Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Slow News Day?

Not here in the Land of Lincoln. Pat Quinn tees of on Governor Sound Byte's announcement appointing Roland Burris to President-elect Obama's vacant Senate seat.

The longer this drags out, however, the more I worry about politics in general in Illinois:

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our Dumb Winter Continues

Thanks, CTA. I was a half-hour late for work today because of your antiquated PA system that screeches instead of announces that the Purple Line wasn't running to downtown.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Better Late Than Never

I only play these songs once a year, so going through and selecting a holiday playlist can be a chore. And I wasn't going to put up a playlist this year, but Sunday's trip to the Music Box for the sing-a-long and the way we commandeered "White Christmas" by singing the Jordanaires harmonies a la Elvis Presley's version re-inspired me.

So, in the spirit of the season, here is something that, given some of the song titles, I've ironically titled "Holiday Cheer 2K8." Enjoy:

Leadbelly - "On A Christmas Day"
Julia Lee and Her Boyfriends - "Christmas Spirits"
Vince Guaraldi - "Skate"
The Fleshtones - "Super Rock Santa"
The Rev, J.M. Gates - Did You Spend Christmas In Jail
Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn - "Put One Foot In Front of the Other"
Clyde Lasley - "Santa Came Home Drunk"
Fats Domino - "I Told Santa Claus"
Big Joe Turner - "Christmas Boogie"
Mae West - "Put the Loot in the Boot"
Rev. Edward W. Clayborn - "The Wrong Way to Celebrate Christmas"
Binky Griptite & the Dee-Kays - "Stone Soul Christmas"
Eddy Arnold - "Will Santy Come to Shanty Town"
Donny Burns - "Cool Yule"
Binky Griptite & the Dee-Kays - "World of Love"
Rev. A.W. Nix - "Death Might Be Your Christmas"
Otis Redding - "White Christmas"

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Warm It Up A Bit, Would You?

Shit's winding down here. So to all of you who check in, to new people I've met, old friends I've reconnected with and eve you anonymous types who like to leave comments that won't possibly be posted here, have a happy and safe holidays.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flexing Some Ignored Muscles

Back when I threw my hat in the ring when Chicagoist made a call for new writers, I wasn't certain which section of the site I should try out for. I had no basic knowledge of food writing at the time, but I could break down the taste profile for a beer, wine or spirit like no one's business. Working at HotHouse also gave me a crash course in jazz, Latin, international and improvised music that I was putting to good use interviewing artists and reviewing albums and concerts for Jazz Review, but I didn't think that there would be an audience for it on the site.

So I made my decision with the flip of a coin: heads for music, tails for food and drink. The decision turned out to be great. I was a quick study on the beat and was able to file the occasional jazz and world music review when needed. This spring a new freelance opportunity came up that I again left to the flip of a coin, along with some research and waffling.

An investment firm called PEAK6 is attempting to combine investment advice with social networking via a start-up website called WeSeed. Think of it as for the novice investor. WeSeed is trying to make show users that the interests in your life can be great investment tools (e.g. if you're an avid cyclist, you can research and then invest in companies like Trek, Cannondale and Pearl Izumi with some level of information).

An old acquaintance I knew through wine circles was hired to help launch the site and she had me in mind to write about food and drink-related issues. I immediately agreed, then changed my mind after looking at their practice site, a Wordpress shadow page with some extremely cliched writing geared more for SEO than the unique page views that now drive the most successful web sites. My friend pled her case and I started to do some research on PEAK6 thanks to my old friend Chris McMahon, who's Associate Editor at Futures Magazine. Chris vouched for PEAK6's ability to make sound investments for their clients in what was then just starting to become a recession economy and surmised that, if they were backing WeSeed, they weren't intending to see it fail.

So I went back with a tucked tail and asked if there was still room for me. I was told that there was a music spot available. I wasn't sure if it would be a good fit; I hadn't written extensively about music in years. But I accepted and immediately recognized that my musical interests could find a decent audience, and I could expand my own freelance opportunities past food and drink in the process. PEAK6 showed they were serious by hiring former Time Out Chicago editor Joel Reese to helm in the associate editors they hired. I was a big fan of Joel's editing at TOC, and both Scott and former Chicagoist editor Margaret Lyons had nothing but great things to say about him. So, with these two folks now at WeSeed, I resolved to turn in the best possible articles I can for them. Check it out for yourself.

Now if I can only take some time to sit down and create my own "Port-Foli-You."

The picture above is of classic Southern Soul singer Swamp Dogg. I'll probably be writing about him later.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Priced to Move...

Never heard of Zina Saunders until I saw this at Crooks and Liars, but she captures the mess involving Governor Soundbyte perfectly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Was It Santa Marghaerita?

Received this text from a friend while I was dining on that at Frontera last night:

"In a sea of cheap pinot grigio. Ew! U have Spoild me."

Trying to keep a cold at bay so I can enjoy corn dogs, quesadillas and bowling at the company Christmas Party tomorrow.

I spoil myself.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Soul Santa

Daptone Records just put up their monthly podcast. This month they're featuring holiday music. The link the ever-resourceful Matt Wood linked to on Twitter redirected to iTunes. I don't use iTunes for podcast feeds; the load time and coding is proprietary only for iTunes. I use Winamp's SHOUTCAST subscription service for my podcasts. So I googled "Daptone Jukebox feed" and found this for anyone who also wants to download this without having to go through iTunes (link).

And now, the tracklisting:

1. Jing Jing A Ling ~ Honey and the Bees (Chess)
2. Merry Christmas, Baby ~ Otis Redding (Atco)
3. This Christmas~ Donny Hathaway (Atco)
4. Stevie Wonder Drop (Motown)
5. Snowflakes~ Betty Lloyd (Thomas)
6. What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas? ~ The Emotions (Volt)
7. The Gift of Giving ~ Bill Withers (Sussex)
8. Eddie Kendricks drop (Motown)
9. Soul Santa~ Funk Machine (Creative Funk)
10. Silent Night Chant~ Rotary Connection (Cadet Concept)
11. Christmas in Vietnam~ Private Charles Bowen (Rojac)
12. Let's Make This Christmas mean Something This Year ~ James Brown (King)
13. Without The One You Love ~ The O'Jays (Neptune)
14. Gwendolyn Berry (The Sisters Love) Drop
15. Let's Get It Together This Christmas ~ Harvey Averne Band (Fania)
16. Gee Whiz, It's Christmas ~ Carla Thomas (Atlantic)
17. Back Door Santa~ Clarence Carter (Atlantic)
18. I Wanna Spend Christmas With You ~ Lowell Fulsom (Kent)
19. Mr. Santa Claus (Bring Me My Baby)~ Nathaniel Mayer (Munster)
20. It's That Time of the Year ~ The Manhattans (Starfire)
21. Santa's Got A Bag of Soul ~ The Soul Saints Orch. (Jazzman)
22. Pull My Sled ~ Raindeer Runners (Soul Fire)
23. Merry Christmas Baby ~ Charles Brown & Johnny Moore's 3 Blazers (Hollywood)
24. Smokey Robinson Drop

That's the "No, my brother; you got to get your own" Christmas music mix.

Friday, December 05, 2008

"Go Navy (Bet on Army)"

That was my motto when I served. Twenty years ago, Navy didn't field good teams. While I would always don colors and root for the Mids, I usually placed a bet on Army to cover the spread. They usually did; the winnings went verrrrry far in Montreal one summer.

"I, (State your name), swear to sign away 4 years of my otherwise mediocre life to the UNITED STATES ARMY because I couldn't score high enough on the ASVAB to get into the Air Force, I'm not tough enough for the Marines, and the Navy won't take me because I can't swim. I will wear camouflage every day and tuck my trousers into my boots because I can't figure out how to use blousing straps. I promise to wear my uniform 24 hours a day even when I have a date. I will continue to tell myself that I am a fierce killing machine because my Drill Sergeant told me I am, despite the fact that the only action I will see is a court-martial for sexual harassment. I acknowledge the fact that I will make E-8 in my first year of service, and vow to maintain that it is because I scored perfect on my PT test. After completion of my mean "Basic Training," I will attend a different Army school every other month and return knowing less than I did when I left. On my first trip home after Boot Camp, I will walk around like I am cool and propose to my 9th grade sweetheart. I will make my wife stay home because if I let her out she might leave me for a better-looking Air Force guy. Should she leave me twelve times, I will continue to take her back. While at work I will maintain a look of knowledge while getting absolutely nothing accomplished. I will arrive to work every day at 1000 hrs because of morning PT and leave everyday at 1300 to report back to "COMPANY." I understand that I will undergo no training whatsoever that will help me get a job upon separation, and will end up working construction with my friends from high school. I will brag to everyone about the Army giving me $30,000 for college, but will be unable to use it because I can't pass a placement exam.

So Help Me God!"


Lest you think I'm picking only on Army...


"I, Top Gun, in lieu of going to prison, swear to sign away 4 years of my life to the UNITED STATES NAVY, because I want to hang out with Marines without actually having to BE one of them, because I thought the Air Force was too "corporate," because I didn't want to actually live in dirt like the Army, and because I thought, "Hey, I like to swim...why not?" I promise to wear clothes that went out of style in 1976 and to have my name stenciled on the butt of every pair of pants I own. I understand that I will be mistaken for the Good Humor Man during summer,! and for Nazi Waffen SS during the winter. I will strive to use a different language than the rest of the English-speaking world, using words like "deck, bulkhead, cover, geedunk, scuttlebutt, scuttle and head," when I really mean "floor, wall, hat, candy, water fountain, hole in wall and toilet." I will take great pride in the fact that all Navy acronyms, rank, and insignia, and everything else for that matter, are completely different from the other services and make absolutely no sense whatsoever. I will muster, whatever that is, at 0700 every morning unless I am buddy-buddy with the Chief, in which case I will show up around 0930. I vow to hone my coffee cup-handling skills to the point that I can stand up in a kayak being tossed around in a typhoon, and still not spill a drop. I consent to being promoted and subsequently busted at least twice per fiscal year. I realize that, once selected for Chief, I am required to submit myself to the sick, and quite possibly illegal, whims of my newfound "colleagues."

So Help Me Neptune!"