when you die, your inbox won’t be empty.”  That’s a pretty powerful truth to accept.  And yet, I still feel somewhat powerless to let my list go.  I’m maintaining this thing, and for what?  In trying to reassess its contents, I realize that a lot of it is just clever little tidbits that I’ve saved for some unknown reason.  What would I do with all these clever little things?  Write a novel?  A screenplay?  Five albums worth of songs?  Would I somehow memorize them all and have them ready to fire off in conversation at just the right moment?  Maybe.  But I think more likely there’s just some switch in me that causes me to hoard ideas the way those people on T.V. hoard trash in their living rooms.  Something in me can’t accept that these things are just momentarily valuable and then should be let go.  How do I let them go?  🙁

The quote of the week comes from one such saved snippet from some conversation I had with a friend long ago.  I thought it was clever, so I saved it.  Now I’m going to let it go, remove it from my “to do” list, and try to accept that this blog is where it was meant to live forever.  Enjoy.

Friend:  “Nice, where’d you meet her?”

Benjamin:  “Meet her?  Dude, look at her!  Me and Anthony Michael Hall made her in my bedroom.”