Amoeblog

(Wherein I play with myself.)

Posted by Job O Brother, April 25, 2011 01:30pm | Post a Comment

I’m a bachelor this week – so to speak. Emotionally I am in love and committed to the boyfriend, but as he is in the Great Country of Texas for the next week, I am functioning as single. As much as I miss him, I do get to indulge in certain activities I would otherwise not.

For starters, I can safely wear wife-beaters without incurring any catty remarks about my “smacking my girlfriend around” or needing to go out and “fix my bike”. I like to pair my wife-beaters with basketball shorts and hair un-brushed to the point where I look like a White Panther. A half-empty bottle of Bud Light would really complete the look, but I’m no fashion sheep.


On the runways of Paris this summer.

Speaking of alcohol, when alone I get to drink wine my most favorite way: straight from the bottle. It looks awful. It looks trashy, debaucherous, and to outside eyes would seem like a red flag signaling the starting race towards alcoholism – but I don’t drink any more from a bottle than I would a glass, plus this way I get so much more oxygen with each sip, thus facilitating a burst of flavor and heightening all the complexities and subtle nuances a bottle of Charles Shaw has to offer. Also, it’s one less glass to wash, which means it’s greener. Drinking wine straight from the bottle helps trees and future generations of children!


Saving the planet, one case of Merlot at a time:
Because I care.

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HAPPY WALRUS DAY, 2010!!!

Posted by Job O Brother, October 8, 2010 08:57am | Post a Comment
HAPPY WALRUS DAY!

May your day be filled with awesome whateverness, motherlovers.










(In which we reunite, even as we bid a fond adieu.)

Posted by Job O Brother, January 3, 2010 01:12pm | Post a Comment
Well, it’s the middle of September and there’s nothing novel or interesting about this week.

No, no – of course we’re standing at the precipice of a new decade as a fresh millennium dawns and everything’s fraught with poignancy. I get it. But just for a second, wasn’t it nice to hear otherwise?

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, which is a sure-fire way to get people to forget about me. By now my regular readers have probably been reduced to the Amoeblog staff, my Mom, and myself (and I’m just barely skimming them).

Chalk it up to an action-packed holiday season, kiddies. Since last we met, I shot the footage for an upcoming webisode series with the fantastically rad Elizabeth Keener. Once it’s up and running I’ll let y’all know about it.

Also freelance articles, while hardly pouring in these days, are vying for my time. I just finished writing an article for Gourmet Magazine for their “traditional dishes of Indonesia” series. My piece focused on the Åland crisis and its impact on the League of Nations in the wake of the First World War, and how the Islands’ current Finnish loyalties but Swedish-speaking majority stand as a metaphor for modern Scandinavian policy. What does that have to do with Indonesian food? Nothing. But it’s all in how you spin the article.

Välsmakande mat som du kan äta med din jävla mun!

Also, the boyfriend’s parents were here for a week to celebrate Jesus’ birthday with us. They’re from Texas, so in cooking for them I had to make sure to restrain myself from culinary flourishes. Example: Spaghetti & meatballs are fine, but in lieu of Italian herbs, why not use fresh-roasted cumin seed and Walla Walla sweet onions caramelized in aged balsamic vinegar?

No. Back away. When cooking for Texans, resist the urge to decorate salads with edible flower petals, eschew spices with more than two syllables (“How come no-one’s using the cardamom gravy?”) and for the love of Pete, never never use or try to explain ghee.


It was a lovely holiday, though. The boyfriend, in a gallant effort to halt my developing a stress-hunchback, gifted me an electric foot massager, which now sits here at my desk. Wanna see?


I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-r-rr-r-r-r-r-r-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-k-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-w-w-w-w-w-w-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l-l!!!! B-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-b-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s y-y-y-y-y-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u t-t-t-t-o-o-o-o-o s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-d-d-d-d-d-d-d t-t-t-t-t-t-t-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o m-m-m-m-m-m-m-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-e-e-e-e-e-e-e t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g-g t-t-t-t-t-t-o-o-o-o d-d-d-d-d-d-d-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-r-r-r-r-r-r-r w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-w-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-h-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-t-t-t-t-t-t-t I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-s-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-n-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g-g!!!!

✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦  ✦

On the Amoeba Music Hollywood front, yesterday was the final work day of our beloved Charlie Richards, who for some years has been caretaking our neat-o classical music section. He’s moving to Florida, presumably because he’s a masochist with a fetish for pastels. (I’m pretty sure he said that once, actually.) It is to him that this blog entry is dedicated.


Charlie Richards, circa 2004

Anyone who’s worked with Charlie knows his favorite opera is Les contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. Coincidentally, and in spite of Charlie overwhelming us with un-requested lectures of historical minutiae relating to Offenbach’s writing the work…

CHARLIE: Did you know that Offenbach wrote the opera in one night while sitting on the toilet? And it wasn’t until he finished composing it that he realized he was out of toilet paper and had to use his first draft to wipe himself, so what we know today as the opera is actually a second draft he wrote while exercising on his Stairmaster!

CO-WORKER: Charlie, all I asked is if you knew where the tape dispenser was. And what the hell was wrong with Offenbach that he couldn’t just sit at a desk like normal people?!

…the opera is also one of my favorites.

Opera is a hard sell, and I don’t expect any of my readers to go rushing out to ye olde opera-house just because I fancy the genre myself, but one thing I can recommend without reservation is the 1951 film adaptation of said work, The Tales of Hoffmann, directed by masters of motion picture art Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, most famous for their dizzyingly beautiful film The Red Shoes.

Many people know and love The Red Shoes, but I actually like The Tales of Hoffmann more. The opera’s conceit of stories-within-the-story, focused on fantasies of delusional romance and whimsical villainy, allow Powell & Pressburger unrestrained opportunities for the cinematic eye-candy they’re so revered for.


There’s also a lot of badical ballet in the movie, but again, you don’t need to be a fan of either ballet or opera to enjoy this film. It’s rather like the best acid trip you ever took, if that trip took place on an antiquated Disneyland ride.


Fortunately, the good people of Criterion selected the film for release some years back, so it’s available on DVD with their trademark excellence in… menu design and… stuff.


Anyway, in the interest of swell cinema, and for the love of Charlie, I highly recommend you bake yourself a tray of pot* brownies and commit to an evening screening of The Tales of Hoffmann.

And if you find yourself in the Sunshine State, be sure to stop by Charlie’s house to let him know how much you liked the opera. But be prepared to stay a while – he’ll undoubtedly want to explain why Offenbach’s pen always smelled of bacon fat and absinthe.


*Don’t worry – I’m not actually suggesting people use marijuana. “Pot” is just my codeword for crystal meth.

(In which we celebrate the birth of B.S.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 2, 2009 04:31pm | Post a Comment

"Say smažák!"
Composer Bedřich Smetana

As all of you are undoubtedly already aware, today would have been the 185 birthday of Czech composer, Bedřich Smetana (pronounced Bedřich Smetana), had he not succumbed to a tenacious and ultimately fatal case of death.

I always love to hear how you, my faithful readers, celebrate Smetana’s Birthday, whether it be the traditional donning of feather headdresses and consumption of chocolate 'n' gunpowder cakes, or playing the challenging 8-mile Egg Toss, or simply drawing x’s all over your skin in blue ink while cowering in a corner, gnashing your teeth and rubbing sores with the delicious, homemade watermelon hard candies.
In my family, we’ve replaced the expensive and messy tradition of drowning kittens in butterscotch with the more humane practice of snowing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. This is not only kinder to animals, but ensures water-levels for the State of California remain drought-proof.


AMOEBLOG RECIPE HOT-TIP

Making snow is not as hard as it sounds. Here’s what you will need:

Water (lots of it!)
Land (we recommend Earth – it’s convenient, versatile, and completely disposable)
Good old fashioned T.L.C.!

Directions: First, be sure to bundle up. Making snow means making things cold! If you don’t have enough winter-wear to keep Jack Frost from nipping your nose, try drinking a bottle of vodka, or doing jumping jacks, or rubbing your skin with some soothing kerosene and lighting it on fire. Mmm… cozy! (Remember, it’s illegal for people under age 21 to drink vodka, so stick to the latter options for your youngsters!)

Next, supercool cloud droplets, about 10 micrometers in diameter, until they freeze, making sure a few molecules in the liquid droplet get together to form an arrangement – close to that in an ice lattice – to freeze around your nuclei. Once the droplets have frozen, grow them in a supersaturated environment (air saturated with respect to liquid water is supersaturated with respect to ice when the temperature is below the freezing point) and grow by diffusion of water molecules in the air onto the ice crystal surface where they are deposited. Because your droplets will be so much more numerous than the ice crystals (because of the relative numbers of ice vs. droplet nuclei), the crystals will grow to hundreds of micrometers or millimeters in size at the expense of the water droplets (the Wegner-Bergeron-Findeison process).

Then, simply drop them from the heavens, sit back, and enjoy!


The life of Bedřich Smetana, while simple and sweet, is complex and sad. Smetana’s family was so poor that they couldn’t afford to keep him in his mother’s womb, as they rented out the space to tenants for extra income. (In a twist of fate that would become later relevant, Hungarian composer Franz Liszt once spent a notoriously unknown weekend frolicking in Mrs. Smetana’s uterus with Caroline de Saint-Cricq, daughter of Charles X. It is from their shenanigans that the playground chant of “Hey-hum, hey-hum! Smells like endometrium!” is drawn.)

Eventually, after enjoying some breakfast and aging about 50 years, Smetana composed his most famous work, Má vlast (which, translated, means My Fatherland). Included here is the aforementioned piece. This recording, conducted by legendary conductor and all-around roustabout Arturo Toscanini, while brilliant, is quite old, and suffers from tape hiss, due to the now defunct method of using cobras in the recording process.


Smetana’s championing of Czech folk music and his integration of it into the classical oeuvre was, at the time, revolutionary. It would come to inspire Antonín Dvořák, and many other, less juicy composers as well.

Another popular work by Smetana is the opera Prodaná nevěsta, known in proper speaking countries as The Bartered Bride. Written almost entirely while the composer was awake, it remains the only opera in music history with this title (though attempts were later made by creamy composer Leoš Janáček, whose now-forgotten works, “The Battered Bride” and “The Bartered Lady Who Got Quite Wed” came close – though it was the disastrously named “The Bride With Ulcerative Colitis” which garnered the most notoriety in its day.)

Below, you’ll find an excerpt from The Bartered Bride. In it, the characters Mařenka and Jeník meet in secret and sing of their love for shredded wheat...


Trouble ensues when the local pimp, Kecal, reveals his intention to buy the entire supply of breakfast cereals in the town. Even as he manages to do so, Jeník bravely gathers all the milk in the land with the help of his giant ladle.

Having foiled Kecal’s plot, the townsfolk hail Jeník as a hero, and erect a bowl in his honor. Mařenka and Jeník eat their morning meal with happiness, until diabetes and malnutrition from their overindulgence in wheat flour and refined sugar force them into a hospital, where they slip into mutual comas, all the while basking in the glow of their deep and triumphant love.

Smetana, a devoted fan of Beethoven, decided to also go deaf. When later asked if he ever regretted this decision, Smetana answered, “What?”

No matter what you’re doing today to mark this auspicious occasion, I hope you do it with health and happiness. It’s what Bedřich would want, after all. As they say in the Czech Republic, “Ukončete výstup a nástup, dveře se zavírají!”

(In which Job noshes nog.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 22, 2008 09:04pm | Post a Comment
Okay – I just took my first sip of egg nog. Laced, as it is, with a healthy dose of Maker’s Mark, we shall see what, if any, impact it has on my blog writing.

Today has been devoted to wrapping gifts and last-minute shopping. Guess where I went for the shopping.

If you guessed Amoeba Music, you guessed correctly. Point for your team. If you guessed the Lost City of Atlantis, you’re not only wrong, but your grasp on reality is tentative, to say nothing of your lack of knowledge of where to find bargains. No one ever saved money exploring the depths of the Atlantic Ocean. You can quote me on that.

*second sip of egg nog*

Anyone knows that Lemuria is where the good sales are.

*third sip of egg nog*

I’ve worked at Amoeba Music Hollywood for over four years now, but when I shop there, it still feels new and thrilling and yes, sometimes overwhelming, though in the same way that Disneyland is overwhelming. You know – so much fun to be had + if only I could use a bulldozer to get through these swarms of people!

I can’t tell you what I found because I was shopping for my boyfriend Corey who, for some ridiculous reason, actually reads my blog. Probably to make sure I don’t tell you about his embarrassing habit of biting fingernails. Not just his own fingernails. Anyone’s. He’ll gnaw your digits as soon as look at you. It’s a problem, and has gotten us kicked out of more than one function.


One night, while attending a performance of Puccini's "La Bohème" at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, we were escorted out right in the middle of one of my favorite arias, "Sì, mi chiamano Mimì" (which, loosely translated means "Yes, my fingers taste like chocolate bunnies") because Corey was so swept away by the music and the sentiment that he unconsciously began nibbling on the pinky of the elderly woman next to him. As we were exiting, I was so humiliated that I walked ten paces behind Corey, trying to remain inconspicuous, which was hard because of what he'd done.

And because I was naked. I had taken off all my clothes. I was just naked. In the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

I found some things for myself at Amoeba, too. To watch, I snagged a used copy of Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question, a DVD release of the six lectures he gave at Harvard in 1973.


For anyone interested in the fundamentals of music language and theory, this provides a charming course, and Bernstein anticipates those of us who may not themselves compose music or play an instrument, so no one gets left behind.

I just now noticed there’s only a tiny amount of egg nog left in my glass! What the heck? I simply cannot savor a beverage; I’m compelled to drink it fast and gone, and do it without even noticing. You should figure out a way to turn war and famine into a beverage, then you could serve it to me and both would be gone in under ten minutes.

Bernstein’s lecture is a kind of viewing whiplash for me, as preceding it was my introduction to the TV show 24 starring the deliciously first-named Kiefer Sutherland, which I am astonished to find I enjoy. I watched the entire 1st season in one week. So, to all of you who accuse me of only enjoying watching things with depressed Swedes or nuns dancing with demons as a French girl stares at a sofa for two hours, take that!

I mention these things that I watch and/or listen to with the assumption that, if you read my blog regularly, you have a sense for what I like, allowing you to give things I mention a try, or, if you know by now you don’t agree with my taste, you can then avoid whatever’s tickling my fancy.

Ugh… fancy. That word has been ruined for me ever since I learned that my friend Ryan’s family referred to the female genitalia as a “fancy.” I never bothered to ask what they called a boy’s genitals. Perhaps a “spiffy?”

Well, my egg nog is gone and I’m thirsty again. What’s more, I still have a stocking to stuff, so I’m going to excuse myself now. I’ll leave you with this, though, because I care.

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