Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best Albums of 2008

Music lives inside all of us and it’s terribly personal. You would be safer telling someone they have an ugly child instead of expressing your disdain for one of their favorite artists. One person’s trash is another treasure and there is often no rhyme or reason why we love certain songs and throw a cold shoulder at others.

It’s December and it’s that time of year again when we sharpen our pencils and attempt to break down the best in the year’s music. Many of my friends are forgoing Best Album lists in lieu of singles, which isn’t a bad idea but I still love the idea of an album and how it can tell you a thematic story. I will begin the list of singles for a future post.

I believe the following collections of songs below are cinematic in their scope revealing widescreen stories and harmonies that are best served in 45-minute installments. Now, as I look over my list, I’m surprised to see very mainstream titles. I listened to a lot of music in the last year and while certain songs and artists may have awoken an interest, their overall albums didn’t impress. What you will read below are albums that I listened to regularly and without interruption (for the most part) over the course of 2008. I paid no attention to what’s cool or hip, I merely broke down a few albums ( yes, I still call them albums) that spoke to my soul continually over the last twelve months. I can only hope that one of you find a couple treasures in the list below.

Fall Out Boy - Folie à Deux

I tried not to like this at first. The Chicago EMO band expands their boundaries on their least personal, but most daring record to date. Say what you want to about Fall Out Boy, but being this good isn’t easy and there’s a reason they stand atop the EMO mountain with their power-pop hooks and memorable ringers that should not be confined to any genre. Look no further than the soulful and sprinting “(Coffee’s For Closers)” with a wondrous guest vocal by Elvis Costello who surprisingly melds perfectly with their brand of ebullient power pop; that in itself speaks volumes.What the hell happened to Rock and Roll?

"I Don't Care"

The Rolling Stones - Shine A Light

After decades of releasing a slew of good (but not great) live albums (Stripped aside) the band delivers a document of why they are still the baddest and best rock band on the planet. The soundtrack to the Martin Scorsese film shines a light (pun intended) on old warhorses that still sound vital (“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”), a few forgotten gems (“Faraway Eyes” & “She Was Hot”) and a few unearthed gems with distinguished guests (“Champagne and Reefer” with Buddy Guy & “Loving Cup” with Jack White). Listening to this band in an intimate setting made me recognize just how damn good these guys are at what they do. Bands half of their age don’t sound this good.

"Promotional Trailer for Shine a Light"

The Fireman (Paul McCartney)-Electric Arguments

McCartney’s two previous Fireman recordings did not utilize his vocals, but this one finds McCartney pushing his boundaries like never before. Beneath Youth’s electrical tones is that voice that changed a generation. For an experimental record, this one oozes gorgeous melodies and beats that find harmony together. Macca should have released this under his own name as it deserves to be hear by many more than have heard it to date.

"Sing the Changes"


Showcasing a voice that could bring men and women to their knees pleading for mercy, Duffy doesn’t just deliver on arguably the single of the year, “Mercy”, but on the entire ten-song affair. Her voice crawls under your skin and won’t leave until you’ve given it at least a dozen chances. Evoking nostalgic soul, rock and blues, Duffy has created a record that will continue to grow for years to come and I have a feeling future releases will equally impress leaving us all begging for “Mercy”.


R.E.M. – Accelerate

What happens when rock writers and critics cry wolf one too many times? Ever since 1994’s Monster every R.E.M. record has been deemed a “return to form” and while the last fifteen years have had its share of highlights from R.E.M., all of their albums have had a alienating feeling where they are attempting to be something they are not. On Accelerate’s raucous opening of “Living Well Is the Best Revenge”, its immediately evident the monster is reborn. Over a brief and roaring 36-minutes, R.E.M. proves to be a lean and mean fighting machine as they wail back with vengeance. Accelerate is everything a R.E.M. record should be; rocking, revealing and resounding. It’s a shame that so many writers overshot the so-called return to form over the last fifteen-years and sadly most fans have heard this story one too many times and opted out of what truly is R.E.M.’s best post Automatic record. Instead of trying to be different for the sake of being different or forcing what they thought was their classic sound, they looked inward, became spontaneous and made a truly classic R.E.M record.

"Accellerate Album Preview"

The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound

Perhaps it was Chuck Berry who first successfully combined these disparate elements in a rock'n'roll song. He's been followed by the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Bruce Springsteen, Social Distortion and the Hold Steady. Add the Gaslight Anthem to that distinctive list.

I'm just one of thousands who have fallen hard for the band this year. I was actually disappointed when I first heard "The '59 Sound" on commercial radio. I selfishly wanted the band to myself for a while; I'm angry that I hadn't discovered them a year or two ago. The New Jersey-based quartet is clearly the breakout rock act of 2008.

How could I resist "Miles Davis & the Cool"? In addition to the explicit reference of the title, the song alludes to Otis Redding, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello. The '59Sound is loaded with similarly memorable anthems.

"The '59 Sound"

The Hold Steady – Stay Positive

The Hold Steady’ are a band I only really got into with the success of their last album ‘Boys and Girls in America’ which was a fantastic showcase of their talents and great gateway that led me into more of their older stuff which is also fantastic. ‘Stay Positive’ their newest full length echoes the classic rock and roll sound of their earlier work but manages to stay fresh with some subtle and not so subtle changes, all in all it’s a fantastic album.

"Sequestered in Memphis" Live

Monday, December 29, 2008

Make Your Own Bacon

The holidays have been a crazy time but hopefully you and I are back in some sort of routine. I was traveling most of December so it has been difficult to update on a regular basis. It was great to get back home and spend the holidays with the family.

A quieter Christmas this year made everyone apprciate the holidays more, I think.

Anyway, I came across this over the break. Alton Brown has a recipe called Scrap Iron Chef's Bacon.

He made a cold smoker out of three book lockers/gym lockers, flexible tubing used for venting a dryer, a fan from an old computer connected to a battery, some alumimun foil, a cast iron skillet and some wood chips for smoke. He used a Polder digital thermometer to make sure the temperature was monitored. He advised not let the temp in the smoking chamber rise above 80 degrees. He is the MacGyver of food.

If you've never watched an Alton Brown episode of Good Eats, check it out some time on Food Network.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Rubber Soul Sessions

1: Run For Your Life - take 1 (Studio Sessions+A Day In The Life)
2: Run For Your Life - take 5 (from me you you+Arrive Without Aging)
3: This Bird Has Flown (Norwegian Wood) - take 1 (TMODM+More Masters)
4: Day Tripper - take 1 (Studio Sessions)
5: Day Tripper - take 2 (Studio Sessions)
6: Day Tripper - take 3 (Studio Sessions)
7: In My Life - take 3 organ overdub (from me to you)
8: We Can Work It Out - take 1 (Studio Sessions)
9: We Can Work It Out - take 2 (SS +Arrive Without Aging)
10: This Bird Has Flown (Norwegian Wood) - take 2 (Turn Me On Dead Man)
11: Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - take 4 (URT 2 + More Masters)
12: In My Life - take 3 piano overdub, original speed (created from As It Happened, Baby!)
13: In My Life - take 3 piano overdub (As It Happened, Baby!)
14: Nowhere Man - take 3 (remixed from Yellow Submarine DVD)
15: I’m Looking Through You - take 1 (Ultra Rare Trax vol. 1)
16: We Can Work It Out - take 2 + overdubs (Studio Sessions)
17: 12 Bar Original - take 1 (Turn Me On Dead Man)
18: 12 Bar Original - take 2 (TMODM + Arrive Without Aging)
19: 12 Bar Original - rehearsal (Arrive Without Aging)
20: I’m Looking Through You - take 4 (Another Sessions Plus)
21: Girl - take 2 - instrumental monitor mix (Miscellaneous Tracks)
22: Think For Yourself - studio session (Miscellaneous Tracks 2005)

Alternate mixes:
23: This Bird Has Flown (Norwegian Wood) - take 1 (Another Sessions Plus)
24: Day Tripper - take 3 (As It Happened, Baby!)
25: In My Life - complete, with alternate solo (RS mono + from me to you)
26: I’m Looking Through You - take 1 (Anthology 2)
27: I’m Looking Through You - take 1 (Abbey Road Video Show)


Friday, December 12, 2008


Call me a little slow, but I just this morning heard (on CNN, of all places – not my usual source for music news) that Pearl Jam is planning on re-releasing their classic debut album, Ten, next year.

I verified the info with Pearl Jam’s Website, and also learned the re-release will contain a host of goodies to accompany the remastered disk: Among other items, you’ll get a DVD of a previously unreleased 1992 MTV Unplugged performance; an LP of the band’s 1992 “Drop in the Park” concert; and a replica of Pearl Jam’s three-song demo cassette with Eddie Vedder’s original vocal dubs. Pretty cool, huh?

The package will be issued in four expanded editions and will go on sale March 24, 2009. You can pre-order now if you’re a member of the Ten Club. The reissue of Ten serves as the launch of a planned two-year catalogue re-release campaign leading up to the band’s 20th anniversary in 2011.

Some Ten trivia, which you probably already know if you’re any sort of fan: Pearl Jam's original name was taken from the professional basketball player Mookie Blaylock. It was changed after the band signed to Epic Records, as record executives were concerned about intellectual property and naming rights following Blaylock's inking of an endorsement deal with Nike. In commemoration of the band's original name, the band titled its first album Ten after Blaylock's jersey number.

For tonight’s music, I pulled a few tracks from a recording of the Nov. 30, 1993, show at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas, Nev. In keeping with the theme of the Ten re-release, I’m just posting the tracks from that album. I’ve had this recording forever, so I’m not sure of the source. Nonetheless, the sound is really good. And you’ve gotta check this version of “Black.” Incredible.

Even Flow.mp3

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Billy Joel: Long Island University 1977

This is a fine Billy Joel concert, performance and sound quality-wise. You really get a feeling of comfort and appreciation in the venue and from the audience. The text file that came with the source recording claims it may be a preFM recording, which is certainly the most probable suggestion, henceforth, I listed it as such.
There is a wealth of low end on this recording, which is typical of a preFM source. Unfortunately, it is a little distracting and buries the vocals and other mid-high frequency elements somewhat. I have drastically altered the low-mid range frequency response of the recording and re-balanced the channels which were not in sync with each other. The recording now sounds bright and clear and ultimately, in my opinion, better. This one is for even the casual Billy Joel fan like myself, enjoy!

1. Miami 2017
2. Somewhere Along the Line
3. Summer, Highland Falls
4. Piano Man
5. Scenes From an Italian Restaurant
6. James
7. Angry Young Man
8. New York State of Mind
9. Traveling Prayer
10. Traveling Prayer cont.
11. Just the Way You Are
12. The Entertainer
13. You Are My Home

Disc 2
1. Root Beer Rag
2. She's Got A Way
3. The Ballad Of Billy The Kid
4. I’ve Loved These Days
5. Captain Jack
6. Worse Comes to Worse
7. Ain’t No Crime
8. Say Goodbye to Hollywood
9. Weekend Song
10. Souvenir

TOTAL RUNTIME: 1hr 44mins 9 secs


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chinese Democracy

It’s a brave blogger who’s gonna post anything from 'Chinese Democracy'.

Or a stupid one.

But being neither of those things myself, I’m afraid you’re not going to find any Guns N Roses here. I couldn’t however let the release of Axl’s magnum opus pass without a few words.

So how do you sum up an album 17 years in the making? With so much expectation, and so many stories around it’s creation, is it even possible to listen to this record with an open mind? And how do you go about overcoming your assumptions and preconceptions? Well, how about we don’t? How about we just attack them head on, full in the face?!

‘Chinese Democracy’ is everything you’d expect it to be. It’s overblown. Overlong. Faintly ridiculous. Desperately bombastic. Pompous. The work of an ego running riot. And there’s so much going on here, you can almost hear the money pouring through the studio as guitar solo upon guitar solo chunders past you. Some sounding so incidental to what is happening in the rest of the song, it sounds like someone’s in the next room masterbating furiously on their Fender. But above all, ‘Chinese Democracy’ is epic in every single positive and negative sense of the word. Yet despite all that, or maybe even because of it, it’s also actually pretty good.

But lets not kid ourselves here. It’s not worth a 17 year wait. No record is. No band is. But the strange thing is, you can almost hear 17 years worth of recording in there. Such are the influences and sounds, you could probably take an accurate guess at which songs were written and recorded when. In fact because of that, it kind of hangs together like a greatest hits compilation. Albeit unreleased, unheard hits. I haven’t read enough about each song’s creation but it kind of feels like Axl picked a couple of tracks from about five different versions of the record and stapled them together.

Opening tracks ‘Chinese Democracy’ and ‘Shackler’s Revenge’ have a Marilyn Manson industrial rock type feel to them. With added guitar noodling. Third track ‘Better’ is a mid paced rocker that sounds like classic Guns N Roses that gets a bit heavy before going back to mid paced again. With added guitar twiddling. From there, we take in rock balladeering, trip hop beats, sweeping strings, thundering rockers, slow proggy numbers and a Martin Lurther King speech that rather crudely and a tad worryingly seems to be compared with the record's gestation. Oh and yep, you guessed it, more and more added guitar wankery. All overseen by so many versions of Axl’s voice that at times the record starts to feel a bit like that scene in the last Pirates Of the Caribbean film where there are a never ending supply of Depps, all seemingly the real one. His voice flicking between squealing yelp to weathered harbinger of rock and every variation in between. Occasionally at the same time.

But the most telling track for me is ‘Sorry’. A song which could equally be about a spurned lover as it could be the media, the fans, his ex bandmates or even Axl himself. A mini rock opera that is both grandiose and surprisingly touching. It is one of the many parts of this record that suggest Axl may have actually spent 17 years on this record, not because his ego exploded, but because he truly wanted to craft an amazing record. His obsession may have soured but his intentions were admirable. That he hasn’t been wholly successful, is neither here nor there. In reality’ ‘Chinese Democracy’ may not be as good as it should be, but it’s a better record than it has any right to be. With added guitar solos.

Video: Bruce Springsteen - “My Lucky Day”

Just when I am about to close the book on Bruce, he pulls a song together like this. It's very difficult to argue about how good this is. There’s been a somewhat steady stream of info coming in lately about the upcoming Bruce Springsteen record, Working On A Dream. While we have to wait until the beginning of next year for the physical release, we can enjoy the video above of “My Lucky Day.” Additionally, the title track, “Working On A Dream,” is currently available for purchase on iTunes. My rant from yesterday has subsided.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bruce Springsteen Officially "Jumps The Shark" With His NFL Partnership

Bruce Springsteen fans are shuddering in their shoes today as the world premiere of his latest single, "Working On A Dream" was premiered during Sunday Night Football and well, it may have been Bruce's ultimate "Jump The Shark" moment. There have been numerous moments in the past where we all thought Springsteen's holier than thou legacy was tarnished, but this is where the question is no longer a question but a fact. The song is a clichéd song that sounds as if it was written by a five-year old. One friend wrote to me and said it sounded like a Bon Jovi tune and I felt the person was off base, because I can't think of anything Bon Jovi has recently done that is as cringe inducing as this ("Bells of Freedom" comes to mind, but at least I give the Bon man credit for at least trying to be genuine). Even though I am sure Springsteen is optimistic of the change in the White House, I largely feel he missed the boat here. Regardless of change, the world is failing and at its feet in ways no one has seen before. In a time where unemployment is rampant, I need more than someone to tell me they're "working on a dream", I need them to tell me that the world is one messed up place I need my artists to bleed with me; I need them to tell me that there's a reason to believe and that it ain't no sin to be alive.

I have seen Bruce Springsteen in concert more than any other performer and his career is storied, but as the years go on, I am starting to feel as if he no longer has his hand on the pulse of the nation. This is a man performing at multi-thousand dollar fund raisers for big-whigs and the cost of these shows are an impossible ticket for his average fan (the average price with service fee's is over $80). There was a time where Springsteen understood his fans and their struggles. I no longer feel as of he does. In truth, with rare exceptions, most of Springsteen's work for the last fifteen-years has come from a distant third-person perspective. While he embodied a third-person storytelling early in his career, I always felt that those stories and struggles were coming from first hand experiences. How many hardships can a man have who makes around $100-million per tour? The less he reveals about himself, the less interesting his music gets. The last time he laid it all on the time was on the much misunderstood Lucky Town from 1992 and since then, only in certain songs has he really let us inside. I'm all for penning an optimistic and cheery tune, but in a world where there is mass confusion and chaos, this is the best Springsteen can come up with?

For years, Springsteen biographer Dave Marsh has ridiculed bands that went down these routes and deemed them as "sell-outs", ditto Springsteen's manager Jon Landau. They embody a holier than thou attitude and how they could be willing to allow their golden child to stoop to these levels. They have often maligned other acts that do such things and none of them have been as embarrassing as this one. It's hard to believe that Springsteen is actually co-opting his art with the NFL. This is something he has spent decades trying to avoid, but apparently he no longer can. In late 2005, Springsteen re-upped with Sony for a $100-million contract, a deal which brought a large amount of head-scratching throughout the industry. He hasn't had an album sell more than four-million copies in the last twenty-years (and it was a Greatest Hits disc). When U2 and Prince did the Super Bowl, it was entirely about the music. In U2's case, it was about healing in a post 9/11 world. I sat there and watch the Irish Band evoke pure passion, emotion and empathy through the television set. A near impossible feat considering their mega-status but they pulled it off. Bruce is co-opting his image, his music and his latest release with the NFL. This is something I would expect out of Bon Jovi (who is a self-proclaimed football fan), not Bruce Springsteen. This most likely is coming at the urging of Sony whom he sold his soul to. His last record, Magic only managed to shift two-million copies worldwide. Not an impressive number at all. The music industries rules have changed and instead of coming up with inventive new ways to market his music, Springsteen and his management have taken the easy way out by partnering with the NFL. This is a sad state of affairs for an artist who once stood for the little man and was against using his music on a poorly edited football reel. Apparently the multi-millions in his bank account have blinded him. How much success and money does one man need? Shouldn't the music be enough?

My only question is - can an appearance on American Idol be next?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The First Thanksgiving

The First ThanksgivingIn 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast which is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. This harvest meal has become a symbol of cooperation and interaction between English colonists and Native Americans. Although this feast is considered by many to the very first Thanksgiving celebration, it was actually in keeping with a long tradition of celebrating the harvest and giving thanks for a successful bounty of crops. Native American groups throughout the Americas, including the Pueblo, Cherokee, Creek and many others organized harvest festivals, ceremonial dances, and other celebrations of thanks for centuries before the arrival of Europeans in North America.

Historians have also recorded other ceremonies of thanks among European settlers in North America, including British colonists in Berkeley Plantation, Virginia. At this site near the Charles River in December of 1619, a group of British settlers led by Captain John Woodlief knelt in prayer and pledged "Thanksgiving" to God for their healthy arrival after a long voyage across the Atlantic. This event has been acknowledged by some scholars and writers as the official first Thanksgiving among European settlers on record. Whether at Plymouth, Berkeley Plantation, or throughout the Americas, celebrations of thanks have held great meaning and importance over time. The legacy of thanks, and particularly of the feast, have survived the centuries as people throughout the United States gather family, friends, and enormous amounts of food for their yearly Thanksgiving meal.

What Was Actually on the Menu? What foods topped the table at the first harvest feast? Historians aren't completely certain about the full bounty, but it's safe to say the pilgrims weren't gobbling up pumpkin pie or playing with their mashed potatoes. Following is a list of the foods that were available to the colonists at the time of the 1621 feast. However, the only two items that historians know for sure were on the menu are venison and wild fowl, which are mentioned in primary sources. The most detailed description of the "First Thanksgiving" comes from Edward Winslow from A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in 1621:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, among other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed upon our governor, and upon the captain, and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

Did you know that lobster, seal and swans were on the Pilgrims' menu?

Seventeenth Century Table Manners: The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. They wiped their hands on large cloth napkins which they also used to pick up hot morsels of food. Salt would have been on the table at the harvest feast, and people would have sprinkled it on their food. Pepper, however, was something that they used for cooking but wasn't available on the table.

In the seventeenth century, a person's social standing determined what he or she ate. The best food was placed next to the most important people. People didn't tend to sample everything that was on the table (as we do today), they just ate what was closest to them.

Serving in the seventeenth century was very different from serving today. People weren't served their meals individually. Foods were served onto the table and then people took the food from the table and ate it. All the servers had to do was move the food from the place where it was cooked onto the table.

Pilgrims didn't eat in courses as we do today. All of the different types of foods were placed on the table at the same time and people ate in any order they chose. Sometimes there were two courses, but each of them would contain both meat dishes, puddings, and sweets.

More Meat, Less VegetablesOur modern Thanksgiving repast is centered around the turkey, but that certainly wasn't the case at the pilgrims's feasts. Their meals included many different meats. Vegetable dishes, one of the main components of our modern celebration, didn't really play a large part in the feast mentality of the seventeenth century. Depending on the time of year, many vegetables weren't available to the colonists.

The pilgrims probably didn't have pies or anything sweet at the harvest feast. They had brought some sugar with them on the Mayflower but by the time of the feast, the supply had dwindled. Also, they didn't have an oven so pies and cakes and breads were not possible at all. The food that was eaten at the harvest feast would have seemed fatty by 1990's standards, but it was probably more healthy for the pilgrims than it would be for people today. The colonists were more active and needed more protein. Heart attack was the least of their worries. They were more concerned about the plague and pox.

Surprisingly Spicy Cooking - People tend to think of English food at bland, but, in fact, the pilgrims used many spices, including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, and dried fruit, in sauces for meats. In the seventeenth century, cooks did not use proportions or talk about teaspoons and tablespoons. Instead, they just improvised. The best way to cook things in the seventeenth century was to roast them. Among the pilgrims, someone was assigned to sit for hours at a time and turn the spit to make sure the meat was evenly done.

Since the pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians had no refrigeration in the seventeenth century, they tended to dry a lot of their foods to preserve them. They dried Indian corn, hams, fish, and herbs.

Dinner for Breakfast: Pilgrim Meals:The biggest meal of the day for the colonists was eaten at noon and it was called noonmeat or dinner. The housewives would spend part of their morning cooking that meal. Supper was a smaller meal that they had at the end of the day. Breakfast tended to be leftovers from the previous day's noonmeat.

In a pilgrim household, the adults sat down to eat and the children and servants waited on them. The foods that the colonists and Wampanoag Indians ate were very similar, but their eating patterns were different. While the colonists had set eating patterns—breakfast, dinner, and supper—the Wampanoags tended to eat when they were hungry and to have pots cooking throughout the day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Chicken in White Wine Lemon Sauce

I must admit I have not tried this yet but from what I read it sounds UNBELEIVABLE and EASY. I'm making this Saturday and will keep you posted. With a simple side dish and chicken less than $1.50/lbs. this could easily be dinner for 4 for under $10.

Chicken in White Wine Lemon Sauce

1/4 cup butter
4 whole chicken breasts
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or whatever you have on hand)
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel (I will skip)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 up grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup sliced mushrooms (I will omit ’cause the boys won’t eat ‘em)

Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken. Cook, turning, about 10 minutes or until chicken is brown and tender. Remove chicken to ovenproof serving dish. Discard butter from skillet. Add wine, lemon peel and lemon juice to skillet; cook and stir over medium heat 1 minute. Stir in salt and pepper. Gradually pour in cream, stirring constantly, until hot; do not boil. Pour cream sauce over chicken, sprinkle with cheese and mushrooms. Broil chicken about 2-3 inches from heat source until lightly browned. Serve.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

"Carnival of Light" May See Light

Word is Paul McCartney is thinking of issuing a track considered the Holy Grail of unreleased Beatles tracks.

According to various reports, Sir Paul is mulling over releasing a 14-minute piece of improvisation called “Carnival of Light,” which the Beatles recorded in 1967 during the overdubbing sessions for “Penny Lane.” The actual recording has long been considered a Beatles “myth,” but McCartney confirmed in an interview the recording is real. “It does exist,” he says on a BBC Radio 4 program to be broadcast Thursday.

McCartney told program host John Wilson that he still has a master tape of the song and he suspects that “the time has come for it to get its moment.” “Carnival of Light” was created for The Million Volt Light and Sound Rave, an event held at London’s Roundhouse Theatre on Jan. 28 and Feb. 4, 1967.

“I said all I want you to do is just wander around all the stuff, bang it, shout, play it, it doesn't need to make any sense,” McCartney told Wilson about the track's origin. “Hit a drum then wander on to the piano, hit a few notes, just wander around. So that's what we did and then put a bit of an echo on it. It's very free.”

In order for Carnival of Light to be released, McCartney would have to get the agreement of Ringo Starr and the estates of John Lennon and George Harrison. According to the BBC, McCartney had wanted to include the track on The Beatles’ Anthology compilations in the mid-1990s, but the rest of the band vetoed the idea.

I searched around to see what I could find and came up with what is supposed to be a snippet (one minute) of the track. There is absolutely no way I can verify if this is really part of “Carnival of Light” or not. What you’ll hear is plain old-fashioned cacophony. I’ll withhold final judgment until Macca authorizes the full release. But if the whole thing sounds like this, I’m inclined to agree with what McCartney said was the reaction of the other Beatles: “The guys didn't like the idea, like ‘this is rubbish.’”

Carnival of Light (partial).mp3

Give Me S'more, Please

As winter sneaks up on us and the temperature drops down to a bone-chilling low tonight I have been determined to start a cozy bonfire soon. There’s just something about this time of year that makes me want to sit around a toasty fire, a warm blanket, and a stick skewered with marshmallows. I love the sweet rustic smell of burning wood and toasted marshmallows.

I’ve been an avid devotee of the classic s’more for the first half of my life. Two perfectly roasted marsh mellows placed on a small slab of Hershey’s milk chocolate and wedged between two crisp graham crackers. It doesn’t get any better than that. Or does it?

Lindt Milk Chocolate and Double Milk Chocolate Bars
Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark and Almond bars (I think you could really do some damage with the chocolate squares)
Peanut Butter
Graham Crackers
Anna’s Chocolate Mint Thins and Ginger Thins

I have no self-control when it comes to sweets and having a “sweet tooth” is an under statement. A toasted marshmallow with the chocolate almond bar smashed between two ginger thins. Another marshmallow was paired with peppermint bark and packed between chocolate mint thins. The possibilities are endless. Peanut butter with roasted banana, a marshmallow, and double milk chocolate sandwiched with graham crackers.

JJ's Star Trek!

Here it is! The new Star Trek Trailor has been released - click HERE for the link!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Florida Coast Barbecued Barbecue Shrimp

Serves 4
½ lb unsalted butter
2 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tbl freshly ground black pepper
1 tbl paprika
1 tbl Louisiana hot sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
½ cup beer
Bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 1 hr
2 lbs jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp Red Hot & Blue Dry Rub Seasoning

Prepare grill to cook direct and medium high. In large skillet on stove, melt the butter on medium heat. Add all other ingredients, except for shrimp and Creole seasoning. Bring to simmer and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Skewer shrimp with double skewers so they can be flipped easily. Season with Creole seasoning. Grill 1-2 minutes per side, depending on size of shrimp. Remove from skewers and add shrimp to the pan with spiced butter mixture and toss. Return to stove over med-high heat and bring to simmer until shrimp is cooked through. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Serve with lots of crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.

U2 Start

I wanted tonight to put you good people – especially you good people who are U2 fans – onto a great site I recently learned about.

U2 Start.com is, as they describe it, “The ultimate website for any U2 fan.” That’s a pretty bold statement, but I think U2 Start backs it up. First, they have a huge forum, with discussion topics ranging from older U2 material to speculation on the upcoming album. Maybe that’s pretty typical stuff for a fan forum, but here’s what makes U2 Start really cool: They have a HUGE collection of U2 boots available for free download. They claim to currently have 1,059 recordings in their databases and you do not have to upload, pay, or subscribe to anything in order to get access to their collection. All you have to do is register – and that’s free.

The recordings are all reviewed and rated by sound quality, so you’ll know what you’re getting before you download. The site also lists “most downloaded,” “user’s favorites,” and “best reviewed,” among other categories. It’s very user friendly and organized and if you’re a U2 fan and haven’t yet been to U2 Start.com, you need to check it out.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Beatles Purple Chick

The Beatles' albums came out on CD in 1987, but fans have long complained that the early digital technology used to remaster the recordings left them sounding hollow and thin — and that the official remasters are way overdue. That's where Purple Chick comes in — a secretive fan (or group of fans) who has been quietly remastering classic discs like Revolver and A Hard Day's Night, and releasing the digital files for free online. How is this possible? The Beatles' CDs sound so bad that carefully digitized tracks from pristine vinyl copies are noticeably better — with crisper highs, a fuller soundstage, and more realistic reproduction of instruments and voices. And the Purple Chick editions are superior to the originals in other ways, too: The Sgt. Pepper collection contains the original record in mono and stereo, and four discs' worth of studio outtakes; the White Album comes in a whopping twelve-disc version, including alternate takes, studio chatter, demos and fascinating jams.

I have featured several of these discs in the past and will continue to do so. Here is a great guide to the Purple Chick releases. These are the BEST collections of all released bootlegs, featuring an excellent documentation of the recordings.



Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Star Trek: four full scenes and new trailer reviewed

Den Of Geek reports from the world-first screening of four complete scenes from the new Star Trek movie, as introduced by JJ Abrams and Simon Pegg. Huge spoilers...
I've just been to see twenty minutes of footage from J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. We were told by Chris Hedges - head of Paramount UK - and Rob Moore, vice-president of Paramount pictures, that we 400-odd journos were the first people in the world to see the footage. A very disarming Abrams himself was there, as was Simon Pegg, the new 'Scotty'; both were on-form but clearly very nervous, and both addressed the gathering, Abrams at length. After joking that he'd never been a big fan of Star Trek, Abrams went on to explain how he'd followed the franchise through the original TV and film series, and through the later spin-offs, and intimated that his movie would be the first time that the 'promise of adventure' would actually be realised. He may be right: the viewing started with the new trailer, which will be in cinemas Friday, followed by four scenes from the movie itself, all complete with polished SFX and scoring.

And it all looks absolutely amazing.

Anyone prepared to withstand some major spoilers can check below for details of these scenes. For those leaving it here and saving themselves for the movie, let me say that the footage screened today is just sensationally great. Pine is good as Kirk, Urban is UNCANNY as McCoy, Quinto has got Spock's icy reservation and underlying anger nailed, the effects look more like GREAT model-work than ropey CGI and I'm just about as impatient for May 2009 as I can be...

The trailer for Star Trek starts off looking more like a 70s road movie, as a young Kirk drives a beat-up old Chevy round the ranges of Iowa in search of a few thrills before over-estimating his own braking power. Pretty soon his wheels are plunging a few thousand feet and he's being rescued from a literal cliff-hanging situation by a rather robotic-looking Iowa traffic cop, who's just descended from his floating ride to help the young rebel out. They're really going for the 'bad boy' bit with this Kirk, as we shall find out in the full-length scenes.

Much of the content of the rest of the trailer contains material covered in the scenes that we were shown afterwards, and the slow Kirk-in-trouble scene quickly gives way to the usual epilepsy-inducing quick-cuts, showing some pretty spectacular space battles, the Enterprise under construction in the fields of Iowa (being regarded by an awed Kirk, not yet enrolled in Starfleet), a roll-call of all the returning characters and…Uhura (Zoe Saldana) stripping down to her bra (for some reason - I'm not complaining, it's a very nice sight, but it's a bit of a cheap shot for a film with this much going for it). The trailer concludes with Romulan villain Nero (Eric Bana) declaring portentously 'The wait is over'….

THE FIRST SCENE: Kirk's bar-fight
The first scene shows Kirk getting his arse totally kicked by some Starfleet squaddies who were letting off steam in a nightclub near the Enterprise site. The squaddies were in fact trying to defend Uhura from Kirk's persistent and relentless pestering, It's a far more intense chat-up than you would ever have guessed from the Shatner-Nichols dynamic, and at one point Kirk makes mention of Uhura's famous linguistic skills, descending to some sub-TOS innuendo with the line "It must mean you've got a magic tongue".

Anyway pretty soon the belligerent squaddies are telling Tiberius to back off. There being only four of them against one of him, Kirk tells them to come back with four more…to make it an even fight! After a bit of a scuffle - during which Kirk ends up inadvertently holding Uhura's breasts before she sends him back into the fray - the squaddies totally whip Kirk, and at the end he's pinned to a table having his face violently pummelled by the lead squaddie, before being rescued by Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood), who's slated as the first captain of the Enterprise.

The following section zips to ten minutes later. Kirk is sitting opposite Pike with cotton wool stuffed up his nose to stop the bleeding, while Pike remonstrates with him for being constantly in trouble and failing to enlist in Starfleet in spite of his genius-level test scores. "You could have your own starship in eight years", he promises. The scene concludes with Pine reminding Kirk that his own father was captain of a starship for only 12 minutes and managed to save over 800 lives - including Kirk's mother - in that time…and he challenges Kirk to do better.

THE SECOND SCENE: An ill Kirk tries to warn Pike of danger
Abrams prefaced this scene by informing us that - after the preceding scene - Kirk continues to get into trouble after his enrolment in Starfleet, and that when all the other graduates have been assigned starships, he is assigned none. Kirk's friend Doctor McCoy (Karl Urban, who REALLY nails DeForest Kelley's voice and mannerisms) manages to get him on board Pike's first run with the Enterprise by invoking Federation Rule 691, which states that a doctor can bring on board any person who he deems to be in need of treatment. In order to qualify Kirk for this loophole, McCoy gives him a nasty but non-lethal virus.

As we join the scene, Kirk's looking pretty ill as McCoy drags him over to a bed in a very spacious and cool-looking sick-bay. McCoy gives Kirk something to allay the effects of the virus, but Kirk has an allergic reaction to it and his hands swell up like Mickey Mouse's.

Over on the bridge, Pavel Chekov (Anton Yelchin) tries to log on with voice-identification, but the Enterprise computer won't let him until he can pronounce his V's properly.

Chekov announces to the crew that there is a catastrophic electrical storm on Vulcan, and that the Enterprise is running to the rescue. But Kirk recognises the description of the storm as identical to a Romulan attack that took place at the time of his birth, and is determined to warn Captain Pike that he is warping into a terrible trap.

Kirk tracks down Uhura, not yet a fixture on the bridge, and tries to convince her to help him, but then the virus/palliative causes his tongue to stop working! McCoy eventually manages to stabilise him so that he can talk to Pike.

Confronting Pike with the information on the bridge, a very disapproving Spock tries to have the brash young graduate taken off by security, but Kirk is able to persuade both Spock and his captain of the danger they're in.

Dropping out of warp-speed, the Enterprise instantly finds itself navigating the hulks and wrecks of the aftermath of a huge space-battle. This is no natural phenomena…

THE THIRD SCENE: Meeting Nimoy's Spock and Pegg's Mr. Scott
Abrams prefaced this scene by explaining that Kirk's continuing impulsiveness has forced Spock - now in command of the Enterprise - to exile him temporarily on an unnamed location. Here Kirk is met by...Spock! This time it's Leonard Nimoy, who has been aged even beyond his 77 years to play a Spock that has travelled back in time to change the course of history.

As we join the scene, Nimoy's Spock is leading Pine's Kirk to meet Pegg's Mr. Scott, who has been similarly exiled, and is in belligerent mood. Scott has a big scene here, talking with some annoyance about his efforts to effect matter transference onto a ship that is travelling at warp-speed. This is something Kirk and Scotty need to know if they are going to use Spock's handy transporter terminal to get back into the action.

Nimoy informs Scott that his future self will solve the problem of 'beaming up' between speeding ships, and even shows him the formula he is destined to work out. The engineer declares (against the evidence). "Of course! I never would have thought of space as a moving force!".

Old Spock informs Kirk that he will need to get Young Spock's command revoked with the old 'unfit for command' ruse we have so often seen in Star Trek, and that he should do this by getting Young Spock emotionally off-balance. Old Spock declares that it will not be difficult, and that he himself is like that (suggesting that Spock has seen himself in this way his whole life).

As Kirk and Scotty get into the transporter, Kirk playfully accuses Old Spock of cheating by travelling back in time to change the course of events. "I learnt it from a master", Spock rejoins. Ouch.

THE FOURTH (FINAL SCENE): Stopping the Romulan drill on Vulcan
Here Kirk and Sulu are in a drop-ship (inside it's very similar to the drop-ship from Aliens) along with a security officer called Olson. Sulu and Kirk are wearing blue-ish space-suits, but Olson's of course, is red.

Olson will be dead in three minutes.

The mission for our heroes is to stop the chain-like drill that is hanging twenty miles down from an orbiting Romulan ship from completing its work and creating the singularity that will engulf Vulcan. Vulcan only has minutes left before the Big One, and Mr. Spock gives Chekov the helm and beams down to the surface to save the Vulcan senate - including his parents. Meantime he has given orders to have Vulcan evacuate as far as possible in the minutes remaining.

Back at the rescue mission, Kirk, Sulu and Olson are dropped off and free-fall down the endless miles of space-chain. It's undoubtedly the longest parachute jump ever committed to film, and it's totally spectacular.

The chain has a number of interstitial platforms, and poor Olson comes a cropper of one of these after deploying his parachute, and ends up a blot on the landscape. Meantime Kirk and Sulu fight Romulans on the rusting platform/link suspended 4 miles above the Vulcan surface. To make matters worse, there's a vent near them that blasts a decimating wave of energy out every few minutes, so they have to fight around it.

Kirk once again finds himself hanging above a huge drop by his fingernails, with his Romulan adversary trying to stamp on his feet and get him off the ledge. Luckily for Kirk, Sulu's amazing sword - which unfolds to full-length from the handle like a light-sabre, but is made of metal - downs the Romulan nasty, and Sulu pulls Kirk up. Sulu saves Kirk? Huh?

Fear not, it will be repaid with interest in moments. Nero reveals that the interference of Kirk and Sulu has come too late - the singularity is in place. The Romulan ship lets the chain go and Kirk and Sulu find themselves about 60 seconds from becoming part of the rocky Vulcan landscape.

On the Enterprise, they're having a bit of trouble beaming our heroes up. "Try and stay in one place", shouts the transporter officer. Not easy when you're plummeting at maximum velocity. It looks like the end, but not so, for young Mr. Chekov is sure that he knows the technique for beaming up moving objects, and fights his way through the confusion on the Enterprise to rescue Kirk and Sulu just as they are about to become bug-blatter.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Couple Of Spies Weigh In On The Brand-New STAR TREK Trailer!!

Here is the info:

I have never written into you guys before but I was just too excited not to. I recently got a job on the lot at Paramount and was fortunate enough to get to see the trailer for JJ's Star Trek (i'm not special, it's playing on a loop in the Paramount theater).

Anyways, I can't say enough good things about it. I'll give you a quick rundown;

We start out with a muscle car tearing ass down a dirt road. Eventually it careens off a cliff, but not before the driver jets himself out - he's a young boy, couldn't be older than 11. Suddenly what I can only describe as a space-cop asks him, "what is your name sir?" The young boy replies, "James Tiberius Kirk."

Then Chris Pine takes over as we see him being angsty, driving down the road on a motorcycle. We hear some voice over from someone else that confirms his angst saying things like, "You've never really been happy have you?" and etc. Then we see him drive up what looks like a smelting factory - probably more of that ship construction we got in the earlier trailer.

Then we really kick into trailer mode as we get quick images of Spock as a kid. Spock all grown up. Leonard Nimoy. A vulcan council. Space cadets. And the crew alone with some quick, flashy space fighting.

There were two many images after that to describe but I can just tell you that it's extremely exciting. It's the most visually dynamic thing J.J.'s ever done. Lots of great shots, and cool camera moves, just in the trailer. There was even a little quip from Simon Pegg. And some sex thrown in for good measure. Eric Bana also joins the long list of great actors who are happy to chew scenery as a Star Trek villain. The only thing I wanted more of is Karl Urban. He was the most inspired casting IMO and he only gets a quick nod in the trailer. As I said, all in all it's really cool and I think you guys are all gonna geek out big time when it's released. To finish, I'll just say, it feels like what we WANTED when the new Star Wars movies were released - something old and nostalgic getting pushed to greater, more dynamic storytelling by improved technology.



Hey there, long time Paramount employee here. They showed the new trailer for JJ Abrams Star Trek yesterday over at the Paramount theatre. It ran every 15 minutes and all employees were encouraged to go see it. Thought you'd like a little info.

The trailer starts by showing a mid-60's Corvette convertible tearing across the country side. After a few seconds we see a long shot that shows a policeman in hot pursuit. Another long shot shows the Vette screaming at full speed toward a steep cliff. A slo-mo shot shows the driver leaping from the car at the last second and tumbling ass over teakettle toward the edge of the cliff itself. The driver is a young boy who looks about 13 or 14. He manages to grab a hold at the last second and hang on as a birds eye shot show the antique Vette fall away into an abyss.

We see the boy get up and dust himself off and the camera cuts away to show a troopers boot come down close-up. The black leather boot is obviously the policeman's who was chasing the car but it looks suspiciously "different." Just different enough to let the audience know this isn't a normal policeman. The shot then cuts to where we can see the policeman standing in front of the boy with his "bike" hovering in mid air a few feet beside him. He shouts at the boy, "Who are you?" or "What's your name?" and the boy shouts back defiantly, "James Tiberius Kirk!"

We're then treated to another long shot showing an older boy riding a hover bike similar to the one the policeman was shown riding a moment or two before thru the country side . We hear a voice over of an older man, presumable Kirk's father saying, "You never found yourself here, you never really fit in." The voice continues as the bike rider pulls up and stops and looks off into the distance, "What you choose to do with you're life is up to you." We see the boy starring at a huge futuristic structure (Star Fleet headquarters?) as the voice over continues, "Maybe you were meant for something different, something....bigger."

It then cuts to scene of an obvious Vulcan woman holding a baby. Again we hear a voice over of the woman saying, "You will always be a part of two worlds." as we cut to a toddler Spock walking in a Vulcan robe. The boy has the Beatles hair cut and pointed ears we associate with Vulcan's throughout Star Trek history. We then see a bunch a quick shots of the crew walking around the bridge of some starship and we see a 20-something Spock angrily pointing at a 20-something Kirk and saying, "I will not be lectured by you!" and an angry Kirk getting in Spocks face saying, "Why don't you do something about it!?!" We then see an enraged Spock trying to stab Kirk with something pointed I couldn't quite make out. It was a quick shot and Kirk is shown using both hands to fend off Spock and hold the object away from his face.

Several quick cuts are shown of space ships firing at one another and people being thrown about the bridge of whatever ship they're suppose to be in. We see crew members running down bright white corridors as another voice over with a Scottish accent says, "I'm having fun!" We then see a close-up of what had to be a young(er) Dr. McCoy with about a weeks worth of black stubble on his face and his arms crossed in that oh so familiar Bones manner saying angrily, "Space isn't suppose to be fun, it's aliens and phasers and death!" We also see a woman in silhouette (Uhura?) pulling off her top and scenes of the crew running to man their battle stations on a bridge.

We then see a bunch of battle shots of space ships being hit by phaser fire and pieces being blown off of them while engine nacels explode before it all ends with the familar Star Fleet logo against a black background and we hear the familar Star Trek opening cords played over it and the release date appears underneath.

I can't vouch for every line of dialog I quoted as being 100% accurate, the cuts were very quick and I only sat through the trailer once but that's the basics. The colors of the corridors and the uniforms was very bright, everything had a "new" appearance. No doubt some of the shots were meant to represent Star Fleet academy training exercises and not real life combat scenes though again, it all went by pretty quick.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Election is Over

I'm glad it's over even though I'm not happy with the results.

Maybe I'm curious to see what happens when you give people exactly what they asked for.
In my head, I liken it to my Aunt Dot who was finally annoyed to frustration by my repeated requests to eat the apples from her tree, even though they weren't ripe.

"Go ahead, child. Eat all the little green apples that you'd like."

I hope our country fares better than I did.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

WOW! New Bruce for Halloween!

This is exactly what I would expect from Springsteen...except that he has often looked the other way when it comes to embracing new technology so when I opened my email box this morning to discover a new Halloween song, "A Night With The Jersey Devil", I was giddy with as much joy as a pound of Snickers candy bars could give me after a day of trick or treating.

His website reads:
"Dear friends and fans, If you grew up in central or south Jersey, you grew up with the 'Jersey Devil.' Here's a little musical Halloween treat. Have fun!"

The blues-drenched number features a fuzzed out harmonica and well, it's one of the best things Bruce has done in years. How I only wish Bruce would embrace the blues genre on an album, this suits him far more than the songs of Pete Seeger.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

From a line cook friend: How to save your kitchen money in a hard economy.

I love this guy for many reasons. There are many reasons I miss the hard core, day to day business, he is one of them. He sent this out to a bunch of us who worked together in the past. Cheers, mate!

* Use everything. Fennel tops. Celery leaves. Pork trim. Fish bones. Keep a spatula close, and use it to scrape down everything.

* Revisit your recipes. Where are you not being efficient? Are there ingredients in there that you could be making in house? Cheeses, spice blends, curry paste, breads, charcuterie, pastas--you can make them better than what you're buying...and for cheaper

* Cook seasonally for fucks sake.

* Get to know your purveyors. Learn who to trust, and who not to. Don't be afraid to ask for a cheaper price.

* Change your menu when you need to, not just when you want to. If something isn't working, change it. Move your ingredients around so as to not to have certain items that really sell, and other that are just there.

* Dont be afraid of the oily fish. $20 a pound snapper vs $1.95 a pound mackeral. You figure it out.

* Limit your menu. Any menu over 25 items is really tipping the scales. One fish entree, one steak, one pork/duck/chicken item. Offer a veggie entree. Don't get carried away with foie gras and caviar.

* Use everyones ideas. A cook on a station knows exactly how much mise en place they need for a night--so ask them how much prep they think they'll need for a service. Analyze your prep list constantly.

* Get creative with family meal. The true test of a cook is taking all those leftovers and making something that will satiate twenty cranky servers.

Low Country Boil Recipe

I realize that this isn't exactly a Halloween or Fall recipe but it's perfect for Florida this time of year and I just don't use the outdoor cooker enough. Hope you have enough Old Bay on the shelf -

Low Country Boil

1 bag frozen shrimp (peeled)
1 bag frozen sea scallops
6-8 medium sized potatoes (quartered)
1 bag baby carrots (peeled)
1 bunch of broccoli
9 half-ears of corn

Add 2 gallons of water to a large pot. Pre-heat water to a rolling boil and add potatoes. Add 4 -5 tablespoons of Old Bay Seafood Seasoning stir gently (more if you like it a little hotter). Once potatoes have cooked for 30 minutes check for doneness. Add carrots.
Wait 10 minutes and add ears of corn (halves).
Add sea scallops. Add broccoli. Add shrimp. Stir gently.
Check potatoes for doneness.
Serve with your favorite cold beverage and add additional seasoning to taste.

Tips For Picking Steaks

"Don't just pick out any steak. That is one of the worst things you can do. All steaks are not the same. Therefore, take your time when picking out a steak. There are steaks that are better for grilling and some steaks are better to slow cook. Generally, if the steak has "chuck" or "round" in the name then it is better to marinate and slow cook. If the steak has "rib" or "loin" in the name it will be a lot more tender and better for grilling. Ask your butcher which types of steaks are best for the way you want to cook your steak.

The thicker the better. Steaks that are cut too thin are easy to over cook. Over cook a steak and you could end up with a dry, tough piece of "leather". It is easy to tell how thick steaks are at an old-fashion butcher shop. In fact, most butchers will cut thicker steaks for customers who request them. Be careful when buying steaks in packs. It can be hard to see the thickness of all the steaks.

It is important to look for steaks with the most fat marbling and streaking. Steaks with the most fat marbling are generally more flavorful and tender. The most marbled cut is the rib-eye. It is cut from the same piece of meat as the prime rib.

Don't cut the fat off! A lot of my relatives want all the fat cut off the sides of their steaks. I don't recommend this at all! I tell them to leave the fat on while they cook their steaks. Fat helps keep the steak juicy and enhances the steak's flavor. You can cut all the fat off you want once the steak is cooked.

Knowing what to look for in a steak is as important as cooking a steak. Still not sure what to look for in a steak? Ask your neighborhood butcher. They always like to help ensure you get the best steak for your special occasion."

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oasis 10-26-08

The BBC Electric Proms, The Roundhouse

01 - Rock 'N' Roll Star
02 - Lyla
03 - The Shock Of The Lightning
04 - Cigarettes & Alcohol
05 - The Meaning Of Soul
06 - To Be Where There's Life
07 - Waiting For The Rapture
08 - The Masterplan (With the Crouch End Festival Chorus)
09 - Songbird
10 - Slide Away
11 - Morning Glory
12 - Ain't Got Nothin'
13 - The Importance Of Being Idle
14 - I'm Outta Time (With the Crouch End Festival Chorus)
15 - Wonderwall (With the Crouch End Festival Chorus)
16 - Supersonic
17 - Don't Look Back In Anger (With the Crouch End Festival Chorus)
18 - Falling Down
19 - Champagne Supernova (With the Crouch End Festival Chorus)
20 - I Am The Walrus (With the Crouch End Festival Chorus

>>> DOWNLOAD <<<

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Led Zeppelin - 1978 - Stockholm, Sweden

Polar Studios demos

01. Carouselambra
02. Untitled
03. Wearing And Tearing
04. Fool In The Rain
05. Hot Dog
06. In The Evening
07. South Bound Saurez
08. Darlene
09. Fool In The Rain
10. Carouselambra
11. All My Love

>>> DOWNLOAD <<<
download 2...

Friday, October 24, 2008


For those of you that missed last night's premiere of Anthony Bourdain's new talk show, At the Table, don't worry--not only did you not miss anything of importance, but you are perhaps better off for having not sat through one of the worst hours of television in recent memory. At his best, Anthony Bourdain is the celebration of what all cooks could and perhaps should dream of one day becoming--a semi-distinguished, retired chef traipsing the world over for a great meal, all the while sharing the ambience of a great meal with friends both new and old. In the Spain and Japan episodes of No Reservations, it felt like he had finally let go of his sordid past, the need for shots of him and his obligatory beer and iconic cigarette. We saw a man that had done his time as a cook, who had studied and learned a great deal of what makes a good cook a great chef, someone who had taken this knowledge and moved on to something more promising and less exhausting. In these episodes, it really seemed like there is life after cooking. Apparently, that wasn't good enough.

Whether or not Bourdain himself or the Travel Channel is responsible for this new (or perhaps simply more intimate) look at the life of a retired chef and one-time bad boy is uncertain, but regardless, someone seriously needs to stand up and reconsider this course of action that's been taken. I should clarify that I wasn't at all surprised to see a new evolution in Travel Channel's love for Anthony Bourdain, simply disappointed. That he could open the show with a question of whether or not supposedly spending $1800 on dinner for two was shameful, while sitting with Ted Allen and Bill Bryson at WD-50 over a multi-course, high-ticket dinner, was just plain tacky. It's not as if people watch his other shows and think him anything less than a celebrity--who else would spend $2000 on a Hawaiian shirt before going to eat papaya-filled hot dogs? So, why the act?

Given that he has been treated to chef's table meals at Morimoto in Japan, Arzak in Spain, Bouchon in Las Vegas and so on, I find stories of the most disgusting things someone has done in a restaurant (discussed on the talk show last night) to be rather inappropriate. Why? Because it makes the rest of us, restaurant corporate jockeys, cooks, chefs, restaurant professionals, those of us who go to work everyday, sober, focused and ready for action, seem like the bad guys. Would he do those things today, in any of the restaurants to which the doors are so kindly opened? Then why bring it up in the first place. It's not like he promoted the fact that people don't already feel threatened by making a special request for fear that one of the cooks will spit in their food, so don't perpetuate the myth even further. Don't create a subculture of restaurant-goers that revel in making a mockery of a restaurant or other establishment's reputation simply for the sake of shock value. You're 50 years old Tony—please let it go! That is not what made you so interesting. IT WAS THE HONESTY from where you spoke that reached out to us originally.

Perhaps I'm being a bit overzealous, but the show frustrated me. As someone who relies on this industry - at this point, I can barely afford to provide for my family the way I would like, let alone a private tasting menu at WD-50 with four of my close friends. At a time when restaurants and their owners, chefs, farmers, purveyors and television alike are doing everything possible to make food a legitimate, sustainable, desirable medium for expression, highlighting the negative just seems pointless.

In his most recent post, blogger line cook 415 waxes on the question of why cooks do what they do day after day while enduring harsh working conditions, exhaustion and an overall lack of praise. Amongst his list of answers that cannot be simplified to just one, he says that we cook to make others happy, that we're hospitable--and this is coming from a line cook! Even crazier is that it's true. We work in this industry because we're good at it, because we love it, because it's our job. What we don't need is a retired celebrity drunk who's upset that the good old days of the Ramones and blowing lines in the kitchen are over making our job any harder.

It's already hard enough. Tony, say goodbye to Hollywood and come home. I REALLY wanted to like this show.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Long Day...

Excuses, excuses...

to show my commitment...

Maxine Nightingale - Right Back Where We Started From

This pull from her 1975 album of the same name has become ridiculously popular as of late, thanks in no small part to it's inclusion in "The Family Stone" when Sarah Jessica Parker wobbled around drunkenly to the tune. I've always thought it was pretty good R&B, even if it does teeter on cheesy (I think it's the violin and horn parts, frankly), but it's a good example of Motown emulation after Motown's heyday that actually works. To this day, people are trying to emulate that sound, and it seldom works.

Friday, October 17, 2008

NEW Star Trek update with SPOILERS

Earlier this week we got our first good look at J.J. Abrams' STAR TREK movie via images that were to accompany a cover article in Entertainment Weekly.

That article, by Jeff Jensen, is now online, including a few images we haven't seen yet.

The article also reveals many details of the film's storyline and production, a few of which are shared below.

** No longer are their signature Trek weapons boxy plastic toys, but sleek silver gizmos with spring-triggered barrels that revolve and glow in the transition from ''stun'' to ''kill.''

** ''In a world where a movie as incredibly produced as The Dark Knight is raking in gazillions of dollars, Star Trek stands in stark contrast,'' Abrams says. ''It was important to me that optimism be cool again.''

** Star Trek's time-travel plot is set in motion when a Federation starship, the USS Kelvin, is attacked by a vicious Romulan (Eric Bana) desperately seeking one of the film's heroes. From there, the film then brings Kirk and Spock center stage and tracks the origins of their friendship and how they became officers aboard the Enterprise.

** The storytelling is newbie-friendly, but it slyly assimilates a wide range of Trek arcana, from doomed Captain Pike (Bruce Greenwood) to Sulu's swordsmanship to classic lines like, ''I have been, and always shall be, your friend.''

** The opening sequence, for example, is an emotionally wrenching passage that culminates with a mythic climax sure to leave zealots howling ''Heresy!'' But revisionism anxiety is the point. ''The movie,'' Lindelof says, ''is about the act of changing what you know.''

** ...One other essential element in Team Abrams' conception of the new Trek: getting the old Spock. Abrams felt Nimoy's Obi-Wan-ish presence was so crucial, he told the studio he wouldn't move forward without him.

** Kirk spends much of Star Trek dressed in respectable black — space-cadet colors in Abrams' Trekverse

** Moviegoers will get a sneak peek when the first full trailer is released with the new James Bond flick on Nov. 14

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Downey Jr. As Guy Ritchie's SHERLOCK HOLMES

These pics started hitting the Nets late Friday afternoon...an easy time to fall through the cracks...but I thought I'd call your attention to it regardless.

Behind-the-scenes images revealing Robert Downey Jr. as the title character in Guy Ritchie's SHERLOCK HOLMES.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Beatles - January 3, 1969 Abbey Road

Disc 1
1: The Long And Winding Road (:31)
2: Oh! Darling (:55)
3: Oh! Darling (:06)
4: Unknown (:06)
5: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (3:08)
6: Adagio For Strings (3:20)
7: Adagio For Strings (:47)
8: Tea For Two Cha-Cha (1:23)
9: Tea For Two Cha-Cha (:43)
10: Chopsticks (:29)
11: Unknown (:40)
12: Torchy, The Battery Boy (1:13)
13: Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On (:48)
14: Unknown (:35)
15: Let It Be (1:09)
16: Unknown (2:30)
17: Taking A Trip To Carolina (:44)
18: Unknown (1:22)
19: Dialogue (2:09)
20: Please, Mrs. Henry (1:35)
21: "Ramblin' Woman" (1:43)
22: "Is It Discovered?" (1:33)
23: Improvisation (2:20)
24: Picasso (1:22)
25: Taking A Trip To Carolina (1:12)
26: Hey Jude (2:08)
27: All Things Must Pass (1:43)
28: Don't Let Me Down (2:35)
29: "Your Name Is Ted" (3:00)
30: Crackin' Up (2:11)
31: Improvisation (2:53)
32: Crackin' Up (:32)
33: All Shook Up (1:05)
34: You True Love (1:44)
35: Blue Suede Shoes (1:32)
36: Three Cool Cats (2:47)
37: Blowin' In The Wind (:33)
38: Lucille (2:28)
39: I'm So Tired (2:32)
40: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (1:46)
41: "Get On The Phone" (:57)
42: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (:14)
43: Don't Let Me Down (:33)
44: The Thrid Man Theme (1:51)
45: Improvisation (:30)
46: "My Words Are In My Heart" (:10)
47: "Negro In Reserve" (:43)
48: Don't Let Me Down (3:39)
49: Don't Let Me Down (:10)
50: Don't Let Me Down (3:16)
51: Don't Let Me Down (:05)
52: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (:16)
53: Don't Let Me Down (:08)
54: Don't Let Me Down (:34)
55: Don't Let Me Down (2:44)
56: Sun King (:18)

Disc 2
1: I've Got A Feeling (4:38)
2: I've Got A Feeling (4:49)
3: I've Got A Feeling (:25)
4: I've Got A Feeling (3:29)
5: I've Got A Feeling (2:48)
6: I've Got A Feeling (2:33)
7: Unknown (:29)
8: Going Up The Country (:51)
9: On The Road Again (:17)
10: One After 909 (4:2)
11: "Because I Know You Love Me So" (2:29)
12: Roll Announcement (:04)
13: One After 909 (4:06)
14: "I'll Wait Till Tomorrow" (1:05)
15: A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody (:11)
16: Thinking Of Linking (:25)
17: "Won't You Please Say Goodbye" (:52)
18: Bring It On Home To Me (2:01)
19: Hitch Hike (1:57)
20: You Can't Do That (2:15)
21: The Hippy Hippy Shake (4:16)
22: Two Of Us (2:20)
23: Two Of Us (1:46)
24: Two Of Us (2:37)
25: Two Of Us (3:33)
26: Two Of Us (3:28)
27: Two Of Us (2:37)
28: All Along The Watchtower (1:01)
29: Dialogue (1:39)
30: Sun King (:47)
31: Sun King (:25)
32: Sun King (:34)
33: Short Fat Fanny (2:58)
34: Midnight Special (2:09)
35: When You're Drunk You Think Of Me (:12)
36: What's The Use Of Getting Sober (When You're Gonna Get Drunk Again) (:09)
37: What Do You Wanna Make Those Eyes At Me For (1:34)
38: Money (That's What I Want) (1:34)
39: Give Me Some Truth (1:39)
40: All Things Must Pass (1:57)
41: All Things Must Pass (2:16)

Disc 3
1: All Things Must Pass (3:13)
2: All Things Must Pass (3:41)
3: The Weight (:25)
4: I'm A Tiger (:21)
5: All Things Must Pass (3:19)
6: Improvisation (:31)
7: All Things Must Pass (1:59)
8: All Things Must Pass (6:36)
9: All Things Must Pass (:05)
10: All Things Must Pass (3:26)
11: All Things Must Pass (3:13)
12: All Things Must Pass (4:16)
13: All Things Must Pass (3:48)
14: All Things Must Pass (1:21)
15: Slate Announcement (:07)
16: All Things Must Pass (5:28)
17: All Things Must Pass (5:36)
18: All Things Must Pass (4:24)
19: All Things Must Pass (2:36)
20: All Things Must Pass (2:32)
21: All Things Must Pass (6:21)
22: All Things Must Pass (2:22)
23: All Things Must Pass (:33)
24: Improvisation (1:04)
25: All Things Must Pass (1:59)
26: All Things Must Pass (:40)
27: All Things Must Pass (1:52)
28: All Things Must Pass (1:12)
29: Slate Announcement (:04)
30: All Things Must Pass (:37)
31: All Things Must Pass (1:12)
32: All Things Must Pass (3:32)

Disc 4
1: All Things Must Pass (1:42)
2: Unknown (:07)
3: Back In The U.S.S.R. (:54)
4: Every Little Thing (:37)
5: Piece Of My Heart (2:11)
6: Saber Dance (1:29)
7: Piece Of My Heart (1:28)
8: "Over And Over Again"(2:52)
9: One After 909 (:25)
10: Slate Announcement (:08)
11: Dialogue (4:33)
12: I've Been Good To You (1:59)
13: All Things Must Pass (:23)
14: All Things Must Pass (:50)
15: All Things Must Pass (3:44)
16: All Things Must Pass (3:54)
17: All Things Must Pass (5:30)
18: All Things Must Pass (:19)
19: All Things Must Pass (2:09)
20: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (:51)
21: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (15:07)
22: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (1:04)
23: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (7:59)
24: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (1:05)
25: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (1:42)
26: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (2:46)
27: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (1:16)
28: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (:25)
29: Maxwell's Silver Hammer (9:03)

All artwork included.


NY Times Sunday Mag

For those who aren't regular Times readers, you may want to check out yesterday's Magazine, a special issues devoted to food. This great image, one of three the editors are using, is by German photographer Martin Klimas, who fires projectiles through the food and manages to capture the action.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Beatles - January 2, 1969 Abbey Road

Disc 1
1: Dialogue & Slates (:04)
2: Dialogue & Slates (:05)
3: Dialogue & Slates (:27)
4: Dialogue & Slates (:08)
5: Dialogue & Slates (:05)
6: Dialogue & Slates (:10)
7: Dialogue & Slates (:05)
8: Don't Let Me Down (:33)
9: Tuning (:04)
10: Tuning (:19)
11: Tuning (:04
12: Don't Let Me Down (:27)
13: Tuning (:27)
14: Don't Let Me Down (4:16)
15: Dig A Pony (3:05)
16: "Everybody Got Song" (:45)
17: Don't Let Me Down (3:09)
18: Let It Down (2:14)
19: Let It Down (:53)
20: Improvisation (:57)
21: Brown-Eyed Handsome Man (1:43)
22: I've Got A Feeling (1:19)
23: A Case Of The Blues (1:09)
24: Improvisation (:24)
25: Improvisation (:51)
26: On The Road To Marrakesh (2:08)
27: Revolution (:08)
28: I Shall Be Released (1:53)
29: Sun King (2:20)
30: Sun King / Don't Let Me Down (4:59)
31: Don't Let Me Down (3:34)
32: "The Teacher Was A-Lookin'" (1:00)
33: Don't Let Me Down (:20)
34: Don't Let Me Down (:26)
35: Sun King (:28)
36: Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues (:21)
37: I've Got A Feeling -(3:40)
38: Unknown (:09)
39: I've Got A Feeling (1:15)
40: I've Got A Feeling (:04)
41: I've Got A Feeling (:05)
42: I've Got A Feeling (11:00)
43: I've Got A Feeling (1:23)
44: Unknown (3:46)
45: Speak To Me (1:58)
46: I've Got A Feeling (:32)
47: I've Got A Feeling (5:00)
48: I've Got A Feeling (:11)
49: Mighty Quinn (Quinn The Eskimo) (1:05)
50: I've Got A Feeling (4:03)
51: I've Got A Feeling (2:00)
52: I've Got A Feeling (1:22)
53: Dialogue (:45)

Disc 2
1: Dialogue and Slates (1:42)
2: Dialogue and Slates (:06)
3: Dialogue and Slates (:05)
4: Dialogue and Slates (3:20)
5: Dialogue and Slates (:07)
6: Dialogue and Slates (1:52)
7: Dialogue and Slates (1:12)
8: I've Got A Feeling (1:29)
9: Tuning (:30)
10: Slate (:06)
11: I've Got A Feeling (:38)
12: I've Got A Feeling (:27)
13: I've Got A Feeling (:09)
14: I've Got A Feeling (1:24)
15: I've Got A Feeling (2:17)
16: I've Got A Feeling (5:36)
17: I've Got A Feeling (:37)
18: I've Got A Feeling (4:00)
19: Sun King / Don't Let Me Down (2:07)
20: Don't Let Me Down (3:54)
21: Don't Let Me Down (2:14)
22: Sun King / Don't Let Me Down (1:55)
23: Don't Let Me Down (6:44)
24: Don't Let Me Down (:31)
25: Improvisation (1:24)
26: Unknown (:19)
27: Don't Let Me Down (3:10)
28: Don't Let Me Down (:05)
29: Well...All Right (1:12)
30: Well...All Right (1:07)
31: Unknown (:25)
32: All Things Must Pass (1:24)
33: Two Of Us (7:21)
34: "We're Goin' Home" (:22)
35: Two Of Us (4:17)
36: Two Of Us (:39)
37: Two Of Us (3:36)
38: Two Of Us (:33)
39: Two Of Us (:05)
40: Two Of Us (:54)
41: Two Of Us (4:35)
42: "It's Good To See The Folks Back Home" (:22)
43: Two Of Us (4:45)

All artwork included.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Honey-Cinnamon Vinaigrette

Prep: 10 min. Shelf magic at its best, this quick-and-easy dressing adds a sweet note to some of our favorite fall salads. It's especially good with the peppery bite of fresh arugula topped with sliced apples and pears or warm roasted root vegetables.
Makes about 1 cup
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1. Whisk together first 5 ingredients in a small bowl. Add oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Black Ice

"Black Ice" features 15 new tracks from brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, along with Brian Johnson, Cliff Williams, and Phil Rudd. The album was produced by Brendan O’Brien and mixed by Mike Fraser at the Warehouse Studio in Vancouver, BC.

TRACKS: 01.Rock 'n Roll Train 02.Skies On Fire 03.Big Jack 04.Anything Goes 05.War Machine 06.Smash 'n Grab 07.Spoilin' For A Fight 08.Wheels 09.Decibel 10.Stormy May Day 11.She Likes Rock 'N Roll 12.Money Made 13.Rock 'n Roll Dream 14.Rocking All The Way 15. Black Ice



Monday, October 6, 2008

"I Met the Walrus"

In 1969, a 14-year-old Beatle fan named Jerry Levitan, armed with a reel-to-reel tape deck, snuck into John Lennon's hotel room in Toronto and convinced John to do an interview about peace. 38 years later, Jerry has produced a film about it. Using the original interview recording as the soundtrack, director Josh Raskin has woven a visual narrative in which Raskin marries the terrifyingly genius pen work of James Braithwaite with masterful digital illustration by Alex Kurina, resulting in a spell-binding vehicle for Lennon's message.

Here is the story:

I HAD BEEN A BEATLES fan since the age of nine and when the White Album came out in ‘68 it immediately became my favourite record – it still is to this day. There was just such a wealth of information, images and sound. It was a real treasure trove. In fact, I was obsessed with those songs. I listened to them incessantly. I didn’t have headphones, so I’d lie in bed with the stereo speakers pressed to my ears.

If I had to pick a favourite Beatle, it would have been John. As a 14-year old, I looked to him for leadership. He was outspoken and exuded confidence in the way he talked and in his ideas. You got the sense that he was the guy in charge. I remember writing a letter to him at Apple. I’d drawn a picture of Canada with an arrow pointing towards Toronto saying “I live here” adding something like “I’m your greatest fan, please come and visit Toronto!” Then one day I was listening to the local FM station and somebody called in to say they thought they’d seen John and Yoko at Toronto airport. That was all I needed to hear. I ran to my room and started calling all the hotels in the city. Most thought I was mad, but when I called the King Edward and asked “is John Lennon there?” they hung up. I knew he was there and quickly made a plan to go and find him. It was Sunday, May 25th 1969. John Lennon had come to my hometown. I had to do something.

The next day I woke up at 6am and tried to dress as I thought a news reporter might dress. I crept into my brother’s bedroom and stuffed his Super 8 camera into my bag. I’d managed to get a copy of John and Yoko’s Two Virgins album before the Mounties confiscated all the stock. I took the record with me in the hope of getting an autograph. Of course, I didn’t share my plans with anyone. I didn’t tell my friends, I didn’t tell my siblings and I certainly didn’t tell my school or my parents. I hit downtown Toronto at about 7am.

I got to the top level of the King Edward Hotel and started knocking on every door, waking up all the guests in the process. I must have covered three floors before I bumped into a cleaning lady with an Irish accent who asked me whether I was “looking for the Beatle”. She mentioned the number of a room on the floor below; “He’s in that one,” she whispered, “but don’t tell anyone I told you!” I went down the fire escape, turned the corner, looked down the corridor and saw Kyoko [Yoko’s daughter] lying on the floor in front of a door with a colouring book and crayons. I knew I’d found them. It was an electric feeling. My heart was beating fast. I remember gulping. This was it.

I hadn’t planned to do anything. I just had to see John. Talking to him never came into the equation. I stood in front of the door with my heart racing. A CBC cameraman and reporter suddenly appeared, knocked on the door and went in. After about 10 or 15 minutes I did the same. The door opened up and, in what must have been a very lame deep voice, I introduced myself as a Canadian newsman. I barged my way in, shuffling through the suite just staring at my shoes. Then I looked up and four feet from me sat John and Yoko. They were in the middle filming an interview. John saw me and laughed.

I took out my brother’s Super 8 camera, got the thing rolling and pointed it at John and Yoko who were still talking on the bed. When the CBS interview finished I took out my Two Virgins vinyl for him to sign. He was really surprised I had it. He wrote “To Jerry, love and peace, John Lennon” and Yoko signed her name. Derek Taylor [The Beatles’ Press Officer] then came in and informed everybody it was time to leave. So, the press left, John and Yoko disappeared, but I really took my time. Eventually I took the wrong turn out of the room and ended up in another part of the suite where John was trying to push a large tea chest onto the bed. “You wanna give me a hand with this?” he asked. I thought to myself, “You gotta do something”. So I asked him whether I could “come back later with a tape recorder and do an interview about peace”. He got so excited and said, “Great, yeah, Yoko! Derek! Great idea, let’s do an interview with him, talk about peace and he can take it to the kids!” I looked at Derek Taylor, who turned to me and said, “Why don’t you come back at 6pm?”

It was great. I was shown such respect. I arrived home, fell on my bed and crashed out utterly exhausted, waking up in a pool of sweat around 4pm with a feeling of abject horror - I didn’t have a tape recorder. I called up radio station CHUM and said I had an interview with John lined up for 6pm and I needed a recording device. They obviously didn’t believe me, but after speaking to Derek Taylor at the hotel, they all became my best friends. The radio producer said there’d be someone at the hotel bar at 5:30pm. I should meet him there. I got the bus back to the King Edward and it was pandemonium. Police, crazy people, protesters, hundreds of kids – everybody was trying to get a glimpse of John. I somehow got through the crowds and headed for the bar, where I met the guy from CHUM. We got to the correct floor and saw a row of reporters – mostly American press – sitting in single file against the wall of the corridor. As I turned the corner, one of the American reporters grabbed my arm and asked where I was going. I told him I had an interview at 6pm and he said, “Yeah, right, like the rest of us!” Then the door opened up – it was Derek Taylor. He asked, “Where’s the lad?” I raised my hand, and to the amazement of all those journalists, I walked in. Then it dawned on me – I hadn’t prepared a single question. John and Yoko appeared from around the corner. The mood was very tranquil. They both seemed very happy and at ease. I started telling them how I much I loved Two Virgins and he said, “Well we’ve just recorded another one called Life With the Lions. I have a copy here” Then Yoko offered me the record. At the end of the interview, you can hear John remind me not to forget the album.

He loved the fact that I wanted to talk about the White Album. I told him my theories about the songs and he just kept batting them back in a brotherly way saying, “No no, you know, there’s messages everywhere, but we’re just four guys. We wake up in the morning, have a cup of tea and a smoke – we’re just normal guys!” Throughout the interview he was constantly trying to take the shimmer off The Beatles, saying things like “I’m just writing about myself”. I mentioned how I was obsessed with Revolution 9 and how I thought I could hear him telling George to fuck off at the beginning and he said, “I may have told George to do whatever but I don’t remember saying it on the album!” There was a lot of talk in the press about The Beatles being on the verge of splitting up. He didn’t show any signs that a break-up was on the cards but I did get the sense that John And Yoko was a far more important entity than The Beatles.

It’s worth noting that I stopped the interview. I thought, “I can’t take any more of this man’s time. He’s an important guy!” So that’s why you hear the stumbling at the end of the tape. Derek Taylor then entered the room and told John that Mary Hopkin [Apple’s latest signing] had just arrived in town to play a show and she sends her love. John simply replied: “Send it back!”

He asked me if I wanted to go to the gig using his ticket. I said yes and he immediately called up Capitol Records and told them to give me the VIP treatment for the entire evening. John flashed a peace sign at me and closed the door. I left that room on cloud nine. Not only that, I left transformed forever. I knew it from the moment I lifted up my head and looked at the two of them on the couch. I knew it was a life-altering experience, I could feel it.

Over the years I’ve been approached by various people, all wanting to do something with the material. Up until recently I’ve never been happy with any of the approaches. I never wanted to do something cheesy or exploitive. It was always such a personal experience. So about thee years ago I thought I’d bring all this to an end. I’ll find some young Toronto artists and have them interpret my story in whichever way they see fit. I met Josh Raskin and he came up with the idea to do a five minute animated short. He introduced me to James Braithwaite, an illustrator who had a style very similar to John’s own drawings. It was a perfect fit.

I did see John again at the Rock‘N’Roll Revival Concert in Toronto in September ‘69. The guy at the record label made sure I got a seat in the front row and I got backstage where John held an impromptu press conference. He looked terrible – almost green. He looked up, whispered something to Yoko, caught my eye and waved. I couldn’t get to him after that. The last time I saw him was when he came to town to announce another concert for peace, which was later scrapped. But the memories I really cherish are all from the day of the interview.

He was part of everybody’s life, but I often felt I had the edge. I was shown such respect that day. He didn’t ask me who I was; he didn’t ask me any questions at all. I left that room and floated out of the hotel. In the rush to see him, I never questioned whether he was going to be cool or not. It never dawned on me that John Lennon would not be cool.

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