gwalla: (ornament)
2011-12-24 12:01 am
Entry tags:

Christmas playlist

Because nobody demanded it, here's my Christmas playlist* on iTunes. Album titles are in italics, individual tracks are in artist - title format. Album tracks are not listed except for various artists compilations. Comments are in brackets:
  • Abney Park - Carol of the Bells
  • Béla Fleck & the Flecktones Jingle All the Way
  • Bob Rivers - Walkin' 'Round in Women's Underwear
  • Bob Rivers - Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire
  • The Bomboras - Lil' Drummer Boy
  • California Guitar Trio Christmas Album [The CGT are disciples of King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp, playing surf-inspired guitar instrumental versions of mostly classical but some pop tunes]
  • Carla Bley Carla's Christmas Carols [Bley is an avant-garde jazz pianist and bandleader; this album is amazing]
  • Clockhammer - Here Comes Santa Claus
  • Commodore 64 - A Commodore Kind of Christmas [Christmas nerdcore rap]
  • Dale North, Mustin, Nate Cloud, The OneUps - Super Mario World Super Mario's Sleigh Ride OC ReMix
  • Danny Elfman - Scrooged: Main Titles - Show Time at IBC - Elliot Gives Blood - Walter Ablaze - Wild Cab Ride - Luncheonette - Asylum - Crematorium
  • Dave Brubeck A Dave Brubeck Christmas
  • Esquivel Merry Christmas from the Space-Age Bachelor Pad [hi-fi lounge]
  • The Flaming Lips - Christmas at the Zoo
  • Joe Meek Vampires, Cowboys, Spacemen & Spooks

    • The Fabulous Flee-Rekkers - Green Jeans
    • Roger LaVern & The Microns - Reindeer Ride
    • Roger LaVern & The Microns - Christmas Stocking

  • John Fahey - Christmas Medley: O Tannenbaum/Angels We Have Heard On High/Jingle Bells
  • Joseph Spance - Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town
  • Kick the Can Crew - Christmas Eve Rap [Japanese Christmas rapping!]
  • Los Straitjackets 'Tis the Season for Los Straitjackets [Christmas surf guitar]
  • Loudon Wainwright III - Suddenly It's Christmas
  • Moon Duo - Silver Bells
  • Pac-Man The Pac-Man Christmas Album [yes, you read that right]
  • The Ramones - Merry Christmas (I Don't Want To Fight Tonight)
  • Red Peters - Holy Shit, It's Christmas
  • Rev Run - Santa Baby (feat. Mase, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt 'N Pepa, Onyx, Keith Murray)
  • Smashing Pumpkins & Radiohead - If There Is A God (Acoustic Christmas '98)
  • Squirrel Nut Zippers Christmas Caravan
  • Stan Kenton - What Is A Santa Claus
  • Sufjan Stevens - Christmas In The Room
  • Sufjan Stevens - O Holy Night
  • Sufjan Stevens - That was the Worst Christmas Ever!
  • Sufjan Stevens - It's Christmas! Let's Be Glad
  • Sufjan Stevens - Hey Guys! It's Christmas Time
  • Sufjan Stevens - Get Behind Me, Santa
  • Sy Mann Switched On Santa! [Christmoog]
  • The Vandals - Christmas Time For My Penis
  • The Vandals - A Gun For Christmas
  • The Vandals - My First Christmas (As A Woman)
  • Various Artists The American Song-Poem Christmas: Daddy, Is Santa Really Six Foot Four? )
  • Various Artists A Jazz Christmas )
  • Various Artists Thunderdome: The Xmas Edition )
  • Various Artists A Very Indie Xmas )
  • Vince Guaraldi Trio A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Wesley Willis - Kris Kringle Was a Car Thief [technically not a Christmas song at all, but c'mon]
  • Wonderful World of Joey - What Sweet Child O' Mine Is this?
  • Wooden Shjips - O Tannenbaum
  • Various Artists The Edge of Christmas )
  • Various Artists The Original Soul Christmas )
  • Various Artists We Wish You a Metal Xmas and a Headbanging New Year! )

    *I should point out that I don't listen to this playlist straight through. Instead, I have smart playlists that select rotating sections of it to mix in with other stuff.
gwalla: (Default)
2011-12-16 09:52 am
Entry tags:

Writer's Block: B.Y.O.B. Holidays

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A Christmas Story, obviously.
gwalla: (lon chaney)
2011-12-13 10:18 pm

The Artist

Another quickie movie review:

OH MY GOD YOU GUYS GO SEE "THE ARTIST"

SERIOUSLY

YOU GUYS
gwalla: (ornament)
2011-12-04 09:57 pm
Entry tags:

Arthur Christmas

Another quickie movie review! This is the latest by Aardman Animation, the people who brought you Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run, though this one is CGI and not stop motion. Santa Claus is a hereditary position, passed down from father to son since the days of St. Nicholas himself. Everybody at the North Pole expects the current Santa (voiced by Jim Broadbent) to retire soon, especially the heir apparent, his overachieving son Steve (Hugh Laurie), who is already basically in charge of gift-giving operations and has organized it into an incredibly efficient system. Santa's other son Arthur (Jim McEvoy), on the other hand, has been relegated to a small office where he answers letters children have written to Santa. He's clumsy, a bit obtuse, and afraid of heights and speed, but good-hearted and upbeat. When it turns out after "Christmas Accomplished" has been declared that a child has been overlooked and her gift was never delivered, Steve attempts to sweep the news under the rug while insisting that it's too late to go back, and what does one child out of millions matter? Arthur, though, informs crotchety old Grandsanta (Bill Nighy), who pulls him along to deliver the package with the aid of his old sleigh and the reindeer ("Dasher and Dancer and...Bambi and John...and you and you and you and you") and, yes, save Christmas. But it's been a while since Grandsanta has delivered any gifts, and the old sleigh doesn't have the radar blocking and cloaking features of Steve's high-tech S-1 aircraft...

This movie is a ton of fun. It's a roller coaster ride featuring the trademark Aardman wackiness, with a bit of modern satirical edge without descending into cynicism. There's something fun to see in just about every frame, and no filler. Also, the 3D is well done and well utilized. Highly recommended.

The only downside, though, is that to get to the movie you have to sit through a video of Justin Bieber massacring "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" (did that song really need the addition of the line "Shake it, shake it baby"?), which BTW I think marks the definitive end of the steampunk fad.

Trailers:
  • The Adventures of Tintin - Looks like it could be a lot of fun. The story seems to be mostly adapted from the two-parter The Secret of the Unicorn/Red Rackham's Treasure (though the treasure in those was gold & jewels, while in this it's described as "something that could have changed the course of history") with some parts pulled in from The Crab with the Golden Claws (the story that introduces Captain Haddock). There's also a scene where Snowy must recover a ring of keys from a sleeping guard but is distracted by a sandwich, which I swear is from another story but I can't remember which. A (very cool) image of a ship crashing through sand dunes that turn into waves may be a replacement for the "uncorking" dream from Crab. There's also a scene with a dam and a rocket launcher that appears to be original, and a chase scene where Tintin crashes a motorcycle and goes flying only to use the front part as an improvised zip-line pulley on an overhead wire, a superhuman feat that he was never shown as capable of in the comics. Oddly, the Thompson twins don't appear at all in the trailer despite playing important roles in all of the stories this draws from, which makes me wonder if they've been excised.
  • Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - This looks like a pile. Apparently a sequel to that dire 3D Journey to the Center of the Earth movie starring Brendan Fraser some years ago, this has a teenage boy and The Rock in search of the eponymous Mysterious Island of Verne's novel, which the boy believes his grandfather has found. To get there they hire a helicopter pilot played by Luis Guzman along with his cute teenage daughter, and of course they crash there. The island is a sort of lost world featuring dinosaurs, giant insects, and miniature pachyderms, all rendered in the fakest looking CG I've seen in years, and the boy's grandfather, played by Michael Caine, who must owe a lot of back taxes or something if he's taking parts in crap like this.
  • Pirates: Band of Misfits - The next Aardman stop-motion feature, with the voice of Hugh Grant as an incompetent pirate captain looking to win the Pirate of the Year award. Lots of madcap action and some great visual gags ("I'm here for your treasure!" "No treasure here, sir. This is a leper ship." *arm falls off* "See?" "Gah!"). Looking forward to this one.
gwalla: (lon chaney)
2011-11-26 09:55 pm
Entry tags:

The Muppets

Dance numbers, rampant silliness, Chris Cooper rapping, "This is taking too long. How about we pick up the rest via a montage?", Eighties Robot, musical puns, traveling by map, "Now you know how we've felt for the last 4o years! OH HO HO HO HO", muppet ninjutsu, snark with heart, and gratuitous Jack Black abuse. Two felt appendages up!

It's a big ol' slice of nostalgia. A lot of it you won't really get if you didn't grow up with the Muppet Show and the movies, but from the sound of it that didn't bother the kids in the audience, for whom the general mayhem was enough. As a bonus, you also get a fun new Toy Story short (if only Happy Meal toys were really that creative. I kinda want a DJ Blue J).

Trailers for Pixar's Brave (story seems a bit cliché, but the visuals look lovely) and Aardman Animation's next stop-motion feature, about pirates, which looks hilariously madcap.
gwalla: (puke)
2011-10-31 11:46 am
Entry tags:

Advertising: you're doing it wrong

If you want to sell me on anything involving food preparation, you probably should not imply that it will make the food resemble Aughra from The Dark Crystal.
gwalla: (Default)
2011-09-10 10:49 pm
Entry tags:

Becuase I'm tired of seeing the same thing at the top of my LJ, a drink recipe

1/2 oz creme de violette
1/2 oz Saint Germain elderflower liqueur
1 shot (1 1/2 oz) Pimm's No. 1
1 shot white rum
fill with about 2 parts Dry Soda cucumber soda to 3 parts Reed's ginger brew
1-2 dash(es) orange bitters

garnish with a cherry

A spur-of-the-moment concoction that turned out pretty well in one try, with just the addition of the orange bitters. OF course, Pimm's, ginger ale, and cucumber are known to be a good match, and rum goes with everything, but the two flower liqueurs were grasping at straws. This is the first drink I've concocted with Dry Soda cucumber soda that didn't just taste like cucumber soda. 1/2 oz of creme de violette is usually too much, but here its presence is fairly subtle (while still noticeable).

The "2 to 3" proportion of the sodas is an estimate. I just poured from both bottles at the same time at about the same rate, and stopped pouring cucumber soda about a half an inch from the top of the glass. The sides of the glass are diagonal, so who knows what the exact proportions were. I'm pretty sure it's altogether about 1-to-1 between boozes and mixers.

I have no idea what to call this.
gwalla: (4chan)
2011-04-22 09:52 pm
Entry tags:

A matter of medical terminology

Asperger's Syndrome is a form of high-functioning autism consisting of difficulty picking up on social cues, which sometimes results in sufferers acting inappropriately.

Assburgers Syndrome is a form of low-brainpower douchebaggery consisting of 15-year-olds on the Internet finding out about Asperger's Syndrome and thinking "Aha! I like acting inappropriately, therefore I must have Asperger's, therefore I have a Condition, therefore I'm totally justified in acting inappropriately because you can't help it if you have a Condition amirite?", which sometimes results in chuckleheads trolling message boards and calling people "fags" during games of Counterstrike.

Neither has a known cure, but Assburgers can sometimes be mitigated with hard punches to the mouth.
gwalla: (Default)
2011-03-02 10:34 pm
Entry tags:

Adventures in Boozersitting

1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Canton ginger liqueur
1/2 shot (3/4 oz) Mathilde Poire pear liqueur
1 shot Plymouth gin
1 splash Stirrings blood orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
maraschino cherry

Pretty good, a little on the sweet side (the dash of Angostura rescued it from being cloying). The pear flavor is a little hidden; I might adjust the balance between it and the St. Germain a bit. The proportion of the Canton seems just right: assertive enough to tell you it's there but not taking over. Could use a little work but honestly not bad as-is.
gwalla: (fgsfds)
2011-01-25 10:09 am
Entry tags:

Drinkdrankdrunk

Put together a pretty good cocktail last night.

1 shot gin
3/4oz Sloe gin
1/2oz Campari
1/4oz Creme de Violette
1/4oz Cointreau
1 splash orange juice
shaken

Didn't have a garnish but an orange or lemon twist seems most appropriate.

A nice balance of herbal and fruit flavors, mellower than you'd expect from the ingredients. Very easy to drink. I was aiming at a blood red color but it ended up a very nice shade of magenta instead.

I'm particularly happy with this because it's something that uses a decent amount of sloe gin, which I hadn't had much success with. I was curious about the stuff, but not impressed when I got some (and BevMo only carries it in pretty large bottles). Maybe it's just that Hiram Walker makes crappy sloe gin, I dunno. Here its sort of indistinct tutti-frutti blandness actually works in its favor, cutting the harshness of some of the other ingredients without fighting with them or really diluting their flavor either.
gwalla: (psychedelic banana)
2011-01-11 09:18 am
Entry tags:
gwalla: (ghost rider xmas)
2010-12-24 06:22 pm
Entry tags:
gwalla: (a failure is you)
2010-12-05 06:09 pm
Entry tags:

URRRGH

So today I got lost in San Francisco on the way to the test, hit another car (not very hard and there was no visible damage, but we exchanged our info), and, once there, failed the fuck out of the exam. Then I managed to find a way home, but traffic was insane.


This day has been a thoroughly miserable experience.
gwalla: (language buff)
2010-12-01 11:37 pm

Well, Japanese final's over

I think I did OK. I hope I did better than last time. The essay portion actually came pretty easily, and it wasn't just regurgitating my previous HW essays—it was still a bunch of direct comparisons between English and Japanese, but it wasn't phrased the same, and I covered some stuff I didn't in the HW, like some more parts of grammar and the writing system—so I'm happy about that. Still not too confident about the JLPT 3 this Sunday.
gwalla: (Default)
2010-11-26 09:47 pm
Entry tags:

Banana booze part 2+

I revisited my banana concoction a couple of nights ago. Here's the latest iteration:

~3 inches of a banana, muddled
1/2 oz molasses
1/2 oz Nocello
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 oz rye
1 egg white

Definitely not too much liquid this time. Quite the opposite: this was so thick it took some coaxing to get it through the strainer, and the half banana garnish actually floated. I think next time I'll reduce the molasses to 1/4 oz, and maybe boost the Benedictine to 3/4 oz to give it more of a presence.

As for the rye, I'd say I chose it because with no bitters or citrus I needed its dryness to help cut the sweetness of the mixers...except it was really because the rye was in front in the pantry and the bourbon was buried in the back. And I'm not sure it was the right move. I'll probably go back to bourbon and see what that gets me with the proportion changes.




In other cocktail news, another experiment of mine has borne fruit. It's a fairly simple highball:

1/2 oz Nocello
1 oz calvados
fill (approx. 1:1) with Martinelli's sparkling apple cider

This balances out just right. The Nocello is there but not overpowering, it's sweet but not too sweet (probably good with a light dessert), and it masks the funkier notes of the calvados. Not too sure what garnish would be appropriate. I tried sprinkling a little cinnamon on top, but without a foam to sit on it doesn't look like much. Maybe a cinnamon stick? Or just a maraschino cherry, I dunno.

Last night's attempt used rye instead of calvados. The calvados version is clearly superior.
gwalla: (Default)
2010-11-02 11:04 pm
Entry tags:

Back to the bottle(s)

So I discovered last night that the Gemini is an excellent cocktail. Martha Stewart is good for something after all!

As far as my own experiments, I have one involving St. Germain, Lillet Blanc, and calvados. Lillet and calvados are an unexpectedly good combination, as I found out one time at Absinthe, when a cocktail based on that mix was on the specials menu. St. Germain and dry vermouth are also a great combination (my own discovery, which I used in my Shanghai 1929), and since Lillet is another herbal fortified white wine (albeit sweeter, and with quinine), I figured the same principle may apply. Attempts so far, based on 1/2 oz each Lillet and St. Germain, and 1 oz calvados, have been promising but aren't there yet. My first try added a splash of Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters, and was drinkable but nothing special. My second replaced that with a dash of Angostura bitters instead, and (inspired by the recipe for the Gemini, though decided on before actually trying to make that drink) topped with prosecco. The prosecco was a good match, but something still was a little off. The floral aspect of the St. Germain was buried. Tonight I tried it again, but this time with a splash of orange flower water, on the reasoning that that had thrown off the balance of a prototype of the Shanghai 1929 too far towards the floral side. It didn't make much difference on this though. I'm going to have to fiddle with proportions. Next I'll try bumping the St. Germain up to 3/4 oz and see what happens; I hope it isn't too sweet.

Also tried tonight: a preliminary experiment with green Chartreuse and Cynar. Equal parts mixed was a little harsh: adding one part Lillet as a buffer calmed things down. I tried adding 1 oz gin (Hendrick's) and filling with cucumber Dry Soda. That was a poor choice: the cucumber soda overpowered everything. It didn't taste bad, but it tasted pretty much like cucumber soda with a little spiciness in the background. I think I may try the Chartreuse/Lillet/Cynar triad with tonic water; I'm not sure about the gin as the base spirit either. On the plus side, the resulting drink was a really unusual shade of yellow, like it couldn't tell whether it wanted to be amber or a slightly greenish hue.

EDIT: Tried 3/4 oz St. Germain, and Peychaud's bitters instead of Angostura. The extra 3/4 did not make it too sweet. I may be just about done fiddling. Probably not an instant classic, but a good drink nonetheless.
gwalla: (lon chaney)
2010-11-01 11:08 am
Entry tags:

Movie night at Davies for Halloween: Jekyll & Hyde / The Haunted House

So last night I saw a couple of movies at the Symphony: the silent "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" with John Barrymore and Buster Keaton's short "The Haunted House", with live accompaniment on pipe organ, percussion, and effects. The crowd was a mix: some just dressed up, some dressed "period" for the silent films, and a bunch just dressed in silly Halloween costumes. The organist was a total ham who came on stage in a cape and vampire mask, and started things rolling with Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D Minor, which he credited with getting him interested in playing the organ (and called "a curse on organists everywhere"). He also announced the score: 4-0 Giants.

First up was the Keaton short, which was hilarious. Keaton plays a hapless bank clerk who, after a series of mishaps, finds himself framed by a crooked superior who is also head of a group of counterfeiters, and when on the run from the police takes refuge in a house that happens to be the counterfeiters' hideout, which they've rigged up to be "haunted" to scare people off. Meanwhile an incompetent opera company botches a performance of "Faust" and is chased off by the irate audience, only to take up residence, in costume, in the same house. In particular, the trick stairs running gag and the extended glue gag had me rolling. The wordplay in the title cards is fun too: "Wall Street: The palatial parking place of the Bear and the Bull--mostly the Bull."

After that, the feature film. When introducing the movie, the organist noted that Barrymore had played the role(s) live on Broadway, where his performances were such a big hit that they got the attention of the major film studios, and the film is essentially just the stage play with more and bigger sets. Since it was meant to be played live, Barrymore couldn't depend on special effects or elaborate makeup, and had to portray the transformation entirely through acting. He shows the whites of his eyes, looks down his nose, flares his nostrils, hunches his back, tenses his hands into claws, and assumes a lopsided sneer, and even without the long crusty fingernails and lumpy back of the head they give him in some scenes he looks like a completely different person. The only effects are a few fairly rudimentary dissolves. The camera also helps: as Jekyll, Barrymore is filmed mostly with his head turned fully to the side (his nickname was "The Profile" for a reason), while as Hyde he is shot mostly head-on.

There was an intermission in the middle of the film. I considered getting a shot at the lobby bar and then clutching my chest as in Jekyll's first transformation, but the line was too long to get a drink before they rang the bell. Before starting the second half, the organist announced that it was still 4-0, with two outs to go. Right before starting, they were interrupted by someone offstage, and the effects guy (who was using Buchla Lightning "wands" to trigger his sounds) relayed that the game was over and the Giants had won.

The film does not really follow the same structure as the original story. Since "Jekyll and Hyde" is such a well known trope now, it's easy to forget that in Stevenson's novella the connection between the two is a mystery that is revealed late as a shocking twist, and mostly follows the point of view of Jekyll's friend and lawyer Mr. Utterson. The film, on the other hand, mostly follows Jekyll, with Sir George's worldly temptations prompting Jekyll to find a way to separate out man's (and in particular his) evil impulses, and Hyde graduating from general douchebaggery (using and discarding the music hall dancer Gina), to callously injuring a child, to outright murder; Utterson is reduced to a minor character. Despite being melodramatic in a way not really seen anymore, the movie holds up very well.

Apparently back home there were a whole lot more trick-or-treaters than there had been in recent years. It was a great night for it, too: very clear and not too cold.

Altogether, a great Halloween.
gwalla: (Default)
2010-10-18 12:14 am
Entry tags:

Blah blah booze post

1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Velvet falernum
1/2 oz Becherovka
1 shot white rum
1 dash Angostura bitters
on the rocks

Excellent! Maybe a little on the sweet side*, I might try bumping it up to 1/2 shot Becherovka just to see what happens, but the flavor balance is very good. This may taste even better with an aged rum (I want a bottle of Montecristo 12 year, that stuff is amazing), but it's damn good with a white. A cherry seems like the right garnish.

I need an alcomahol icon.

*I doubt you'd agree, [livejournal.com profile] merri_chan. It's drier than most of your creations, though I doubt anybody would accuse it of being dry.

EDIT: 3/4 oz Becherovka is indeed superior. This is a definite winner. Still haven't tried aged rum (due to limited shelf space, I still haven't gotten any).
gwalla: (quantum superstate)
2010-10-06 11:12 pm
Entry tags:

Tipple

More fartin' around in the liquor cabinet tonight.

1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Galliano
1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1 oz gin (Hendrick's)
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 splash Stirrings Blood Orange bitters
1 splash soda water

I first combined the first four ingredients, estimated the amount of gin after tasting, and then added the bitters and soda after further tasting.

The results are good. Better than expected. I thought I would get (and was actually kind of aiming for) something very herby and medicinal, and instead got something light and almost flowery. I'm not sure how much the Benedictine is contributing to the flavor, though. I might want to bump it up a 1/4 oz. Maybe the Dubonnet too, I dunno. The floweriness might invite a bit of Creme de Violette (long shot). Still, fairly happy with this effort.