The Canadian Club











{January 17, 2010}   Delhi-cious

Some tomb somewhere in Delhi

You were right, Dave.  This India country is pretty good.  Who knew you’re supposed to find the girl before obsessing about the country?  I suppose the last twenty years of my life would have unfolded quite differently if someone had told me then.  Not that I’m complaining about how things have worked out…

So my prolonged spell of romancing under the radar may have spared your highly functioning gag reflex for the past couple of weeks — though I do feel somewhat remiss about not providing a running commentary — but believe me, I sure tested mine.  Let me just say, I don’t plan on eating paan again anytime in this life.  Just remembering the texture as my teeth pierced through an assemblage of unknown ingredients, some of which were sweet and gooey and others savory and crunchy, all bundled in the tough betel leaf, sends shivers of disgust through my body.  Maybe had I, like you, known about something else for which India is famous, I might not have been so eager to seize the opportunity to try this common, local treat.  And the worst part is, I could tell, watching the man dip his fingers into various bags of unspecified spices and swab the leaf with unspecified salmon and maroon colored jellies that this spelled certain doom — that first big test of constitution when one travels abroad.

As it was, I was laid out for two days with severe chills and mild nausea.  Sure, that was bad, but at least it afforded me the opportunity to engage in two of my favorite activities:  puking and watching crap television.

Despite puking my guts out, I still managed to put on about 20 pounds.  Perhaps it’s because most of the Punjabi-style food served in Delhi is dripping with either butter or ghee.  Or perhaps it’s due to the sheer excellence of Bengali home-cooking. Just to offer you a glimpse into my heaven:  amazing aloo ghobi, saag with fenugrek and potatoes, mutton curry, deep fried eggplant, fried bitter melon, and, of course, fish in mustard curry.

The essential Bengali ingredient

Of course, the highlight of Bengali dining is not only the flavors — and it’s amazing what one can do with just turmeric — but also using one’s fingers.  I may not have learned how to cook during my stay, but, importantly, I retained how to say, “It’s good” in Bangla and managed to eat dal, rice, fish, and most everything else with my fingers.  It’s a very simple process of mashing things together — this is especially fun when there is potato — using three fingers as a scoop, and then one’s thumb serves to push the mashed food from scoop to mouth.  The rewards for this are yellow fingernails and a totally unselfconscious eating experience.  You will be surprised to know that I didn’t even need a finger bowl of lemon water, although these were offered at restaurants after the meal.  However, the feeling of being messy may have been a factor in how quickly I would eat everything.  While one can give up the idea of wiping one’s hands for a full meal, the salutary napkin and thorough handwashing at the end are always something to look forward to for this guy.

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Well, Dave, the 7th Chokra of Ganeesha has been eclipsed by the night lotus for the past 5 flights of the bulbuli.  Or, for those of you who don’t speak Hindu, the network here has been down for the past five days.

Nevertheless, I wanted to make a brief surfacing to show how deeply I have penetrated the quotidian of this seemingly complex and layered culture by sharing this beautiful masterpiece of Indian art.

Indeed, here — as in all cultural manifestations of the aughts — it’s all about the geek getting the hot girl.

Now, off to the Taj Mahal!



What the kids are wearing now

What the kids were wearing then

I appreciate your concern for the health of my gag reflex, Russ, and I’m happy to report that it’s working splendidly.  No danger of consuming anything posing an obvious choking or poisoning hazard here, my friend, because I know for certain that I have no problem puking when puking is called for.  So yeah, you can quit it already with the VOMIT-INDUCING Facebook PDA in good conscience, knowing that your efforts have not been wasted.

Speaking of which, how’s India?  A little ironic that you’re there and I’m not, seeing as how I’ve always wanted to go to India, have been fascinated by Indian culture and religion and you — well, let’s just say that historically, you haven’t.  Take some pics for me, why dontcha?

Alright already, on to topics of more general interest (“HA!” says the Viennese man who stumbled on our blog while looking for Gerhard Richter jpegs).  I agree that we are due to post our various Best Things of the Aughts.  I had, in fact, been giving the topic a good thinking over prior to reading your post.  I’m trying to take myself back to the dawn of the millennium so I might better recall all the miraculous changes and improvements to my daily life that have since occurred, but it’s all a little hazy.  Lots and lots of time in a beautiful, if somewhat dilapidated painting studio at Penn.  An obscenely cheap apartment — seriously, I think it was $450 a month  — that was sort of collapsing around us, but was on a super-nice block in a great part of town.  It really is true that you get a little nostalgic for the shitty places you’ve lived once you start moving up in the world, isn’t it?

OK, so in the spirit of getting with the spirit, I’ll begin by offering up some of my favorite things from the Aughts.

1) TV

OMFG.  And I thought that the 90’s were the Golden Age of television, but then this decade came along.  Here is just a partial list of TV’s Aught Awesomeness — I’m sure that you have more to add.  The Sopranos*, The Wire, Deadwood, Freaks and Geeks, Undeclared, Lost, Gilmore Girls, Battlestar Galactica*, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office (both of them), Arrested Development, Veronica Mars, Mad Men, 30 Rock, Mythbusters, Glee…  An embarrassment of riches, right, Russ?  TV is no longer merely superior to being alone with your thoughts except for the hour or two a week when the show you care about is on — it’s where the action is.  Saying “I don’t watch TV” now is like saying, “I don’t read novels”.  An amusingly quirky comment when uttered by the right sort of eccentric, but certainly not a sign of intellectual superiority.

(*overrated, but still good.)

2) OBAMA.  Frak the haters.  We’ve dreamed about electing someone this awesome since we could vote.  We thought it would be Clinton.  We waited, we canvassed, we went to 2000 Gore “Victory” parties (the memory of which still make us a little teary).  We got a health care bill, you lunatic lefties, so just shut up because I LOVE HIM AND STILL CAN’T BELIEVE HE’S OURS.

3) Teleportation.  I don’t get it, but I think it’s gotta be good.

Um, I’ll think of more stuff later.  100 things is a lot, Russ.

No live action video for this one.  Sorry folks.



{January 1, 2010}   Plus ça change…

Luann

Well, Dave, here it is, the big 2010 — and I’m still working hard testing everyone’s gag reflex.  Let’s just say, I’ve soooooo been there!

Right now, ‘there’ is Dubai, where I’m chillin’ at the airport.  Man, this airport — free Internet and all — is a fancy gem, worth the trip all in itself.  It would be better without the fleck of spittle that just hit my eye from the hacking fellow traveler lounging next to me.  Dude, does he not see all the signs about A(H1N1) at the transfer points?  Next time, I’m coming here before X-mas, since it is the ideal place to shop for gifts… But, I have to say, I’m a bit

Anyway, so they’re saying it’s a new decade — which brings me to my thoughts about the aughts… So, Dave, if you were going to make a list of the top 100 things from the past decade, what would you put on it?  Isn’t making lists what blogs are for?

I was going to put the great accomplishment of grafting an ear onto a mouse… but then I discovered that that happened in the 90s.  So, isn’t there anything we can feel good about from the past ten years?

Well, since we’re — and by we, I mean me — in Dubai today, let me offer up the Palm Islands as one of the things we — and by we, I mean people — can be proud of from the 00s!





{October 30, 2009}   I feel it coming together

hollywood-sign-address1

Hmm.  Those are some good ideas you’ve thrown out there, Russ, but I’m not sure that they would pass muster under the Academic Integrity Guidelines at Overlord Academy — which state, uh, something about how you can’t submit the same work for two classes, blah blah blah.  I wasn’t really paying much attention at that meeting, to be honest.  But seeing as how you already have to read Stendahl for your job, isn’t that, like, totally no fair?  Why don’t we both set out to do some long, quasi-conceptual sweatshirt project so that I can be the one who gets to coast on my already-established interests?

Actually, since I was thinking that a movie deal would have to involve some kind of personal conflict and redemption arc, there may be cinema gold to be found here in this little disagreement over what kind of wizards we should be.  So how about this:  a movie based on a book based on a blog about what we should be blogging about!  I know, right?  Kind of like Adaptation, or some other movie that probably came out after I stopped watching movies.

So that’s a little too risky, you say?  Well, then, I’ve got other ideas, and plenty of them.  The more conventional story arcs  involve either a buddy theme (I’d say a road trip, but hasn’t that been done to death?) or a quirky Facebook/Twitter/whatever-era rom com thingie.  I realize I’d have to be a secondary character in the rom com, since, dedicated as I am to this undertaking, I’m not quite ready to abandon my spouse and kid in pursuit of even an inevitable and ultra-lucrative book/movie deal.  In fact, I might even prefer being a snappy sidekick or wingman character.  The only question is, am I more this type or this type?

That was a trick question, of course, since everybody knows I am both those people rolled into one.

Anyway, the more I think about it, the more certain I am that if our blogging experience helps you find True Love with your own MPDG, our path to fame and fortune will be a smooth one.  Also, you know how obsessed I am with internet dating, so maybe that could figure into the mix somehow.  Oooh, oooh, I know, I know!  We set up some situation where, like, you have an internet dating profile and I somehow, like, pick the girls?  Or something?  And it somehow has to do with our blog?  I’m a little fuzzy on the details, and maybe it’s just the old-fashioneds talking, but I have this gut feeling that this could work.  Maybe as a reality show?

God, we’re amazing when we put our heads together.  That expensive education of ours really paid off, Russ.

Am I right or am I right?



{October 27, 2009}   While we’re on the subject…


Just something on my mind…





{October 23, 2009}   I heart boomers

betty draper

What a treat, Russ, to find your posts this morning.

First things first.  OMG, OMG, OMG, I totally didn’t make the MPDG connection on Mad Men, but you are so right!  It seems pretty clear that this is not going to end well for Don.  There have been so many signals about her reluctance to conform (running!?!) to the kind of tightly defined expectations of Don’s generation that I’m starting to fear that the show might be headed somewhere silly.  Here’s hoping that Mad Men doesn’t go off the rails.  I think you’re right (but maybe this is just my bias?) that Miss Farrell is acting a part just as much as Don or Joan or any of the other characters, and that she isn’t going to serve as the natural, uncorrupted, boomer-triumphalist fantasy girl.  Or if she is, that won’t necessarily be a good thing.  I guess I sort of agree with the idea that Mad Men is showing us why the 60’s had to happen, but not in the sense that they had to happen for moral reasons, as the dirty hippies would assert.  (It’s sort of stunning, actually, that so many boomers are still stuck on the narrative that they were the Great Liberators who saved us from the Cheesy Fakery of the Eisenhower era.)  Anyway, I think the show is more about examining how all those seeds of discontent were sown long before the boomers decided to save the world than it is about some kind of simplistic generational contrast, don’t you think?

As for Betty Draper… We discussed her character’s evolution a while back, and how the show has once again started to portray her  in a sympathetic light.  I think that they’ve done amazing things with her this season, especially given how cruel the writing in the first few episodes was to her character.  She seemed so petulant and so self-absorbed, didn’t she?  And then, suddenly, we see her in “Souvenir,” capable and clever and completely in her element, and we’re reminded of why she is so miserable. I’m really excited by the idea that she might wind up living a very different life in ten years.

But what is going to happen to my beloved Sal?

sal



A show with something for everyone.

A show with something for everyone.

Russ, are we ever going to talk about Mad Men again?



{October 22, 2009}   It’s safe alright!

Nothing wrong with a little heart attack.

By the way, what’s up with Luann?  Does she really listen to Metallica?  Is she trying to turn us all into Maoists, too?

Luann

UPDATE:  Et tu, Nate! The librul propaganda on our comics pages continues…
Big Nate



{October 21, 2009}   Dying the heat death
pretty colors make us live long

pretty colors make us live long

To be honest, Dave, these questions have just never come to mind.  I have just never spent sixteen hours straight in a haze of suffering, seeking resources within myself to arrive at a point where I could either eat, write or read something edifying and that would advance me to those carrots of which donkeys so often bray.  So, I’m gonna have to give it some thought and get back to you later in the day, once I’m done rolling through the prestigious and linear investigations that must occupy the next few hours of my time.

With that, however, I leave you with one small question.  Which do you think is better:  This video, or watching one of the better episodes of the Avengers (Diana Rigg edition) while eating gelato at Capogiro?



{October 20, 2009}   It’s ON!

Just so everybody is clear about this.



{October 18, 2009}   The English Beat rule

TwoToneWell, Dave, no surprises here. After careful review of the entirety of the lyrics, it does indeed seem to be about a guy with a wandering eye.  To think that all these years, while identifying and savoring the simple beauty of specific lines (for example, “rings but none on that finger” and “words like conviction can turn into a sentence”) that capture concrete sentiments, I had never once put everything together into this narrative of frustrated infidelity. It figures, though.  Along with Pete Shelley, I think the Roger and Wakeling team have always had a knack for combining swell melodies with polished yet unassuming words that unearth rich emotional truths (e.g. “I’m in love again. This time’s true I’m sure.“). And somehow, I was always under the impression that Tenderness was just a variation on the theme of the self-deprecating and timorous romantic so aptly described in Too Nice to Talk To.

While, earlier in the day, I may have disagreed with you about whether or not Tenderness (from 1984) is the greatest single in history — I would have offered up this or that as evidence to the contrary — I think the fact that it has been stuck in my mind since it first came out clearly persuades me to align with your opinion.  And that is without even mentioning the hard and fast English Beat ruleEverything anybody from the English Beat was ever involved in is flawless.

Although… what’s with Dave Wakeling touring as the English Beat these days?

As for your concern about the lyrics from Tenderness on your Facebook profile, I think there’s a good argument for great lyrics to be taken on their own without having to assume their context… Just to prove the point, I have now revised my Facebook profile to include lyrics from The English Beat’s “auto-erotic” song Hit It:

And, frankly, I don’t find it embarrassing at all.

Speaking of embarrassing, what’s up with Andy Capp becoming a beer snob all of a sudden?!?
Andy Capp



{October 18, 2009}  

First off, props to “cheezburger” for the subtle yet heady commentary.  Keep ’em coming, buddy.

rad

Now, for today’s questions.  I’d like to try something a little different.  For the first part of our assignment, we will watch a short video.

OK, got that, everyone?  Now, I think we can all agree that this is the single greatest pop single of the 80’s — and possibly of all time.  Today’s questions have to do with the song’s content.

I don’t know when to start or when to stop
My luck’s like a button
I can’t stop pushing it
My head feels light
But I’m still in the dark
Seems like without tenderness there’s something missing
Tenderness
Where is the
Tenderness
Where is it?

I don’t know where I am but I know I don’t like it
I open my mouth and out pops something spiteful
Words are so cheap, but they can turn out expensive
Words like conviction can turn into a sentence

I held your hands
Rings but none on that finger
We danced and danced
But I was scared to go much further with it
Just half a chance
Make sure that one night you’re here,
But next night you’re not
It always leaves me searching for a little

Tenderness
Where is the
Tenderness
Where is the
Tenderness?

Whistling in the graveyard
Calling up your girlfriend
Just trying to make her understand
You’re squeezing the telephone like it was her hand
No question (so many questions)
She’s going to catch you out boy
It all seems so underhand
Now she’s the only thing that ever made you feel like a man, man
Madman, madman

Tenderness
Where is the
Tenderness
Tenderness
Tenderness
Where is it?

I held your hands
Rings but none on that finger
We danced and danced
But I was scared to go much further with it
Just half a chance
Make sure that one night you’re here,
But next night you’re not
It always leaves me searching for a little

Tenderness
Where is the
Tenderness?

I’m just sick to death of second best, pet
Why should the morning always find you unimpressed?
Is your love like a button?
You can’t stop pushing it?
Oh this all night longing can be such a long time

What is this song about?  Is this a guy who’s thinking about cheating on his lady friend?  Let me know.  Because if that’s what we think it’s about, I should probably change my Facebook profile, right?



{October 17, 2009}   Speaking of kudos…


et cetera