December 2015 Archives

More Catching Up

Yesterday I went to Margot's Pizza, a pop-up bar pizza venture. It opens only on occasional Saturdays, on a ticketed basis, and tickets tend to sell out in under a minute.

This was my second time there. The first time, I went myself, and while I did put away an entire "Margot-Rita" myself, it was a bit too much of a good thing. (I also felt that while I am usually a pizza minimalist, this was one case where it might have benefited from more toppings.) This time around, I brought a friend, and we had the "Love Supreme," with peppers and onions and—in our case—vegan sausage, and it was good.

If you're in the Brooklyn area and want to check it out for yourself, go to the website and get on the mailing list.

(Someday I need to go back there during the week and try Emily's pizza.)

In other news, my sister and I each had the ability to claim two tickets to any They Might Be Giants show, for reasons. We decided to take along one of our brothers and his fianceé. Despite a raft of misgivings, she convinced me to go with their New Year's Eve show, which—for reasons I cannot now account for—we had thought was at 8 PM. I figured, okay, I wasn't thrilled about having to take the train back from Brooklyn on NYE, but at least I'd be home before midnight.

Turns out it actually starts at 11 PM. Which... no, sorry, wild horses couldn't drag me there. (I like TMBG and all, but I've already served my endure-arduous-conditions-to-see-them-in-concert time, having been at the performance filmed for Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns. [I was young and foolish then; I feel old and foolish now.])

The other three are still on board, and she's trying to get another brother to take my place. Whee.

And finally, an unsolicited commercial endorsement. Do you live in the Northeastern U.S., and are you looking for a last-minute gift for somebody who likes tea? Adagio Teas of New Jersey has your back. (If you're elsewhere in the U.S., and you spring for second-day delivery, that should work too.) Excellent loose-leaf tea and tea accessories.

These days, my default cuppa is Jessica Pratt's blend inspired by Princess Anna; it's a black tea with chocolate and caramel. (Exactly how the "fandom blends" skate by the trademark police, I do not know, but it's not my problem.) And the ingenuiTEA teapot is most useful.

(My only complaint about the company is that they try to get you to spread the news about them on social media, offering incentives for spreading the word. I have not taken them up on such offers, and I am getting nothing at all for mentioning them here.)

Music Advent catch-up time!

Day 17: "The Queen and the Soldier," by Suzanne Vega:

Day 18: "Rhythm of Life," by Sammy Davis Jr.:

Day 19: "Sci-Fi Wasabi," by Cibo Matto:

Day 20: "Turning Japanese," by Kirsten Dunst:

Assorted Books

The offices at which I work two days a week (at a publisher that shall remain unnamed, but by the sign of the Enormous Crimson Canine shall ye know them) are going to be moving to other temporary quarters in the near future so that the building may be remodeled. One side effect of this is that cubicles and cabinets and storage areas are being purged of books that are no longer needed.

The upshot is that I'm going to be visiting family tomorrow, and I'll be taking about 25 pounds of books with me for distribution to assorted nieces and nephews. Hooray for fringe benefits of working in publishing!

In other publishing news, the 2016 edition of my almanac is out! As usual, I wrote the Offbeat News page. I also compiled the data on the 100 largest U.S. cities and the various executive branch agencies, and my metaphorical fingerprints can be found all over the rest of the book. It's great for bathroom reading, browsing through for serendipitous discoveries, or giving to people who don't know how to evaluate the reliability of sources on the Internet. Or just looking things up yourself! Everything in the book goes through multiple layers of fact-checking, and it's a good compact collection of information on all sorts of subjects.

(I don't get any royalties, but it's a good book and I'm proud of it.)

Continuing to catch up on Music Advent...

Day 14: Two takes on Nyan Cat:

"Nyan Cat the Movie," by Blake Robinson:

Nyan Cat vs. Rebecca Black, by Lara:

Day 15: "Ode to Krispy Kreme," by Chapter 6

Day 16: "Party & Bullshit (in the USA)," by Hathbanger [Notorious B.I.G. vs. Miley Cyrus]:

Past and Presents

Earlier today, I came across this song I wrote almost 15 years ago and subsequently forgot about. I just might polish it a bit and record the thing.

I also was reminded of this glorious thread on Making Light from a decade ago, which turned into a poetry parody jam session on the theme of Nigerian 419 spam. I've got two contributions in there myself. (One of them is a triolet, of course.)

Otherwise, my siblings did a videoconference earlier tonight which worked out fairly well. (And I got to open my presents from our it's-not-a-Secret-Santa-exchange-because-we're-Jewish-but-let's-be-real-Chanukah-presents-aren't-actually-a-thing-so-who-are-we-fooling exchange [not its real name], which turned out to be a copy of Randall Munroe's Thing Explainer, and also Merriam-Webster's Biographical Dictionary. The latter is 20 years old, but it's still fun, and maybe even useful. I am most pleased.)

Music Advent, Day 12: "Lithium," covered by the Polyphonic Spree.

Music Advent, Day 13: "Mysterious Woman," by Christine Lavin.

(This would be Lavin's pastiche of Suzanne Vega.)

More Earworms!

I know, I'm behind again. I will note that I've cleaned more of my kitchen, though there's still a way to go in my apartment. Also, I'm short on sleep. So have some more music.

Music Advent, Day 10: "Jingle Rock Bell."

This is what happens when somebody on MetaFilter says that he likes to sing "Jingle Bell Rock" using only the three words in the title, and says that he'd record it if somebody could find a backing track, and somebody else takes him up on that. (You can download the track from MeFi Music.)

Music Advent, Day 11: "Katamari on the Rocks."

And, bonus content: if you have any affinity for Sondheim, here's Liz Callaway with "Another Hundred Lyrics."

Catching Up

Note to self: if you're going to drink socially, remember to have some water as well, lest the world seem slightly off-kilter in the morning.

(Well, even more off-kilter than usual. Self is not a morning person. Self is also typing this while only halfway through the morning cuppa tea, which may help explain why Self sounds a bit like Elmo?)

That aside, last night's date was fun! We went to a bar trivia game... there was a field of twelve teams by the end (I think one or two others dropped out early). We came in second, which is pretty darn good for a two-person team. (The maximum was six. I think the first-place team had three.)

The trivia host thanked us for our enthusiastic "whoo"-ing, which stood out among the generally more low-key crowd. I managed not to note that wooing was precisely what I was there for, but it was a near thing. (The pun was right there, hanging over the plate...)

So I missed the last two days, for which I apologize. Let's catch up on Music Advent.

Day 7: "Generic, Up-Tempo Folk Song," by the Limeliters.

Day 8: "Happy Together," by the Turtles.

(Note the guy in the yellow sweater, who pretends to play the trumpet. [Wikipedia identifies him as Mark Volman.] In other, equally lip-synced TV appearances, he pretends to play the piano and wields a French horn.)

Day 9: "I Say Chanukah (You Say Hanukah)," by Mama Doni.

Because it's seasonally appropriate!

Also, if you like historical romances, Courtney Milan's latest, Once Upon a Marquess, is now out in all formats! I have not read this one yet, but I've read almost all her previous work (barring a novella or two, saved for a rainy day), and she's really good.

(If you don't know whether you like historical romances, Milan's The Governess Affair, a novella leading into a previous series, is a mere 99¢.)


Tonight is going to be another cop-out entry, but at least Music Advent is a thing.

I live in a state of almost perpetual earwormage. The only mitigating factor is that I generally like earworms. I also tend to like covers that sound very different from the original.

All of this brings us to today's song, in which Stephen Limbaugh and Katie Welch offer their interpretation of Ylvis's "The Fox."

Holidailies Triolet XII

I plan to write entries with insight and wit
But instead they're made mostly of filler.
Each December, I say to myself, "This is it!
I plan to write entries with insight and wit!"
But all good intentions don't matter a bit—
It's actions that make for a thriller.
I plan to write entries with insight and wit
But instead they're made mostly of filler.

(Previous Holidailies Triolet)

Music Advent: What do you do when you're a country singer on American Idol and it's Lennon-McCartney week?

...well, okay, maybe you'd find a way to work with "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite." It was a rhetorical question. In 2008, Kristy Lee Cook opted to countrify the heck out of "Eight Days a Week."

Randy was of two minds about the arrangement. Paula and Simon both straight-up hated it. I disagreed with two and a half of them. Judge for yourself!

Move along, nothing to see here...

This is just to note that I've started dating again. I have a third date with somebody this coming week, in fact. I like her. She seems not to hate me, so far.

Am I freaking out a bit? Why, yes.

Moving right along to Music Advent...

So, back in 1996, Deborah Gibson (as she was then attempting to be called) was in a touring production of Funny Girl in the title role of Barbra Streisand Fanny Brice. Alas, the whole thing lasted only a few weeks before the Denver venue canceled its booking and everything went higgledy-piggledy.

But when it was still expected to run for the better part of a year, Deb put "People" and "Don't Rain on My Parade" on her sixth studio album, Deborah. (Once the show fell through, she re-released the album, replacing those tracks with dance remixes of two original songs.)

The upshot of all this is that my Music Advent song for today is Deb's cover of "Don't Rain on My Parade." Is the arrangement cheesy? Absolutely. It certainly sounds nothing like Barbra's version. Whether that's a virtue or an indictment is a matter of opinion.

It was my personal anthem for some time, and I'm still fond of it.

Ease on Down the Road

Let's lead with Music Advent today. This one's an easy choice, because it's the song with which I was hopelessly earwormed for much of last week. (On the second day, I worked out the ukulele chords. This did not help get it out of my system.) It is remarkably infectious, and why should I be the only one so afflicted?

Besides, the song is seasonally appropriate; it's based on a classic Christmas movie.

No, not that one. Not that one, either.

I mean Die Hard.

The song is "Christmas in L.A. (Yippee Ki Yay)," by Marian Call. (Note: Not Safe For Work! Explicit lyrics!)

I had some thoughts of recording a ukulele version in the hour I had between getting home from work and the start of the live production of The Wiz, but I couldn't find my camera. I really, really need to clean my apartment.

(Actually, progress is being made on that front. I've taken down five bags of trash over the past few days. Still plenty more clutter to deal with, though...)

Say this for NBC's live musicals: I don't have much appointment television, but I watch these every year.

And the third time was the charm! The Wiz was excellent. They got the sound levels right this time, the costuming was top-notch, and the performances were all well done. My only complaint is my annual one about there not being a live audience, but I was so busy being entertained that I didn't care so much this time.

(One caveat: I haven't seen any prior productions of The Wiz, though I did have the original Broadway cast recording on LP. I've been told that I need to see the movie, and I have duly added it to the List Of Things I Should Watch.)

B is for Blah

So I discovered this just now: a website listing adjectives based on the letters they start with. Considering that I in fact googled "adjectives that start with B," it's nice to see that the Internet has my back. (Even if I ended up spurning that entire class of words in the title of this entry.)

There were so very many Music Advent choices today. (It should get easier later in the alphabet, so there's that.) I was tempted by "Breakaway," "Bongo Rock," "Bach Portrait," and "Bridge over Troubled Water"... but there can be only one! And my choice today is "Blue Bayou," as covered by Linda Ronstadt.

Ideally, the Muppet Show version:

The Letter of the Day also reminded me to look over my "Baby Got Back" page, swapping out some URLs due to linkrot, and adding a few more versions that have showed up in the past eleven months.

Also, I covered "Blank Space" a couple months ago:

(Will I have a real entry tomorrow? Who knows!)

Holidailies is Here Again!

Welcome back to the one time of year when I remember that I have an online journal, and attempt to update it every day!

People wandering in from the Holidailies site: Hi! I'm Shmuel. You may remember this journal from its bright yellow background, which I selected back in 1999 and have stuck with ever since. Though now there's purple as well. Purple has somehow become my signature color, which is just one of many things I never saw coming back in 1999. (Considering that the others include radical shakeups of my religious and gender identities, this is admittedly small potatoes.)

I have somehow made it through another year. In the course of it, I have continued to fail in my quest for a full-time job, despite a few interviews. I have at least gotten a steady two-day-a-week copyediting gig at a publisher that shall remain nameless, and occasionally they have me fill in on additional days as well. So that's certainly better than nothing.

I also wrote another song about my birthday, which you may view below. Be sure to take notes!

(I also started a Patreon account at Monique's instigation, but I may be about to drastically change its focus. Which is why that link is to the song I wrote about it, rather than the account itself. Stay tuned.)

Over the past couple of days, my relationship with the landlords has degraded from "uneasy" to "nakedly hostile." So that's fun. After a month of complaints that got no results whatsoever, I contacted the city today about the fact that the heat had yet to come on in my apartment at any time since the summer. Lo and behold, the super came by shortly thereafter, and the heat did briefly appear! We'll see if that keeps up.

(If it does, I have no doubt I'll start complaining about it here! The steam heat in my apartment has only two settings: "icebox" and "sauna." But only the former is actually illegal.)

The start of December also marks the return of #MusicAdvent! This year, the rules are to post a song beginning with "A" on the first day, "B" on the second day, and so on, skipping "X" and ending with "Z" on Christmas. I am torn between several choices, but ultimately I'm going to go with the most thematically appropriate today: "ABC," by the Jackson 5.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from December 2015 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2014 is the previous archive.

December 2016 is the next archive.

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