Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best Songs of 2011

I think in lists. What are my top five beers of all time? What are the ten best bands names ever? I can't help it. It's how I'm wired.

So every year, I compile a list of my favorite songs and favorite albums. The following are my favorite songs from 2011.

  1. Circuital - My Morning Jacket
    Listen, what is this? A slow jam? An ELO song? Then, out of nowhere come guitars that sound like a cross between Won't Get Fooled Again and Jack and Diane. Then we're right back in the slow jam, then the guitars, and then it just builds and builds. It's like everything that is great about MMJ jammed into one song.

  2. Time Spent in Los Angeles - Dawes
    If radio still mattered (or even existed) this would be the breakout hit of the year. It's like everything great about Jackson Browne, Tom Petty, and even Bon Jovi filtered through the sound of The Band. At the start of the year, the only thing I knew about Dawes was that it was the full-time band of the "third dude" in Middle Brother. Then I buy this album and can't stop listening. This song is probably the catchiest track on the album, but it's not even the best. Every track is amazing. Buy this album now.

  3. Lost in My Mind - The Head and the Heart
    Who are these kids? Where did they come from? How did they write such a compelling batch of songs on their first try? I don't know. But I love that a band whose album I bought on a whim (because they were on SubPop) and championed tirelessly ended up one of the breakouts of the year. I only hope they continue to put out music this good for years to come!

  4. Tree by the River - Iron & Wine
    This song comes from what was probably my most highly anticipated album of the year. I love everything that Sam Beam does. This song stands up there with his best. His former life as a screenwriter comes through with how vivid of a picture this song paints.

  5. Dawned on Me - Wilco
    I didn't have high hopes for the new Wilco. The last few albums have been hit and miss for me. Boy was I pleasantly surprised. The album plays almost like a greatest hits. And this song has the pop of Summerteeth combined with the noise of YHF and A Ghost is Born. Can't go wrong with that.

  6. Calamity Song - The Decemberists
    Just like with Wilco, the last few Decemberists albums haven't hit me the way the first few did. And like Wilco, this song was a pleasant surprise. It seems odd that I didn't select one of the songs with Gillian Welch on background vocals. But this song just kills. And the REM guitar part doesn't hurt...

  7. California Wildfire - The Henry Clay People
    Sorry if this scared you when it jumped out of the speakers. Mrs. P90 said that this transition was jarring and that maybe this song didn't belong on this mix. No can do. I love me some Henry Clay People. These kids are the future of rock and roll!

  8. Losers - The Belle Brigade
    Nothing original here folks. The harmonies are straight out of the Simon & Garfunkel play book. I heard this song when the Mrs. and I were playing *the game. Later, I saw that they were opening on the Dawes/Blitzen Trapper co-headling tour. Sadly, they didn't open the show we saw.

  9. Love the Way You Walk Away - Blitzen Trapper

  10. Miranda - Surfer Blood
    The Pixies called. They want their sound back. It's ok, this is slightly better than getting your sound and image from the movie Cocktail (see Vampire Weekend).

  11. Miss K. - Deer Tick

  12. Out in Nature - Band of Horses
    Yeah, so what if this is from a kids tv show. Yo Gabba Gabba is responsible for some pretty awesome songs - see the best Weezer song since the Green Album. We saw this on an episode early in 2011 and couldn't wait for the album to come out.

  13. Life of a Bear - Johnny Corndawg
    Corndawg is one weird dude. He's called the running cowboy. He makes amazing guitar straps (if anyone loves me, they'll get me one), and he writes great songs. Check out Chevy Beretta and Fools and Sages as well. Chevy Beretta might rate higher for me, but since we compile this mix for friends with kids, the three very obvious F-bombs knocked it out of contention.

  14. So Long - She & Him
    Another "kids song!" Clearly I'm old. Whatevs - this song is catchy and I love me some M. Ward. Contrary to popular belief, I've cooled on Zooey. I liked her much more back in the Elf days.

  15. Blue Eyes - Middle Brother
    With a line like "She's a southern girl without a drawl, She's a good girl who can wear a black bra," I don't think I need to say anything else.

  16. Lucky Now - Ryan Adams
    Oh Ryan Adams, I hate to love you and love to hate you. Not sure how the same person who wrote Heartbreaker and Gold could create albums like Easy Tiger and Cardinolgy (Shark Sandwich? More like Shit Sandwich). I was really excited when critics were calling this a return to form and one of Ryan's best albums. I'm not sure what album they were listening to. The one I got was the same old Ryan we've been seeing most since Gold. A few classic songs tossed in a sea of throwaways. Sure most of the throwaways would be great songs if written by someone else. But I think Ryan Adams can do better. This song is really good. And the background vocals by Norah Jones are great.

  17. Stay Young, Go Dancing - Death Cab for Cutie
    Mrs. P90 thought I should replace this with another song from Codes & Keys. She says that it's obvious that it's written about Zooey Deschanel and that in light of her and Ben splitting up, the song is just sad. I disagree, a song should be able to live outside of the circumstances which inspired it.

  18. A Little Bit of Everything - Dawes
    Pay special attention to the third verse of this song, the one that begins "Somewhere a pretty girl is writing invitations." If it doesn't bring a tear to your eye, you don't have a soul. And yes, it sounds like a long lost Jackson Browne song. But it's amazing. This is the perfect song to close my best of cd.

  19. Beth/Rest - Bon Iver
    Close your eyes. Picture Ralph Macchio doing a crane kick on the shore in Okinawa. This is the sound of that scene. Listening to the first Bon Iver, For Emma, Forever Ago, I never would have guessed that he would write and record what is essentially a Peter Cetera pop ballad. And if I wasn't already in to Bon Iver, I would likely run screaming the other direction. But holy crap, this song is amazing!
*The Game - “The Game” consists of my wife flipping through the digital music stations on the TV and then me naming the song, artist, year, and album. I have a savant like ability at this endeavor. I’m unstoppable on 80’s new wave and 90’s altrock. The game doesn’t end until you hear two songs by either Grand Funk Railroad or REO Speedwagon. This is not a hard and fast rule, but was pretty easy to follow on the old Music Choice Network that comes with our cable service, the 70’s Rock station played a boatload of these two artists.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    A Cookie within a Cookie

    Years ago, I was a frozen dessert specialist (I worked in an ice cream store). We served cookies along with ice cream. One day, we received a shipment of dough that consisted of chocolate chip cookie dough with crushed up Oreos in place of the chocolate chips. I’ve never liked Oreos, but these cookies were amazing. It started my lifelong interest of cramming as much stuff as possible into a cookie. I’ve made cookies bursting at the crumb with coconut, rice krispies, chocolate chips, and peanut butter chips. I’ve taken a variety bag of leftover Halloween candy, chopped it roughly, and baked it into cookies.

    But the cookie that people react most excitedly to, is when I crush Trader Joe’s Mint JoJos and bake them into a chocolate chip cookie. It’s easy and it’s delicious. Just use your favorite recipe and substitute 12 oz. of crushed Jojos in place of the chocolate chips. Yum.

    Here's the recipe I use:
        3/4 cup granulated sugar
        1 cup brown sugar (or 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses)
        1 cup butter, softened
        2 eggs
        2 teaspoons vanilla
        1 teaspoon baking soda
        1 teaspoon salt
        3 cups all-purpose flour
        12 ounces crushed Mint JoJos

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    1.  Place sugars, butter, eggs, and vanilla in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer.
    2. Turn to Speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl. Turn to Speed 4 and beat another 30 seconds. Stop and scrape bowl.
    3. Sift together baking soda, salt, and flour.
    4. Turn to Stir Speed. Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture over about 2 minutes.
    5. Turn to Speed 2 and mix 30 seconds.
    6. Turn to Stir Speed and add chocolate chips, mixing for 15 seconds.
    7. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, longer if you prefer crunchy cookies.
    8. Eat.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011

    Wintry Mix

    I like CDs. I prefer my iPod, but I love a good mix cd. As the weather changes, I always enjoy throwing together a mix of songs that feel and sound like the season. Tonight, I threw together a Wintry Mix.

    Here it is:

    1. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - Arcade Fire
    2. Fly - Nick Drake
    3. White Winter Hymnal - Fleet Foxes
    4. Beautiful Girl - Pete Droge
    5. Houses on the Hill - Ryan Adams
    6. Skinny Love - Bon Iver
    7. Dead of Winter - Eels
    8. Grey Ice Water - Sun Kil Moon
    9. Mushaboom - Feist
    10. Pictures of You - The Cure
    11. These Days - Nico
    12. A Long December - Counting Crows
    13. Calling and Not Calling My Ex - Okkervil River
    14. Girl From the North Country - Bob Dylan (w. Johnny Cash)
    15. Fairytale of New York - The Pogues
    16. Mandolin Wind - Rod Stewart
    17. Sodom, South Georgia - Iron & Wine
    18. Dreams - The Cranberries
    19. Sleep the Clock Around - Belle & Sebastian

    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    Warm Fuzz(ies)

    Sometimes things just fall into place. This week, out of the blue, I somehow managed to score two fuzz pedals that I have been dreaming of for months/years. In one case, I responded to a guy with a Fulltone ’70 for trade and I happened to have the pedal he was looking for.

    In another case, someone contacted me re: a pedal I had listed for sale or trade. And what am I getting? An Analog Man Peppermint Fuzz. Don’t ask what pedal I’m swapping it for. It’s such a deal that you will want to cry.

    And to think that most of my pedal board has been assembled thanks to stumbling across a mic preamp being given a way for free on a side street in Pacifica, CA and by purchasing a new-old-stock Mu-Tron Phasor II in 1993 for $125 (and selling it a few years ago for $350)!

    By my math, my pedal board would cost just over $1,000 to assemble from scratch. Thanks to a lot of well timed trades, I’ve assembled it for less than $300 out of pocket.

    Can’t wait to try the Peppermint and the ’70. And if they don’t work for me, I’ll just trade up for something better. This seems to be the one area in life where I have the midas touch! If only I had the same touch for real estate or stocks…

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Kids Music that Doesn't Suck

    Belle

    Sebastian
    Once upon a time, Belle & Sebastian meant something different to me. Pre-kids, they were a kick-ass little indie rock band from Scotland. Post-kids, Belle is the princess from Beauty and the Beast, and Sebastian is the crab from The Little Mermaid. Holy crap - how my life has changed. But luckily, I have found a way for them to peacefully co-exist! And yes, I agree that this is an odd post for 11/11/11 - Nigel Tufnel day...

    At first, my oldest daughter had great taste in music. In her first few weeks of life, the only thing that could keep her from crying in the car was listening to Turn on Me by the Shins. As soon as the Phil Specter drum beat played, she’d settle right down. Later, the sure fire way to get her to sleep in the car was to play Sky Blue Sky by Wilco (insert joke about Wilco being boring dad rock here, I won’t take offense). She’d always fall asleep mid-way through the noisy guitar solo in Impossible Germany. She had really great taste. And then it ended.

    Belle & Sebastian
    Shortly after her first birthday, and during a particularly miserable car trip to Hilton Head, we broke down and bought our first “kids music” cd. It was a Backyardigans cd. And as far as kids music goes, it’s pretty good. And it did make for a much more pleasant drive back to Maryland. But then came the “silly songs,” the princesses, the Disney this and the Disney that, we were awash in a sea of aural crap and forever hearing “I don’t want to listen to adults music, I want kids music.”  Side note - Suffering through numerous repeats of Part of Your World has given me much appreciation for my father’s tolerance of Nine Inch Nails and Jesus & Mary Chain that he suffered through for 8th and 9th grade me…

    So, imagine my delight last year when my four year-old asked “Daddy, who sings this song?” and I responded by saying “it’s Belle & Sebastian, like the princess and the crab!” She went for it, and said “I love this song!” And it’s not that I dislike the Backyardigans or the Imagination Movers, but I was thrilled when listening to Write About Love became our morning ritual for many a month.

    So now, we walk a fine line between kids music and adult music. And thanks to Yo Gabba Gabba and a few compilations we have some kids music songs that are awesome. Case in point, from the Gabba soundtrack, All My Friends Are Insects by Weezer is without a doubt the best Weezer song since the green album, maybe since Pinkerton.

    So if you’re up to your ears in kids music, here’s a playlist that can save you. Enjoy. Don't be surprised if the Band of Horses and She & Him tracks end up on my Best of 2011. And the Mark Kozelek track is nothing short of amazing.

    All My Friends Are Insects - Weezer



    Bunny Hop - The Hollow Trees

    Out in Nature - Band of Horses



    If You Ever See An Owl - The Terrible Twos

    It's Okay, Try Again - The Shins

    The Ninjas - Barenaked Ladies

    So Long - She & Him




    Jump Up! - Imagination Movers


    Bedtime Lullaby - Mark Kozelek

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    The Straight Truth on Mayan Palace - The Restaurants

    Dessert at Tramonto
    The Straight Truth on Mayan Palace - The Restaurants
    The restaurants and wait staff at Mayan Palace are great.

    Gong - Gong is Asian Fusion and has a good mix of Japanese noodle dishes, sushi, and other “Asian” food. We ate a light dinner there on our first night and it was delicious. We had steamed edamame and some various maki rolls. The Tabasco roll is simply amazing. I would never have thought to wrap a roll in grilled plantain, but it was nothing short of amazing. There is a sommelier who serves both Gong and Tramonto and he did an outstanding job of recommending a red wine that would overpower the sushi (I wasn’t in the mood for sake and didn’t want to splurge for champagne on our first night). We ended the meal with a dessert of grilled bananas and gingered dark chocolate. YUM.

    Creperia – Inside the market/gift shop, downstairs from Gong and Tramonto is a creperia. Most of the crepes are good. The Mexicana (salsa verde, roasted poblano peppers, pumpkin blossoms, etc) and the banana y nutella are out of this world! Don’t miss them.

    Balche and Frida’s Mexican Grill – The outdoor cafĂ© by the pool is called Balche by day and Frida’s Mexican Grill by night. Our beach waiter served us everyday and the food is fine. It’s not amazing, but it’s not bad. The grilled fish sandwich is great. At night, when it turns into Fridas, that’s another story. At that point, they begin serving some of the best Mexican food you have ever had (and yes, I have had great authentic Mexican in Mexico and the US, including going to all of the Rick Bayless restaurants).  The Cochinita pibil is out of this world. It’s basically little chunks of pork shoulder, seasoned with achiote, wrapped in banana leaves, and roasted until it almost melts. The green chile sauce at Fridas is some of the best I have ever had as is the mole. My wife and I joked that the chef should offer a cooking class just to teach those two sauces. Other items not to miss are the tamale appetizer (four different types of tamales) and the tacos al pastor. If you get the The Cochinita pibil, consider pairing it with a Mexican red wine. We had a nebbiolo from the Guadalupe Valley that was really good. Fridas is closed on Thursday – I’m guessing to encourage people to do the “Mexican Feast” at Del Lago.

    Tramonto – The Italian restaurant is also great. It was our favorite last time, and we saved it for our last night. Our biggest complaint of our trip is that we couldn’t go to every restaurant twice. We saved Tramonto for our actual anniversary and we had a great meal. Everything on the menu sounds amazing and it’s hard to narrow things down. The bruschetta is great. One thing we noticed all week long is that any time we had peppers (red, green, poblano, fresh, roasted, whatever) they had so much more flavor than the peppers we get at home (even more so than the fancy Whole Foods peppers). I don’t think words can really describe the meal we had. Our server was amazing, our wine (a Mexican Merlot) was amazing. Everything was perfect.

    Coconut Curry Shrimp at Havana Moon
    Havana Moon – They call Havana Moon a Cuban restaurant, but there isn’t a whole lot of Cuban food on the menu. We felt that Havana Moon was the weakest of the restaurants. My wife ordered the pad thai and it was just ok. I ordered the coconut curry shrimp and they were amazing – coconut fried shrimp with a great curry dipping sauce and an asian slaw on the side. Our dessert that night was also a let down. It was called the Coco Cubico (Coconut Cube). You’d think with a name like that you couldn’t lose, but it was bland and boring. Also, the tables and chair at Havana Moon are not very comfortable, the tables are low and the supports cut into your legs forcing you to sit at odd angles. However, the show was amazing – mostly just because it was crazy and we didn’t know there would be a show. Without much warning, a group of dancers busted in doing what could best be described as a seen from Eyes Wide Shut – scantily clad dancers with animal head costumes. Surreal!

    Something Fish – The name of this one is escaping me, but tucked in the pool area in the Grand Mayan is a little cevicheria. We ate lunch there one day and had the fish tacos and the smoked marlin burrito. The fish tacos were pretty good. The marlin burrito would have been good if it didn’t have cheese. Then again, we might have blown our appetites on pina coladas and chips…

    The Burger Custom Made – hidden in Luxe is a “hip burger joint” that’s all L.A. and South Beach inspired. We never ate there, but some of the burgers sounded pretty good. Next time…

    Coconut - Freshly Cut from the Tree
    None of the restaurants are “Mexico cheap.” The maki rolls at Gong are in the $8-15 range and entrees are probably $15-40. Crepes are $8-10 (but 3 for the price of 2 from 3:00-9:00). At Tramonto, Fridas, and Havana Moon entrees are $12-50. But that $50 at Tramonto will get you a Chateaubriand. I threatened all week to get it. But something about eating a pound of beef didn’t seem like what I wanted to do on my ten year wedding anniversary. I settled for a lighter dinner, the first cognac of my life, and a great evening.

    So all of these things are great, but what really holds it altogether is the staff. The staff at Mayan Palace is friendly and professional. You couldn’t ask for better folks. From the housekeeping staff, to the bartenders, to the beach waiters, to the waiters in the restaurant everyone was friendly and welcoming.

    The Straight Truth on Mayan Palace - The Pools


    The pools at Mayan Palace are great. There is plenty of room to spread out, the temperature is great. From around 12:00-3:00 at the main pool they play dreadful music. Seriously, who wants to listen to bad techno and dance music in a tropical paradise. I. Just. Don’t. Get. It. During this time, I stay on the beach, plug in the ear buds and listen to Jack Johnson, Iron & Wine, Calexico, and so on.

    The pools at the Grand Mayan are also great. We had no trouble using the Grand Mayan facilities with our “lowly Mayan Palace wrist bands.” Maybe because it was the low-season. I don’t know – maybe because it was the low-season? Either way, there are lots of nice, quiet, secluded spots to relax and take it easy.





    The Straight Truth on Mayan Palace - The Beach


    The beach is beautiful but it is rocky. If a perfect white soft sandy beach is a requirement for you, you need to scratch Mayan Palace off your list immediately. If you can handle rocks and coral with your crystalline blue water then you should be fine. But be warned, aside from a few small sections, you’ll need water shoes for venturing into the ocean. It’s predominantly rock and corral and there are numerous holes where you can easily trip. That said, once you swim out a little ways, there are lots of fish and other ocean life hanging out in these little holes. And if you venture out to the man-made reef (a long row of hollow concrete spheres) you can see even more fish. The ocean was pretty rough on this trip so we had pretty bad visibility but we still saw a lot of parrotfish and other pretty fish.



    Man made reef at Mayan Palace


    Man made reef






    The Straight Truth on Mayan Palace

    Tide Pools and Pier at Mayan Palace Riviera Maya

    Here’s the deal, Mayan Palace Riviera Maya is much, much, much better than all of the negative reviews on TripAdvisor lead on. But it’s not quite as nice as some of the folks say. But again, this is just my review, your mileage may vary. Here's my review.

    And because every circumstance is different, I’ll lay out the facts. My wife and I visited October 16-21 (low season). We were on the 3rd floor of building five (a nice short walk to the beach, pool, restaurants, etc).

    We arrived at 2:00 on a rainy  (deluge) Sunday and the lobby was pretty empty. Check-in was slow for the amount of folks in there. I would hate to arrive when a lot of folks are checking in at once. We had e-mailed in advance to ask for a closer building and a room on the third floor.

    The Rooms - When we first checked in to our room it smelled a little damp and musty. Once we turned the ac up a little and turned on the fans the smell dissipated. It may have just been because it was so damp outside. When we came back to our room after dinner on the first night, we didn’t notice the *smell at all.
    The rooms at the Mayan are nice. They aren’t amazing, but they are pretty good. The beds are super comfortable as long as you like a firm mattress. The linens are middle of the road. They are not luxurious but they are much better than what you get in a typical Hilton or Marriot level hotel. It’s nice the have the kitchenette although we didn’t do much cooking in our room. We did boil water frequently for use as drinking water. I have a pretty bad water habit and I feel guilty going through multiple water bottles per day.
    The bathroom at the Mayan Palace is just ok. There aren’t any soaking tubs or Jacuzzis and there is just a single sink. You can’t win them all…

    Also, there are no ocean view rooms. Maybe if you were on the third floor of building one, you might be able to crane your neck and see the beach. Aside from that, your view is going to be of trees and other buildings. Sorry. If the view from your room is really important to you, look elsewhere.

    And yes, this resort is SPREAD OUT! The last time we stayed here we were in building 9 or 10 and it was a drag to be so far away from the beach and restaurants. I don’t doubt that my review would be less sunny if I was writing it after having been in one of the “way far away” buildings.

    The Beach - Read More

    The Pools - Read More

    The Restaurants - Read More

    Oh, about the time share folks. Just say you are not interested and they will leave you alone. If you’re stupid enough to do a time share pitch (anywhere) you get what you deserve. My wife and I fell for one on our honeymoon in Puerta Vallarta. That’s 3-4 hours we’ll never get back. But the economy was better back then and the sales tactics were probably a little lower pressure. Seriously, just say no. You’re on vacation. Don’t waste your precious time for some discounts and a “free breakfast.”

    Looking toward Cancun from the Pier
    If I had any complaints, it would be about the quality of tequila and margaritas. I’m in Mexico – I expect access to an insane selection of top shelf tequilas and mescals and to margaritas made with fresh juice rather than mix. The basic margaritas are made with mixto tequila and sour mix and they are not that good. I’m sure we could have tracked down a better margarita but that would have required work. They really should have a tequila list and things drinks like the Paloma. But I understand that in a place that big, making drinks by hand from fresh fruit is a little difficult. Luckily I stocked up at the duty-free store and brought home a lovely selection of tequila and mescal and I can make my own drinks. I just can’t enjoy them under a palapa with my feet in the sand….

    * Oddly – when we got home from vacation and went to do laundry, we noticed that many of our clothes smelled like the room smelled on the first day. Weird. No worries – the smell washed right out.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    The Bitter Truth about Blue Moon and Shock Top

    I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this, but you should have found out by now anyway. Blue Moon and Shock Top are NOT micro brews, or craft brews, or whatever fancy name we are using to distinguish “real” beer from “corporate” beer.

    If you like them, that’s great. But don’t think for a second you are drinking beer made by a small group of artisans. Blue Moon is made by Coors and Shock Top is AB-InBev .

    And they weren’t created to appeal to your great taste in beer. They were created because the big boys noticed that Sam Adams (that’s a story for a different day), Sierra Nevada, and other “good” beers were starting to take over more shelf space. And god forbid consumers have access to more than just yellow fizzy junk in blue, red, or yellow labels.

    Disclaimer: The author has been known to drink Miller Lite on more than one occasion. Especially when it’s hot outside.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    First Taste - Corner Stable in Columbia

    The P90s went to Corner Stable on Friday night. We got there early (5:40) and the place was packed. We had six adults and three kids – we could be seated immediately or after 8:45. Did I mention that the place was packed? We were at the Village Center primarily for the clown show and trick or treating, but we decided that eating was our priority.

    The hostess station seemed a little disorganized and was having a hard time keeping track of which party was which. I’m cutting them some slack because they are newly opened, but I find it helps to write down names and the number of people in a party… Also, the manager/owner seemed a little frazzled. Maybe they weren’t aware of how big of a draw the trick or treating is? Either way, after about 10-15 minutes of them trying to figure out which party we were and whether or not they could actually seat us – we were seated.

    Once seated, things improved quickly. Our server was friendly and efficient and she quickly brought drinks for the adults and crayons for the kids. And she brought water for everyone – I always appreciate receiving a water in addition to my wine or beer.

    Seeing as Corner Stable prides themselves on the ribs and the crab cakes, each couple split the “Showstopper” – a platter that combines the crab cake with either a whole or half slab of ribs and two sides. For us, it was more than enough food for two. The crab cake is delicious. It’s a mix of lump and backfin with good seasoning and just the right amount of filler to hold it together. It’s not quite as good as a G&M crabcake, but it’s very good. I would happily order it again.

    Everyone in my party (aside from me) loved the ribs. I’m partial to smoked ribs and these ribs have never seen smoke. They are cooked to the point where the meat falls off the bone and are wonderfully tender. If that’s your thing, you will love these ribs. The sauce is delicious. It’s a sweet sauce with hints of cinnamon and it really suits these ribs well without overpowering.

    My complaints with Corner Stable arose from the sides and the lack of prices on the drink menu. The list of beers on tap is pretty good – Heavy Seas Loose Cannon, Fat Tire, DFH 90-Minute, etc. They also had your mainstream Yuengling, Bud Light, Blue Moon stuff as well. But in this day when it’s not uncommon to see a $10-12 pint of beer, I’d prefer to see the price in print and not have to ask the server. It's an easy fix and something they should work on ASAP. I’m sorry to say I didn’t check out the wine list, but I’m not seeing Corner Stable as a place where I will order wine.

    So, about those sides. The mac and cheese was bland and squishy and tasted a lot like the frozen Staufers kind of had the unfortunate experience of trying before. The fries were kind of soggy. The green beans were ok. They were obviously fresh (rather than canned or frozen) but they lacked in the flavor and seasoning department.

    I hope this review doesn’t come off as negative. All in all, we had a very good experience at Corner Stable and they are head and shoulders above Michael’s (the former restaurant in this location) in terms of service, food, and ambiance. But they are going to need to improve their sides and get organized quickly. HoCo has plenty of great restaurants these days. It’s going to take more than ribs and a good crab cake to stand out in this crowd and bring in more than just us neighborhood folks. I wish them luck. And I’m more than happy to share recipes for a better mac & cheese. hocofood@@@

    Thursday, October 20, 2011

    Is a Song Rationale for Renewing Wedding Vows

    The Mrs. and I have been married for ten years as of today. And if you read this blog frequently, you know that we’re pretty big music fans. So, one of the most difficult decisions regarding planning our wedding was agreeing on a song for our first dance.

    The back and forth was incredible, and let’s ignore for the moment that Ben Fold’s Rockin’ the Suburbs came out a few weeks before our wedding, and I suggested that Luckiest be our wedding song. I was shot down. We all know where this is going… But alas, we decided on That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding.



    It's a great song. And I don't regret using, but since then, I've found numerous songs that would be great for a first dance.

    Frequently, when I hear a really good love song, I think. I wish that song would have been out when we got married. For example, hearing the My Morning Jacket version of True Love Ways, was one of those times. This song is so freaking amazing that I a half-way considered having a 10-year anniversary celebration and renewing our vows, just so we could dance to it.



    But here you go, if you’re not yet married, these are a few other suggestions for under-used first dance songs.

    Poison Cup – M. Ward



    One By One – Wilco
    At My Most Beautiful – REM
    Thirteen – Ben Kweller
    Do You Remember – Jack Johnson
    Love and Some Verses – Iron & Wine

    Friday, October 14, 2011

    Achtung Maybe?

    Ok, so this Q magazine covers album of Achtung Baby is kind of awesome. But seriously, the Fray? And Damien Rice? We can do better.

    I’m dying to hear Jack White’s take on Love is Blindness, and I am cool with the Killers doing Ultraviolet, but for the best U2 album, this is a pretty craptacular list of bands.

    Here’s my dream track listing:
    Zoo Station – Modest Mouse or Wilco: I’m sure Isaac Brock is way too cool to admit to liking U2, but a Modest Mouse version of this song would be pretty awesome. And I can see either Modest Mouse showing up, but I’m thinking crazy banjo-wielding Modest Mouse might be the right ones for the job. The other option for this song is Wilco. Everyone talks about Wilco being “America’s Radiohead.” Sure, I guess they are. If Radiohead had written a memorable song sometime after OK Computer… And Wilco can get all “cool” and talk about Can and all of these other ultra hip influences. Sure. I doubt Tweedy & Co. ever would have tried something like Spiders or Bull Black Nova is they hadn’t heard this song and or the Fly. I’m just saying…

    Even Better than the Real Thing: Funny, the version on the Q album is a remix of the U2 version. Glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks this song should have been left off of Achtung Baby in the first place. My version would skip it entirely.
    One – Iron & Wine: Who better to take the most stripped down song from an extremely produced album and make a radical reinvention of it. Just as Sam Beam has taken Iron & Wine from hushed bedroom four-track recordings to whatever it is we’re labeling Iron & Wine as these days, he can take One and rescue it back from whatever the hell Bono has been doing to it for the last 20 years. 

    Until the End of the World – Spoon: I’m going with Spoon for this song. I had a few other thoughts for it -  I think the Black Keys or Conor Oberst could have done cool takes on this. But the way Spoon manage to present just the most crucial elements of a song, would be amazing. The original of this song is so perfectly cacophonous that the only other option is to strip it bare but still leave the angst of the original – Spoon could do that. 

    Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses – M. Ward, or maybe She & Him: I think M. Ward could do very cool things with the vibe of this song. I’m hearing a lot of reverb. If M did the verses and Zooey did the choruses, it could be very cool.

    So Cruel – Bon Iver: Shut up. Listen, that’s the sound of Bon Iver killing this song. Probably with a healthy dose of Autotune. Who can I pay to make this happen?
    Alternatively, pairing Ryan Adams back up with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings could make for a pretty amazing take on this song… Seriously, go back and listen to the chorus of this song. Now imagine Gillians background vocals.

    Mysterious Ways – Elvis Costello: Track down the version he did on Spectacle. Admit that I am a freaking genius. 

    Trying to Throw Your Arms Around the World – Death Cab for Cutie: Death Cab – they wrote the second best U2 song since Achtung Baby (see When Your Heart is an Empty Room – thank me later). I could see Death Cab doing numerous songs from this album. But lyrically, I think this song fits very well within the Death Cab repertoire.

    The Fly - My Morning Jacket: They wrote the best U2 song to come out since Achtung Baby. Hint, it’s not a U2 song. It’s called Gideon. It’s on Z. It’s amazing and clearly displays My Morning Jacket picking up the baton that U2 so unceremoniously dropped with Pop Mart and has failed so far to pick up. Hearing Jim James on this song would be nothing short of amazing.

    Ultraviolet – The Killers: They are doing it on the Q compilation. I’m intrigued. This is my favorite song on this album. I’m somewhat conflicted about the Killers doing it. I’d like to hear someone with a little more depth do this one. The National maybe? Oh well, Human and Mr. Brightside are pretty great – the Killers deserve a shot. I could see Arcade Fire doing a really good version of this. But hey…

    Acrobat - Neko Case: Neko should sing this. Calexico should be her backing band. It would be awesome. That is all.

    Love is Blindness – Jack White: I’ll stick with Q on this one. Jack earned it. I can’t wait to hear it.

    Now if only I could get the rest of these to happen...

    Thursday, October 6, 2011

    Great Deal on Direct Shipping Wine in MD

    This week, I finally took advantage of the new Maryland direct shipping wine law.

    I ordered two cases of Zin from the Diageo Employee Sale (the name is confusing, it's open to anyone). And today, I took advantage of free shipping from Lot 18 and ordered two bottles of Sonoma Merlot (for a grand total of $7.69 since I had a $25 credit).

    If you have not yet checked out Lot 18, I urge you to do so. A lot of the wines they have are not available for shipping to MD, but they always have great deals! And last week they had an amazing deal on some delicious sounding heritage breed pork and sausage.

    Dogfish and Pearl Jam - Faithful Ale

    Originally Posted on 9/23/2011: It looks like Dogfish Head's Brand X (the last remaining beer in their 2011 release schedule) will be Pearl Jam Faithful. According the the schedule, it will be released in November.

    A few weeks ago, I was scouring the 4th quarter releases for Sony Legacy assuming that Brand X would be another beer in that partnership. I didn't think the third in the series of the Johnny Cash Bootlegs warranted a beer, and I was pretty sure that Billy Joel's Piano Man wasn't a good fit (see Joel's struggles with alcohol abuse). My best guess (and hope) was that it would be the Ben Folds/Ben Folds Five Retrospective, but I figured that was a long shot. I love(d) Ben Folds, but he's not quite of the same legendary status as Miles Davis or Robert Johnson.

    So they threw us for a loop and partnered with Columbia Records. I gotta say I would have expected a "Black" ale, but instead they went with a Belgian golden with Black Currants. I assume it will be "Alive" and bottle conditioned. Now I wonder if they will have a special bottle to guarantee an "Even Flow" when you pour. Sorry, I couldn't resist.

    Update 10/6/2011: Today, Dogfish Head announced a mid-October release of Faithfull Ale along with "re-issues" of Hellhound and Bitches Brew. I guess it's good that beer re-issues don't come with out-takes and extra tracks. I doubt they would taste very good...

    From the press release: 

    "Faithfull Ale is a celebration of Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary as a band and its extraordinary debut album, "Ten." In recognition of these milestones, this Belgian-style golden ale is delicately hopped to 20 IBUs and fruit-forward from 10 incremental additions of black currants over a one-hour boil. Faithfull will clock in at 7% ABV."


    Wednesday, September 28, 2011

    Dogfish Dash - My First 5K

    On Sunday, I ran my first 5K – the Dogfish Dash in Milton, DE. It was better than I expected. The middle mile was rough and I had to walk for a few minutes, but all in all it was good. I managed to finish in 39:59. I realize this isn’t a remotely impressive time. But for the first race of a 35 year-old who always bailed on the mile in middle school and high school, I’ll take it!

    And I never could have done it without my playlist. My playlist could not have been better. My “power song,” Mr. Brightside by the Killers kicked on right as I was doing the uphill section of the last mile. And yes, I realize that anything by the Killers should be considered suspect as a “power song.” I can’t help it. The song sets the perfect cadence for me. Even better, as I rounded back on to the Dogfish property for the last .2 miles, Surrender by Cheap Trick came blasting out of my ear buds. I felt like Conan O’Brien running from NYC to LA.

    And the best part, my wife and daughters were waiting at the finish line and cheering me on. I thought they were happy for me. Turns out they were just eager to get their hands on the green re-useable water bottles that all of the runners that beat me were using.

    Sushi Nari Coming to King's Contrivance

    Update: December 5, 2011
    Nari sushi is open. They did a great job with it on the insides.

    I have not had a full meal there, but I got a spicy tuna roll to-go. It was delicious (fresh, spicy, just the right amount of crunch).

    They have some great sounding fancy rolls and a really good sounding $10 lunch special.
    I'll be back soon and will do a full review.

    Things are looking up for the King's Contrivance Village Center. According to a Facebook post from earlier today, Sushi Nara will open in the Village Center on November 1st. That’s all I know for now. I’ll update this post as I learn more.

    Between this and Corner Stable, the food options in KC should be improving greatly!

    Update: According to a comment on HowChow, it's actually going to be called Nari Sushi.

    Update 2: According to the King's Contrivance Village Center website, it's going to be called Sushi Nari.

    I'm less concerned with the name and more concerned with how having Sushi within walking distance will impact my wallet. And my likelihood of developing mercury poisoning. Delicious, delicious mercury poisoning.

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    The Great Bon Iver Debate

    I was surprised to discover that there is a national debate going on regarding the song Beth/Rest by Bon Iver. If you have not heard the song, it’s an amazing slice of 80’s nostalgia complete with saxophone and a really cheesy faux piano synth patch. It sounds like the lost theme from some Ralph Macchio-starring Karate Kid Part III that never was.

    Seriously, the first time I heard the song my reaction was “Holy Glory of Love! Bon Iver sounds like Peter freaking Cetera!” And I’ll be the first to admit that if I didn’t already like Bon Iver I would not have given this song a chance. But I did give it a chance, and it’s one of my favorite songs of the year.

    Recently, NPR did a segment on the divisiveness of the song and featured Justin Vernon (the man behind Bon Iver) doing a solo piano (real piano) version of the song. It was good. But I’m sticking with the 80’s love theme original version.

    So be it if every time I hear the intro I picture Ralph Macchio and some vaguely-Asian 80’s beauty frolicking in the waves on some Okinawa shore, fading into a montage of Cobra Kai and crane kicks…



    And the solo piano version...





    And a little Cetera magic...




    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Bat Strat

    On Saturday, I went with the girls to the craft store. That's not usually something I can handle. It's not that I'm too manly. I can rock the craft store with the rest of them. It's just that combining a four year-old and a two year-old with a store full of stickers, glue, glitter, play doh, and the sort makes for a very long and arduous journey. Brains start to short circuit when they are forced to choose which things they want to buy. Every craft in the store calls out to them.

    FOAM STICKERS! SCARE CROW KITS! PAINT YOUR OWN PUMPKIN! It's too much.

    I went with them. It took forever. But I bought some sweet bat stickers (which may or may not be Martha Stewart brand) and now my MIM beater strat looks like Smashing Pumpkins circa 1991.

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    I Found a Reason to Like the Ravens

    I Found a Reason to Like the Ravens (and Football in General)

    This morning, the P90 Family spent the day at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore aka the Baltimore Zoo (I used to work there, and I can't get used to calling it the Maryland Zoo, sorry). It was excellent. The weather was great, the animals were out, we got up close and personal with an American Kestrel (small falcon) and a toucan, and we practically had the place to ourselves.

    It took us a while to figure out why the place was so empty. Then we noticed everyone in the their goofy costumes and figured out it was Ravens Game Day. About the those costumes - seriously, it's not ok for an adult to go out in public dressed as a football player in that horrible purple shiny jersey. If I go to see the Cure, I don't dress like freaking Robert Smith. If I'm watching Star Wars I don't dress like Darth Vader. And you don't need to dress like a football player just because your favorite team is playing! Jerseys are bad enough as is and unacceptable as a form of "outside of the house fashion." But when you add purple to the equation, well, now you just look like a clown.

    So this is it - I've found a reason to like football. On game day, go to places that are usually crowded and you will have them to yourself. I think I'll be hitting the Aquarium on a Ravens game day in the very near future.

    Oh, and please people, if you're over the age of 15 or 16, it's time to retire the freaking jersey or just wear it in the comfort of your own home.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    Confessions of a Suburban Rocker Pt. 1

    So, in case you haven't caught on, I'm in a band. We're all dads, we all work day jobs, and we live in the burbs. We're total rock stars (damn, where is that sarcasm font when you need it).

    The band started a few years ago as a creative outlet and a way to kick back after a week of work. My intention was to never leave my neighbor's basement. We'd play original songs written by my neighbor or me (or both) and oddball covers from our varied tastes in music.

    One day, we got the crazy idea to play in front of people. It was at a party. It was just friends and family. We did pretty well. The only problem was that people didn't know which songs were originals and which were covers. In a set that included songs by Wilco, Iron & Wine, Spoon, and the Decemberists, I'm not complaining that someone (however little attention they were paying) couldn't differentiate the songs I wrote from those written by "real"musicians.

    However, the point of playing covers (or so I am told) is to have songs that gets an audience engaged. Thus began our search for "accessible but cool" covers.

    So what makes an "accessible but cool" cover. It has to be a song that people know (even a little) but it can't be one that's played to death by other bands. It can be by a well-known band, but it can't be one of their most popular songs. It can be a well known song, but totally re-arranged from the original version so that the audience doesn't realize what it is until half way through the chorus.

    So what do we cover?

    We do a semi-faithful take on Just Like Heaven (one of the Cure's most popular songs, but I never hear other bands playing it, so it's allowed). We play Love Vigilantes by New Order.

    We play a radically re-arranged version of In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel. I had to really sell this one to the other guys in the band - they all hate the original. And yes, I did consider leaving the band when I found out they all hated this song. Seriously? Can't they at least just love it for its use in Say Anything? Whatever. The audience seems to like it when the chorus rolls around and they realize what song it is.

    So here you go, suggest some more "cool" covers for us to play.

    Sunday, September 11, 2011

    Craziest Christmas Album Ever!

    Ok, this is crazy - it seems that Scott Weiland (yes, the perpetually drug-addled former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots) is releasing a Christmas album. Holy $hit - this isn't a joke. Who's horrible idea was this? How much heroin did someone offer him in exchange for recording this album?

    I can't even wrap my head around this. What are the songs titles? I'm imagining an intro to Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer where he says "hey kids, Rudolph's nose is red because he's been on a two week cocaine bender!"

    The most wonderful time of the year? Is that when the new vintage of heroin comes in? WOW. I might have to buy this just for the sheer insanity of it.

    I'm pretty sure "I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas" is about to take on a new item. This makes about as much since as Danzig doing an album of kids songs.

    Track Listing
    It's a Black Tar World
    Dance of the Oxycontin Ferry
    Lo How a Poppy E're Blooming

    Come on kids, play along at home and add your own suggestions...

    Saturday, September 10, 2011

    9/11 Rewind. WTF

    I don't know about you, but didn't 9/11 suck horribly ten years ago? Why the F$&# does every station have a program forcing me to relive it?

    1. Spending four hours riding my bike from my apartment to the metro station and back over and over again trying to figure out why my wife who worked only five or six blocks away from me in DC still wasn't home is still a fresh wound.

    2. I can still perfectly picture the rising smoke from the smouldering Pentagon in the distance as I took the red line from Dupont to Silver Spring. I really want to see that again?

    Why on earth would I want to watch a TV show reminding me of one of the worst days in my 35 years.

    Screw that! I'm going to focus on some stupid bullshit. I urge you to do the same. I can't see anything good coming from opening up old wounds.

    Sun-Dried Tomatoes

    Stink Bug Damage
    Stink Bugs - I hate them. They've wreaked havoc upon our tomatoes this year. I had a beautiful GIANT plant of plum tomatoes that produced giant clusters of tomatoes. Sadly, most of them rotted before they ripened (I'm guessing after being chewed upon by the stink bugs). Those that ripened still had obvious stink bug damage - see above. These tiny parasitic wasps can't come soon enough! Not that I approve of fighting one invasive pest by importing another. That's never backfired before...

    Luckily we had a few tomatoes that did produce and avoid the rather of the stink bugs. Two weekends ago as Hurricane Irene blew into town, I picked the tomatoes from the vine (assuming they would be blown off and smashed). Somehow, we ended up not eating them. So a few nights ago, before they all went bad, I sliced them up and placed them in a 200 degree oven for six hours and made "sun-dried" tomatoes. We'll store them in an airtight container in the freezer and use them for recipes all winter long.

    Before

    After

    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Concert Etiquette

    What has two arms, a camera, and no manners? This jack ass! A few weeks ago, this idiot spent the majority of the My Morning Jacket show at Merriweather moving from row to row and holding his *&$%ing camera in the air taking pictures and videos of the show (and generally annoying and blocking the view of those around him).

    1. We had good seats, but there is no way he was getting decent shots from that distance, in that lighting, with that camera.

    2. Dude – there’s a concert going on. You might be better served watching it in real life rather than through your 2” LCD screen. WTF?

    So I guess this is where we have landed as a society? We’re all “documentarians” trying to boost the number of views we rack up on YouTube. It was bad enough when people came to concerts and talked through the whole thing. But this is just stupid.

    I did learn one good thing though. Twitter is a great tool for alerting Merriweather security of obnoxious people. It certainly helped to clear out all of the people from the back rows crowding the aisles up front.

    #ididn’tjointhemymorningjacketfanclubandgetfifthrowseatsjusttohaveabunchofassholescrowdingtheaislesallaroundme!

    Friday, August 26, 2011

    Hurricaniption Fit

    Looking at grocery store shelves (and shopping carts) in the advance of Hurricane Irene, it would appear that a large lactose intolerance convention is about to take place and that the attendees are planning to binge on lactose, suffer gastrointestinal distress, and then eat bread. I.e., the shelves are cleared of milk, toilet paper, and bread.

    How long do people really think they are going to be trapped in their homes? I understand the tp, but seriously, can you really not last without milk for 24-72 hours? If that’s the case, the Dairy Council has pulled off the coup of a lifetime.

    Screw milk. Make sure you have games to keep the kids occupied, a flash light, gas or charcoal for the grill and some good red wine to go with the steaks that are going to start thawing out quickly if we lose power.

    Oh, and my money is on a spike in births in May…

    Tuesday, August 23, 2011

    East Coast Earthquake?

    That was a surprise. It's feeling like 1993 around here! Anybody else need a stiff drink?

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    The Beach-Free Summer



    Ok, I’m going to come clean on squandering proximity to the beach. We’ve been to the Fenwick Island area about five or six times since May and we have spent maybe three hours at the beach. It feels wrong to spend the weekend at the ocean and not spend anytime there, but I partially blame nature for keeping us away. If it’s not raining, it’s a land breeze day and the green heads are unbearable. And if that’s not the case, it’s a heat index of 115!

    Oh, and then there is the realization that taking a two and four year-old to the beach is almost more trouble than it’s worth. It was one thing making the annual trip to the Outer Banks and being within a two minute walk to the beach. But packing the kids and car, lugging the crap over the dunes, setting up the umbrella, sweating through your shirt only to then be attacked by the flies – it’s a tough sell.

    The last time we were at the beach (a few weeks ago) we bought the yearly pass for the Delaware State Parks thinking that it would encourage us to make short trips to the beach since we wouldn’t be worried about wasting $8 on a botched 30-minute trip to the beach. Well, as soon as I paid for the pass, carried all of our “gear” down to the beach, set up the chairs and two umbrellas – the green heads struck with a vengeance! And they always strike the same way – they start biting me first, then they bite our four year-old, and then they bite the two year-old. And when the girls get bit – they lose their freaking minds! So, within the span of 30-45 minutes, we’ve paid $50 for an annual pass and lugged four chairs, two umbrellas, numerous buckets and sand toys, and 65+ pounds of children over the dunes, down the beach, and back again. Good times.

    We tried the beach again the next day. This time, we are blessed with a sea breeze and the flies are nowhere to be seen. But now, my two year-old makes it abundantly clear that the ocean is a terrifying thing (at least in her mind). She won't get within 30 feet of it, and when my wife goes for a swim, my daughter just shouts "mommy, mommy, come back. I scared, I scared." It's as if she's been watching Jaws rather than Yo Gabba Gabba and princess movies.

    So maybe I'm throwing in the (beach) towel? Is taking young kids to the beach is just more trouble than it's worth? I'll try again this weekend. Here's hoping for good weather, sea breezes, and patience.

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Summertime Rolls

    Earlier today, Tales of Two Cities did a post on summer songs.

    It got me thinking. Going back to the summer of 1985 and Burn for you by INXS, I’ve always had a summer song. This year it’s more of a summer album, and it’s Nothing is Wrong by Dawes. There’s no way I can narrow it down to one song, but Time Spent in Los Angeles, Coming Back to a Man, How Far We’ve Come, and Fire Away can battle it out.

    Aside from Dawes, other votes for my summer song go to:
    Other past summer song hits of recent years include:
    • Moab and Sausalito -  Conor Oberst
    • Here Comes the Sun Again – M. Ward
    • Kingdom of the Animals – Iron & Wine
    • He’s Gone – The Grateful Dead
    • Shoot the Moon – Norah Jones
    • California Stars - Wilco
    And of course, don't forget Summertime Rolls by Jane's Addiction...

      Thursday, August 11, 2011

      Mezcal Madness

      If you’ve read my blog before, you may have caught on that I love beer and smoked meats. This love has not been great for my waistline. So, earlier this year, I started running and limited my drinking to Friday, Saturday, and Sunday only. I did some math – my beer, wine, and cocktail calories were adding a decent chunk (pun intended) to my weekly caloric intake.

      So, I was kind of shocked last night when I realized I hadn’t had a single drop of tequila or mezcal all summer long. The P90’s love Mexican food, but we rarely have it on the weekend, opting instead for “fancier” fare. As a result, I haven’t had the occasion to mix up margaritas, palomas, or agavonis.

      But the weather last night was amazing. The deck was calling. And it was too nice of an evening not to sit outside and enjoy a cocktail.

      So I made an agavoni. But I used mezcal in place of the tequila. It was delicious. A little rough around the edges (isn’t mezcal always?), but delicious.  So I broke my no drinking during the week rule. It’s cool. The weather is lovely tonight and I went for a run. It will all equal out in the end…

      Here’s the recipe
      • 2 oz. Mezcal
      • 1 oz. Campari
      • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
      • A few dashes of Orange Bitters
      • Twist of Grapefruit Peel
      Serve over ice.

      MMJ and Neko Case Duets

      Tomorrow night, two of my favorite bands are playing together at Merriweather. And it just so happens that they comprise two of the best voices in current music – Jim James of My Morning Jacket and Neko Case.

      After we put the kids to bed last night, Mrs. P90 and I were discussing how we hoped that Neko would join MMJ for at least one song. We were trying to think of what they should sing together. I thought of the version of Helpless that Neil Young and Joni Mitchell sing in the Last Waltz. I went to bed trying to think of other songs that Jim and Neko would sound great on. Here’s what I came up with. 
      1. Helpless – Neil Young and Joni Mitchell
      2. Sometimes Always – Jesus and Mary Chain and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star)
      3. In My Hour of Darkness – Gram Parsons and Emylou Harris
      4. Sleep All Summer – Crooked Fingers
      5. Don’t Give Up – Peter Gabriel with Kate Bush
      Yes, I realize I’m going very obscure with Sleep All Summer, but I think Jim and Neko would sound amazing on it. And while Don’t Give Up would be great for them, I’m not sure it the right choice for a live show. Hmm, maybe the two of them should do a whole album together…

      On a side note, looking at the setlist from the show on Wednesday in Pittsburgh it looks like Jim and Neko did a duet of Islands in the Stream. Hopefully we can at least get a reprise of that.

      And if you’re not already planning to attend this show, I urge you to reconsider.

      Monday, August 8, 2011

      HoCo Fair - Baby Animals and Deep-fried Oreos

      On Sunday, Mrs. P90 and I took the kids to the Howard County Fair. There really is nothing like the fair to remind you of the diversity of Howard County. It’s the great equalizer. And it’s so much fun to walk the kids around, show them the animals, let them play in a vat of feed corn, and then dine on deep-fried Oreos.

      Yes, you read that correctly, Deep Fried Oreos. Oreos in their “natural” state do nothing for me. However, if you dip them in dark chocolate or deep fry them, they take on a new life. And deep fried Oreos are a treat best consumed warm and only once a year.

      If you’re a fan of Oreos and funnel cake then deep fried Oreos alone are worth the price of admission to the fair. There’s just something about the crispy exterior, the way the Oreo itself melts, and then the way the icing melts even further.

      Aside from the Oreos. You can’t go wrong looking at all of the animals, especially those in the Kids Barn. Baby pigs, baby ducks, baby cows, baby bunnies, you get the idea... And then of course, there is the giant vat of feed corn for the kids to play in. We made it into the Kids Barn just as the deluge started yesterday afternoon. 1. You haven’t heard rain until you have heard it beating down on a tin roof. LOUD! 2. Kids can spend an inordinate of time rolling around in feed corn. Who knew? My kids spent about 20 minutes playing in the corn and we found no less than nine kernels in the washer and or dryer last night after we washed their clothes.

      The fair runs through Saturday. Go. See Animals. Eat deep-fried Oreos. And figure out just who this HoCo Mystery Sheep is. hocoblogs@@@

      Mystery Sheep of Howard County

      Who is this mysterious sheep? Why the need for the disguise? I doubt we'll ever know.

      Wednesday, August 3, 2011

      New Belgium Beers in Maryland!

      I've been doing some sleuthing over the last few days and it appears as though we should have New Belgium Beers (Fat Tire et. al.) in HoCo by the last week of August.

      As reported previously, at first we will only have 22 oz. "bombers." It's expected that kegs will follow a few weeks later, and 6-packs and 12-packs of bottles should be in our market by the new year.

      As for the exact beers we'll be seeing, I.M.Wine is expecting Fat Tire, Ranger, 1554, and a few from the Lips of Faith series. I would add Hoptober and Mothership to the list of beers to expect. I'd also guess that the Lips of Faith beers will be Super Cru, Clutch, and Kick.

      And I'll take this as my cue to hurry up and drink the bottle of Super Cru I smuggled home from Colorado...