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Friday, December 19, 2014

Colbert Finale

Full version of surprising song he closed with, from Neutral Milk Hotel.  Recall that he lost two brothers and Dad in plane crash.

Hallelujah--Leonard for Christmas

Few could imagine that Leonard Cohen--the Jewish Buddhist--once did "Silent Night" live, with Jennifer Warnes.

Oh, Little Wall of Bethlehem

Banksy's Christmas card.   It's been around awhile but always goes viral again.  Here's background on his other art on the Israel-Palestinian fracture and more images below that he created at the Wall.

Hipster Death Defying Hero

One of the subjects of my upcoming book, digging under the Berlin Wall (to get others out), 1963.   These guys had style (and balls).  Casting of Greengrass flick should be interesting. 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ol' Jew Eyes

Pretty funny--we have covered the upcoming Dylan cover album of Sinatra tunes but here's a real tribute:  well-known illustrator Drew Friedman mashing them up.  And he's selling printsHeeb magazine covers here.

More Love for Christmas

The great Darlene Love making her annual Letterman appearance this month to do the annual Christmas song--presumably for last time, unless Colbert brings her back (he may want to do it himself).  Here's great one from 3 years back:

Movie of the Year

Got to go with David Denby for once, re: Ida.   And it's now on Netflix.   The haunted aunt should (but won't) get Best Supporting Actress nods. Not sure where they will fall in my top ten, but I will mention sleepers Locke and Calvary and The Drop.

The World's Best Blueberry-Banana Muffins

 Or maybe the best, period.  I've fancied myself a good cook going back more than 30 years when we still lived at a kind of food epicenter on Bleecker Street in the West Village.  I've never posted a recipe here before but this one is simple and I thought I'd experiment and see if anyone cares. And here's my recipe for The World's Best Raspberry-Corn Muffins.

Mitch's Blueberry-Banana-Pecan Muffins

(Adapted from Paul Prudhomme without his usual excessive NOLA butter and sugar, and with my own additionsYou can skip pecans, if you really want.)

--Preheat oven to 385 degrees
--Melt 5 tbsp of butter
--Briefly roast a half cup of pecans, then break into small pieces
--Mash 2 very large (or 3 medium) bananas
--Pour the butter into bowl, drop in two large eggs and stir, add bananas and stir.
--Add 3 tablespoons of buttermilk or yogurt or vanilla almond milk.
--Add 1/4 tsp salt (no more)
--Add  3/4 teaspoon cinnamon and one teaspoon vanilla
--Add 2/3 cup of sugar--I use half white and half brown but do what you like
--Add 1 tbsp maple syrup if you like (optional)
--Sift and then fold in 2 tsp baking soda and 1 1/2 cups total of flour mix--I use 1/2 cup white, 1/3 cup whole wheat, 1/3 corn, 1/3 hazelnut flour (all from Red's), but do what you like. 
--Add 1 1/2  cups (more or less) of blueberries, plus the pecans if you are using.

(If you want a bit of a topping crumble up some more pecans or use a little granola or oats and maybe mix with some brown sugar)

Use your muffin tin.   Bake at 385 degrees for 22 minutes, no more.  Makes about a dozen. Enjoy.   Then fiddle with recipe as you wish.

'Christmas Time in Washington'

Very early in his career, Steve Earle wrote a classic, one might say, traditional, Christmas song, "Nothing But A Child."   Later, as he turned increasingly political, he penned something quite different,  written as Bill Clinton, was facing 2nd term troubles and a terrible economy, hoping for "Four more years of things not getting worse."   So "come back Woody Guthrie."  Here's the before-and-after.

Dickens on Bureaucracy

Just one of many reasons Sir Charles is the greatest writer in English except for Shakespeare.  Here he is on the Office of Circumlocution, ahead of his time, as usual.  Also go here for great Orwell take on him and his greatness and societal impact. Dickens: 
The Circumlocution Office was (as everybody knows without being told) the most important Department under Government. No public business of any kind could possibly be done at any time without the acquiescence of the Circumlocution Office. Its finger was in the largest public pie, and in the smallest public tart. It was equally impossible to do the plainest right and to undo the plainest wrong without the express authority of the Circumlocution Office. If another Gunpowder Plot had been discovered half an hour before the lighting of the match, nobody would have been justified in saving the parliament until there had been half a score of boards, half a bushel of minutes, several sacks of official memoranda, and a family-vault full of ungrammatical correspondence, on the part of the Circumlocution Office.
This glorious establishment had been early in the field, when the one sublime principle involving the difficult art of governing a country, was first distinctly revealed to statesmen. It had been foremost to study that bright revelation and to carry its shining influence through the whole of the official proceedings. Whatever was required to be done, the Circumlocution Office was beforehand with all the public departments in the art of perceiving—HOW NOT TO DO IT....
It is true that every new premier and every new government, coming in because they had upheld a certain thing as necessary to be done, were no sooner come in than they applied their utmost faculties to discovering How not to do it. It is true that from the moment when a general election was over, every returned man who had been raving on hustings because it hadn’t been done, and who had been asking the friends of the honorable gentleman in the opposite interest on pain of impeachment to tell him why it hadn’t been done, and who had been asserting that it must be done, and who had been pledging himself that it should be done, began to devise, How it was not to be done. It is true that the debates of both Houses of Parliament the whole session through, uniformly tended to the protracted deliberation, How not to do it.
It is true that the royal speech at the opening of such session virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have a considerable stroke of work to do, and you will please to retire to your respective chambers, and discuss, How not to do it. It is true that the royal speech, at the close of such session, virtually said, My lords and gentlemen, you have through several laborious months been considering with great loyalty and patriotism, How not to do it, and you have found out; and with the blessing of Providence upon the harvest (natural, not political), I now dismiss you.
All this is true, but the Circumlocution Office went beyond it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Update: Conviction of Youngest Executed Tossed Out

Dec. 17, 2014 update:  Conviction thrown out.  

June 2014 update:  70th anniversary of the execution, and NYT with another piece.   Lynching-in-slow-motion.

JANUARY UPDATE:  NYT with major piece on this today. 

Earlier:  But 70 years too late.  Because, you see, we executed him in 1944. At 14 he remains the youngest prisoner put to death in this country in many decades.   George Stinney, Jr. was (you won't be shocked) charged with killing two white girls in S. Carolina.  His execution was well-publicized and brutal (as I cover in my e-book on capital punishment in the USA, Dead Reckoning).  Stinney weighed just 90 pounds and the Bible he carried had to be used for him to sit on so the electric chair could do its work.  Now lawyers seek a new trial.
Burgess said a member of the search party that found the girls' bodies has offered new testimony that raises questions about where the crime was carried out and whether Stinney was capable of doing it.

Stinney's sister, Amie Ruffner, now in her 70s and living in New Jersey, will testify that Stinney was with her the entire day of the murders and could not have killed the girls, Burgess said.

She was never asked to speak on her brother's behalf at the original trial.

Album of the Year

From Lucinda Williams, full return to form, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone--rare case where a double-lp could have been--but glad it wasn't--cut to a single.  From Dad's poem that opens to J.J. Cale at the close.   Especially notable for her own lyrics, from devotion to (many) fuck-offs.  When I was at Crawdaddy throughout 1970s she was just getting started in the blues/folk realm.   At bottom below, from 1989, when I discovered her.

Song of the Year

As he turned 80.  NOLA contender.

Nativity Scene

Our kitty Zoe in her manger with pet reindeer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Waitin' for the Mow Down

Monterey Bay Aquarium fun folks have named this big-mouthed snail with a mohawk after Joe Strummer of the Clash.

Great Defense

The Browns' Andrew Hawkins defends wearing that "justice" t-shirt.  Tremendous.

John Glenn Meets Beethoven

Yes, Ed did play my man Beethoven--our birthday boy--not too far back--helping to spark my own LvB obsession.  Here he does The Ninth.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cover-up of Botched Execution in Oklahoma

You may have heard today about report that has come out on the horrid botched execution in Oklahoma when the condemned man actually rose from the table before he finally died--of a heart attack--after the needle was jabbed into his groin for,  like, the 16th time.  "A bloody mess" the report quotes a doctor.  The new uproar stems from this Tulsa World probe--co-author was just on Maddow show-- and note that the report shows that the state tried to cover it up in certain ways.   Note: my ebook on history of capital punishment in USA right up to current debates on issues and, yes, botched executions.

Happy Birthday, Beethoven

Ludwig would have turned 244 tomorrow, so we'll be celebrating all day.  And why not start with the "You Say It's Your Birthday" boys, The Beatles, but this time with great live version of "Roll Over, Beethoven."   Then Chuck Berry live, after cool intro (plus duck walk).  Below that, Joni Mitchell's tribute to Ludwig.  And go here for our new film and book on the amazing global influence of Beethoven's Ninth. 

Birthday Boy Beethoven

It is believed (though some dispute) that the great man was born tomorrow in 1770.  So ponder that this was 244 years ago as you listen to this modernist epic that he penned.