September 26, 2008 :: And sometimes we talk about music.

Every day has a soundtrack around here. Always has for me. And I love it when I encounter other people for whom there's a song, some song, just for that moment. A couple weekends ago, I met and got to hang out with one of Blake's significant ex's, and at a point during one of the many conversations, she asked the group, out of the blue, "what song do you have in your head, right now?" I already liked her quite a bit, but that sealed the deal. Then it was Elvis Costello's "Oliver's Army," but the internal playlist has rotated since. Probably ten times, actually.

Every morning (and then seventeen more times throughout the day), I go on a methodical search for the day's soundtrack. I rarely know exactly what I need. Fortunately, I work in an office full of people with crazy-varied taste in music (and be hooked up to them via iTunes), and between them and internet radio, pandora, and a T-1 to the bit-torrent sites, I can usually find something. Weather affects the search (Bonobo, maybe Cinematic Orchestra on the overcast days), so does workload (Nick Cave for the corporate web writing, Bon Iver for research). But mostly the soundtrack has to do with mood, motivation and mostly suggestion. I use iTunes' party shuffle like a litmus test - play, pause, skip (good lord, no more TV on the Radio, yes please Band of Horses), until I find the right album. Then I wear the hell out of it.

This week was all Faith's album (sleepy, literary PJ Harvey), Jenny Lewis (silly lyrics, great hooks), the French Kicks (loopy, easy-going indie rock), Bonnie Prince Billy (the title track is my 'in my head' song of the moment), and of course, the Young Antiques.

Mr. Rainey and I do a lot of talking about music (and a lot of arguing about plot lines and politics--poking each other back and forth - but that's another story). But this week's dialogue has been all about the album above. How it's the best work he's ever done. How he's got great hopes for the next one, even though this one's not officially out yet. How he hopes people show up to the release party.

That's tomorrow night. It seems a bit silly, but I'm ridiculously full of anticipation.

If you're in Atlanta, see you at the Star Bar at 9-ish. 10 PM for Warm in the Wake, 11 for Young Antiques, midnight for Five Eight.



September 23, 2008 :: Shameless Plug, #1

This week will be a week of unrelenting pandering, I feel. Hang in there. It's worth it.

At the end of this week (Saturday, September 27) Blake and his band the Young Antiques will be releasing their fourth full-length album titled "Soundtrack to Tear us Apart" at a rocktastic party at the Star Bar in Little Five Points. For those of you who do not live in Atlanta, however, and will not be with us for the toasting with the PBR (that's Blake) and the selling of the t-shirts (that's me), you have a chance to hear the band play tonight.

Tune your browser to WREK, 91.1 tonight at 10pm for a live, in-studio performance by the Young Antiques. They call it "live at WREK". To hear it, click on the live feed link.

You may also buy a real, live copy of the album here, or via iTunes within the next week or so. (It's not there just yet...but will be.)

About the picture: Since I moved to atlanta about a decade ago, I've always wanted to paint the Krog Tunnel entrance. Sunday morning, I finally got my chance - with the help of Blake and a few other friends. It was a blast. Although painting upside down while hanging precariously over moving traffic is at best challenging, and at worst vertigo-inducing. We did a fair enough job though, I think!



September 22, 2008 :: On the road. Again.

Whew. Now that's what I call a weekend. Two mornings up at 7. Two full days of art projects and long dog walks and yard work. Two amazing dinners that ended with Blake and I both asleep on the couch soon after. Something (Claritin overdose? First breath of fall weather? Spider bite?) got into Blake and I the last 48 hours and we busted ass. Weeds, cleared. Dead garden stuff, gone. Back patio plagued by neighbor's nefarious holly-tree berries, swept and ready for grill-outs. Dogs so exhausted from walking they passed out on the front porch without a peep.

And of top of that, we're walking again.

Yeah, remember this started as a walking blog, right?

We never actually stopped, really. Just slowed down a bit for the smoggy, sweltering summer (when I find it hard to breathe outside, and harder to reconcile coming to work so sweaty I need a change of clothes). Now, rejuvenated by fall and spurned on by a need for exercise, we're out and about every single day--on the train to work, on the street toward restaurant dinners, in the neighborhood wearing out Ollie. It also helps that you can't find gas in Georgia right now.

The truck's tank is on empty, and after two attempts to find a gas station that actually had fuel, we gave up. If one anywhere near our house doesn't come back into service soon, I can see myself hiking to work carrying a gas can. (Because somehow, the always 30-cents-a-gallon-more-than-anywhere-else Shell station near my office has fuel.) So, we walked to the Cabbagetown store last night in search of hot dog buns. Then to the train this morning. What we're going to do tomorrow when Blake needs to go perform at the local radio station, I don't know yet.

Regardless, there's a bit of a Mad Max vibe going on around, and it's got my sub-conscious spinning, apparently. Last night, I dreamt an epic storyline where Blake and I are forced to leave our little house and travel with a few belongings to live in some sub-terranean encampment in Grant Park with other city refugees. We had bunk-beds in a large underground dorm where we lived with a dozen others, and, at one point, while Blake was out looking for food, the government came and outsted all of us - told us to grab our stuff and get out, we couldn't stay. Because they were turning the land into live/work condos. We had no cell phones, so I could only leave word to Blake that I was relocating. I spent the rest of the dream looking for him. (Fortunately, I snuck back into our little hovel and found him later, and we decided to go back to our house and just tough it out.) Then, the alarm went off, and I woke up, rattled.

I'm still rattled. And pretty convinced that our country, if not our whole world, is on the edge of some real-life downhill slope.



September 29, 2008 v2 :: We did Good.

A short little blurb (that is actually a week late...sorry), but a project I worked on at my full-timey job can be found in every single Starbucks in the nation. It's the first in a series co-sponsored by GOOD Magazine that gives caffeinated voters the lowdown on election-worthy issues. We made a little world that explains Carbon Emissions and called it "A Field Guide to America's Favorite Greenhouse Gas."

Go get one - it's free! #2 was supposed to launch today, but I still saw these in the store this morning, and I bet if you asked, they'd still be around. You'll find them in a little pocket near the register, or on the customer side of the barista/bar area.


September 19, 2008 :: You complete me. Or at least my library.

When I met Mr. Rainey, I was already a habitual hoarder. I get it honestly. My father keeps a two-story barn jammed full of odds and ends--the plastic colander my mother probably threw out 20 years ago, drawers of nails jimmied free from old boards for re-use in future projects, a barco-lounger frankensteined into a giant, rolling desk chair. Used to be I had a collection of solid-core doors. An army of steel store display shelves. Every piece of paper I generated in graduate school. But then I bought a spec of a house, and had to let go (physically and psychologically) of all the things. Those things I drug around like cemet blocks tied to my ankles for years, but apparently never felt. I've gotten lazier in a lot of ways since then.

I purged. But I never, ever throw out books.

No matter how assinine they are, no matter if I get ten pages in and realize I want to lock the author and my ninth-grade English teacher in a room together until something gives...I keep them. There's probably something psychologically relevant about that too.

When Blake came to live with me in the Cabbagetown bungalow, I thought he was, smartly, moving in gradually. He came with some clothes, a guitar here and there, a box of CDs, some old vinyl, all over the course of a few months. What I didn't realize was that, apart from the clothes on his back, musical equipment and musical recordings, Blake doesn't really own anything. Except books. Those started pouring in, box after box, just recently, as if they'd been hiding in a corner of his life he'd just decided to dig out.

You can tell a lot about a boy by his reading material. As I was shelving last night, I was interpreting a life through titles. (Blake was out, at a rehearsal, so I got to judge him privately.) He's much more of a renaissance man than I. Whitman, Dylan Thomas, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Rimbaud, Faulkner. I'm more design books, gardening, Anne Lamont, Pahlanunik, Moody, Saramago, Calvino. He's all classics, I've got the arcane non-fiction--the radical interpretations of history, the legacy of salt, the dreams of Einstein. If it's depth-dark, twistedly sad, Blake owns it. If it's written 90% in footnotes or you have to turn the book upside down to read every other page, I've got it.

If a marriage is supposed to be a partnership, this one is going to be a handshake of genres. Lilting prose carried along by copious alliteration meets post-modern colloquialist, faddy banter. I'd better get reading. So should he.

We keep the books primarily in the bedroom. The photo above represents only about 1/4 of the entire collection. The rest flank the bed on the other side, spill onto mantelpieces, fall into stacks in the kitchen, and are shoved between pieces of furniture in dusty, tilting ranks.



September 11, 2008 :: Sunset with Shoes, Wylie St. 30312

Ah, things. They are good. It's just about fall here in Atlanta - I can smell it on the air - and since fall is my hands-down, most favoritest time of year, I'm all fired up and busy and ready to get down to business. Like the business of teaching a new class at Portfolio Center - "Content-Oriented Branding" where Juliet and I will tag-team writers, designers and photographers about creating new, non-marketing material to market products and services. It'll be very cool. And also the very big business of planning a wedding.

Oh yeah, that. The wedding.

I can't reveal some very specific specifics just yet (key parties are not aware and need to be notified. And no, I am not pregnant.), but for a variety of reasons, Mr. Rainey and I will be doing the marriage/celebration/big party thing 'round December of this year now. Not next April, as was previously discussed. And maybe January, depending on musicians' schedules and venue logistics. But so very soon. Invitations have been planned, my dress will arrive in a few weeks, and I've got visions of cupcakes and table rentals and bar fees dancing in my head at all hours of the day and mostly night. It's all $$$ and !!! around here right now, really, and I couldn't be happier. Allergy-ridden, mourning the fact that we just had to eat $3500 worth of damn-hell-bastard-van-related crap (the van is dead, long live the van), and utterly, wildly, stupidly happy.

Now that is a big deal.



September 5, 2008 :: The Omnivore's 100

Now, for the meats. And other stuff.

There are things on this list that I actually will never eat - out of principle or simple lifelong dislike. Those are crossed out. Things I've had are bolded. Others, commented upon heavily.

1. Venison - if deer jerky counts, then yes

2. Nettle tea - Probably. But I can’t say for sure

3. Huevos rancheros

4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile – at the Friendship, Indiana National Muzzle Loader’s Society Conference and “Shoot”

6. Black pudding – On a client trip, during a proper English breakfast in the countryside

7. Cheese fondue

8. Carp

9. Borscht (I just don’t do beets.)

10. Baba ghanoush

11. Calamari

12. Pho – we tried our hand at making this last night. It was awesome, and really easy. Highly recommended.

13. PB&J sandwich

14. Aloo gobi – not a fan of cauliflower.

15. Hot dog from a street cart – NYC, Muncie IN, Athens GA, Cincinnati

16. Epoisses

17. Black truffle – shaved thin in some truly wonderful macaroni & cheese. Very tasty.

18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes – my family will make wine out of anything. Dandelions, pineapple, black cherries, mango…you name it.

19. Steamed pork buns

20. Pistachio ice cream

21. Heirloom tomatoes

22. Fresh wild berries – My parents’ backyard is full of blackberries and raspberries. Yuumm.

23. Foie gras - Just doesn’t seem necessary to me.

24. Rice and beans

25. Brawn or head cheese – My predominant heritage: German. So, yeah.

26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper (I have a low tolerance for things that taste like nothing but pain)

27. Dulce de leche – This I could go for right now.

28. Oysters – fried, grilled, raw, steamed, you name it. We grilled some last weekend, actually.

29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda

31. Wasabi peas – One of my favorite snack foods.

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl

33. Salted lassi - no. mango lassi, yes.
34. Sauerkraut - Again. Highly German over here.

35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar – The cigar I’ve done. The cognac, no.

37. Clotted Cream Tea - boy do I love clotted cream though..have to try this

38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O – made for a very interesting Halloween a few years back

39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail – I see this at the farmer’s market all the time. It’s a stew-meat, right?

41. Curried goat – Blake’s favorite thing to get off the DeKalb International Market’s hot bar.

42. Whole insects – I am from Cincinnati, land of the 17-year cicada plague. People eat them. I tried one too. I've also eaten cricket and tequila worms (if those count)
43. Phaal

44. Goat's milk

45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more - maybe $80…

46. Fugu - No reason to eat something that could so readily kill you.

47. Chicken tikka masala

48. Eel – in soup and in sushi. Not really a fan.

49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - Come on. I live in Atlanta.

50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi

53. Abalone

54. Paneer

55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal

56. Spaetzle

57. Dirty gin martini – lots of olives, lots of brine. Also fond of the vodka variety.

58. Beer above 8% ABV – I’m partnered with a Belgium-loving beer snob. I don’t like the taste of many of them, but I’ve tried quite a few.

59. Poutine

60. Carob chips - Oh my. My mom made us swear off chocolate for a short time. Man. The late 70’s.

61. S’mores

62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin - something classified as a symptom of an eating disorder does not qualify as a “must taste” food. Sorry.

64. Currywurst – But if I ever go to Berlin, definitely.

65. Durian

66. Frogs’ legs

67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - all of them, baby!

68. Haggis – I’ve eaten the intestine of a number of animals, but no sheep’s stomach yet.

69. Fried plantain

70. Chitterlings or andouillette

71. Gazpacho

72. Caviar and blini – caviar yes. Blini, no.

73. Louche absinthe - I’ve had absinthe home-brewed, smuggled from Spain wrapped in dirty laundry, and dripped, old-school from a decanter in a 200-year old New Orleans bar. This one should count for 3 others.

74. Gjetost or brunost

75. Roadkill - I’m trying to imagine the situation in which this would be a good idea…

76. Baijiu

77. Hostess Fruit Pie - for some reason, you can’t buy them in Georgia. It’s a shame.

78. Snail - One commenter on another site guessed snails taste like garlicky tires. They do.

79. Lapsang Souchong

80. Bellini - These are one of the tastiest things on this list.

81. Tom Yum

82. Eggs Benedict

83. Pocky - I’ve been in Pocky’s presence, but have not partaken

84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu - I’m a cheapskate. Maybe some day.

85. Kobe beef

86. Hare

87. Goulash

88. Flowers – dandelion, orchid, and various others in salads

89. Horse - I just don’t see any point in this.

90. Criollo chocolate – I’ve had some bad-ass chocolate. Not sure I haven’t had this kind.

91. Spam

92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa

94. Catfish

95. Mole poblano

96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor

98. Polenta

99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee

100. Snake

Not as impressive as my vegetarian score. But, I'd say, respectable.

Anyway, I know this list is just someone’s opinion (and I think leans heavily toward the dare-y and pretentious, to be honest), so I’d like to add a few:

- Skyline Chili – Found in Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Dayton, and in your local Kroger if you live in the South. I’m partial to the five-way with lots of hot sauce, and a little sour cream on top.

- Goetta – Smashed up pork parts and pine nuts, fried up crisp. Ow...arteries...

- U.S. Government Cheese – Seriously. It has a flavor all its own. And, according to Wikipedia, it "slices and melts well." I do remember that...and the giant, orange blocks it used to come in.

- Doubles – Trinidadian sandwich pocket. Probably some of the best street food I’ve ever had.

- Liquorice Allsorts – Black jellybean licorice sucks. This is complex, earthy, chocolatey, not saccharine.

- Palmer Cream Pie - this one’s so particular, I can’t find a recipe online. I know it’s a cream pie with a slight amaretto flavor, a gram crackery crust and shaved chocolate and nutmeg on top. And that my great-grandmother Bergman made it the best.

- A “Fussy Bitch” - Diet Coke and Vanilla Stoli (or, alternately, a "Whiskerino/Cincinnati Bulldog" - A White Russian with a splash of Pepsi)

- Two Buck Chuck

- Stollen – Christmas cake!

- Circus Peanuts

- Bagel from a real NYC deli

- Homemade Pork Rinds



September 4, 2008 :: One-oh-ate.

There's always some time-suck of a meme going around the internets. And I'll glance by them, generally, but usually not follow suit. Recently, I've done two. They're both about food. Here's the first one.

100 things every vegetarian (or, in my case, person-who-eats-more-vegetables-than-meats) should try in their lifetime. I've bolded the ones I've had, and commented on a few others.

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked - Oh yes. This is the only kind Blake will eat, actually.

2. Tabouleh - every single chance I come in contact with it.

3. Freshly baked bread - have breadmaker, will bake. Yes.

4. Fresh figs - my co-worker unloaded half a tree-full on me a few weeks back, actually

5. Fresh pomegranate

6. Indian dal of any sort - There's a strip-mall restaurant in decatur that serves fantastic dal.

7. Imam bayildi - I had to look this one up. Now I want some.

8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu

9. Freshly made hummus - one of my favorite, favorite foods.

10. Tahini - If you've had hummus, you've likely had tahini.

11. Kimchi - If it's fermented or pickled, it's on my favorites list.

12. Miso

13. Falafel

14. Potato and pea filled samosas

15. Homemade yogurt - My mother used to make yogurt in a cool, 70's yogurt maker. Wonder if I could find one on ebay? It was so delicious.

16. Muhammara - the ingredients of this are very familiar. I've probably had it, but can't say for sure.

17. Brie en croute - Every time I have a party. My go-to snack food.

18. Spanikopita

19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes - From my own garden!

20. Insalata caprese

21. Stir-fried greens - kale, collards, and spinach

22. Freshly made salsa - Blake and I make roasted tomato salsa often.

23. Freshly made guacamole - This tastes 1000% better when you make it yourself.

24. Creme brulee

25. Fava beans

26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles

27. Fattoush -Ali Baba's in Atlanta has great fattoush.

28. New potatoes

29. Coleslaw - My middle name is cabbage.

30. Ratatouille -I have it in my recipe pile to cook this month though!

31. Baba ganoush

32. Winter squash - also a throwback to my childhood. We grew LOTS of squash.

33. Roasted beets - I don't do beets.

34. Baked sweet potatoes

35. Plantains - sugary and just plain fried.

36. Chocolate truffles

37. Garlic mashed potatoes

38. Fresh water chestnuts - canned, yes. Fresh? I don't think so...

39. Steel cut oats

40. Quinoa - quinoa is the most underrated and best grain on earth. We make this once a week.

41. Grilled portabello mushrooms

42. Chipotle en adobo

43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal - got a tub of this in my pantry right now, awaiting the frying of some okra

44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas -The BEST. I've even made the flour variety myself.

45. Frittata

46. Basil pesto

47. Roasted garlic

48. Raita of any type - man, I think I have to go get indian for dinner.

49. Mango lassi

50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)

51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry

52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie - Roasted seeds.

53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette - made plum cake the other night, actually

54. Quince in any form - I stepped over piles of these on a street in CA, but never ate one.

55. Escarole, endive or arugula

56. Sprouts other than mung bean - broccoli sprouts. Also, that mixed variety you find on salad bars sometimes is awesome--crunchy, earthy

57. Naturally brewed soy sauce - I've been to a few really nice Chinese places in the south. Also, just bought a bottle of natural soy sauce the other day for home!

58. Dried shiitake mushrooms

59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…) - blue potatoes, black bell peppers.

60. Fresh peach ice cream - oh yes.

61. Chevre

62. Medjool dates

63. Kheer - this stuff is tapioca and rice-pudding's love child. VERY tasty.

64. Flourless chocolate cake

65. Grilled corn on the cob - Every single week since grilling season started this year.

66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili - For lunch today!

67. Tempeh - I love tempeh. On a hoagie roll with cheese and veg's...mmmmm.

68. Seitan or wheat gluten - A couple times. Unfortunately, it makes me sick.

69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese

70. Sweet potato fries - with sriracha/honey sauce from the bar down the street from my house...oh yeah.

71. Homemade au gratin potatoes

72. Cream of asparagus soup - the cafeteria at my first corporate job served this...

73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip

74. Mushroom risotto - i've had all kinds of risotto...just not mushroom for some reason.

75. Fermented black beans

76. Garlic scapes - I just heard about this. When I plant my garlic, I will be sure to use them.

77. Fresh new baby peas - peas are, sadly, the only widely available vegetable I've not tried fresh. I HATE them frozen or in a can. Maybe next spring.

78. Kalamata olives

79. Preserved lemons

80. Fried green tomatoes - make them myself. mmm.

81. Chinese scallion pancakes

82. Cheese souffle

83. Fried apples

84. Homemade frijoles refritos - An experiment Stephanie and I undertook a while back. A successful experiment.

85. Pasta fagiole

86. Macadamia nuts in any form

87. Paw paw in any form -paw paws grow in my parents' backyard.

88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind

89. Paneer cheese

90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!) - no. But i want to...

91. Fresh pasta in any form - have made this myself too!

92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps

93. Green papaya salad

94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes

95. Pickled ginger - Sushi requirement.

96. Methi greens - this is fenugreek. As many salads as I've eaten, probably. But can't say for sure.

97. Aloo paratha

98. Kedgeree - I think this generally has fish in it. Strange addition to the list...

99. Okra - made a batch last weekend

100. Roasted brussels sprouts - This was my best food discovery of 2007-2008. Roasted with garlic, pine nuts, thyme and balsamic vinegar. Awesome.

Wow. I've only not eaten 15 of these. I didn't do so well on the "meat" version of the list...