there is water underground.

Monday, December 18, 2006

We Like The Nightlife, We Like To Party...

I couldn't help but notice that there has been an abundance of fun music news recently. Let's begin with Van Halen. It only took 21 years, but Eddie Van Halen finally fired bassist Michael Anthony. I honestly didn't know that VH was still performing (maybe they're doing county fairs and bar mitzvahs), but honestly, Michael Anthony was one of the most boring bassists ever. He provided a pedal tone over which Eddie could shred and Alex could wail on the drums. All one needs to do is listen to the first song of their first album, and you'd get a pretty good idea of his playing... I think he actually plays eighth notes at some point during the song. In any case, I'm intrigued by the replacement: Van Halen's new bass player is none other than Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's 15-year-old son. According to Eddie, Wolfgang "is fucking dangerous. If I excel at the speed of sound, he excels at the speed of light. " More fascinating advice from Eddie can be found in this article...

And then there's Robert Plant. My god, does he look like shit. I'll try to find the picture from RS, but my first thought was "what the editors were thinking when they chose that photo?" In any case, he was really proud of the fact that for his latest album, he gave his band the titles of the would-be songs, and the band had to write the music to fit the songs. Pardon me, but that sounds like a really dumb idea considering some of the titles from his 2003 album: Tye Dye on the Highway, Dirt in a Hole, 29 Palms, Darkness Darkness, Sea of Love, and Big Log (thanks, Wikipedia). How do you compose to fit someone else's title?

Finally, mark your calendars: March 6, 2007 is - according to the Axl himself - the release date of Chinese Democracy, the album which G'n'R (well, really just Axl) has been working on since 1993. Yes, that's fourteen years ago. And at a reported cost of nearly $14 million, it better fucking impress me. Fourteen years!! That's a long time. That year, Kurt Cobain was still alive, Conan O'Brien started his show, and Barry White was on the Simpsons. Anyway, there are a couple of things that bother me: One, Axl said that the announcement of the date is "not a promise, a lie, or a guarantee." Then what the hell is it? Do I believe that the album will be released on March 6? No way. And two, his manager (whom he just fired) issued a statement defending Axl's integrity and credibility as an artist, including the statement that Axl "managed to have at least three good days' work [on the album] during the past year, but the record needed two or three days' more work before it was completed." The manager also detailed the "problems" that they encountered while working on the album:
"We planned the tour in February and we were supposed to finish the album in May, before it started. We sent our engineers to New York, where we all waited, for over a month, for the muse to come but she never arrived. We then scheduled sessions in London in August. August came and went and once again the muse did not show. We came back to LA but yet again she eluded us."
Those are not problems. Having a drummer die or having the studio burn to the ground, those are problems. Waiting for the muse to show up? Are they fucking serious?!? Either this is one of the best 14-year-long pranks ever conducted, or Axl is a lazy, insecure, insincere dope who's got his head so far up his own ass that his ego can't see out. Given that he only manages three days' good work per year, I know where my money is.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Fat Kid

I was listening to the news on my ride to work this morning, and a report came on about how today's teens are eating too much and not getting enough exercise. Really, do any more studies and reports need to be done on this subject? Our kids are fat, no shit! Let's start working on those reports that figure out how to motivate the youth, incorporate more exercise into their days, and stop eating so much fast food.

Anyway, that's not the point. The point is that during the 90 seconds or so it took to broadcast the report, the "South Park" theme played in the background. That's right, Primus got some free airplay on the AM dial. Now, the report did not tie in the TV show - it didn't mention that kids who sit on their ass and watch TV all afternoon tend to be heavier (duh) or that Cartman is the fat kid on the show (duh) - they just felt the need to play the South Park theme. No mention of the show whatsoever.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, other than confused. If there's a connection, what is it? Are the newscasters implying that people who watch South Park are fat? Are they trying to broadcast a subliminal message? ...are they just havin' a bit of fun? Perhaps they're saying "make sure your kids exercise or else they'll end up like Cartman" (hopefully without the whole racist, misogynistic, egomaniacal, authoritah-seeking attitude that makes us keep watching the show) to the audience that recognizes the theme song?

And if the broadcast was implying some connection between TV and weight, since when is having a fat kid on a TV show a new thing? Anyone ever heard of Fat Albert? He was a good guy who always knew what to do! Anyone ever seen the Goonies? Chunk was the man! One of the "Friends" was fat in high school, right? (actually, scratch that last one... I think it was Courtney Cox, and she's now a skeleton) Anyone ever read Tolkien? Who saves the day? That's right, Sam... the fat Hobbit. There have always been - and there always will be - the fat kid in the story who saves the day (or, in Cartman's case, kills the parents of someone who pissed him off and turns them into chili).

Hmm.... after reading this rambling, I don't think that there's a point to it, other than to express my confusion over the intention of this morning's news broadcast. And on that note, it's lunchtime.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Who Is General Tso, And Why Are We Eating His Chicken?

This exact question came up the other day at work when we got Chinese food. So of course, I went straight to Wikipedia for an answer. What I found was pretty interesting:


It is unclear how the dish came to bear the name of Zuo Zongtang (左宗棠, 1812-1885), a Qing dynasty general. Zuo himself is unlikely ever to have tasted the dish. Also, there are contradictory accounts as to the origin of the dish. The author of the book Chinese Kitchen (Morrow, 1999), Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, states that the dish has Hunan origins (this speculation may have been because of the prevalence of hot and spicy flavors in Hunan cuisine). Lo states that the dish is a Hunan classic, zongtang ji (宗堂雞), or "ancestral hall chicken." Other sources credit the origin of the dish to New York City's Chinatown in the 1970s.

Regional differences

The dish is typically called General Gau's chicken in the Boston, Massachusetts area. In parts of Canada, this dish is known as General Tao's, and less commonly, General George's chicken. In other regions and restaurants, it is also known or mispronounced as General Tsao's, General Zhou's, General Gao's, General Chou's, General Tzo's, General To's, General So's, General Joe's, and General Toso's. It is also known as General Chow's prominently in the New Jersey area and simply General Chicken in parts of Northern California. In at least one restaurant in Illinois the dish is simply called Governor's Chicken. At the United States Naval Academy, the dish is served in the main mess hall, King Hall, as "Admiral Tso's Chicken," reflecting a nautical theme.


Now, I'm not sure that Wikipedia is to be completely trusted. Some guy posted that Adolf Hitler was the ping-pong champion of Germany in his twenties, and that info remained on the site for several weeks. But it's a good site, and I did enjoy my General Gau's chicken (that part is accurate, at least). It's a damn shame that the General himself never got the chance to taste his chicken.