Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Watching this made me so happy.

Just watch | 6:45 pm CST
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Sunday, June 5th, 2016

One of my internet friends sent me a link to a video of a steam engine. Not a locomotive, but a steam-driven water pump. And not just any water pump, but a pump that kept water flowing to a huge chunk of the city of London. The engine that drove the pumps was literally as tall as a three story building, and it still works. A small army of volunteers keeps it in working order and fires it up occasionally for the pleasure of visitors.

To get a steam engine that big going, the engineer uses a much smaller steam engine. Comically small, compared to the big engine. When I first laid eyes on it, I thought, “That’s not such an impressive engine.” And then I realized that the engine was behind it. The starter engine is barely half as tall as the engineer, and it rattles and shakes when he engages it with the flywheel, which is so large it barely appears to be moving at first, but it keeps chugging and the engineer keeps increasing the speed until all the cylinders on the big engine have been rotated through a couple cycles to warm them up and are ready to go on their own.

Even then, they’re just barely ready. When the engineer disengages the starter engine from the flywheel, his body language seems to indicate that he’s not sure the big engine will keep going. He windmills his arms so wildly that I thought he was going to fall over backwards.

Kempton Park Big Triple | 9:54 am CST
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Monday, May 23rd, 2016

I quite like this one, too.

SHOWTIME! | 7:58 pm CST
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Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

I just can’t get enough of this video.

WORK! | 1:09 pm CST
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Monday, December 1st, 2014

Very cool.

Here’s a gallery of still shots and some background about the places – real places! – in the solar system that you’re looking at in the video.

Wanderers | 5:28 pm CST
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Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Word Crimes | 4:26 pm CST
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Monday, June 9th, 2014

I was listening to tunes while doing some mindless, repetitive paperwork the other day when “Don’t Walk Away” came up as a random pick. My phone’s shuffle option tends to favor modern pop tunes and the Dave Brubeck best-of album I bought a year ago. It almost never plays the one-off tunes in my collection even though it’s supposed to be random, so I practically never hear older songs like “I Want You Back” or “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” unless I flip through the list and poke it by hand.

That’s one reason I was startled enough to stop what I was doing and sit up in my chair when “Don’t Walk Away” came around on shuffle. Another reason is, the song opens with the raw, ragged voice of Toni Childs all but shouting the title of the song, followed by a brace of trumpets blasting out two quick bars before Childs repeats her demand. It’s an introduction that grabs you by the lapels and holds on.

But the most personal reason I had to stop and listen to “Don’t Walk Away” is that it’s my breakup song, the song that perfectly captured my utter wretchedness at the moment my heart had broken. Those three words and those blaring horns were a top ten hit when I was dumped by the one and only person I couldn’t live without.

After I heard this song on VH1 or MTV or whatever I went straight out to the store, was strangely relieved to find they had a copy of “Reunion” on cassette tape, paid whatever they asked for it, popped it into my player as soon as I got back to my dorm and replayed it so many times I’m surprised to this day that my roomie didn’t strangle me in my sleep. He gave me a pass only because he and everybody else in the whole world could see what a wreck I was.

That summer, Toni Childs barked out the words I needed to hear. I still get the chills listening to this song, same way I get all warm and gooshy inside when I hear Basia Trzetrzelewska, another singer you’ve never heard of, croon “Time and Tide.” What a year that was. What a song.

Don’t Walk Away | 8:42 pm CST
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Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Today I learned from Garrison Keillor via The Writer’s Almanac that:

The Times Square celebration dates back to 1904, when The New York Times opened its headquarters on Longacre Square. The newspaper convinced the city to rename the area “Times Square,” and they hosted a big party, complete with fireworks, on New Year’s Eve. Some 200,000 people attended, but the paper’s owner, Adolph Ochs, wanted the next celebration to be even splashier. In 1907, the paper’s head electrician constructed a giant lighted ball that was lowered from the building’s flagpole.

Other cities have developed their own ball-dropping traditions. Atlanta, Georgia, drops a giant peach. Eastport, Maine, drops a sardine. Ocean City, Maryland, drops a beach ball, and Mobile, Alabama, drops a 600-pound electric Moon Pie. In Tempe, Arizona, a giant tortilla chip descends into a massive bowl of salsa. Brasstown, North Carolina, drops a Plexiglas pyramid containing a live possum; and Key West, Florida, drops an enormous ruby slipper with a drag queen inside it.

Wait, what was that last?

Yes. Yes, it was:

drag queen drop | 7:38 pm CST
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Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Armaments, Chapter Two, Verses 9 to 21: Then did he raise on high the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, saying, “Bless this, O Lord, that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy.”

15: First thou pullest the Holy Pin.

16-17: Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three.

18: Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three.

19: Five is right out.

20-21: Once the number three, being the number of the counting, be reached, then lobbest thou the Holy Hand Grenade in the direction of thine foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it.

snuff it | 9:38 am CST
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Thursday, November 28th, 2013

The link I had to click on today: Sperm whale explodes as man tries to open stomach – video

Just to be clear: The man doesn’t try to open the whale’s stomach. He bloody well opens it. (And never has an expletive been more appropriate.) Not for the squeamish, obviously.

kaboom | 7:19 am CST
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Sunday, November 17th, 2013

This is nothing new to me. Our eldest son, the Sean-er-ator, has always eaten apples entirely, even the stems.

My favorite part of the video is when he wipes his hands on his shirt.

my son is a boss | 7:31 am CST
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Friday, June 28th, 2013

Too good not to share:

Dumb Ways To Die | 9:47 pm CST
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Monday, May 13th, 2013

Even though I’ve never especially liked David Bowie’s Space Oddity, this cover by ISS commander Chris Hadfield is not only just plain awesome, the production values are going to be hard for anyone else to beat ever:

Hadfield is a Canadian member of the ISS and is playing a Canadian-made Larrivee Parlor guitar – how freakin awesome is it that there’s a guitar on the space station?

ADDED: How Hadfield’s recording of Space Oddity came to be.

Space Oddity | 6:51 pm CST
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Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Here’s a bottle opener that combines my love of gadgets with my love of beer. Prosit!

opener | 6:02 am CST
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Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Another favorite from the British Arrows, the best of television advertising for 2012: Madness singing a much more relaxed rendition of Baggy Trousers than I’ve ever heard before. Been stuck in my head all day.

Just in case your memory needs refreshing, here’s a link to the original version.

Baggy Trousers | 12:12 am CST
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Monday, April 15th, 2013

We watched The British Arrows last night. It was an hour-long collection of the best television advertisements of 2012. This one gave me the best belly laugh of the evening!

Aldi tea advert | 9:28 am CST
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Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

brucesIt was the kind of day that a thoughtful man such as myself could only ponder over two martinis. One martini just would not provide enough pondering time.

Which reminds me of a song:


Immanuel Kant was a real pissant who was very rarely stable
Heidigger, Heidigger was a boozing beggar who could think you under the table
David Hume could out-consumer Shopenhauer and Hegel
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as shloshed as Schlagle

There’s nothing Nietche couldn’t teach you ’bout the raising of the wrist
Socrates himself was permanently pissed

John Stuart Mill, of his own free will, on a half-pint of shandy was particularly ill
Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day
Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle, Hobbes was fond of his dram
And Rene Descart was a drunken fart, “I drink, therefore I am!”

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed
A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he’s pissed!

philosophical repose | 9:09 pm CST
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Monday, April 8th, 2013

I just love these guys.

Goodbye | 7:26 pm CST
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Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

I remember searching for the perfect words …

Berlin | 9:05 pm CST
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Sunday, March 24th, 2013

We got all kindsa kulcha today.

About a month ago, My Darling B asked me if I wanted to go to the opera. It’s not something she asks me very often – like, never – so I said yes. I couldn’t think of anything else to say. She caught me unprepared.

But that turned out to be a good thing. The show she got tickets for was The Real Divas of Dane County, a reality show/opera mash-up. I’m only passingly familiar with the “Real Housewives” television show, and the only opera I know is what I heard watching Bugs Bunny, but I think they did a fair job.

We got there way too early, though. The last time we went into town for a show at the Overture Center there were huge crowds milling around in the lobby for three different shows and we had one hell of a time grabbing our tickets from the will-call window in time to get to our show. We didn’t want to cut it as fine this time so we left an hour before show time, only to get there and find no other shows going on and virtually nobody in the lobby. After picking up our tickets, we had forty minutes to kill before the show.

So we headed up State Street to see if we could find an open bar where we could sit and sip a cocktail before the show, and it turned out we could: The Fountain had plenty of empty bar stools and a bartender who was more than willing to mix a couple drinks for us. He had an interesting way of mixing a martini: After he chilled the glass with ice water, he poured just a bit of vermouth into the glass, swirled it around enough to coat the insides, dumped the excess down the drain, then filled it up with gin. My dad would’ve loved that, both for the theater of it and the resulting delicious martini.

When we told him we were in town to see a show, he let us know that there would be a big band playing in the upstairs bar later and invited us to stop by if we were staying in town. We hadn’t planned on it, but figured what the hell, we can do things spontaneously once in a while, and came back.

Good thing we did, because The Fountain Big Band is fantastic! If I counted right, there were five sax players, five trombone players, three trumpet players, a piano player, a drummer, a guitar player and a bass player, all jammed into a back corner of a very intimate venue. They all seemed to be professional musicians or professors of music from all over the state, and a few from out of state. They get together at the Fountain on the last Sunday of each month and, without any kind of rehearsal, belt out some of the foot-tappingest big-band music I’ve heard. We enjoyed it so much that we stayed for both the first and last set. And to think we wouldn’t have even heard of it if we hadn’t been too early for the opera.

kulcha | 9:56 pm CST
Category: booze, entertainment, food & drink, music, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants, show | Tags: ,
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Monday, March 4th, 2013

Been there, done that.

lines | 7:19 pm CST
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Friday, February 15th, 2013

Meteors: Nature’s way of asking, “How’s that space program coming along?”


Bam! | 5:49 am CST
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Saturday, February 9th, 2013

I like cows. Who doesn’t? Stupid people, that’s who.


i like cows | 9:18 am CST
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Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

We had to shovel the driveway. I’m pooped. Here’s an awesome video. G’night.

 

pooped | 8:59 pm CST
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Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Who needs psychedelic drugs when you can watch videos like this?

Cirrus | 8:22 am CST
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Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Hunter Davis does a drop-dead awesome impression of Ian McKellen. Here’s what a ‘dramatic interpretation’ of the Sir Mix-A-Lot classic, Baby Got Back, might sound like if Sir Ian did it.

Baby Got Back | 7:35 am CST
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Friday, January 18th, 2013

Well, this is refreshing: “I don’t know whether or not they landed on the moon, but I know they couldn’t have faked it.”

moon hoax not | 6:39 am CST
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Monday, January 7th, 2013

Strap a GoPro camera on your trombone slide and serenade me.

dizzy | 6:19 am CST
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Friday, January 4th, 2013

This is seven kinds of cool:

Dennis Parker, looking for a place to play with his trains, cut a trap door in the floor of the kitchen in his house and laid out the track for his pike in the crawl space under his house. Thirty-six years later, the layout sprawls across the footprint of his house, but he still has to get about on his hands and knees to see it all!

Fun is where you make it.

mind your head | 5:45 am CST
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Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Alas Dave Brubeck | 9:00 pm CST
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Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

I believe this is the most awesome video I have ever seen. Ever.

If anybody ever dares you to the cinnamon challenge, remember this guy.

gack! | 5:34 pm CST
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Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

This one’s for t-dawg:

 

pie hole | 9:19 pm CST
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Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney make me want to cry too, Abby.

tired of bronco bama & mitt romney | 6:04 pm CST
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Friday, October 19th, 2012

I wish I knew some guys I could run in slow motion with.

Permanent Revolution | 5:40 am CST
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Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Science!

[ADDED]

If you went to school in the 60s and 70s, you almost certainly heard this guy’s voice telling you about the wonders of magnesium oxide, maybe with a slight tremble caused by a short loop that made the audio track in the 16mm film jump as it rattled through the projector.

That, and the way most of the technological jargon almost, but not quite sounds real (“prefabulated amulite” is one of my favorites, for some reason I can’t quite pin down) until he throws in a “dingle arm” or “girdle spring” that trips up my brain and makes me think, Wait a minute, that can’t be right!

For a little background on the turbo encabulator, this wikipedia article summarizes its development nicelly. I found this updated version with modern science video narrator Mike Kraft, after reading an interview he gave to a technical journal.

[ADDED AGAIN] There’s made-up technojargon that sounds real, and there’s real technojargon that sounds like it’s made up: “Martian spherules are the abundant spherical hematite inclusions discovered at Meridiani Planum on the planet Mars. They are found in situ embedded in a sulfate salt evaporitic matrix, and also loose on the surface.” (from a Wikipedia article on Martian spherules)

turbo encabulator | 9:24 pm CST
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Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Forgot to take my book to work with me yesterday. Fetched it from my bed stand and put it on the kitchen table next to my backpack, just before I started packing my lunch, so I wouldn’t leave it behind and what did I do? Left it behind. Of course. Which didn’t bother me until about noon when I happily unpacked my lunch, setting each little container on the desk, then reached for the book and it wasn’t there. Massive bummer.

The upside: I read a couple of articles on NPR’s web site instead and ran across a video of Richard Feynman explaining how trees come from the sky, not the ground. They’re made out of air. Specifically, they’re made of carbon. Trees suck carbon dioxide out of the air, use photosynthesis to break the oxygen atom off the carbon atom, then use the carbon to build themselves. Even the water that fills their cells comes from the sky. What a terrific idea.

In the same video, Feynman used a neat little trick to explain how atoms join to make molecules, even though they tend to repel each other. From a distance, they do. “It’s exactly like rolling a ball up a hill that has a hole at the top,” he says. “It’s rolling along but it doesn’t go down the hole because, if it starts to climb the hill, it rolls away again. But, if you make it go fast enough, it’ll fall into the hole.”

This is what Feynman does best: Explain physics using words and visualizations that anybody can understand. Atoms don’t become energized; they jiggle. They don’t form bonds; they snap together. I love that the hole at the top of the hill had to be a deep hole. The visualization wouldn’t work the way he wanted it to unless he specified the snap that you’d get from that deep hole.

Finding this video almost made me feel a lot less stupid about leaving the book behind on the kitchen table.

I see molecules | 5:51 am CST
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Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Stuck in my head all day:

Call Me Maybe | 9:14 pm CST
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Monday, April 9th, 2012

Meanwhile, at the other end of the ‘verse:

alternately | 9:56 pm CST
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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Gets funnier every time I watch it:

Favorite line: “Fake the footage of the fake moon landing on the moon? What if people found out?”

scam | 6:54 pm CST
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Friday, March 30th, 2012

For your listening pleasure this Friday:

start | 6:00 am CST
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Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Practically not menacing at all.

phantom | 6:00 am CST
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Thursday, March 15th, 2012

A pair of invaders from outer space accidentally blow each other’s heads off.

Just kidding. It’s the swing classic, “Sing Sing Sing,” performed on Tesla coils. I get a great big nerd boner from this, while My Darling B thinks it’s perhaps the most annoying thing she’s ever heard.

sing | 6:22 am CST
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Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

I didn’t like Jonathan Coulton the first time I saw him in concert at the Majestic in downtown Madison. There. I said it. It was my dark secret, but now it’s out in the open. Unleash your very worst flames in the comments, I deserve them all.

Paul & Storm opened for him and, after a frenetic hour of their wide-open comedy, Coulton shuffled to the front of the stage with the downcast expression of a teenager dragged to his great-aunt’s 93rd birthday party. He kept doing that between songs and I thought, Well, damn, if he doesn’t want to be here, why did he bother coming?

I didn’t like his fans much, either. They wouldn’t shut up. Every one of them knew every word to every song he played that night and sang along with the kind of reckless abandon you don’t normally find outside a karaoke bar.

By the end of the night, though, I was screaming “ALL I WANNA DO IS EAT YOUR BRAINS!” along with the rest of them, and the next morning My Darling B and I sat on the sofa for an hour or more playing “Skullcrusher Mountain” over and over so we could learn the words. “Code Monkey” too.

Since then, he’s been back to Madison twice, and we have more fun at each concert than we did at the last one, although if I had to rate them I’d have to say I enjoyed his appearance at the Barrymore Theater more than any of the others, partly because we had awesome seats just a dozen or so feet from the stage, but mostly because he played a set of songs that were tweeted to him by fans before the show that turned out to be oddly, coherently wistful and sweet, and he seemed to get really into them. And he ended the set by playing “Birdhouse of Your Soul” instead of “Sweet Caroline.”

I’ve been waiting patiently for new music from Coulton. It came out a little while ago, and I finally downloaded it last weekend, playing it over and over while I puttered away with my toys in the basement. And now I can’t get this song out of my head! DAMN YOU JONATHAN COULTON! (And you, too, John Roderick.) It’s the most wonderful earworm I’ve ever experienced, and Coulton’s new album is just packed with jewels like this!

Well played!

P.S. Just what does “even the suit has teeth” mean, anyway?

toothy | 10:07 pm CST
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Monday, February 27th, 2012

Just a guy with a ukelele.

Same guy, with a guitar this time. Other guy’s got a uke.

balloon | 6:10 am CST
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Sunday, February 26th, 2012

This made me smile:

When he’s not jazzing up the Mario Brothers theme, or recording tunes as Pomplamoose with Nataly Dawn, Jack Conte writes a lot of his own music, an eclectic mix of jazz, pop and I don’t know what else. Very hard to describe, but a lot of fun to listen to. And his not-inconsiderable skills at assembling videos make him a lot of fun to watch, too.

jack | 12:02 pm CST
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Saturday, February 25th, 2012

If you like to cook, you probably know that you can thicken soup with corn starch. I don’t like to cook, but I’ve seen lots of people make gravy that way, and yet somehow I’ve been completely unaware that they were creating a non-Newtonian fluid, just like this one:

Some science teachers call it “ooblek” – from what I can tell, everyone else had science teachers who were a lot more fun than mine was, because I never heard of this stuff until about a month ago. When it’s just laying there, like gravy, it’s soupy and flows like any other fluid, but hit it with some force and it resists – or tries to crawl away, as it’s doing in the video, in reaction to the steady pounding it’s getting from the sound waves coming from the speaker.

Taken to its most entertaining extreme, you could walk on it, if you filled up a pool and make sure you kept pumping your legs so your feet were stomping hard enough on the surface to make it resist. As soon as you stop moving, though …

ooblek | 2:29 pm CST
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Friday, February 3rd, 2012

While tinkering away at something in my basement lair last week, I was listening to swing music on Pandora when I heard the familiar melody of Istanbul not Constantinople, not as I knew it, a pop music celebration on fiddle and accordion by They Might Be Giants, but a swinging saxophone arrangement by Ken MacIntosh.

The first thought that went through my head was, Huh! Sounds like Michael Buble’s going to cover another tune! And then I stole a glance at the computer monitor and realized it wasn’t a recent release, but an arrangement much older than the one recorded by TMBG.

So I googled Istanbul not Constantinople and what the hell! It was written in the 1950s! My world, she is rocked! For more than ten years I’ve been thinking The Two Johns wrote that song! I’ll never be able to listen to them sing it again without wanting to foxtrot to the MacIntosh arrangement.

And then, there’s this from Craig Ferguson. Try to get that out of your head.

istanbul | 10:22 pm CST
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Thursday, January 26th, 2012

How could I have lived so long without knowing what good sake tasked like? For years, every glass of sake I’d brought to my lips smelled like turpentine and tasted worse. I really, really didn’t like sake until I was stationed in Japan for four years and was lucky enough to meet people who not only knew where to buy the best sake, they were very generous about sharing it. When I came back to the States it was with a heavy heart, thinking I would never drink good sake again. But now I’ve visited two restaurants where they serve sake that’s not only not turpentine, it’s good enough to remind me of nights at the karaoke bar, making my Japanese friends wish they hadn’t given me the microphone.

Thursday after work we headed into town to dine at Restaurant Muramoto, our third stop on the lineup we had planned for Madison Magazine’s restaurant week. My Darling B and I love Japanese food and have been to several sushi bars (Takara, Red) and fusion restaurants (Haze) downtown, but for some reason we hadn’t stopped by Restaurant Muramoto before this. Our visit was long overdue.

They earned a gold star as soon as I walked in the front door just for the coat rack. Restaurants that don’t have coat racks really aren’t restaurants at all. No matter how good the food is, if you have to sit on your coat while you eat, you might as well be on a plastic twirly seat at McDonald’s. I’m not even kidding much. I’ve been to so many restaurants that take pains to make sure the food is presented just so, in a dining room where somebody’s long coat is dragging off the back of practically every chair. So thank you, Restaurant Muramoto, for realizing that the good people of Wisconsin don’t want to have to divide their attention between eating your scrumptious food and worrying about who’s walking on their good winter coats.

My Darling B ordered a saketini before dinner and I was going to order a short bottle of sake but couldn’t decide which one to go for. Luckily for me, our very helpful waitress pointed out that they offered a flight of three different sakes. The first was called kira honjozo from Fukushima. The waitress said it would be the driest of the three but it was also the smoothest and, to my palate, the very best. Really good sake slides across your tongue like smoke. Weirdly, I’ve never smoked, but that’s the only way I can describe it. The second was called taiku and seemed to taste a little spicy. The third, an unfiltered sake, was milky white and a little sweet. I sipped and savored them all through dinner.

For the first course, we both ordered king crab spring rolls. It came with a lemon basil bearnaise sauce, like mayonnaise only a trillion times better. The spring rolls aren’t one of their usual menu items so it was a really special treat, and a very generous one, too. I expected a tiny little appetizer, but each of us got two full-size spring rolls and, though we resolved to eat only one and save the other for later, they were so scrummy we ended up wolfing both of them down. With lots of bernaise. And soy sauce. I loves me some soy sauce.

For the second course, we both ordered the roll combo. B ordered first so I looked like the copycat, but really I was thinking of the roll combo all day, so it was my idea. I’m taking credit for that no matter what. I liked the vegetable tempura rolls the best. I’d vote the kampyo rolls second, but B would’ve chosen the cucumber rolls for second and the kampyo for third place. I liked the cucumber rolls just fine but thought the kampyo went with wasabi better.

We split on the dessert. B ordered apple empanadas with cinnamon toast and ice cream, drizzled in caramel. How did I pass that up? I still don’t know. The soba crepe sounded better somehow. I should’ve gone for the hat trick and ordered what she was having on all three courses, though. Those little toasty things were delish. The soba crepe was delish, too, but I found out too late I wasn’t in the mood for a tart dessert. Oh, well.

That wasn’t enough of a hiccup to spoil a wonderful night out. Restaurant Muramoto scored another gold star when the waitress brought the coffee to our table in individual coffee presses, and B was tickled with delight when the waitress offered to clear our plates by asking “Shall I take that, or are you still enjoying the last few bites?” instead of making us feel like factory laborers with the usual, “Are ya still workin’ on that?” She let us linger over our coffee a good long while before we headed for the door, wishing there was a karaoke bar in town that served hot sake.

Bonus video: Best karaoke scene in a movie ever: The Deer Hunter

sake | 10:34 pm CST
Category: booze, daily drivel, festivals, food & drink, Madison Restaurant Week, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants | Tags: , , , ,
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Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

The whole world is on fire!

In a time-lapse video shot from the windows of the International Space Station, your home planet burns so brightly it’s hard not to wonder how anything can be alive down there. Cities are ablaze, lightning flares through the cloud tops, and the atmosphere itself swirls with the yellow-green flames of atoms charged by solar flares.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael König on Vimeo.

flames | 6:21 am CST
Category: current events | Tags: , ,
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Saturday, June 25th, 2011

I got a sudden jones to hear I Want You Back by the Jackson Five and went to YouTube to find a video, because while listening to the Jackson Five is always a treat, watching them while they’re singing raises the enjoyment level by an order of magnitude.

A quick search of YouTube turned up plenty of pretty low-quality videos that were still lots of fun, but what was almost more enjoyable was finding all the other performers who’ve covered this fun song. The one I had the most fun watching over and over was UK artist KT Tunstall performing live in front of a crowd at Jools Holland’s Hootenanny in 2005.

She begins, after an introduction, by laying down a beat for a digital gadget that records her first slapping the face of her guitar a couple times, then overlaying that with a quick brush of the strings, then a clap and snap of her fingers. With the beat backing her on a loop she rips into the melody, whanging on her guitar like she’s playing for her life. Her voice is rich and smoky, and in this particular recording reminds me an awful lot of Bonnie Raitt. Watching this video, I had to keep reminding myself that she was making all that music all by herself. It’s an amazing performance.

I don’t know KT Tunstall’s work except for Suddenly I See, a song I ran across by chance on Pandora, and meant to follow up on but never did. Her name must have stuck in the depths of my brain cell, though, and when I saw it in the search for I Want You Back I couldn’t help but click on it. Glad I did.

I Want You Back | 6:18 pm CST
Category: entertainment, music, play | Tags:
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