Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Practically not menacing at all.

phantom | 6:00 am CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
Category: entertainment, music, play, show | Tags: , ,
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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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 CDT
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 K├Ânig on Vimeo.

flames | 6:21 am CDT
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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 CDT
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Thursday, November 4th, 2010

It’s guy night and I said I was feeling like having runny eggs on something, so My Darling B and I stopped at the co-op on the way home to pick up some bacon and I served all that on a plate with a side of toast and called it dinner. B loved it anyway. How lucky can a guy be?

That’s all I got. Let’s hear what Leo’s got.

Guy Night | 10:07 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel, entertainment, food & drink, Guy Night, music, My Darling B, O'Folks, play | Tags: ,
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