Monday, August 30, 2010

Things to Read, Drinks to Drink: Big Machine + Old Grand-Dad Old Fashioned

Big Machine + Old Grand-Dad Old Fashioned

Victor Lavalle's Big Machine is one of the strangest and most interesting novels I've read in a long time. It's got a bit of everything: kidnapping, drug and alcohol use and abuse, violence, mysticism, Unsolved Mystery-esque creepiness, terrorism, sewer exploration, love, aphephobia, a religious cult and murder, daddy issues, mommy issues, janitorial work, cats, and, of course, redemption.

And because a major character named Adele carries a bottle of Old Grand-Dad in her ubiquitous green handbag, I thought we'd explore that spirit a bit. Yup, it's bourbon as you may have guessed, but I hadn't known until I looked into it that the old dude on the bottle is none other than the famous distiller Basil Hayden (inventor of his eponymous, delicious bourbon).

Old Grand-Dad was originally distilled by Hayden's grandson, Raymond Hayden, though today the brand is owned and manufactured by the Jim Beam company. And because it's getting chillier at night and because Mad Men is back on AMC, I felt it only appropriate to suggest an Old Grand-Dad Old Fashioned. For this particular take on the Old Fashioned we're getting, well, sort of Old Fashioned. As opposed to other variations of the drink (using brandy, for instance, and giving a hard muddle to an orange slice and cherry, perhaps topping with soda water or lemon-lime soda: I've heard this referred to as a "Wisconsin Old Fashioned," which, given my experience tending bar in Wisconsin, seems to hold up), we are making ours Don Draper-style. And by "we" I mean, check out Jeffrey Morgenthaler from Clyde Common in Portland, OR. He's got this sucker down.

1/2 oz. of a 2:1 simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 wide swath of orange peel (muddled lightly)
2 oz. Old Grand-Dad Bourbon.

If you have good cherries, toss one in. But don't screw up your flavor profile with a gnarly bar cherry. Blech.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

If you're going to own an axe...

... you might as well own one that's aesthetically pleasing and that's crafted right here in the USA (built in Maine, stained/painted/packaged in NYC).

Regardless of their functionality (apparently, they work great!), Best Made's Axes are really, uh, pretty. There. I said it. These are some pretty, pretty axes. Perhaps I can use one to kill the materialist beast inside of me that keeps saying, "Perhaps you need an axe" (Oh, but that's a paradox, isn't it?)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Everything Changes Into Itself"

I just noticed that there is another artist on the Bruar Falls bill on September 6. It's a guy from the Twin Cities who goes by Aquarelle... and what a perfect moniker for this music! I was out on a pond in a kayak a few days ago, and this song floats me right back to those calm, undulating surfaces. The transition that begins to take hold slowly around the 6-minute mark is absolutely stunning... I can't wait to hear this stuff live in a couple of Mondays!

Aquarelle – "Everything Changes Into Itself":

As a reminder:


(245 Grand St., Brooklyn)

Yer Sweet Chimneys

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Where I'll Soon Be...

(from top: Katahdin from above via Google Earth; looking south via Google Earth; Great Basin, Mount Katahdin, Maine by Frederic Edwin Church; more Google Earth)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sadly, we've found a new monkey species just before we'll drive it to extinction

[Image: Javier García / Conservation International]

This frightened-looking fellow is a member of Callicebus caquetensis, a just-discovered species of titi monkey in the Colombian Amazon. Due to deforestation, there are only about 250 left. The cat-sized primate forms monogamous pairs and has a complex mating call.

(via New Scientist)

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On

Directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp
Marcel is voiced (untreated & unenhanced) by a genius named Jenny Slate
Written by Jenny Slate + Dean Fleischer-Camp

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

100 Records by Sonny Smith @ Cinders

Sonny Smith - 100 Records - Cinders

We've been stoked for the arrival of Sonny Smith's 100 Records project to Brooklyn since we first heard about it's opening in San Francisco this past spring.

During a residency at the Headlands Center for the Arts, Sonny dreamt up a number of (mostly) fictitious bands and musicians, fabricating entire personas, back-stories, and musical styles (reggae, new age folk, mute R&B, country spoken word, etc.). He also wrote 200 songs (A and B sides), inhabiting or summoning these characters, imagining and performing them into being.

The exhibit includes a jukebox containing all the songs, in addition to original jacket art for the hundred 7" singles, featuring contributions from visual artists like Ed Ruscha, Kyle Field, Chris Johanson, and Jovi Schnell...

The show opens this Thursday, August 12, at Cinders Gallery. There will be an opening reception, featuring a performance by Sonny himself, beginning at 7pm!

Sonny Smith - 100 Records
Chris Johanson - 100 Records

Cinders Gallery Presents:
“100 Records” by Sonny Smith
August 12th – September 5th 2010
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 12th, 7-10pm
Music performance by Sonny Smith at 7pm

Sonny and the Sunsets

Aviarios Del Caribe

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Her Name Was I Like It Like That"

This blog might turn into a Sonny and the Sunsets fan site for a few days, as we gear up for the arrival of Sonny Smith's 100 Records to Brooklyn next week (more on that later!). First off, here's a video for what is probably only my fifth or sixth favorite song from Tomorrow Is Alright (yeah, believe it or not, there are four or five tunes even better than this one!). Leave it to Sonny to write a song that splits the difference between Jonathan Richman and Cory McAbee's American Astronaut...

The video is by Teppei Ando:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Kurt Vonnegut in 2002

Here's an amazing lecture titled "How to Get Job Like Mine," given by Vonnegut upon receiving an honorary degree from Albion College in 2002. I tried to see Vonnegut speak one two occasions during his final years, not too long after this lecture. He had to cancel both appearances, due to health troubles if I remember correctly. I'll forever regret never seeing him in person. I picked one of his nonfiction books off the shelf a few weeks ago to peruse (I think it was his final work, A Man Without A Country). His Midwestern wit and lucid insight, his kindness and depth and wonderment... he's surely up in heaven now (watch part 2 below if you don't immediately get that joke).

[I have to say, though, I disagree with him regarding semicolons; I use them a lot.]

Helen McAllister

(photo by NLB)