Wednesday, November 30, 2005

#2: Les femmes de la Rue Pute-y-Muse

Today I salute the women who walked the streets named "Whore-Hides-Here" and "Scabby Whore" (Rue Pute-y-Muse and Impasse Putigneaux, respectively) in 13th and 14th century Paris. These philanthropic women requested to finance a stained glass window in Notre Dame (as had other tradesmen and tradeswomen), but the bishop refused their money. Perhaps he couldn't bear the thought of Church money being laundered through prostitutes only to return once more to Church coffers?

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

#1: St. Geneviève

Thirty pages into Colin Jones's intriguing book Paris: The Biography of a City, I am inspired to initiate a daily series honoring interesting women from French history. For each day it takes me to read the near-500 pages of tiny print, I'll profile a woman mentioned in my previous day's reading.

Today: Saint Geneviève, patron saint of Paris, police officers, and air stewards. A strict vegetarian, Geneviève was charged by a bishop with protecting the "sanctity" of Parisian virgins. While interesting, that's hardly the most important credit to her name. She also saved the city from Attila's ravages and ended at least one famine single-handedly. Geneviève also lived to be almost 100 (419-512!), which is surely a noteworthy accomplishment for 5th century France. Vegetarian, virginal, and vitalizing. Not quite Jeanne d'Arc, but she'll do.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

I Wanna Holler

In French, a “détroit” is what we Anglo-parlant folks call a “strait" -- a narrow channel of water that connects two larger bodies of water. At the risk of being make-ya-wanna-vomit symbolic, I like to think that the Detroit Cobras are a channel for connecting two different eras of sound -- older R&B/soul and newer pop/rock. Their albums are endlessly enjoyable (including their new release Baby) and have introduced a number of people to a lot of songs they probably never would have heard (and all that other sappy stuff). But, for me, one lingering question remained -- which Nagy is more talented in the spotlight: Rachel or Charles?

After Friday night's show at the Triple Rock, I can definitely say that the winner is Rachel. Sure, Charles was a 3-time all star, but did he ever have an audience at his fingertips, ready to obey all commands? If he had told the Indians' fans to stop their offensive tomahawk chop, would they have listened? Probably not.

But Friday night, Rachel was in charge. If the audience started to act up, slamming each other a little too hard for her tastes, she'd quiet us down. If the white male half of a multi-racial couple refused to dance with his "hot latte mama" of a girlfriend, Rachel would have given him hell. And when a tall man in the back of the crowd refused to move a muscle or smile, she called him out on it.

Oh yeah, but the music. Well, Rachel dominated that too. Sure, the rest of the band is pretty rocking, but there's really nothing that took my attention away from Rachel and her voice. (And that décolletage-showing button-down. Ahem.) Much like at the Sleater-Kinney show, there were points where I totally forgot myself and couldn't stop jumping around, especially on "Hey Sailor" and "99 and a Half Just Won't Do."

Plus, it’s rare to find a three-band bill that thrice delivers, but this one sure enough did. Chooglin’ performed their first ever show like the seasoned stage vets they are – apparently most of the band is former Midnight Evils. And Reigning Sound followed with a captivating performance, led by Greg Cartwright, who also co-produced the Cobras' new album and appeared on stage as a full-on band member. Their name is also pretty accurate, as the sound emanating from that stage seemed bigger than what three people could produce. Though perhaps a more apt band name woulda been "Hyper-Vibrato Frontman," as Cartwright's entire body shook while he sang, reminiscent of a clarinet or sax reed being attacked by a stream of hot air.

Yeeha, I had a good time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

From Hell to Z

Since my new employers are forcing me to learn more about comics and graphic novels as part of my job -- I know, they're so mean -- I was excited to see and explore IGN's Ultimate Bookshelf of graphic novels, found via CJ. I haven't read many (probably just one, I'm ashamed to confess), but I hope to improve my batting average soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Unsolicited Advice

  • Visit my former housemate Sam's new blog -- Unsolicited Advice. Her choice of url ( hints at the humor that is to be found there.
  • Believe Mark's review of last Saturday's show at the Entry. I mostly agree with it, though I may have enjoyed Spider Fighter more than he did -- I thought their departure from the stage was too abrupt, and I didn't necessarily miss Arzu's vocal hysterics.
  • Experiment with Linda McCartney's vegetarian shepherd's pie recipe, found below. She's dead, ya know, so making this dish is like paying her homage. Do it. But add a middle layer of canned peas or corn for full tastebud acrobatics.

1.5 lbs. potatoes
6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1-2 Tbsp. milk
1 large onion, chopped
1 4.5 oz. packet TVP mince or 6 veggie burgers, crumbled
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1.5 cups vegetable stock or water (3/4 cup if using veggie burgers)
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400F. (Or not -- why do recipes always ask you to pre-heat before 'tis absolutely necessary?) Boil the potatoes and mash them in a bowl with 4 tablespoons of the butter and enough milk to give a good sticky consistency. Put them to one side.
Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and sauté the onion. Add the TVP mince, soy sauce and vegetable stock. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Season to taste.
If you want a thicker mixture, blend a little flour or vegetable gravy mix with some vegetable stock and add to the sauté. Cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Pour the mixture into a baking dish and cover with the mashed potatoes.
Bake for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are nice and brown.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Rolling in Harper Lee's Grave

Yesterday I overheard a pubescent boy squeak out the question, "I'm supposed to have a book on hold -- uh, I think it's called How to Kill a Mockingbird?"

Well, I don't think this is exactly the required reading he was looking for, but here's a Flash interpretation of "how to kill a mockingbird."

[NOTE: Due to technical difficulties, I myself haven't viewed said killing, but all internet reviews proclaim that it's hysterical.]