Hi, The point (if there is a point) of this blog is to post liner notes and playlists of mix CDs originating from moi and hopefully fanning out into a chain of mix CDs. If you get a CD from me, make me and a friend one, and email me some liner notes and I'll post them. Then your friend should make you and someone else a mix CD etc etc. Maybe it will work PS If you want to be on my knit list, let me know what you want and I'll see what I can do!

Thursday, September 29, 2005

This is pretty amazing - Michael Crichton is a global warming expert, on the strength of a book he once wrote. Hey, maybe John Grisham will fill in Sandra Day O'Connor's slot on the Supreme Court (I know he's a hack but is it wrong that I sort of find him hot? - I think it's those blue, blue eyes and his connection with the Oxford American magazine). Or Dan Brown could be the next Pope. Or Tom Clancy for Prez. We could have the airport bookstore cabinet.

I love airport bookstores; if you pick a book without shiny gold embossed letters, then you mark yourself as a true literary sophisticate. They always have the best selection of trashy magazines, and I always succumb when travelling. I especially love those magazines about shopping, like Lucky. It's hard to imagine anything shallower or more perfect to read on a plane.

I broke into my son's Halloween candy. I thought I would confound my inner chocolate monster by getting a bag of mixed junky kiddie candy, but I saw it contained Banana Laffy Taffy and Atomic Fireballs, two particular favorites of mine. I just love the total fakeness of Banana Laffy Taffy. None of the other flavors do it for me, just banana. Atomic Fireballs are like gigantic spicy breath fresheners - awesome!

Could it be that finally, this sleazebag is getting what's coming to him? I live in hope, though unfortunately I also live in perpetual disappointment as far as political just desserts are concerned. Look at the lovely people he associates with, via Abramoff.

Another reason to love Alex Kapranos (like we needed one) - his weekly food column in the Guardian (after moonlighting as a music lecturer). He's got it all - omni-national, omni-sexual and omni-talented.

I have totally got this song in my head. I broke my moratorium on buying new music to get this because I just love everything I've heard from him. He has the most beautiful, haunting voice.

God, I don't know what's wrong with me today but this blog entry reads like Jackie Harvey. I'm just not quite so into it these days and it shows. Sorry!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Cooking Club III

This week, to celebrate the cornucopia of fall, and the first weekend below 90 degrees in nine years, we made Red Pepper Soup and Plum Crumble, whilst wearing crowns of autumn leaves and performing our interpretative woodland dance. Which is why the photos are out of focus; my pine needle girdle was very distracting.

The red pepper soup we made a couple of changes to; we used dry sherry instead of wine, and vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. If you make this recipe a) add tons more garlic and b) put in a shitload of salt. We think a squeeze of lemon or lime would also improve it, and so would some really crunchy croutons.

When we finished making the soup, it tasted kind of boring, so we added more hot pepper, black pepper, some smoked paprika, a bunch more thyme, and the afore-mentioned shitload of salt, which improved it immensely. It was a truly awesome scarlet color though, and appealed to our aesthetic senses when ladled into my turquoise melamine bowls. We accompanied it with leftover spanokopita which I made yesterday without no stinking recipe. The soup really was an easy recipe, though I have to say, kind of crappy before Mykull and I applied our creative juices to it. Mmmm... creative juices... We gave it a three star rating - a bit better than meh, but not as good as wow.

While the soup was souping, we made plum crumble. I was hoping Mykull's plums would be much more succulent and appetizing, but unfortunately not. Well, you got to work with what you've got, so we doused them in spices and ginger and sugar and laid them gently in a pie dish, to avoid bruising. We then made a crumble out of a bushel of flour and more sugar and egg, sprinkled these on the plums and then soused the whole thing in melted butter, and slammed them in a hot oven. After baking, it looked pretty good.

It was tasty but definitely needed some icecream or custard or whipped cream or something, as it was very crumbly, as advertised. I thought it could do with more ginger and less sugar, and Mykull thought it could do with less ginger and more sugar. So we had an argument. Cooking with Mykull is just like being married; overeating and arguing and lots of washing up and no sex. Actually, we made up right away so it really is much better than being married. We gave this a four star rating - pretty damn good, though we both thought it would be better with pears and maybe some pecans in the topping.

We also accomplished the notable achievement of cooking this meal without talking about Dubya, which is pretty amazing.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Another great mix from Christa. It's fabulous, and definitely has the diva vibe (though it's a pretty wide-ranging pot-pourri). This mix does exactly what I hope a mix will do, reinforce my own taste (Billy Bragg - yeah! The Kinks - yeah!), introduce me to some new stuff (Land of the Loops, M. Ward), and incorporates a soupcon of cheese (Joan Jett, Naughty By Nature). I have to say, I have really enjoyed listening to all the mix CDs I've gotten back. The rest of you - get yer fingers out!

Anyway, here are Christa's liner notes: Christa's CD

Kissing ThingsThe 6thsI suppose I would have made an entire mix tape of Stephin Merrit songs if I felt I could have gotten away with it.
Save MeAretha FranklinI love me some Aretha, and her delivery of the song just knocks my socks off.
Bad ReputationJoan JettI binged on "Freaks and Geeks" this year.
Must I Paint You a Picture?Billy Bragg Honestly, I'm a little surprised that there's any Billy Bragg in this mix. I've watched Mary's obsession with him for quite some time, but it wasn't until I heard this song in the closing credits of some movie that I decided that new love was fully justified.
ThisBrian Eno With a name like Eno, it's got to be good.
Jump in the LineHarry Belafonte I don't dance, but this song propels me.
They are in loveDavid Byrne Oh Lord, which David Byrne song do I choose? Let's pick a pretty one.
...Multi-family Garage SaleLand of the Loops So, I started DJing at WXDU around 1994 (holy crap) and despite the relatively sheltered musical life I'd led until then I fearlessly tackled a wealth of unfamiliar genres at the station. My primary love soon became dance music. This was one of the first songs that really struck my fancy.
OPPNaughty By Nature Yeah, you know me.
U.R.A.Q.T.M.I.A. I heart M.I.A.
One April DayStephin Merrit See? Another Stephin Merrit song! This one is from the movie "Pieces of April'\" and it is perfect in its brevity and simplicity.
Supersonic Rocket ShipThe Kinks Ray LOVES the Kinks, and consequently has sparked my interest in them too. One time, at Federal, I watched Jake and Ray have a whole conversation about how gloriously populist this band is. That was fun.
Deep Dark WellM. Ward I saw M. Ward perform at the ArtsCenter a year or so ago. He had a long fuzzy tail pinned to his jeans.
Love LettersKetty Lester I only recently discovered this song. Charlotte knows it well, though, and she was so moved by Ruth Brown's version at the Durham Blues Festival that she actually broke down in tears.
Quelqu'un m'a ditCarla Bruni I first heard Carla Bruni at my hairdresser's salon. My hairdresser's name is Erin, the salon is called The Garden. It's in downtown Durham, which is to be commended. Anyway, Erin is always playing cool music in there and that's one of the many reasons I love her. She's on her way to China right now to pick up her new adopted baby, though, so you can just forget about having her cut your hair or introducing you to any cool music.
Allo alloLes Sans Culottes One morning Ray and I were lying around listening to NPR (this is not typical behavior for us, mind you) and a feature on this band caught our attention. I bought the CD for Ray for his birthday; this is the best song.
Ride your PonyLee Dorsey Just do what the man says... Stay in the saddle.
I'll Marry an AngelWes Whitener/Rock and Roll Summer Here's a band you've never heard of. Wes is actually a neighbor of mine, and is coincidentally the husband of my hairdresser (which means he's also on his way to China right now). Rock and Roll Summer only plays occasionally around here, so next tim they perform I want you to promise me you'll go see them. Well, go see "him". It's really all about Wes.
First of the Gang to DieMorrissey I hate Morrissey. At least I did until I happened to see him perform this song on Letterman. It was so damn catchy I found myself tapping my toes (gasp!) as he strutted around in a priest's robe.
A Song For YouDonny Hathaway I worked for the American Dance Festival for a number of years. I left on very good terms and continued to stay in touch with the staff. Whenever I saw Stephanie Reinhart, one of the co-directors of ADF, she would always tell me how much she loved listening to me on the radio. She had such motherly pride in her eyes when she saw me. Stephanie died of leukemia in 2002, and at her memorial service the always-amazing Ron Brown used this song to dance his tribute to her, There was not a dry eye in the house.
Political ScienceRandy Newman If I could do one thing to change the world, I would put Randy Newman in charge.
Hands on the WheelWillie Nelson I wonder if you feel the same connection to Willie I do. His kind eyes, his modest grin... I think he is one of the most phenomenal, good-hearted celebrities this country has ever known. I would love to shake his hand someday.
Can't Stop TalkingBetty Hutton Every week on Divaville I end the program with a Betty Hutton tune. I figured I'd better do the same here. This is one of my favorites. She's such a kook.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Strum und Drang

Both literally with Rita, and in Washington.

I've finally gotten over my overweening urge to talk about Katrina all the time, thanks to Barry Bonds. When I was at the gym this morning, the TV was on some sports show, and Mr. Bonds rather pathetically used Katrina as a decoy to avoid talking about his steroid abuse. Which made me think I should give it a rest, even though I can't stop thinking about it.

I find this very comforting. Yay, we're just the same! (except for the throwing and the fighting and the wacking off). And this can never happen to us women. But apart from that - we're just the same - yay!

I did get distracted while over at the Guardian, and I found this, which is strangely fascinating. I have a hard time believing this is real. OK, it's Britney Spears, but is she really that gullible? You would have to be really young or really dumb (I mean, dumber than Britney!) to fall for that crap (though that is probably Neil Strauss's intended audience).

I've found the perfect PMS food. Glaaaarggh.

My son subscribes to Nickolodeon magazine, and as I was handing it to him today, it flipped open to a page with a small foil packet about one and a half inches square. That certainly caught my attention. But the foil packet was only filled with Splish Splat Goo, which had the unfortunate consistency of raw egg whites. This might have been OK if my mind wasn't already in a very bad place with the condom doppelganger. The disturbing texture of the goo was luckily mitigated by it's not-found-in-nature, not-even-up-one's-nose shade of green.

Sunday, September 18, 2005


Dick Cheney is undergoing surgery AGAIN. It seemed they found an ounce of compassion which needs to be excised. Actually, it's an aneurysm in his knee - is that the same as a varicose vein, because I thought only old ladies got those?. Is he a rat leaving a sinking ship, and looking for a graceful exit to enjoy his vacation home?(That last link has the only picture I've ever seen of Cheney smiling, albeit with only half his face).

Who are these odious, entitled children?. When I was in school in Scotland, we called them Hooray Henries, and I thought it was a vestige of the British class system. But it seems there are plenty of them here, including the dynasty we are now being ruled by. Though I do enjoy the schadenfreude of a junior Bush mugshot. Even though you know he's still destined for a life of privilege, either ruling the nation or getting blown by anonymous prostitutes.

This is really mind-blowing, especially the fact that your transplanted face will look like your pre-trauma face. It's amazing to think how much bone structure, muscles and mannerisms have to do with what you look like, rather than your features, and that even if another face is transplanted onto you, it will still look like yours. It's interesting to think how meaningful having 'your' face is, beyond any concerns of vanity, but how it shapes people's opinions of you and your own self-image. And I can't imagine what it would feel like to lose your face to disfigurement, and to regain it. That has to be a huge psychological adjustment.

Speaking of facial changes, my son got braces this week. They make him look even more adorable in my book, even though it's one more bill I have to pay. He really is my anchor in bad times like these, and he doesn't even know it. It's a great thing to have to be good ol' mom and do all the mom things that are expected of you to keep your life feeling meaningful, even though this makes me sound like a clueless throwback.

Monday, September 12, 2005


I've been a little remiss in posting because a) Katrina is pretty much dominating my thoughts these days (here's an interesting post, and another good one from the Guardian, which I miss terribly) and b) because my son is now in middle school and gets lots of really hard homework. I think my I.Q. has diminished about 30 points since I was in school because I honestly don't remember studying some of this stuff. What's a predicate again? What am I not supposed to end a sentence with?

I've been feeling terribly homesick lately, but this makes me feel better (or should it be worse?). Are my compatriots just a bit more realistic or miserable bastards?

In other news, I'm going to hurry up and get an abortion while I still can! Because that's just the sort of thing us single mothers do, you know? Maybe this is just CNN, but have you noticed what a weird expression our new Chief Justice (you know he will be) always has on his face? Sort of cyborgy and repressed at the same time? Like he's going to blow his top and explode the skin off his face exposing the metal infrastructure underneath?

I've been listening to Nouvelle Vague lately. It sounds like it would be a little twee, but it actually works really well. I'm still totally in love with all of Sigur Ros who gave an incredible show last week at the Carolina Theater which just swept me away (and I'm all on for being swept away these days).

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

off with their heads (from mykull)

the thai noodles with vegetables were good. i give them 3 stars the 1st night, 3.5 stars the day after.

in other news, barbara bush should be publicly beheaded. and this entire administration should be slathered in sardine oil and shipped off to antarctica to be mauled to death by empire penguins.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Cooking Club II

Even though neither one of us was feeling particularly festive, we decided this week to make Classic Thai Noodles,Vegetarian Style. Basically, to make this, you need to prepare everything upfront (lots of cathartic chopping and bashing), and put each individual ingredient in a seperate bowl. Then you just sling everything in a wok in the proscribed order. We figured it was a three star meal - the condiments really made it. The garbanzo beans really didn't do a lot for me - it would have been better with some red bell pepper or some water chestnuts I think. It was supposed to feed two as a main meal, but Mykull, my son and I each had a big bowlful, and we had tons left over.

This morning, after spending two hours stripping ivy from a tree in Mykull's yard, we ate the rest which was vastly improved by another couple of tablespoons soy sauce and a dash of Thai fish sauce. Or maybe hacking through ivy stalks imagining they are the Presidential perineum, or gouging through dead bark pretending it's Michael Chertoff's ear canal, or ripping up vegetation while thinking about scalping Michael Brown just works up a girl's appetite.

OK, I'm done talking about the noodles now. I'm still in a state of disbelief about what has happened on the Gulf Coast. I just can't believe the level of indifference, cynicism and incompetence that has been displayed over the last few day. I just can't believe that 10,000 people have died (Ray Nagin's estimate), many of them needlessly and brutally. Think about the reasons that people voted for Bush, and how each one of them has been refuted beyond doubt by his actions or inactions:

  • He's a moral man of faith. I don't think you could get any less Christian than to turn your back on thousands of poor, sick and old, when you have the resources of the wealthiest country in the world at your disposal. Never mind impeachment; he should stand trial for the murder of thousands.
  • He's 'folksy' and a 'man of the people'. He's more concerned about photo-ops and spinning what has happened while simultaneously refusing aid from other countries and states. His focus is on how events make him look, not on helping people, and on rewriting history to exonerate his past decisions which helped create this horrible situation.
  • He's a no-nonsense man of action. So once upon a time he conveniently had a bull-horn at the right time at the right place. But now, he can't even come up with consoling words. And his actions have been too little, too late. Aid has been blocked from going into New Orleans; boats with supplies have been prevented from entering; Northern Command had resources ready to go just waiting for the word from our guitar-strumming, cake-eating, vacationing leader.

    And it's unbelievable to me his approval rating is still 44% - it's dropped a lot, but who in the hell can approve of how he has handled this situation? It's been an unmitigated, horrific disaster.

    Classic Thai Noodles - Vegetarian Style

    8 oz dried rice sticks noodles 'chantaboon' type or any thin, flat variety about 1/8 " wide
    2 tbsp vegetable oil
    3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
    8 oz firm tofu, cut into fat matchstick sized pieces
    5 tbsp vegetable stock
    3 tbsp distilled white vinegar
    4 tbsp sugar
    1/2 tsp white pepper
    4 scallions, finely sliced
    3 tbsp thai soy sauce with mushroom or chinese brand like Pearl River Bridge
    1 tbsp paprika, thai chili powder or other ground red chili
    1/2 cup canned garbanzo beans
    1 cup bean sprouts
    1/3 cup crushed roasted unsalted peanuts

    2 cups beansprouts
    1/3 cup crushed roasted unsalted peanuts
    lime wedges
    thai chilies, finely sliced

    Soak rice noodles in large bowl of warm water for 15 minutes until they are soft. Drain.

    Heat a wok over medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the oil. Rotate the wok so the oil coats the sides. Add garlic and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the tofu and stir-fry for a minute. Add stock and noodles, and stir-fry for a minute, tossing the noodles to mix. Add the vinegar and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add sugar, pepper and scallions and mix well. Add soy sauce and stir fry for 1 minute. Add soy sauce and stir fry for 1 minute. Add paprika and stir fry briskly for 1-2 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans, beansprouts and peanuts and mix well. Serve with condiments.

  • Thursday, September 01, 2005

    The Big Uneasy

    I am continually stunned by the news from New Orleans. And continually stunned by our fearless leader. Who returned to Washington from his vacation this afternoon. And once again mouthed helpless platitudes in lieu of real leadership. The right things in term of relief are happening now, but why did it take so long? As shocking as the events unfolding in New Orleans are, they were not a total surprise. You would think with the possibility of this scenario, that there would be a quick response plan in place. Once again, the powerless in our society - the sick, the poor and the old - are shafted.

    I'm reminded of Bush's response after 9/11. It seemed his initial response, as in this case, was woefully inadequate, and indicative of a lack of compassion or even simple comprehension of how serious things are. It seems it takes a lackey to pull the president aside and tell him 'Errr - you know this is kind of a big deal, and it would be politically expedient to seem like you are actually affected by this news'. Then he finally seems to do the things any leader should do immediately, a day or two too late.

    Years and years of tinkering with the environment, of marshalling the Mississippi, of shaping the environment to fit our economic needs have excacerbated the dangers from hurricanes in New Orleans. The entire Gulf Coast has been sinking as the silt which is supposed to replenish the river delta ends up in the ocean. The incredible feats of engineering (the levees, the dams, the pumps) that controlling the Mississippi entail have been underfunded so the money can go - guess where? The war in Iraq. And the oil companies who benefit from this engineering effort? What are they doing now? Price gouging.

    Oil companies have helicopters and ships to support their Gulf operations. Where are they now? Could they not use these resources to help the communities that provide their blue-collar workers? Though, to be fair, Chevron has contributed a $5 million donation to the relief effort.

    I hate to sound cynical, but do you think there's a chance that a Halliburton subsidiary ends up with a contract to rebuild New Orleans? I would bet on it.