Wednesday, January 24, 2007

What American Accent Do You Have?

This quiz must be pretty accurate, or else my own particular results are just a very accurate fluke. And by the way, we do speak standard English straight out of the dictionary.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, November 06, 2006

New Tom Waits has some advance tracks available from Tom Waits' forthcoming album Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers and Bastards, most of them free. Some parts of 'Road to Peace' are vapid and trite, but the rest of the songs are pretty good (it seems to me that it's difficult to sing well about contemporary geopolitics [cf. the Rolling Stones' recent 'Sweet Neo Con']--it's not that it can't be done, but rather that it's usually not done well); 'You Can Never Hold Back Spring' and 'Long Way Home' are especially beautiful.

Monday, October 23, 2006

YES!!! Evened Up at One to One.

And this, currently on the front page of the Free Press website, is a great picture of Rogers.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Nine Tonight

Ok, not really--more like eight or so tonight. The wiffle told me before she left for class today that the Seeg was scheduled to sing before Game 1 tonight, and was kind enough to leave the article up on the computer for me to verify...and it's true! It's true! So tune into the game a little early tonight for some sweet Seger action.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

On Beer

A short bit from on Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer by Maureen Ogle:
A Pitcher Is Worth a Thousand Words
A Review by Doug Brown

There is a myth among us beer snobs about the history of beer in America. It goes something like this: everyone used to drink full-bodied beers up until prohibition. After prohibition, the big brewers took over the industry, flooding the market with weak beer made more from rice than barley, because rice is cheaper. They aggressively drove everyone else out of business, and so now Americans drink this limpid swill because they don't have a choice. It makes a great story, particularly for fans of hearty ales and microbrews. The only problem is, as Ogle lays out in this fascinating history, the myth is almost completely untrue.

The first brewers in America were German, and made German style-lagers that were indeed much heartier than today's big brews (think Paulaner Salvator). However, these brewers had two troubles selling their beer. One was consistency; it was hard to make the same beer with the same flavor batch after batch. The other was that nobody other than German immigrants liked this style of beer; it was heavy, calorie rich, and not particularly refreshing on a hot day. For cities with large German populations, like Chicago and New York, this was fine. For everyone else, a new type of beer was needed.

The answer was found in Bohemia (today's Czech Republic), in the town of Plzn (also known as Pils). Folks here made a light lager, perfect after a hard day's work. This style was brought back to America, and named pilsener after its town of origin. Except there was a problem. You can't make pilsener with American six-row barley, because it's too protein rich. You end up with unprecipitated blobs of protein, sort of like drinking a lava lamp. Brewers toiled away and found a solution: mix the barley with adjuncts like white corn and rice. Here's where part of the myth dies -- rice is more expensive than barley. Yes, the big brewers use rice not to save money, but because it makes better beer. This new American style of pilsener was immensely popular, and the thick German-style lagers all but vanished (we're still back in the mid-late 1800s, by the way).

Then a friend of brewer Adolphus Busch asked for a special beer to supplement his wine dealership. The friend, Carl Conrad, had learned of a beer made in Budweis, a town in Bohemia. The Budweis-style beer that Busch crafted for his friend used Saaz hops from Germany and rice as an adjunct. It was more expensive to make than most other American beers. It was lighter in color, and subtler in flavor. The two named it after the town of origin: Budweiser. And the rest, as they say, is history. The new brew was a huge hit with American palates. Imitators sprang up, and soon most of the successful breweries were making a Budweis-style pilsener.

Breweries in large cities had all the business they needed within a couple miles of the brewery, so had little need to expand. Brewers in smaller cities like Milwaukee and St. Louis had to transport their beer elsewhere to expand their markets. As they shipped to more and more distant cities, their capacities grew. Thus, the fact that these cities didn't have large local markets ironically became the reason most of the major brewers were located there (similarly true later on for Coors). Big brewers also introduced assembly line automation decades before Henry Ford supposedly invented the concept.

In the late 1800s a temperance movement started gaining momentum. Interestingly, lager was previously not considered alcoholic, as it only had a 3.2 percent alcohol content. By the end of World War I, the movement was powerful enough to push through a constitutional amendment, and prohibition was born. Only the brewers with deep enough pockets were able to survive, though some eked along by brewing soft drinks or selling yeast. When prohibition was repealed over ten years later, the number of players in the field had been considerably reduced.

The next thirty or forty years were times of further consolidation. As more brewers fell on hard times due to decreased alcohol consumption by Americans, the larger brewers bought up the smaller ones -- or the smaller ones just went under. By the 1960s, there were few breweries left. Then the big breweries turned to marketing in a way they never had, tying in beer with sports, using clever mascots (remember the Hamm's bear, from "The land of sky blue waters"?), and doing everything else to get Americans drinking beer again. It worked for a while, but soon a subset of the fickle American palate wanted something other than Budweiser.

Enter a guy named Fritz Maytag, who in 1965 bought a defunct brewery in San Francisco called Anchor. After trying to sell the same kind of beer Anchor had been making, Maytag found out why the brewery had gone under. Once again, a new kind of beer was needed. He turned to ale, and made a brew called Anchor Steam. Restaurateurs loved it. The microbrew boom was born.

Today drinkers have a wider variety of beers to choose from than ever. The big breweries still dominate the business with their pilseners, but not because people don't have a choice. The majority of American beer drinkers really do like the light flavor. Go figure. The big breweries got big by caring about consistency, and using more expensive ingredients than the cheap malts and hops used by failed brewers. In short, they survived for all the of the same reasons people like craft beer today. I won't be switching from Deschutes to Bud anytime soon, but Ogle has diminished my dislike of the big brewers – no small task, that. Whatever type of beer you prefer, Ambitious Brew makes for good reading while quaffing your favorite. Along with Ken Wells's entertaining romp Travels with Barley, this is highly recommended for any beer fans on your gift list (including yourself).


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bless You, Boys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Saturday, October 14, 2006

This Is an Amazing Story of Self-Sacrifice

SEAL falls on grenade to save comrades By THOMAS WATKINS, Associated Press Writer
Fri Oct 13, 3:02 PM ET

CORONADO, Calif. - A Navy SEAL sacrificed his life to save his comrades by throwing himself on top of a grenade Iraqi insurgents tossed into their sniper hideout, fellow members of the elite force said.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor had been near the only door to the rooftop structure Sept. 29 when the grenade hit him in the chest and bounced to the floor, said four SEALs who spoke to The Associated Press this week on condition of anonymity because their work requires their identities to remain secret.

"He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it," said a 28-year-old lieutenant who sustained shrapnel wounds to both legs that day. "He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs' lives, and we owe him."

This puts flesh on words like 'courage' and 'love' (cf. John 15:13, 'Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends').

Read the rest


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Moon Will Send You Back

Just got back from seeing Richard Buckner a little bit ago, accompanied by Doug Gillard from Guided By Voices. It was good. He played a lot of stuff off of Meadow, which pumped up the volume at times despite there being only two axe-slingers. I have to admit, the performance seemed a little perfunctory, but his voice was beautiful as usual. It was also marred somewhat by a few groups of people who thought it would be a good idea to talk loudly while he was playing. Why anyone would pay $13 to chat it up and not listen is beyond me. Perhaps that contributed to the aforementioned perfunctoriness and decibel-level.

In the end, however, these are mere quibbles. The music was good, and I don't think that there were more than 70 people there. When I've seen him in Ann Arbor, the crowd has been signficantly larger. Don't know why.

Oh, and by the way: Go Tigers!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bless You Boys Redux!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, how sweet. I was 8 years old the last time I got to enjoy any Motown motion in the postseason.

Did anyone SEE the Gambler's performance last night? And Bonderman--well, you saw how good HE was today.


Bless You Boys!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Turns out you can't buy success after all.


Sunday, October 01, 2006


The wiffe and I just finished watching Network, a brilliant anti-television jeremiad. Tell you what: 1976 must have been a great year for movies. Not only did the greatest sports movie of all time, Rocky (though I'd be willing to hear a case for Hoosiers and the original Bad News Bears), win Best Picture; Network won Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress. Not that the Oscars can always be the best guide, but I think those folks did a pretty good job here.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Photo Phun

This picture would be a lot better if he were holding a John Grisham novel.

First Review of Meadow

No longer are Buckner's albums music to read Erskine Caldwell to.

But there still pretty lights-out good.

For another take from someone who's basked in the Buck for a while, see here.

Oh, I Almost Forgot

I also saw Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices.

It was pretty bad.

I Watched Crash Tonight

It's a karma piece.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Music of the Midwest

And speaking of 'independent' rock 'n roll (though all rock 'n roll is fundamentally dependent), the best example you can find in my opinion is Chamberlain's 1998 album The Moon My Saddle on Doghouse Records. I am rocking out to it right now. Musically and instrumentally it is solid, lyrically it is several rungs above most of what passes for songwriting on the pop music ladder, and the overall feel of the album is wonderful. 11 songs of joy and yearning.


The Rock Show was pretty good. Shearwater was decent, and their opening and closing numbers packed a noteworthy punch. The stuff in the middle was ok.

The second band was called Bottomless Pit. 'Nuff said.

Magnolia Electric Co. played a set of solid rock 'n roll. That's what I went to hear, and they delivered. Nothing fancy, nothing hip, nothing cutting-edge. Straightforward and foot-tap-inducing rockness. Sometimes not being cutting-edge is the best way to be cutting-edge. They did an especially killer rendition of 'Riding with a Ghost'.

In other news, the wiffle and I watched Pickup on South Street tonight. Fantastic.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Ok, Now.

Off in a few minutes to see Shearwater and Magnolia Electric Co., aka Songs:Ohia, aka whatever else they're called.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

On This Day in Literary History

1964 : Steinbeck wins the Medal of Freedom

On this day, writer John Steinbeck was presented the U.S. Medal of Freedom. Steinbeck had already received numerous other honors and awards for his writing, including the 1962 Nobel Prize and a 1939 Pulitzer Prize for Grapes of Wrath.

Steinbeck, a native Californian, studied writing intermittently at Stanford between 1920 and 1925 but never graduated. He moved to New York and worked as a manual laborer and journalist while writing his first two novels, which were not successful. He married in 1930 and moved back to California with his wife. His father, a government official in Salinas County, gave the couple a house to live in while Steinbeck continued writing.

His first novel, Tortilla Flat, about the comic antics of several rootless drifters who share a house in California, was published in 1935. The novel became a financial success.

Steinbeck's next works, In Dubious Battle and Of Mice and Men, were both successful, and in 1938 his masterpiece The Grapes of Wrath was published. The novel, about the struggles of an Oklahoma family who lose their farm and become fruit pickers in California, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1939.

After World War II, Steinbeck's work became more sentimental in such novels as Cannery Row and The Pearl. He also wrote several successful films, including Forgotten Village (1941) and Viva Zapata (1952). He became interested in marine biology and published a nonfiction book, The Sea of Cortez, in 1941. His travel memoir, Travels with Charlie, describes his trek across the United States in a camper. Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize in 1962 and died in New York in 1968.

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