Tuesday, August 31, 2004

I am incredibly routine oriented. It's my curse. I have my routine and I stick to it like nobody's business.

Realizing I haven't blogged in awhile and, after two of my friends and co-workers posting very personal entries today, I thought I'd share something a bit personal, as well. My daily routine. (most assuredly, this will be incredibly boring).

6:00 - alarm goes off - mumble to Genevieve to hit snooze
6:15 - finally get up, shave
6:20 - put on pot of tea for G and take a shower
6:35 - wake up G, pack my lunch, make breakfast (which has been *way* too egg-based lately. If I drop dead of a heart attack in a few weeks, you may blame this).
7:15 - leave for work
7:30 - arrive at work, check e-mail and the following sites: LiveJournal, SynthCleveland, Darksonus, Seibertron (shut up), Friends-Who-Blog-Overnight
8:00 - finish round 1 of surfing, now..check Friends-Who-Blog-In-The-Morning
8:30 - contemplate work / e-mail Lauren about lame Horror movies and/or how she could never,ever, kick my ass
9:00 to 10:30 - do actual work
10:30 to 11:00 - contemplate lunch / e-mail Adam about how being in a band will get him chicks and/or have all my advances to him turned down (and weep to myself)
11:00 to 11:30 - lunch
11:30 - contemplate work again / e-mail Genevieve about how work sucks and what does she want for dinner tonight..
noon to 2:30 - do actual work, again -sigh-
2:30 to 3:30 - contemplate leaving work and what I'll be making for dinner
3:40 - leave
4:00 - pick G up
4:10 - arrive home, see if Mailman decided that today was a day he would actually deliver the mail, immediately start making dinner
5:30 - dinner
5:45 to 7:00 - putter
7:00 to 7:30 - watch the Daily Show
7:30 to 10:00 - further puttering
10:00 - 10:30 - get ready for bed
10:30 - sleep
10:35 - get up 'cause I drank too much water before bed
2:00am - get up again
3:30am - wake up to cats screaming bloody murder in the front room 'cause they saw some cat outside. A cat that only comes out around 3:30am and drives them fucking nuts, for some unknown reason.
4:30am - wake up for unknown reason, be convinced that it's now 6:00am and I'll have to get up any second now
6:00 - alarm goes off - repeat-

|

Monday, August 23, 2004

Soo...

I need to retract a previous bit of food snobbery.

As some of you may remember, awhile back ago, I had a little laugh at the quaint quality of the Better Holmes and Gardens "New Cookbook" ("New" being about 40+ years old now). The Technicolor pictures, the tradition "Dad's home, better have dinner ready!" mindset of it.
Well, I have to say, I've developed an appreciation for the book.

Sure, we have alot of cookbooks. Detailing various aspects of Mexican, Indian, Thai, Provencal, and lots of veggie cuisine. All good books. The problem with all these books, though, comes when I'm not looking for any of that stuff. When I'm looking for: waffles (and not with chives and sweet honey cream), cookies, etc. I can't remember what I was trying to make when it happened. When I realized that, sure, I wasn't going to be making dinners out of this thing, but the basics...the things on which so many gourmet items are built upon. They're all in there. I'd have to comb through tons of cookbooks in order to find the basic white sauce that's right there, easy to find, in the Better Homes & Gardens.

This morning, I wanted pancakes. In a few seconds, I had the recipe and I was going. Sure, it wasn''t complex and wasn't breaking any new culinary ground. But, it was what I wanted. Simple, good, easy to make, pancakes (which tasted eXactly like the ones my mom used to make, I believe out of the same book).

Also, lets face it, in basic techniques, there's not alot which has changed in all these decades. The techniques and tests in the Better Homes book still hold up, quite well today. From making fudge to the proper way to fold-in ingredients, it's still just as good today as it was then.


I'm still not making any jello molds.

|

Friday, August 20, 2004

I had a scary experience the other day.

Well, let me preface this a bit. I don't have a good memory. If you are reading this, you probably knew that already. Most likely, I've forgotten: an event, a birthday or the populace of Indonesia and you've had to remind me. Whether this be caused by stress or some fudge-up in my brain chemistry, I accept it and have, pretty much, come to grips with it. I try to keep things in this little noggin, but sometimes things slip out and..providing it's not Genevieve's birthday, I'm usually not going to beat myself up over it.

Anyways, you know how, occasionally, a memory you thought you'd forgotten will pop into your head? It's usual something trivial, like the time you ate dog food when you were a little kid. So, I had that happen the other day. I remembered my first kiss, at the YMCA pool I used to go to all the time as a kid.

The only problem is....


It never happened.

My first kiss was with a brace-faced girl named Stacy in middle school.

But, still, I can remember it. I can remember everything about it as if I were there. My logical brain says "no, of course that didn't happen". But the part of my brain which defines things on an non-logical or "feeling" level, well, to it, that event is just as real as any others stored up there. It's a silly thing, because I can look at it and know that it's not real, but for a second..when I first thought it..it was. It makes me think like I can't trust my own head. It's all very unsettling.

|

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Random food post ahead.

Favorite food of summer: home grown tomatoes.

Let me start off by saying that I don't mean those tomatoes you get at a store. 'Cause here's the thing.... Store bought tomatoes are generally inferior. I'm sorry, it's just true. The problem lies in the shipping. Unless your grocery store has a garden in the back, they're shipping those tomatoes in from somewhere, be it across the country or from Joe Bob's farm 30 minutes out of town. Those tomatoes are getting packed up and shipped out from somewhere. Now, a good tomato...a fully ripe tomato..is simply too fragile to ship. It's too soft. So, what they do is they pick them early, before they've fully ripened. That way, they're good and hard and can survive being jostled around in a truck. They then artificially "ripen" them with ethylene gas, to give it that ruby red look. Sure, it's great to look at and they chop eary, but the taste is noticeably blander. A good tomato is tasty enough to be eaten raw, or simply adorned (like a tomato and basil sandwich w/ roasted garlic mayo..mmmm).

If you can't grow your own (and, if you can, I suggest you do it. Come summer, you'll have more delicious tomatoes than you'll know what to do with, from one well-to-do plant)., here's some tips on finding the best tomato you can:

* Smell it. A ripe tomato will smell *like a tomato*. I know this sounds kind of silly, but it's true. Artificially ripened tomatoes have almost no scent. Ripe ones will be quite fragrant (and there's no better smell before chomping into one :)

* If you can cut one open, do so. A fully ripe tomato will be a deep red almost all the way through. The more white there is, the less ripe it is and the less flavor is packed away in there.

* Taste it. The under ripe ones will have a mealy texture to them and taste like not much of anything. A ripe one will not only be more silken in texture, but will have a solid aftertaste that will stay with you.

Keep in mind, this is coming from a guy who once thought he *hated* raw tomatoes, because all I had were those dull-lifeless store bought varieties.

|

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

I have a lovely wife. I have a wife who buys me 80's video games, even though she finds most of them annoying/boring. So, a few weeks ago, I was given a suprise present. The much-anticipated (by myself, at least) sequel to the first Namco plug-n-play joystick that I got earlier this year. The basic concept is: take 5+ games, spotlight one of them (in this case, Ms. Pac Man, the first one was simply Pac-Man) wrap them in their own joystick, give it the look and feel of an 80's arcade joystick. Watch the kids ("kids" being people mid 20's to 40's ;) go nuts.
Below is my review of the 5 games included in the package:

- Ms. Pac Man - It's kind of funny. You would think, if you were choosing one game to sell your plug-n-play joystick on, you'd make sure the one you chose *worked*! Seriously, it's simply unplayable. The joystick decides occasionally, you know, you *really* don't want to go up when you're slamming up on the joystick like a madman. So, every other second, you're dying because Ms. Pac Man simply won't change course. This isn't a hardware issue either, as the joystick works perfectly on other games. For me, already owning Pac Man (which, let's face it, is basically the same game) on the first Namco, this isn't a big deal. But, if you're looking to add a little Pac Man-in-drag to your life, you'll have to look elsewhere.

- Galaga - This was a big reason I wanted the Namco 2 joystick. I was greatly disappointed of the inclusion of the far inferior Galaxians into the first joystick and always felt that Galaga was a better choice. To me, Galaga was the epitome of the "Space Invaders" clones. Not only did it truly capture the fun of the game it was imitating, but it really took it a step further, with enemies which act with their own unique tactics, instead of just mindlessly dropping bombs. Decades later, the games is just as fun as it ever was. Though, granted, I suck at it more than I used to.

- Mappy - This was a game I never liked in the arcade. Maybe it's because it's not exactly "manly" be at the arcade playing a police mouse chasing after pink cats. I mean, let's face it, like Ms. Pac Man, this one was for the "chicks". It's like...Billy 1 is playing Space Invaders, blowing up aliens left and right. Billy 2 is playing Mappy. Bouncing on trampolines and trying to avoid pink kitties. Guess which ones gets beat up after school more? That said, it's kind of fun now. Though I still feel like a sissy while playing it.

- Xevious - Just like Bosconian on the first Namco Joystick, Xevious is under the realm of "video games I vaguely remember, but was never hugely into". Also like Bosconian, it quickly became one of my favorites of the set. Xevious is your basic overhead-view scrolling shoot-em-up space game. The graphics are a step above the others, with some actual shading and depth added to the characters. There's not too much to say about it. You blow things up. Try not to get blown up. Can't go wrong.

- Pole Position - Personally, out of the genre of 80's car racing games, I would have preferred to have seen Out Run. (Where else can you not only choose your tunes, but when you crash you car, not only does it flip (!) but your girlfriend yells at you for driving like a fucking maniac, after you've miraculous survived.) The lack of a steering wheel does put a damper on things. In it's place, you need to turn the actual joystick itself (a feature I'd not picked up on at first and thought the joystick was broken). It works pretty well, overall. This game also marked one of the first inclusions that I remember of actual speech in a game. "Prepare to qualify" and "Congratulations!" come through again in gritty, 2-bit wonder in this version as well.

Overall, I'd put this in a tie with the first joystick. If you own the first already and love it, the second is more of the same fun and definitely worth picking up. If you own neither and want to get one, choose based on the games included (except Ms. Pac Man).

|

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Show Report:

I am sorry this took so long to get online. It's been a busy few weeks and I finally have a minute to sit down and collect my thoughts on this.

For those who don't know, Subliminal Self was invited to head up Detroit on July 30th. Joining us were local bands: Humachine and The Morning Star.

I'd been looking forward to playing Detroit for awhile. Not only is it the home city of SynthCleveland's sibling group DEC (Detroit Electronica Coalition), but I was hoping to hook up with Mr. Davecat, a friend I'd not seen in a very long time. So, when this opportunity came up (much thanks to Humachine for inviting us!), I jumped on it.

Anyways, gear still torn down from the past Club 10-34 show, I threw everything in the car and we headed off the Motor City.

Due to traffic/construction, we arrived at the club (Paycheck's Lounge) about 45 minutes after the start of soundcheck / load-in. None of the other bands were there yet, so I didn't feel too bad. Oh, before I get into all of that, let me paint you a mental picture of the scene. Paycheck's is located in an area of Detroit called Hamtramck. This is *not* some posh 'burb or even a trendy urban spot. Nope. We're talking very blue collar, VERY Polish. (I'm pretty sure the guy who owned the Polish Grocery didn't even speak English). That said, it wasn't a "bad" neighborhood, though you could have fooled us, just poor.

Incident #1: While Greyson and I were loading gear into the club, Genevieve had an awful experience with the bar patrons (all old Polish guys). She had wandered over to the bar to see if there was anything she'd be interested in drinking. While leaning over the bar, one of the crusty guys at the bar turns to her and asks "Hey baby, want to see something?" and it was only seconds before his friends were joining in the womanizing. Genevieve retreated to the back of the club and stuck close the rest of the evening. These guys had obviously not seen a woman, who wasn't missing her front teeth from a bar fight, in a long while.

Humachine (who showed up about 20minutes after we did) opened up the night with their brand of Psalm69-era Ministry. Not exactly my thing, though they had some good ideas going. Unfortunately, their set was hampered by problems with the cd player fading in and out. I was starting to worry that it was the sound system, but we had no such issues. But, they ignored it and kept going through their set, like professionals.

After a bit of negotiation with The Morning Star, we went on next. It wasn't our best show, but certainly not our worst. Though some of the songs, like 'Nostalgia' and 'Forged from Steel' got a little broken along the way, we put out our best performance yet for 'Song for Tomorrow' and 'Resolution' came off really well. While we were performing, Davecat came in. So, I was excited that he got a chance to hear us. The last music of mine that he's heard was back in my noise days with Inovercy. So, this was definitely a different vibe going on ;)

We also got heckled for the first time! Greyson had made a reference to Detroit, while we were onstage. From the back comes "Yea, Detroit is a great town for ROCK AND ROLL!" I thought it was Genevieve and told her to quiet down, but turns out it wasn't ;)

Anyways, so after the set, we greeted the Cat, exchanged stories and such. Also got a chance to talk with the guitarist from Humachine, who was much sweeter and nicer than you'd imagine a guy spitting out power chords like it's cheap bourbon to be, as well as Brian from DEC (who was, unfortunately, the only non-performing DEC'er to show). More than our performance, chatting with all these fine folks proved to be the highlight of the evening.

Incident #2: Turns out that $5.00 admission cost was a joke. Admittedly, I don't know if the drunk guys at the bar, who were 90% of our audience, would have slapped down more than the cost of a MGD to see a bunch of wussy bands, but regardless, there was no one collecting. Therefore, the only cash we took home that night was sales from 2 cd's.

Unfortunately, we missed most of The Morning Star's ultra short set (I was told that they'd only had the current lineup for a month or such, so perhaps that accounted for the set length), since we were packing our gear up.

Overall, it was kind of a toss up. It was great to see the 'Cat again and the other bands were certainly cool, but I don't think we gained many new fans that night, as we'd hoped. Unless, of course, we're now a hit in the hot Polka clubs around Detroit and I don't know it..

|

Monday, August 16, 2004

I'm back...

I have been instructed, under penalty of law, to blog about our recent trip to Opa!. Opa! is a new restaurant down on W. 25th, about a block from the West Side Market, in Ohio City. They opened up a few months ago with a decadent brunch and (I believe) lunch menu, but only recently started a set of dinner hours. Their menu is laced with the fusion style that has been so popular for awhile, except with more of a Greek bent. We had previously stopped by for brunch once and I found the food to be, although very good, a bit overpriced for brunch. This seems to have evened out with their dinner menu, averaging at about $15.00 for a large portion entree (mine ended up not only being dinner, but lunch for both Genevieve and I the next day, to give you an idea on size).

I ordered 'Sofia's Mac n' Cheese'. A large plate of perfectly cooked pasta, tossed with herbs and lots and lots of goat cheese and olive oil. It was actually really good, though the goat cheese they used was decidedly mild. It was also quite heavy, a definite earmark of their Greek influence. Genevieve got a baked Brie and Fruit starter (simply awesome! This was actually my favorite thing we had during this trip. Creamy Brie encased in a buttery pastry crust and then baked. Sure, it reeked of calories and fat, but it was one of those dishes that made you want to through the scale out the window) and a house salad, which was simply o-kay. But, has there ever been an impressive house salad?

The service was excellent. Of course, we were also the only ones at the restaurant. (This was at almost peak dinner hours - 7:00pm on a Saturday), so that does not bode well for them keeping their doors open too much longer, for dinner at least. But, regardless, service was prompt and attentive, without being overbearing. The atmosphere was casual with not a hint of snobbery.

One thing of note: Opa! is BYOB, so feel free to bring your own wine or beer (though they do not serve them there). There is a nominal fee for doing such, but at the cost of store bought wine + their fee, you're still paying way under regular restaurant alcohol costs.

I would definitely recommend Opa! to anyone going out to have a good dinner in Ohio City.

|

Monday, August 09, 2004

Fivedollarbeer is going to be not updated, until further notice. I know who checks this site ;) I'll letcha know when things are back up. But, I wouldn't expect anything for a couple weeks.
Thanks

|

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I think this is a sure sign of my increasing age.

Last week I got a present from work. A $10.00 gift card for Borders. Though I am certainly appreciative of this token, as many of you know, $10.00 doesn't buy you squat at Borders. Your average magazine costs more than that. So, I decided to take it and, adding a little extra cash, pick up a cd I'd been wanting for awhile.

'The Art of Amalia Rodrigues'

Amalia Rodrigues is considered *the* classic Fado artist, producing music from the 50's on into the early 70's. For those who don't know what Fado is, think Portegues Blues. Downtempo tunes, often very sparse in their arrangements, focusing strongly on the singer. Songs whose heartbreak is stark and apparent, even if the language isn't one you understand. And despite the resurgence of the style bringing new artists like Mariza, I still find myself drawn with Amalia's music from years ago.

That said, it's in the "International" (re: World Music) section of the store. A section I wouldn't have even approached 10 years ago. Even now, overstocked with Gipsy Kings and Yanni, I generally avoid it. But I've reached a point in my life where the cries of Portugues Fado and the pick of the Spanish guitar on other albums really appeals to me.

I mean, I remember, when a few friends and I played an improv show at a local coffeehouse, I was offended to have what we played be called "World Music". Now, it's what I've been listening, almost constantly at work, for the past week.

Want to find out more about Amalia Rodrigues? Check out this site (WARNING: Ugly webpage ahead)
http://www.geocities.com/cecskater1/

|

Monday, August 02, 2004

(X-posted from my LiveJournal. Edited for content and to fit the TV screen)

I realize I am the last one to report on this past Thursday's show. I have no excuse, I'm obviously a lazy sonofabitch.

Anyways, first up, big big thanks to all those who showed up and stayed through the stifling heat! It's most appreciated. If I did not, for some reason unknown to man or beast, get a cd in your hands, let me know and I will correct that, post-haste.

The show went, despite a few glitches, well. We had a couple strikes against us in that I was using a borrowed keyboard (my normal one was in the shop) and it was a venue we weren't familiar with. The latter was saved by bringing lots of cables and my own mixer (which ended up being used for all three sets, since the club's system did not have enough to take everyone's outputs). If there's one, of many, things I've learned from Mr. Tofu, it's "come prepared." ;) The borrowed 'board worked okay. The only bad points were that it was really really really light. I had to tape it to the keyboard stand to prevent it from sliding off and that, on "Resolution", I don't know what the hell I was thinking when I selected the replacement patch for this at home, but when I dialed it up live, out came the most dissonant nasty sound. Gross stuff. Anyways, we debuted two new songs: 'Chaos of Emotion' (with Dawn on guest vocals) and 'Empty December', both of which came off really well, esp. for being their first time performed live. Sweated like a pig in a sauna though.

Other things that night:
Tofu put on an awesome show, debuting some new material I had not heard before. Def. showed his more upbeat/electronic-rock side. Both Chris (State of Being) and myself jumped up onstage, separately, to lay some vocals down. Was very fun, though completely nerve-wracking for me. By the end of the song, I was shaking, I was so nervous.

State of Being, troopers that they are, put on their normal excellent show (spotlighting material off of their new album, 'Haywire' <- if you have not bought it, do so NOW!), despite problems with the club's system and the growing heat. If you look up 'professional, hard-working local band' in the Dictionary, I am sure there's a picture of them in there.

I am sure, if you also look up 'Sweaty hugs', there will be a picture of Chris there, as well ;)
In other news, the CD's went like hotcakes. Of course, they were free :) But, here's hoping those who got a copy enjoyed them!

Next stop, this Friday in Detroit!

|