Amoeblog

(In which we return from where our roots are rooted.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 3, 2012 11:59am | Post a Comment


Home is where the hearth is. Downtown Nevada City, California.


The boyfriend and I have recently returned from frolicsome fun in my hometown of Nevada City, California. This year my most shiny of celebrations was neither Christmas nor New Years, but my sister Jacquie’s 50th birthday (for which I provided the cake, subsequently learning that Christmas day is a lousy time to buy baked goods).

Some highlights of the trip were…

Teaching my mother how to prepare absinthe. Who doesn’t love this quintessential Christmas pastime*? Equipped with a curvaceous reservoir glass and ornate, slotted spoon I enthusiastically gave a demonstration on how to prepare absinthe in both the traditional French method and the more dramatic (and efficient) Bohemian method. Both methods were merely informative, not practical, as my Mammy and me prefer our green fairy sans sucre.


My Mom, enjoying her beverage
(artist's depiction)

Armed with our booze and one clove cigarette each, we sat in her English garden and contentedly sinned with some of Satan’s most pleasingly perfumed indulgences. Once we felt sweetly weak-in-the-knees it was time to make some pie. (Drinking and driving is a bad idea, but drinking and pie making is a sign of advanced evolution in a species. Word.)

Mom has a recipe for Oregon Chess Pie – an heirloom handed down for generations which I’d never had the pleasure to consume. With the help of one of my best friends, Carrie, and her toddler daughter, Major, we set about to baking six slices of history. Here’s the recipe:

Continue reading...

(Before which the author's mother visits.)

Posted by Job O Brother, July 6, 2009 02:58pm | Post a Comment

That's my Ma, milking the cow. (The cow is the one with horns.)

This past week my dear, sweet Ma came for a visit. Her time here flew by quickly; we entertained ourselves with long walks, stories from her youth, and cooking-related reality TV. I also introduced her to one of my best friends in the whole world: absinthe.

She has a new iPhone, but her fear of technology had limited her use of it to – get this – making phone calls! I mean, what’s the point of a phone if all you do with it is call people? That’s so 1990’s! So I introduced her to all the things her new phone could do: map out directions, take photos, slay red dragons, make chocolate sprinkles, cure melanoma and make other kinds of chocolate sprinkles. She was quick to learn and I expect she will soon be filling my email inbox with pictures of my nephews, her tomato plants, and chocolate sprinkles.

In honor of her visit, I have assembled the following short list of things she loves, in hopes that you, too, may find some joy in them. If you’re not interested, don’t worry – she’s very easy-going and non-judgmental, and won’t take offense. I, however, will hunt you down like a dog and slay you. With my iPhone.

Glenn Gould


Chopsticks!

One of the most famous classical pianists of all time, and still controversial, Glenn Gould was the very definition of an eccentric genius. Most famous for his interpretations of J.S. Bach’s music for keyboard, Gould also championed modern composers, such as Alban Berg and Arnold Schönberg, while frequently disparaging more popular composers such as Frédéric Chopin and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, finding their works often insincere and unsatisfying (a sentiment, incidentally, I share with Gould).


Gould died at age 50, leaving behind a rich and compelling catalogue of recordings and a few pairs of very rank smelling gloves.

In addition to some more traditional documentaries, there’s a film entitled 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould that provides an entertaining (perhaps more than deep) look at this musical prodigy.


He also provides the soundtrack for my Mother’s iPhone ringtone.

His Hand in Mine – Elvis Presley


Ma was raised in the church, where she played organ, piano and served as choral director. She also arranged flowers and… I dunno – probably designed the stained-glass windows, too. The church was in Florin, California, which had been mostly populated by Japanese farmers until, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. government forced the Japanese into concentration camps – an event that seems remarkably absent from our consideration of American history.


Florin, California (circa what I'm talkin' about)

Anyway, at this time in Florin, there was really nothing to do but milk cows, watch the strawberries grow, and participate in church functions, which is what so occupied Ma’s time. Playing music served as one of Ma’s few truly fun activities, and her association with old hymns remains a positive one, although her belief in the traditional tenants of Protestantism has been replaced by something more akin to Shirley MacLaine’s persuasions.

If you want to see Ma’s eyes glaze over in bliss (and you know you do) I suggest spinning this album from Elvis Presley.


Carlos Montoya

Another controversial, artistic genius Ma gravitates towards is the flamenco guitarist Carlos Montoya.


"Mine! All mine! Ahahahahahaha...!!!"

Montoya is renowned as much for his agility at playing guitar as he was for his ability to fly. He could fly in the air of his own volition and remains the first and only human in history to do so. It was on Montoya that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster based their superhero creation, Superman. This resulted in Montoya suing the comic writers in a case that was ultimately settled out of court, with Montoya being paid off in raisins, his favorite between-meal snack.

The following song was composed by Montoya for his wife, Lois, who would eventually divorce him, complaining that his willingness to work for dried fruit made life with the musician “crazy-making” and “mostly fucked.”


My Ma may have returned to the glorious state of Northern California, but she remains an eternal houseguest in my heart …where she is currently building a pulpit and brand-new steeple.

(Dans quelle Job feint pour savoir le fran├žais.)

Posted by Job O Brother, May 10, 2007 11:17am | Post a Comment
My cat is driving me crazy.

So anyway, about French pop music. A lot of you hipsters know and love Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg and, though technically not French - we’ll not poils fendus – Josephine Baker. But the newness of discovery is spoilt when you realize that all your hipster friends have the same “obscure” French records you do and are just as prepared to profess their love of them over Jack & Cokes at whatever red-wallpapered hole-in-the-wall bar y’all frequent.

You want an upper hand. You want to show your dear, dear friends you’re a little better than them. And you want to sleep with one of them, but they don’t know it and you can’t tell them because, for one, it would wreak havoc with a couple of your friendships, and two, in your heart of hearts you know that they would never really love you back. Not really.

My cat seems to think that everything in this house is a scratching post except his scratching post.

So anyway, about French pop music. I’m no expert, but I’ve been around, and can offer a few new voices to enjoy that, though well-known in France, aren’t quite as obvious a choice stateside.

A particularly glamorous option, and one that lends itself well to barroom conversation (i.e.: showing off) is that blonde bombshell, Suzy Solidor.

She opened a Parisian nightclub in the early 1930’s, Boite de Nuit, which became all the rage. She held the [questionably factual] title of “most painted woman in the world”, with portraits being realized by some dude named Picasso, and the most famous by Tamara de Lempicka...


See? You knew the painting, but you assumed the woman in it was just another cabaret-cruising, syphillus-spreading harlot that took a break from swilling back absinthe to get her portrait painted, when in reality she was a successful businesswoman and popular chanteuse.

Recordings by her can be found in the world music section of Amoeba Music. And while you’re there, check out Lucienne Boyer.


Of the two singers, Boyer’s is the voice I more adore. You may recognize her most famous recording, “Parlez-moi d’amour” as the first track on the “Henry & June” soundtrack, located in the heavy metal section of Amoeba Music.

I mean, soundtrack section. Sorry, but my cat keeps jumping into the kitchen sink, which is distracting. He apparently thinks he’s going to do some dishes or something, which is improbable since he’s got no thumbs. You’d think he’d learn from his “I’m going to knit a scarf” fiasco, but no.

So anyway, about French pop music. I realize both these singers hail from an earlier time period than Piaf or Gainsbourg, but it’s what I’ve got for you today. I already mentioned contemporary artist Jorane in a previous blog, and you still haven’t even gotten one of her albums, so don’t get all snippy with me. I swear, between you and my cat…

Is that it? Are we done for today? Okay. Well, as they say in France, “Un fromage est un aliment moulé, obtenu à partir de la coagulation du lait suivie ou non de fermentation. C’est un aliment riche en calcium. On fabrique du fromage à partir de lait de vache principalement, mais aussi de brebis, de chèvre, de bufflonne.”

Gotta love them, no?