Amoeblog

(In which Job gifts you with holiday music suggestions.)

Posted by Job O Brother, December 4, 2007 12:04pm | Post a Comment
You fool. You bloody fool.

You’re too smug, too naïve! You think you have all the time in the world to deal with Christmas music. Or worse, maybe you haven’t even thought about acquiring any Christmas music at all!

It’s because I love you and want the best for you that I say I’m disappointed in you.

Don’t wait until the last second to figure out what you’re going to play for your Christmas party, Christmas Eve dinner, or Christmas morning, gift-giving orgy. (Incidentally, I found out what you’re getting this year, and frankly, most of it’s disappointing, but there’s at least one thing I think you’ll really like.)

Amoeba Music puts up their Christmas music section promptly after Thanksgiving. I understand if you’re too doped-up on tryptophan to shop it immediately (those vegetarians who opted for a Tofurky instead have an excuse – they’ll be suffering from indigestion until mid-February) but time is of the essence.

Learn from my mistake two years ago and buy USED Christmas albums early, before the hipsters pick-over the selection and leave only this:


"Eeeeeekkk...! Is it Halloween?!"

Here’s a few gems I recommend:

Swingle Singers “Noëls Sans Passeport”



Also released, in the States, under the title “Christmastime”, this album is jazzy and lighthearted, but the vocal harmonies are ornate and require deft singing. You may think you’ve never heard of these guys, but by now you’ve almost certainly heard their music; they are often featured on film and TV. And once your holiday guests have had a few cups of egg nog, they will inevitably try to sing along, sounding like stray cats in heat – and isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

Aimee Mann “One More Drifter in the Snow”


Harkening to a time when even the coolest pop stars cut Christmas albums, the pithy Ms. Mann came out with this smooth croon in 2006. Influenced as she is by Bacharach and country’s golden age, this album is a rare, modern addition to my collection. Her dry delivery and razor wit may not be at the forefront lyrically (she is singing mostly standards, after all) even so, knowing that she’s the brains behind the outfit will allow those of you who are “too cool for Christmas music” to relax for a second and enjoy the tunes without compromising your cultivated cynicism.

Bing Crosby (w/Andrews Sisters only, please) “Merry Christmas”


Let me make this absolutely clear: I fully resent this album. Bing Crosby is perhaps just as famous for physically abusing his children in alcoholic fits of rage as he is for performing scripted flirtations with a (much younger) Judy Garland. For myself, I have difficulty separating this knowledge from my enjoyment of his work, and if he sings a lyric that could be made into a double entendre for violence, inevitably my imagination will spin so.

That being said, this album is so deeply ingrained in me as the sound of Christmastime, that I can’t help but bring it out from the storage box. But ONLY for the songs with the Andrews Sisters. Their charming presence is enough to counteract the “Swinging Bing”*.

Ramsey Lewis Trio “Sound of Christmas”


For those of you who need respite from Christmas singers, or would like your Christmas music to enhance but not dominate the room, try this album on for size. It’s jazz, charismatic and smart. I recommend it for those of you who ONLY like the Vince Guaraldi “Charlie Brown Christmas” record but would maybe like another option.

Ella Fitzgerald “Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas”


Traditionally, I hanker for musicians with some kind of edge to them; I’ll play Shostakovich before Mozart, and in jazz, Ella is (to me) the vocal equivalent to Wolfgang Amadeus. Buoyant and adroit, the virtuosity of Fitzgerald is undeniable, even if I’d rather hear Billie Holiday nod her way through a number.

But at Christmastime, when the living room is perfumed with the crisp scent of pine, and I’m flying high on a sugar-rush from the umpteenth cookie, and people congregate all gezellig, this is the perfect album. Her voice is like one more tinkling, silver bell, lush with cheer and charm. Afraid your party is going to be awkward? Give this a spin, and the temperature will gravitate to “cozy”.

Christmas music I like is undoubtedly in the minority. If this is true for you, too, I hope this brief, but not complete, list of suggestions provides some Inspiration.

Merry Christmas, and send me some g**damn cookies.



*That’s “swinging” as in “I swing a sock full of soap at you for not finishing your glass of Ovaltine”.

Happy Thanksgiving -- The evolution of Thanksgiving

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 22, 2007 12:05pm | Post a Comment
December 4, 1619. 38 Brits got together in Charles Cittie. Captain John Woodleaf spake,

"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty god."

    Wahunsenacawhk                          Matoaka                                                       John Rolfe

They had reason to give thanks after rocky relations with the natives started to calm down. Previously, after Chief Wahunsenacawh's daughter Matoaka (nicknamed Pocahontas) married John Rolfe, relations between the two peoples had improved. In the spring, however, new leader Opechancanough's adviser and famed warrior/magician Nemattanew (derided as Jack of Feathers by the English for his feathered costume) was murdered by two Englishman disproving Nemattanew's claim that a magic oil made him immune to gunfire.

Opechananough

In revenge for the murder, the Powhatan Confederacy attacked the English, killing 347 (or roughly a third of the colonists) and taking 20 women as hostages. Opechancanough mistakenly thought the English would accept defeat and leave. Instead they retaliated and the Powhatan decided to negotiate. At what was meant to be a peace ceremony, the English (led by Captain William Tucker) served the Powhatan poisoned liquor (prepared by Dr. John Potts) which immediately killed about 200 of them whilst 50 more were killed by hand. Opechancanough escaped.

Continue reading...

LAST MINUTE THANKSGIVING TURKEY COOKING TIPS

Posted by Billyjam, November 21, 2007 06:09pm | Post a Comment

If you are one of those individuals who has an uncooked turkey, a ton of people coming over for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, but don't have a clue as to how to go about cooking the bird coz you have never cooked a turkey before, then the above basic how-to-cook a turkey with Chef Tom should be of help. And if you are one of these harried people, you may wish to check out the first part in this simple how-to video guide by clicking here.

(In which Job... well... just read it if you wanna know.)

Posted by Job O Brother, November 18, 2007 03:26pm | Post a Comment
I was enjoying my usual Wednesday afternoon – a walk to the park with a small picnic lunch. I have a favorite spot beneath a chestnut tree with sprawling branches which remind me of my Dad’s strong arms and how they seemed to be able to do anything – swing an axe, knock a ball out of the park, bruise the side of my face and neck for forgetting to put the lid back on the jelly jar…

Anyway, I sat in my favorite spot and began my standard ritual: eating the first half of my baloney sandwich, sipping a strawberry Crush soda-pop, and crying. Just crying. Sobbing uncontrollably, like, to the point where even the homeless people look at me with faces that say, “Man, that dude has it bad.”

But don’t be fooled! I wasn’t sad. It was the book I was reading – it always makes me cry. Not because it’s about bone marrow cancer (it’s actually pretty upbeat and the recipes are not only delicious but good for those of us on a tight budget!). No, the reason it makes me cry is because its pages are made out of paper-thin sheets of glass which cut my hands horribly. Oh gosh, I mean, it really hurts. And the bloodier the pages become the slipperier it gets and it’s hard to get through a chapter without passing out from pain.

Did you know that if you pass out in the park people will leave you coins in your strawberry Crush soda-pop can? This is why I have hope for humanity.

But last Wednesday, something unusual happened to my usual routine. I was passed out under the tree (though not from injuries – this time it was because I had sniffed a freshly picked plumeria, only to discover that it was actually a tank of methoxyflurane) and was brought back to consciousness by a young man performing CPR on me. (For those of you who don’t know what CPR is, it’s a thing.)


Separated at birth? Plumeria flower and Penthrox brand methoxyflurane

Once I was able to speak, I thanked the man for saving my life and offered him the second half of my baloney sandwich. Having physically taxed himself from forcing the breath of life into me, he was happy to have a snack, and the two of us began talking.

He told me his name was Andy and that he was visiting from some town called New York City. Apparently it’s located in the Northeast – I guess somewhere near Accord. I asked him what he did for a living and he said he was on a television program called “Saturday Night Live”, which sounded nice, and then I began to wow him with stories about working at Amoeba Music; how we get free snacks every Saturday, how our health benefits include a free pony (after five years of full time employment only), and how our bosses, Karen and Jim, are actually snowmen that were brought to life one day when we put magic hats on their heads and sang a merry song about retail.

By the time we had finished my lunch, we were joking and laughing like old friends, which is normally a red flag for me – I mean, once you start enjoying someone’s company you only want to hang out with them AGAIN, and who has that kind of time? Never mind the fact that laughing is very bad for the complexion; it torques the pores, causing them to sag, while attracting harmful atmospheric pollutants that cake in layers inside your skin and kill you.

Don’t ever, ever laugh. I mean it. You’ll f**king die.


Medical photo showing after-effects of laughter and smiles

But I digress. We were throwing jawbreakers at each other – trying to catch them with our mouths – which was good fun until we learned why they’re called “jawbreakers”.

An ambulance took me and poor Andy over to Cedars-Sinai Hospital where we waited in the emergency room. Andy’s face was pretty busted open and I tried to keep the swelling down by poking it really hard with the turkey-baster I found under my seat, but that wasn’t working too well.

(Incidentally, why are there turkey basters under the seats of the Cedars-Sinai emergency room? And why are they shaped like seat cushions?)

Speaking of turkey – aren’t you excited about Thanksgiving? I am. My family was very poor, but we always had a special Thanksgiving dinner. My Mom would fix pain blanc avec la gelée and my Dad would let us have one glass each of his special Albertsons bourbon. Then it was off to bed, before the Thanksgiving monster comes to collect children who are awake or complaining of hunger. Ha, ha! Oh, those halcyon days…


"Why yes, you may have another slice! It'll only cost you your land, your happiness, your prosperity. Some butter?"

Andy was admitted quickly and everyone was sweet to him and treated him like a star, I guess because they found out I worked for Amoeba. I’m used to it. I wanted to stay by his side so I lied and told the nurses that I was his brother, which raised some eyebrows because, unbeknownst to me, Andy had already fibbed and said I was his gay lover. We managed to cover up our tracks by French-kissing and talking about “our” Mom.

Andy ended up having to have an operation to remove the fetus that had been accidentally inseminated in his uterus at the first hospital we’d gone to, “Bob’s Hospital ‘n’ Things”. Luckily, the good folks at Cedars-Sinai also removed the uterus that had been accidentally inserted into Andy’s guts while we were playing Frisbee.

The fetus is fine and we’ve since named him Notfood to remind us not to make the same mistake twice. We’re enrolling him into a prestigious private school as soon as he gestates himself some thumbs and spine, then it’s “look out, ladies!” Ha!

We were out of surgery in time to catch Joanna Newsom perform at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Joanna’s performance was spellbinding. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog. For now, let me leave you with some of Andy’s creations. Most of you have seen these a thousand times over, but why not watch them again? Just make certain, whatever you do, that you DON’T LAUGH. Because you will die. You will die suddenly and irrevocably. For eternity.

Andy's film "Hot Rod" will be available for purchase at Amoeba Music on November 27.

(In which Job zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Posted by Job O Brother, September 20, 2007 10:00pm | Post a Comment
I’m writing this blog in a race against time.

I just popped two Tylenol PM caplets a couple of minutes ago. I expect my ability to compose grammar will degrade rapidly… starting now.

The problem is that I have too much to tell you. I almost tripped over Lily Tomlin’s feet at the HBO after-party the night of the Emmy’s. (I’ve been told that these so-called “Emmy’s” are an award they give to people in the television business, but I wanna do some fact-checking on that before I present the data as true.) I also caught Glenn Close bopping her shoulders when the band began playing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.

Why do you Earthlings go so ga-ga over that song?!


Just a small town girl, livin' in a lonely world.

The boyfriend snagged us a chauffeured Audi. This fuggin' car had red, lit-up buttons on everything. Like, even the buttons had mini-buttons on them. I was intimidated. I don't like to think the car I'm riding in is smarter than me.

At a certain point we ended up in Anna Paquin's limo and headed over to the TV Guide party, just in time to miss Kanye West. I sent Kanye a box of Violet Crumbles to make up for it. It's his favorite candy bar. For Thanksgiving last year, he assembled the entire meal - turkey, stuffing, yams, Waldorf salad - using ONLY Violet Crumbles. It was an innovative and delicious meal and everyone who attended enjoyed themselves until we suffered diabetic shock and passed out drooling stomach bile.

Okay, some of that last paragraph is untrue.

Melissa Logan’s birthday party was two nights ago. I was there after a few rounds at The Advocate’s 40th anniversary party. William Baldwin was there, and I wasn’t sure if his standing across the room and paying no attention to me whatsoever was his idea of a come-on, but what else could it have been? The poor man just can’t come to grips with the fact that I am happily committed to Corey.


Corey chatting with Perez Hilton at the party, as I try to find a cocktail that doesn't look like a parrot.

I’m already forgetting what I’ve written. The Tylenol is gaining on me.

And speaking of sleeping pills, I’ll be going to see Rufus Wainwright’s tribute to Judy Garland this Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl. If everything goes according to plan, by the end of the evening I will have goaded a gang of Judy/Liza drag queens into pummeling me. It’s an obscure fetish and I have to take advantage of every opportunity to make it happen which presents itself.

(I have another fantasy of women dressing like Virginia Woolf, stuffing me into their coat pocket, and drowning themselves in rivers. This is a very difficult fetish to enjoy and it’s almost impossible to find women who’ll do this for me. And yes, I have checked Craig’s List, but girls will draw you in, full of promises to be Woolf and I’ll drive across town only to discover that they’re actually Vita Sackville-Wests. Total mood killer.)

Which leads me to wonder what kind of oven-cleaner Sylvia Plath used?

Wait… what is this blog about again? Or is this a letter? Who are you?

I better post a distracting picture and escape before you catch on…
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