Showing posts from 2019

The (Entirely Rushed and Somewhat Half-Assed) Lit City Blues Endorsements

The Quiet Man texted me yesterday and asked for my thoughts about the upcoming election, which caused to lean back in my chair and say, "oh, yeah. There's an election coming up on Tuesday." So, despite fighting whatever form of seasonal crud ran through the family last week before landing on me and having minimal sleep and absolutely no motivation to do anything, I sat down took to the internet and did my homework.. This is what I came up with.

City Council: Our Fearless Leaders declared a 'Climate Emergency' at some point this year, which made my eyes roll so far back in my head that they just did a full 360 and popped back up the other side. I mean, part of me gets it- but, at the same time: come on, people. Have y'all seen the cost of living in this community? Too many people who work here can't afford to live here and if you have a city where that is increasingly the rule and not the exception to the rule we've got a problem. Still think that the &…

Pour One Out for Deadspin

So, over the past couple of days in protest of a mandate handed down by their new owners, a large swathe of staff resigned from Deadspin rather than comply with the dictum from their new owners to quote 'stick to sports.'  I have no idea what this means for the overall quality and future of the site, but it felt pretty final. It felt like a hammer blow to me- which is sort of a shame, because over the years, Deadspin has been one of the websites that I usually check on a fairly regular basis. Maybe it'll stagger on, a shade of it's former self, but I kind of doubt it.

While there was a certain amount of schaudenfreude** out there about Deadspin's implosion, there was also a lot of solidarity for their writers in my Twitter feed. The current media landscape is something I have no direct knowledge of but seems absolutely brutal these days. Facebook and their 'pivot to video' a couple of years back seems to have been utter bullshit- and there were rounds of la…

Bookshot #124: Empire Falls

The Quiet Man has been recommending this one to me several times over the past few years and I finally snagged it from the Public Library and I can see why he reccommended it- the way Russo draws all of these characters is brilliant, subtle and thoroughly complete. They're all- from major to minor characters, fully three dimensional and realized from the top of the head down to the tips of their toes-- which, in my experience, anyway, is a rare and magical feat when authors can pull it off.

Empire Falls is the story of a small town in Maine and the people that inhabit it- opening with a history of the town and the Whiting Family that dominated the textile industry that made it so propserous it then flips forward to the present day where Miles Roby has been working at the Empire Grill for 20 years, having dropped out of college to come home to take care of his mother and keep an eye on his brother. His ex-wife Janine is about to get remarried to local fitness club owner Walt Comeau.…

I Figured It Out: Random Song Edition

So, way back in the day- I'm talking late 80s, early 90s, when music was incredible and I would spend the days of halcyon youth listening to things like Open House Party with John Garabetian on my trusty old stereo (complete with tape deck and CD player) I heard a song. For years I've had snatches of this song in my head-- just the refrain, "You'd better hope and pray that you make it safe back to your own world."

Never known the band. Never known the song title. Never in all these years of having a smartphone bothered to run it down on the old Googles, until last night, on a whim, as I was folding some laundry, I decided to give it an old Google and you know what, dear reader? The internet provided. Behold, 'Stay' from a band named Shakespear's Sister.

A little excavation on the Wikipedia revealed the following: it's a British-Irish/American pop and alternative rock duo. (Okay then. Bit of a mouthful, but okay.) And it was formered by singer-song…

Netflix & Chill #68: Booksmart

Watched On: DVD/Redbox
Released: 2019
Starring: Kaitlyn Dever, Beanie Feldstein, Jessica Williams, Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Jason Sudeikis
Rotten Tomatoes: 97% (Tomatometer), 77% (Audience Score)
Pick: Mine

There was a lot of hype surrounding this movie when it dropped in the spring and when the Missus was away for the weekend with the Mother In Law, a snagged it from Redbox (along with Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man Far From Home for the kiddos) and when I got them to bed, I sat down and gave it a watch to see what all the hype was about.

Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) and Molly (Beanie Feldstein) are two high school seniors who have been best friends since childhood but are considered pretentious and stuffy by their peers. Amy has been out for a couple of years now and has a crush on a girl named Ryan (Victoria Ruesga). Molly urges her ask her out before they graduate. Going to the bathroom, Molly then hears her classmates talking about her and confronts them by revealing that she got into Yale while …

This Week In Vexillology #297

This week, we continue our march through the strange and off the beaten path category of 'unrecognized' countries out there in the world. We're still sort of sticking in the Russian periphery, but we're not picking on the Republic of Georgia anymore: Transnistria and the Republic of Artsakh!

First up, let's talk Transnistria:
Internationally recognized as part of Moldova, Transnistria is a little narrow strip of land that's sandwiches between the River Dneister and the border of the Ukraine. It's history is a little complicated: it became an autnomous polity in 1924 when the Soviets proclaimed the Moldavian ASSR- which included today's Transnistria- but not anything from Bessarabia, which was at the time, a part of Romania. Eventually, the Soviets took Bessarabia, melded it together with what was the Moldavian ASSR at the time and created more or less modern Moldova.

This lasted until perestroika and glastnost really got going. The liberalization kicked…

This Week In Vexillology #296

We started a theme of all countries strange or 'not-quite-officially-recoginized' countries last week and we're moving forward with it this time a look at Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Let's start things off with Abkhazia. Let's unpack the flag before we get into the ins and outs of the Republic of Abkhazia itself. Adopted on July 23, 1992. Right off the bat, it's interesting to look at. The hand, the stars, the green and white stripes-- it's a unique combination and actually kind of striking when you step back and really think about it. There's a sort of odd echo of the Stars and Stripes that is undoubtedly something of a political statement on the part of the Abkhazians-- even if it's a subtle and perhaps out and out unconscious one. The red canton is based on the banner of the old Kingdom of Abkhazia-- so what about the hand? Well it means 'Hello to friend! Stop to Enemies!'' The seven stars stand for the seven historical regions of the…

The Boozehound Bookshot: Smuggler's Cove

I never thought I'd be writing a post where 'Boozehound' intersected with 'Bookshot' but here we are to take a peek into the strange and exotic world of tiki with the excellent and lovingly knowledgeable book, Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum and the Cult of Tiki. Written by Martin and Rebecca Cate, the founders and owners of one of the foremost Tiki bars in America today, San Francisco's Smuggler's Cove, the two of them take the reader on a journey into the origins of the tiki, the hidden depths and complexities of rum and the rise, fall and eventual revival of tiki over the course of the latter half of the 20th century.

Why the sudden interest in the secrets of tiki? Well, two reasons really- one is that over the course of the past few years we've had a stop or two at Psycho Suzi's Motor Lounge up in Minneapolis and the experience was incredible. The pizza was tasty, the drinks exactly what you'd expect and more- the place is out a …

Seven Years of 'This Week In Vexillology'

It began seven years and two blogs ago today, so I figured I'd take a post to celebrate it's birthday while at the same time, updating the archives so everyone can see what all we've done over the years. My brief sojourn on Wordpress lost me a years worth of archives, but I'm almost done updating those and we'll see how many more flags we can find to talk about. I honestly feel like I'm going to have to sit down and have a think about the future of this feature- because it's getting harder and harder to find flags to talk about--- not that I'm not up to that challenge, it just makes it harder to churn these out on a regular basis. Plus, I really don't want to get tired of this. Flags are incredibly important symbols and the best of them honestly can rise to the level of art if done right. 
So, Happy Birthday 'TWIV' here's to many more!
The Complete Archive Part One
#201: India
#202: Paraguay
#203: City of Chicago
#204: Lesotho
#205: San Marin…

Netflix & Chill #67: The End of The Tour

Watched On: Netflix
Released: 2015
Starring: Jason Segel, Jesse Eisenberg, Ron Livingston, Anna Chlumsky, Joan Curask, Mickey Sumner, Mamie Gummer, Becky Ann Baker
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
Pick: Mine

I don't know how to feel about this movie. I've never read anything written by David Foster Wallace. I've never even so much as touched a copy of Infinite Jest. Would I read Infinite Jest? Maybe- I don't know. I'm still sort of in recovery from Gravity's Rainbow and Infinite Jest is even longer than that was. It's... I don't know how to feel about this movie. The story of the last five days of David Foster Wallace's book tour, Jason Segel is excellent as David Foster Wallace- it's a nice departure from him and it's almost transformative in the way that Nicole Kidman's fake nose was in The Hours. He inhabits the role- but not in a Daniel Day Lewis kind of way-- his performance is more subtle and nuanced. He feels like he's trying to capture the e…

This Week In Vexillology #295

It's been awhile since I've done this on a regular basis, but I had to do some planning first.  I'm not going to lie: it's getting harder and harder to find new flags to get excited about- at least excited enough to write about it. But I've got the next six posts more or less planned out which will get us to #300 and after that... we'll see.

In the meantime, things are going to get weird. I don't mean that in the sense that any of these places are weird- I've never been to most of these places, but they're the unrecognized countries, the ones at the margins with the exotic names and sadly, many of them has a brutal, bloody history to go along with their flags. These are the places you've gotta go looking for.

First up, Somaliland:
So, funny thing about Somalia. Before 1960, there were actually two of them. British Somaliland and Italian Somaliland. One assumes that folks decided that one Somalia was better than two- so the two Solmaliland's b…

Bookshot #123: How To Change Your Mind

I loved The Omnivore's Dilemma and enjoyed the heck of Cooked on Netflix, so getting me exited to read another book by Michael Pollan wasn't a hard sell. However, this particular book was driven more by his interview on the Joe Rogan Experience- when I had finished listening to it, I knew I had to track down the actual book and read it because it seemed like a fascinating and potentially important topic to learn more about. Happily, this hunch proved to be correct.

How To Change Your Mind is a fascinating look at the new and emerging science of psychedelics. Pollan, with his usual eye for detail takes the reader through the history of the drugs- tracking the discovery of LSD and the origins of things like psyilocibin and the extract derived from the Sonoran Toad, DMT- he also spends a lot of time tracking their rise and ultimately their fall from grace in the 1960s thanks to the fears brought on by the antics of Timothy Leary and the counterculture.

The research and use of the …

Fried Chicken, Pizza and Impeachment

We went out to the new Pizza Ranch on Saturday night to eat and discovered happily that 2/3 kids were actually free and that there's a new Chocolate Cactus Bread that's actually pretty damn tasty. About half way through the night when I was waiting to see if they were going to add more Cactus Bread to the line when it hit me: I was sitting in an all you can eat fried chicken and pizza buffet and they were playing Christian Rock. In short, it was about as Peak America as you can get. I mentioned this to the Missus and she got a chuckle out if it, but then as I grabbed a slice of the Peach Cactus Bread and another one of the Cherry Cactus Bread (both delicious- for real, apart from the chicken, the Cactus Bread is the best part of Pizza Ranch) it hit me again.

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but looking around the Pizza Ranch and you saw everyone: old people, young people, families, immigrants- hell, the local Sudanese community must really like Pizza Ranch because there were l…

Squawk Box: Four Weddings And A Funeral/This Is Football

The concept of Four Weddings And A Funeral immediately intrigued me. Mindy Kaling and Richard Curtis are amongst the producers- Curtis wrote the original movie and Kaling has a pretty good track record when it comes to rom coms- it's obvious she appreciates the genre enough to bring out the best in them (charm, chemistry and genuine romance) while at the same time tweaking the many lamentable tropes that you tend to find in rom-coms and freshening them up for a contemporary audience. And yet...  the movie version of Four Weddings And A Funeral isn't just a classic rom-com, it's a genuinely great movie all by itself. Hugh Grant, Andie MacDowell, John Hannah, Kristin Scott Thomas, Rowan Atkinson- I mean, it's an incredible cast which takes that movie to another level. Taking any movie and translating that into television has proven to be something of a mixed back. Taking a great movie and translating into television- even if it is 'The Golden Age of Television' …

Boozehound Unfiltered: Mezcal Union

All right, I've drunk a lot of scotch over the years and if you drink enough scotch- especially Islays, sooner or later you're going to hear tantalizing things about Mezcal. "It's not like tequila," people will tell you, "it's smoky." Round these parts, mezcal seems to be hard to find- to be fair to any local mezcal that might gathering dust on local liquor store shelves I didn't launch into a full scale Mezcal Quest to make a comprehensive survey of what's around here. In general, unless I'm after something very specific, I don't do that. It's what I see on my liquor store aisle shelves that I go for- because if I can find it, then y'all can too- and when it comes to Mezcal there's not a lot out there that gets picked up by the casual eye.

Before we get into the mezcal I actually tried- we've gotta take a minute to talk about what Mezcal actually is. Unlike tequila- which is made from blue agave in the area around t…

Democratic Candidates, Ranked

So, it's officially after Labor Day. We've had three debates so far. Traditionally now is the time where people actually start paying attention a little bit to the race, so what better time than now to take stock about where the (still lamentably large) field stands, at least from my point of view. I'm honestly not sure what to think about the overall state of the race. Maybe it's the size of the field, but it feels like the debates aren't really clarifying anything in the polls- apart from Gabbard's attack on Harris' prosecutorial records in the second debate, nobody has really broken out in a major way. Everything feels strangely stuck and I'm not quite sure why.

Conventional wisdom seems to be that a lot of the moderates (Bennet, Klobuchar, Buttigieg, Bullock) are sort of waiting around assuming that Biden is going to do what Biden usually does and collapse in a heap, leading to an opening for one of them to step in. Biden has run for President multi…