Accept no substitutes

Category: Amusements (Page 1 of 31)

Things that are amusing

How Christmas became New Year’s (in poetry in 2006-07)

Looking back, as one does as a New Year approaches, I found this post from December 2006. I had had a poem accepted to be published in the Sunday Journal of the News & Observer (Raleigh). I had seen it as a simple poem with a complicated view of joy based on some simple rhymes and numbers. Perfect for Christmas. My editor agreed. Until someone sent in a poem with a star. Here’s our exchange:

“Joy is Here” is bumped to New Year’s Eve 12/20/2006

She: [other poet] sent me a christmas poem, so i’d like to run yours on new years eve. okay?
Me: You mean it’s more joyful than mine?
She: Not necessarily. [other poet]‘s is more Christmasy.
Me: More Christmasy than a contingent and contextual look at the compromises we make to achieve joy?
She: [other poet]‘s has a star in it.
Me: if i add a star somewhere in my poem can i be the christmas poem? i already have birds and a tree.
She: yours will be the perfect poem to greet the new year.
Me: What if someone shows up with a poem with party hats and champagne in it, will I get bumped again?
She: hmm. well .. let me think about that.
Me: Wait! Wait! I’m rewriting now. Mine will have a party hat. And it will have a very large acorn.
She: ok! you’re secured!

And here is the poem and 99 word preamble which explains itself.

Robots and Radios

Just back from Legopalooza at the Morehead Science Center where Joe Meno of BrickJournal had a simple MindStorms robot running around a table. The robot has a sonar/ultrasound/bat-like radar sensor so that when it encountered an object it would reverse course and then turn in a random direction. The fun for kids of all ages was that we had to be the objects or the robot would run off the table. [It’s this one but without the camera part. So the NXT spy rover without the spying part.]
Yesterday Tucker helped build and put a second robot on the table. And today we returned with reinforcements, two other 13 year old boys, to create a third robot. One robot running around the table was amusing. Two on the table at once were hilarious. And three. That’s the right number for chaotic delight.

We left and then took the boys to WCOM where they began the Teen Spirit radio show with an in-studio interview with Django Haskins and Josh Starmer of the Old Ceremony. Django sang and played guitar while Josh played cello which led to some interesting sound engineering. The Old Ceremony is off for a couple of gigs opening for the Squirrel Nut Zippers and a trip to NYC.

Later in the show, the teens did a phone interview with electronic composer/musician Olspur who they discovered on LastFM.com.

Talk about different music and different interviews. Both went well and all seemed to have a great time. No known robots took part in the interviews.

Absinthe gets cleared

Sally points me to this NYTimes article, Trying to Clear Absinthe’s Reputation, by Harold McGee.

Basic points: High alcohol is the killer, not wormwood. But wormwood is psycho-active — so is sage with the same chemical. Czech absinthe generally sucks. If it’s not green, it’s not the real thing. If it doesn’t cloud well, it’s not the real thing. Champagne has its own secrets; unclean glasses work best for bubbles.

Framed by a Hemmingway story. Male journalists all want to be like Papa. Why?

An alert NYTimes forum member sends us to a Terra online video feature, Forbidden Fruit: The Absinthe Drinker, (about 7 1/2 minutes) in which retired neurosurgeon David Cook (who is wearing Merrell Mocs) talks about absinthe and the myths and bad science associated with it.

And Ze Frank explains the real way that champagne works.

Google in the Carolinas

Local Tech Wire and WCHL are reporting that Google is in discussions with NC Dept of Commerce about opening a Google in the Lenoir (Caldwell County) area. But the Google quote shows that it’s far from a done deal:

“We are evaluating a number of sites, including one in Lenoir, N.C., as possible locations for new technology infrastructure to support the strong and growing demand for our services,” said Barry Schnitt on behalf of Google. “We appreciate the efforts of the state and local governments to work with us through the evaluation process and hope to have additional details to announce in the coming months.”

The Local Tech Wire story also mentions a larger installation planned for the Charleston, SC area.

This post is a follow on to Fred’s post of about a week ago.

Hillman Pedersen – I am a weiner!

A few minutes ago I was listening to WCOM and noticing an interesting mix of music — some modern country, some North African singing, the Byrds doing the not-often-heard “Tribal Gathering” etc. As the announcer/DJ began to go over the setlist, I was listening to hear what he had to say. The next thing I know he’s announcing a contest. The prize for the first caller is a pair of tickets to the upcoming Chris Hillman – Herb Pedersen concert at the ArtCenter.

I was the first caller. Woo! Woo! Just for paying attention while I was washing dishes.

The show was Roots Rampage and the DJ was Triangle Slim. Thanks Slim. I’m looking forward to seeing Chris Hillman.

Jones in the Marketplace – On On Demand Books

Book ATM?
Just did a little bit on OnDemandBooks with Janet Babin for tomorrow’s Marketplace on NPR.

My 15 seconds may be about the first “on demand books” I saw in 2001 – 2002 when Brewster was getting the Internet Bookmobile going with what looks like an early version of the same technologies.

And a little about the costs to a library of keeping and loaning books.

Then some on non-market production and market opportunities

She’s building the story starting from this Fortune Small Business/CNN story.

@ WCOM in an unclaimed slot

About half of the Teen Spirit DJs are here at WCOM picking up an unclaimed slot. Interesting to hear the off-air chatter of 13 year olds who have become music experts in the past few months. Forget your assumptions about what they will like and what bands they will revere.
Talking Heads and REM get play but also get dissed along with the Smiths, the Ramones, and Radiohead.

Caldo Verde de Sur de USA

It worked out great and tasted great too. And I have some left over. I combined the ideas from several recipes to come up with:

1.5 large red onions
4 cloves of garlic
1 pound chorizo
6 medium potatoes
1 can of black eyed peas
1 large sweet red bell pepper
6 or more baby carrots
1 pound of kale
8 cups of water
enough olive oil for sauting

First finely chop the onion, crush the garlic and dice about 1/4 of the chorizo.
Saute in the large pot in olive oil til the onion is transparent.
Next add the potatoes, peeled and diced in about 1/4 inch cubes, with some of the peas and saute for about 2 minutes.
Add the water and bring to a boil then down to a simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and cool enough to puree. Puree.
Dice the carrots, pepper and the remaining chorizo.
Thinly slice or chop as finely as possible, or as I did use a food processor to shred the kale.
Return the puree to the pot and add the rest of the ingredients (peas, chorizo, pepper, carrots and kale)
Bring back to a boil and cook until the kale becomes tender and dark green — about 10 minutes.
The carrots and pepper will still have some crunch to them and will add texture and color to the soup.

The combination of greens (could have used collards) and black eyed peas will bring you wealth and good luck if eaten on New Year’s Day.

Things I learned for next time: Strip the kale for the stalks before shredding. Perhaps add spices — hot pepper, bayleaf, thyme — that I expected to get from the taste of the chorizo. Add a few of the cooked black eyed peas as garnish near the end for better visual effect. Consider a spicier chorizo to better suit the palettes of this house. Serve with corn bread. I used sourdough which was great, but good cornbread would be perfect with this.

Caldo Verde

Had a great bowl of caldo verde at the BBQ Joint yesterday and decided that with a few tweeks that it would make a great New Years pot. So off to the last Farmer’s Market Saturday til March where I picked up locally grown taters, kale, onions, and locally made chorizo to which I’ll add black-eyed peas, sweet pepper and carrots.

Perfect Portugal meets Eastern NC for the New Year.

Will report back later.

Il Quartetto Basileus

A little over 20 years ago, I saw an Italian movie in Italian called “Il Quartetto Basileus.” I remember the incredible music of the quartet and the passion brought to the music and to the quartet by the young and destructively life engaging new member.

Tonight I saw the movie again. I was entranced by the lighting and by the music again. But the story now that I am the same age as the older members of the quartet who had been together for 30 years to the exclusion of all else. I saw the movie more vividly. The movie is the tale of change in age and of the attraction to life that might be lived on the brink by those who have postponed or avoided joy and risk. Each of the older members of the quartet reacts differently to the young prodigy that has joined them after their original violinist dies. Is the movie life affirming? That I could not say. It is poignant and touching and reflecting life and the costs of avoiding it or postponing it.

Not on Netflix.

“Joy is Here” is bumped to New Year’s Eve

An exchange of notes with my editor goes like this:

She: [other poet] sent me a christmas poem, so i’d like to run yours on new years eve. okay?
Me: You mean it’s more joyful than mine?
She: Not necessarily. [other poet]’s is more Christmasy.
Me: More Christmasy that a contingent and contextual look at the compromises we make to achieve joy?
She: [other poet]’s has a star in it.
Me: if i add a star somewhere in my poem can i be the christmas poem? i already have birds and a tree.
She: yours will be the perfect poem to greet the new year.
Me: What if someone shows up with a poem with party hats and champagne in it, will I get bumped again?
She: hmm. well .. let me think about that.
Me: Wait! Wait! I’m rewriting now. Mine will have a party hat. And it will have a very large acorn.
She: ok! you’re secured!

Such are the battles of literature.

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