Friday, September 28, 2007

From blurst to blursterstest: the "Hey, get a room, if you're gonna clinch each other all over the place, you Cubs" edition

The Cubs only have 84 wins, with two left to play. That wouldn't get them better than third place in any other division. But they only won 66 last year at all, and finished in last place. So that's how those cookies crumble ... or reverse crumble ... from crumbs ... into cookies. Or something.

They were in last place for a bit this year, too, I think. Or damn near. For much of the first half of the year, they reeked real bad. Then they seemed to have a turnaround at some point, after some crazy shit happened, fistfights in the locker room, Lou Piniella getting suspended for kicking dirt on an umpire ... but they still seemed to mostly suck to me. They were not often a fun team to watch until August, as I recall, when they did get it together for a while.

They're a mess. They shouldn't get far in the playoffs. Pitching is spotty, offense is erratic and prone to withering droughts. The team plays very bad fundamentals -- too many errors, too many baserunning mistakes. Bad bunting. Dumb plays.

They had five catchers over the course of the year. Unless I'm forgetting anybody. Michael Barrett, initially the starting catcher, was traded away for nothing after it became clear that he couldn't get along with Lou (or ace pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who put Barrett in the hospital with a face beating); Henry Blanco, who was injured most of the year; Koyie Kill, a minor leaguer promoted to fill Blanco's spot and who got a lot more playing time than expected; Jason Kendall, a veteran acquired from Oakland to fill the gap, but who never really seemed particularly useful, with his crappy arm and lousy bat; and Geovany Soto, another rookie, who turned out to be real hot on defense and swing solid lumber, and turned into a fan fave. That's a lot of goddamn backstops. The story of the Cubs catchers alone is some fucked up dysfunctional soap opera. As was right field, the leadoff position, second base, center field, shortstop, left field, ... and the batting lineup in general. And Carlos Zambrano. He was a walking, stalking, stomping, howling, windmill-tilting "All My Children" unto himself.

So it's a puzzler, Columbo, as to how this team can hope to keep it going. But, hey, the Cardinals last season were pretty fucked up, pretty much written off for dead, and they won the World Series. They only won 83 goddamn games in the regular season, and everyone, myself included, expected the Tigers to sweep them in a laffer.

Therefore, the Cubs are guaranteed to win the World Series this year. This is the year. You were here. There is zero percent chance of disaster this time. "Disappointment" is not even listed in the 2007 Merriam-Webster Cubs Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language and Baseball Terminology. We can't lose!

Friday Recipe Blogging: Spicy Hot Tex Mex Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotles and Chihuahua Cheese a la Stronger Than Dirt

I got a bit inventive in the kitchen tonight while listening to the Cubs game on WGN.* Here's what I came up with. I'm calling it a success. You can have the recipe, too, because that's the kind of good people I am.

Spicy Hot Tex Mex Shepherd’s Pie with Chipotles and Chihuahua Cheese

(serves Stronger Than Dirt Pete Moss for a couple of days)

Meat filling ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground lamb (or use beef, I guess, or turkey, or other substitute)
  • 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (or 2 small)
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 T sweet paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small can Spanish-style tomato sauce
  • 1 small can green chili peppers
  • few dashes Tapatio sauce (optional)
  • few dashes Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • few splashes of beer to wet it (if needed, which it probably will)
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup corn kernels (I didn’t really measure)
  • 2 large scallions, chopped

Potato topping ingredients:

  • a few medium russet potatoes (play it by ear, c’mon; I didn’t weigh em)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 or 2 T butter
  • big dollop of sour cream (use enough to make it creamy without making it soup)
  • 4 canned chipotles, minced, w/ clinging adobo sauce (this is a lot; use fewer if desired)
  • shredded chihuahua cheese (about 1 cup)

The how-to-do-it:

In a dutch oven or similar vessel over medium heat, brown lamb in olive oil with yellow onion and garlic. Drain fat (I actually rinsed it in a colander, because lamb fat is kind of gamey). Add spices & seasonings, toss around a bit, lowering heat if you’re afraid they’ll burn. As soon as they smell good and nice, add the tomato sauce, green chilis, and a little beer to moisten it up. (I like to slosh the beer around in the tomato sauce can and get it all out of there.) I found that a little Tapatio and Worcestershire helped the sweet-acid balance, but if you don’t like them, mazel tov to you. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Might as well, in the meantime, wash, peel, and chop up the potatoes, add them to a saucepan with cold water, and put on the flame to high. You know, make mashed potatoes. I don’t gotta tell you how to make mashed potatoes, right? Google it if you don’t know. Anyway, get the mash going while the meaty filling is simmering. For purposes of timing.

Also not a bad time to remember to turn the oven on and set it to 375.

OK. The potatoes are cooking and the filling (or, the stuff in there thus far) has had a chance to kind of get friendly. Now you should put in the beans, scallions, and corn. Mix well, without busting up the beans too much. Taste and adjust seasonings. You might need a little more salt and/or pepper. Bring it back to a simmer and then turn the heat down to low, just to keep it warm while you deal with the potatoes.

When the potatoes are cooked (test with a knife or a fork or the Farmers Almanac, whatever you do), out with the water and in with the butter, sour cream, and chipotles & adobo. Mash mash mash. Mash. Mash mash. Mash mash mash mash. OK, they’re mashed.

Grab a casserole dish and spoon in some filling. I don’t have good proportions here. I had more filling than would fit in my casserole, so I had extra, which I’ll use for something else another day (excellent). Probably should fill it about 2/3 full with the lamby beany corny mixture. Then plop the smoking spicy hot potatoes on top to cover completely, smoothing it out nicely with a spatula and drawing a design in it if you like. It doesn’t matter. Top with shredded chihuahua cheese. Put it in the oven, uncovered.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown. And be careful taking it out. It’s gonna be pretty bubbly, and you don’t want molten insides on you. Use your welder’s gloves, if you have any. Let it rest for about 5 minutes before serving.

*Congratulations to the Cubs, by the way, for guaranteeing themselves at least a tie for the division title, with tonight's win over the Reds.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you got till it's ....

Despite all or most appearances, Billie Joe Armstrong ain't so bad. This one is pretty good, and proves he ain't so bad, man. One of his side projects.

Pinhead Gunpowder - Big Yellow Taxi

Green Day still ripped off the fucking Descendents, dude, totally, and I'm never fucking forgiving them for that, no matter how old and tired I get! Right.

Descendents - Clean Sheets

Also, you know what, man? The Chambers Brothers ripped off the Angry Samoans, in reverse chronological order.

Angry Samoans - Time Has Come Today

Wrock Collidge: Origins of the New York Punk Scene 101

The WFMU blog posted a real solid mp3 version of this a year or two ago, or so, but lookit, there's a YouTube version up (slightly different, for you completists) that embeds pretty well hyah.

Jeffrey Lewis - Complete History of Punk Rock (on the Lower East Side of New York City, New York, USA)

Breathe through your noses, Cubbies

Shhhh ... listen ...

Do you hear what I hear?

Do you hear that awful choking sound?

What could that awful, awful choking sound be?

Could it be a gaggle of rookie porn starlets at a Tadalafil convention?

No ... not a gaggle of rookie porn starlets at a Tadalafil convention.

Then what could that awful, awful, awful choking sound be?

Why, I believe it is the Chicago Cubs.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Be not fooled, fools!

The Cubs may be in first place, with only 6 games left to play. The Brewers may be 3.5 games behind the Cubs, and 3 games back in the "Loss" column, with only 7 games remaining on their schedule. Cubs fans may even have begun to allow themselves to slip into that velveteen noose called "Belief." The sports nerds may be telling us that the Cubs' "magic number" is 4.

But we know better. We know that the Cubs' "tragic number" remains, and will ever remain

Rex Grossman for President

In news of news that makes me temporarily amused and gladdened, the Bears lost miserably last night on the NBC national television broadcast. The Bears losing -- especially when they lose badly, and especially when they lose badly on network TV -- always makes people here in Chicago melancholy and Sartreian.*

The Bears went to the Stupid Bowl last year, and everyone assumed they would do so again this year. But, so far, they suck. Like a large number of objects that suck. An awesome array of mechanical suction creators.

Football annoys the hell out of me, so I like this.**

Although maybe the goddamn Cubs and their pretend flurry of a fugazi*** of nonsuckingness are propping up the pathetic emotional baggages of Chicagoland athletic supporters.

Every year, in July or so, when both baseball teams usually suck, people often say, "Well, at least football season starts soon." But this year, it looks like the attemptedly-optimistic chumps in Outside-My-Apartment-Stan would have to say, "Well, at least baseball season isn't over yet."


Screw you, sports fans. Screw you to hell!

* This brings them down a little closer to my level -- and you could call my level "basement," but I prefer the real estate euphemism, "garden."
** And what I like even better is that the hated Notre Damiens of South Bent, Hoosiermama, lost again and are 0 and 4. I will not be truly happy, however, until they go 0 and 666.
*** Not the band, the slang term meaning "phony." Duh.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oscar Brown, Jr., Step by Step

Ever resolving to write some original prose, rather than just expository faux journalism (linkalism), but unable yet to get it together. But I'm alive, so here's a post about something good.

Oscar Brown, Jr.

Item 1.

Music is My Life, Politics My Mistress (Documentary Trailer)

There is a much better version of this trailer available at this site, along with plenty of facts and opportunities to participate in something great through spending.

Item 2.

Bid 'em In

Item 3.

I Apologize

Item 4.

This Beach


donnie l. betts speaks about Oscar Brown, Jr.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

She just couldn't stand to be away from Charles

Rest in pease, Brett Somers.

Nice tribute video here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Oh. Mine eyes and ears.

Yeah, there are so many things wrong with this video that it becomes right and then again wrong and repeatedly right and wrong until your guts are sick from stroboscopic sucking/nonsucking and you just succumb to a resignation of hopeless giveitupingness. Under no circumstances whatsoever should anyone, human, beast or robot, lay eyes on a viewing of this which I am about to provide a link to, for you NOT TO CLICK UPON. Ever.

Tesla - Walk Away (James Gang cover - Best Buy of Phoenix, June 5, 2007)

On the other hand, this totally kicks ass. And is recommended for all audiences.

Tesla - Space Truckin' (Deep Purple cover, oh yeah, same Phoenix place, baby, same Best Buy time, uh, also on June 5, 2007)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Typeface Personals Ads: Rejected submission to McSweeney's, 5/31/2000 (never submitted)

The Personals

“Good letters are rare. Most of the letters we see about us are ugly, inadequate, or erratic.”

Jan Tschichold, 1952

Computer screen humanist sans serif seeks modern sans serif with a light stroke contrast for conversation, friendship, smokers OK (Reply to box: Verdana)

Renaissance old style, standard among book designers and printers for four centuries, seeks Renaissance old style revival for output at all resolutions (Reply to box: Garamond)

Classical sans serif, simple, functional, famous, good listener, seeks a good bread-and-butter typeface for most jobs (Reply to box: Arial)

Transitional typeface, generous proportions, marked differences between fine and bold strokes, seeks explicitly classical typeface for serious relationship (Reply to box: Baskerville)

Pure, simple but not artificial sans serif, classical proportions, legible in text and display, seeks elegant, readable humanistic typeface, no serifs, drugs, fatties (reply to box: Gill Sans)

20th century humanistic serif typeface, beautiful, classical lines, seeks excellent text typeface to give sparkle to long text passages (Reply to box: Perpetua)

POSTSCRIPT: In a semi-related vein, this Typography Class project seems like a damn fun exercise, although those example personal ads are completely implausible (nobody is gonna spend the dough to say "If you have kids that is great," when they can just say, "You, kids? Great!" and save a bundle .... although it does occur to me that that shorthand is rife with dangers for misinterpretation ... Anyway, I did my "Typographic Personal Ads" goof first! And there's no subtextual tolerance for pedophilia at all in it! Sorry, Catholic Church.)

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Hey, dig this coincidence. Just two days ago, in one sitting, I finally up and read Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg's infamous novel Candy, after a couple of decades of meaning to do so, and just now I sees this on the Youtubes!

From one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century, Terry Southern (Screenwriter on Dr. Strangelove, Easy Rider, Candy, and the author of such novels as The Magic Christian and Blue Movie) comes a hard-hitting short script combining the author's satiric eye with his surrealist impulse first published in PLAYBOY in 1967. The Film will make its World Premiere at The Toronto International Film Festival 2007.

Terry Southern's Plums and Prunes Final Trailer

(Hm, I was born in 1967, so therefore Terry Southern is attempting to contact me from beyond the grave. His message: "You spend too much time fucking around on YouTube, asshole.")

Swedes Rock Thursday / Sports Suck ... also happening to be ... another feature of this blog offered tonight ... on a Thursday

Yeah, I swear I'm gonna write something someday. For now, hey, why not enjoy this Dungen veddeo? It's borkadelic!

Ta Det Lugnt (live arkoustic at someplace)

Whoa. Did I forget to warn you that you better get real stoned first? Sorry.

Meanwhile ... Hey hey! Wholly shit-a-shit! Much doubt about it! We have an ersatz pennant race going on in Chicago right now, on the North Side. Ersatz because ... despite hanging onto a share of first place by the skin of their late-inningly-porous teeth tonight, the Cubs suck with the suction of a thousand Wacky Wall Walkers. Or ... or ... or ... do they?

Just kidding. They totally do.

The Mountain Goats - Cubs in Five (live at Pitchfork 2006)