Monday, March 24, 2014

Music Monday - Love Like This by Kodaline

It's been a GREAT day! Hope you enjoy this tune by Kodaline.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Belated Music Monday - "Happy" by Pentatonix

Adame wanted me to have this be Monday's tune.
Rappin for Jesus

It's hilariously awful and inappropriate.

So let's do this instead.

Because this was already awesome.

Monday, March 17, 2014


Here we are in the semi finals! It's been relatively easy thus far, but with only six bands left to compete we're going to blaze through the next round in a quickfire. I've heard most of the songs numerous times and can whittle our way to the top three.

Starting off the third bracket are two bands from opposite ends of North America, both including a Canadian persuasion. Air Traffic Controller hails from Nova Scotia and Paranoid Castle is a Bay Area emcee with a Canadian producer. "You Know Me" "Pick Me Up" and "Hurry Hurry" are infectious tunes that have won my heart to Air Traffic Controller.

Royal Teeth faces off against Wakey! Wakey! Both bands are for the younger crowd; very lovely, angsty and meant for a showcase on the CW. I have to award it to Royal Teeth.

No brainer for OK SWEETHEART against Landlady. Remember the song "Cry Me A River" in V for Vendetta by Julie London? Listen to "Before You Go" and tell me if you get the same feeling. Say it with me... O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A.... OOOOOOklaaaaahooooooma!

Alrighty folks, how was that for fast?

SXSW BBD 2nd Bracket - Cello Fury vs. Landlady

Last competitors before the finals! Cello Fury versus Landlady.

I'd like to note that my friend Ian looks similar to the brunette dude in Cello Fury. Ian is musical, but not of the cello variety. Stealing from wiki, Cello Fury is a chamber music group based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The group consists of Nicole Myers, Simon Cummings, Ben Muñoz and David Throckmorton. They rock strings. My Aunt Nan would not find this offensive. 

And Landlady? They are a hard act to find. Brooklyn guy, Adam Schatz, tends to cover other music in video and with the exception of the vegetable video "Above My Ground". Experimental, free-flowing, jazzy and bizarre. Adam is the maestro of his own world of crazy, which actually makes sense... which is crazy.

After pacing back and forth, I'm awarding this to Landlady. While neither band is my cup of tea, I appreciate the opportunity to explore something new. Cello Fury is classically a better fit, but this is SXSW after all.

SXSW BBN 2nd Bracket - OK SWEETHEART vs. The Unlikely Candidates

Welcome back my three readers. We are narrowing down the contenders for the SXSW Best Band Name and have two more rounds in this bracket before the playoffs.

Let's start with OK SWEETHEART
Erin Austin is a better version of Zoey Deschanel; more likeable, humanistic and without defense to her quirks. Her voice is enjoyable and the variance in tempo within songs is appreciated. The band name is a reflection of her Oklahoma upbringing. That said, she's still too cool for me. I don't think I own one vintage piece of clothing let alone a hairstyle that would fit in with her hipster friends.

Guess what? I've heard more songs by The Unlikely Candidates that I didn't realize. "Howl" may have been a Music Monday pick back in October. I cannot in good conscience send them through when they aren't a mystery to me. GREAT band! Really enjoy their work. But it wouldn't be fair. Sorry The Unlikely Candidates. It's not you, it's me.

OK SWEETHEART continues on by default.

Friday, March 14, 2014

SXSW BBN 2nd Bracket - In-Flight Safety vs. Wakey! Wakey!

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to G Funky flight 314 from SXSW in Austin directly to your eyeballs. At this time, make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Also make sure your seat belt is correctly fastened and you have an alcoholic beverage in your hand. We advise you that as of this moment, any electronic equipment must be turned up as loud as possible. Thank you.

More Canadians... In-Flight Safety. At least they aren't from Newfoundland, amirite Bueno? This isn't the band your Mum warned you about. Take a heavy heaping of Snow Patrol, throw in a dash of Coldplay and maybe a sprinkling of Rise Against drumming (at times) you've got yourself a good, steady band.

And they are up against? Wakey! Wakey!
Frontman Mike Grubbs isn't all about the piano in his music, but he is kinda all about the piano. More emo than Ben Folds, less grumpy than Chris Martin, and ... hairier than Billy Joel. His lyrics are very much right out of the journal and tend to be about love in some form or fashion. That's all I got folks.

It's a toss up. I'm going to award it to Wakey! Wakey! just because of Mike's talent and it brings back fond memories of the sailors asleep on the floor of my apartment. Wakey wakey! Eggs and Bakey!

SXSW BBN 2nd Bracket - Tacocat vs. Royal Teeth

I'm nervous where this one will go. I have been enjoying Royal Teeth and have already downloaded three songs. If Tacocat can make a good argument with their music, then they are still in the running.

A quick reminder about the awesomeness of Royal Teeth.

They tour... A LOT! Founded in Louisiana, they are definitely a pop group for the MTV crowd. (I like pop, sue me.) The female in the band, Nora, reminds me of a red-headed Joanna Page. They don't have a good bio out there, so I have to depend on other resources. Follow them on Twitter @royalteethmusic They're going to appear on American Idol next week, so the 'splody is about to happen for them.

And now... Tacocat.
According to their "hella interesting bio" they like The Ramones, weed, Hondas and feminist sci-fi. Three women and one long-haired dude make up the Washington state group. It's only a matter of time before they are promoted on Portlandia. I dare you to listen to their tunes and not imagine The Go Go's playing in your garage.

Oh Tacocat. You're fun and silly. But the garage-band rawness isn't able to compete against Royal Teeth. Chomp, chomp, chomp goes the Teeth on the Taco. (Not the cat part... that would be gross.)

SXSW BBN 2nd Bracket - Paranoid Castle vs. The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer

The second set of bands to make the initial cut are Paranoid Castle and The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer

 I gave Paranoid Castle a little grief in their first round for Weed Man; I'm pleased that they made it through so that I could experience "Feeling Inside". If Kirby Dominant went up against some slam poets I know, he would (as his last name states) dominate! SF Bay based, I'm reminded of Saul Williams but with a prettier melodic voice. He really likes champagne, so send him a bottle of Veuve Clicquot.

Blues duo Shawn Hall and Matthew Rogers create a sound of five or six members, but they play everything from drums, guitar, harmonica and vocals themselves. The lack of bass is apparent, but I cannot imagine how they create what they do between just the two of them. It's harsh and hard blues. They're Canadian, eh? I really hope Matthew hasn't murdered anyone with an axe.

Tough call. But I'm going to award it to Paranoid Castle. 

SXSW BBN 2nd Bracket - Swamp Cabbage vs. Air Traffic Controller

Hello my three readers. We have run through the first round of the SXSW Best Band Name competition and 13 bands have been eliminated. With the remaining bands, we'll dive a little bit deeper into their background and explore more music.

Up first, Swamp Cabbage.

A Floridian band founded by Walter Parks, they have been around since 2003. One of their songs is featured as the opening to American Guns. They have a great website, a collective history of working with great musicians, and appear to be a good live jam band.

They are pitted against Air Traffic Controller.

Boston guy, Dave Munro, was a real life Air Traffic Controller for the military. The music is a little reminiscent of They Might Be Giants. Dave likes to wear a chapeau and is definitely of the hipster variety. He apparently has issues with being on time; which means we could never be friends.

Easy win to Air Traffic Controller.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

SXSW BBN R12 - X vs. Landlady

It's the final countdown! Oh oh ay aaaaa... (imagine clip of Hullabaloos from Pitch Perfect here.)

Actually, no it's not. But it's the last set of bands to compete for a spot in the next part of the SXSW Best Band Name bracket. Brought to you by the letter G.

"White Girl"
The only band at SXSW that starts with "X", they were entered by lack of competition. I like me some punk, but not this especially. I think it's the female vocalist. Her voice grates on my brain and really unnecessary; especially as she sings the same notes (to harmonize with the male lead) without any definition or complexity. Punk can be complex.  

"Above My Ground"
Not too hard to beat X honestly. This is a unique mix of military-style snare drum, plucking bass and stacatto vocals. It builds, your head will nod to the beat and hips sway back and forth. It's different and interesting in great way. Check out the Official Vegetable Version if you would rather hear the non-live version. But the end of the live version has great crowd interaction and builds to a fulfilling crescendo.

Congratulations Landlady!

Here is where we stand at the end of the first round, going head to head in the next round are:

Swamp Cabbage vs. Air Traffic Controller
Paranoid Castle vs. The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer
Tacocat vs. Royal Teeth
In-Flight Safety vs. Wakey!Wakey!
The Unlikely Candidates vs. OK SWEETHEART
Cello Fury vs. Landlady

While it's 7:20 am, I'm going to get a little bit of shut-eye. Nigh-night.

SXSW BBN R11 - Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds vs. Cello Fury

Almost through! Let's finish up the first round so that we can dive deeper into the bands who made it into the second part of the bracket.

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds
"Haunted Head"
Uh, what? Um... no words here. Remember when Vincent Price did that interlude in "Thriller"? A little like that. But not as scary. And, uh... weird. Maybe I'm not cool enough to get it.

Cello Fury
Instrumental Rock
"Against All Odds"
Well, this is a thing. I've seen cellists rock out before - the best example being a "Thunderstruck" interpretation - but this feels a little like Mom is trying to be cool at Hot Topic when she really belongs in Ann Taylor.

I can't in good conscience award this to Kid Congo (though the name is cool).
Cello Fury takes it by a string.


Two more to go and its off to boom beddy bye byes.  I have to correct my initial line-up as I thought it was Jam Jam, but it is actually Jaw Jam.

Jaw Jam
"No Sleep"
Isn't that an appropriate title for what I am currently feeling? Someone else is reading these postings relatively quickly after they have gone up, so you must not be sleeping either. Feel free to ping me. This is mellow electronica; the kind in a bar like Soiree or on a Hotel Costes compilation.

"Before You Go"
Sweet beginning with a lovely and enchanting voice, steady piano chords back the vocals. Awwww. This is a lovers song. Laying in bed under a white slip sheet on a Sunday afternoon, playing footsie to keep your feet warm, and drifting off into a nap while snuggling. Yeah, that sums it up.

OK SWEETHEART, you made it to the next round but you'll be up against The Unlikely Candidates. Good luck.

SXSW BBN R9 - Volcanos on Lo vs. The Unlikely Candidates

Almost done with the first round, let's get to this!

Volcanos on Lo
Trying to find this band wasn't easy. They aren't on iTunes. YouTube doesn't quickly recognize them. So I am resorting to recent uploads of performances from SXSW (which is not really fair to the other bands, but it's all I have for reference.) I can't hear the vocalist. The guitars are drowning him out. That said, I don't know if he is all that great and I am missing much? He seems to be song-speaking more than singing. A little experimental. This band is not ready for primetime. With more cohesion, perhaps. Spend more time on the songs and less on your hair.
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The Unlikely Candidates
"Follow My Feet"
Oh s**t, I've heard this song on KXT and I liked it. I should eliminate them. But there are only a handful of bands who start with "U" and none of them have a fun band name for competition.
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The Unlikely Candidates win.

SXSW BBN R8 - Yuppie Pricks vs. Wakey!Wakey!

Oh my. It's Y versus W.

Yuppie Pricks
"F**k You I'm Rich"
I can't take this band seriously. It's a gimmick. I can see white angry dudes body slam into each other after six too many IPAs. This band plays in the backyard of your neighbors party and you want to call the cops to get them sited for a noise violation.
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"Almost Everything"
Crumbcake. From the outset I can tell this was likely used by a show on the CW with brooding teenagers yearning for love. Likely the boy has a faux hawk and angst, the popular girl pines for the boy but can't be with him else she will be ostracized. Then the jerk jock at the school does something to the girl and emo-boy comes to the rescue. They gaze into each others' eyes and begin a ridiculous teenage romance full of drama. Amirite?
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Wakey!Wakey! takes the cakey cakey.
As a side note, I used to wake up the sailor friends who crashed on the floor in my San Diego apartment with Wakey! Wakey! They hated me for it. But, they usually made it to muster on time.

SXSW BBN R7 - In-Flight Safety vs. Bearcubbin'!

When I saw Bearcubbin'! listed as a SXSW performer, I giggled and knew they had to be in the competition for best band name. Not as awesome as Ham Sandwich, but up there. And as for In-Flight Safety? Let's just say I added them for my aviation friends.

In-Flight Safety
"Model Home"
I'm actually not sure if this is rock, alternative, folk or pop. It's a quasi-mixture that is not easily identifiable. Much like Imagine Dragons, I can see them as an indie band that makes it on the Top 40 and thus gets a confusing label. This song appears to be four years old, but still the most popular on iTunes. You know how when you listen to "Nothing Compares To You" and Sinead's voice is so spot-on, but still brings you down? A little like that.

"Down Buttermilk Road"
Straight off the bat, I have to admit my weakness for great drummers. First love of my life was/is a drummer - and exceptional one at that - so when this song began I was a little biased. There is an element of Ingrid Michaelson as they record and loop in other instruments and elements. There are no vocal elements in this song. (I cheated and listened to a few other high popularity songs by them on iTunes... they are instrumental only.) The song is long... a little too long for my tastes.

Good band and great talent, but I'm going to have to go with...
In-Flight Safety.

Won't it be interesting if In-Flight Safety has to square off against Air Traffic Controller?

SXSW BBN R6 - Royal Teeth vs. Quiet Company

Posting early this Thursday morning as I've taken Hurricane Glo to the airport to make a 5:30 am flight home. With the little bit of coffee in my system I'm going to see how many more initial rounds I can get through this morning before power napping to begin the day anew.

Royal Teeth
This is the first song in the competition that has honestly made me listen to it it numerous times and put on my iTunes future purchase list. The chorus "I believe that I can make you scream for me... Oo Oo Oo Oo Oo, Ahhh." is lovely, pretty, haunting and makes the heart melt. There's a weird breakdown of instruments towards the end; it's chaotic but goes with the feeling and intent of the song. Perhaps I shouldn't blog and review at 5:30 in the morning as I cannot describe adequately my enjoyment of this.
Give it a listen and let me know if you agree. The band is pretty, which doesn't hurt.

Quiet Company
"The Biblical Sense of the Word"
Ben Folds immediately came to mind.  The vocalist, the piano, the slow time signature and transition between stanzas. It's unfortunate that Quiet Company had to compete against Royal Teeth, likely they would have beaten another band. I'm also reminded of Toad the Wet Sprocket and Glen Philips. Have you heard "Men Just Leave"? It's a good jam.

No need for further discussion. Royal Teeth take this round.

SXSW BBN R5 - Tacocat vs. East Cameron Folklore

We are in round five with only seven more initial competitions to go before we've made it through all the bands up for SXSW Best Band Name.

Surf Rock / Punk
"Crimson Wave"
Wow. The most popular song by Tacocat is about menstruation. Srsly? It's catchy, I'll give you that. Nice harmonies and easy up and down the scale chord transition. This would be something to bop along to at a girly sleepover. It's like a weirdly feminist Beach Boys, but better.

East Cameron Folklore
Rock / Punk
In the vein of Rise Against, this motley band appears to be focused on social and political consciousness. There must be easily be six members as I hear brass (trumpet and trombone) along with drums, guitar, piano and more. Where Rise Against gets it right, this song doesn't have the driving tempo that builds to a crescendo making one feel part of the movement. The melancholy death refrain brings me down instead of building me up. Am slightly reminded of "House of the Rising Sun".

Winner? Tacocat.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SXSW BBN R4 - The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer vs. Ghostpizza

I have no idea which way this round is going to go. It's the "G" band versus "H" band, which came out randomly in the bracket generator. I thought both band names were unique and bizarre, hence their inclusion.

The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer
"Are You Listening Lord?"
Harmonica, but not in the annoying Blues Traveler kind of way. It is more of a supportive wail to the vocalist. I feel like this song will be used in an upcoming Coen Brothers movie. Maybe a Tarantino film? Something where the man who has nothing else to lose is going after the bad guy who smokes a Cuban cigar and has a private room in the back of a strip club; perhaps it's in black and white with moments of red to accentuate the anger and forthcoming bloodbath between the two rivals.
Listen for yourself.
Hip Hop / Rap

Uh, no. This is a compilation of artists and too difficult to figure out. A literal head scratcher. Good luck to anyone who wants to take the initiative to learn more.


The second choice for a "G" band was Gramma's Boyfriend.  I checked them out on iTunes and they still wouldn't have beaten the "H" band. So...
Congratulations to The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer who will go up against Paranoid Castle once we get to phase two.

SXSW BBN R3 - Not In The Face vs. Paranoid Castle

Up first in the third round of the this bracket? Not In The Face... I'm curious about the origin of that name, but perhaps I don't want to know...

Not In The Face
"Brass Tacks"
Slightly metal, definitely rock and maybe a hint of dirty southern? Vocalist is surprisingly adept between growling, cooing and slither/warble. The guitar riffs are hard but interspersed with the thump of the bass drum. I might work out to this at the gym, but wouldn't be rocking out in my car on a road trip.
The video is slightly NSFW based on the nekkid bum, homo eroticism and suggestive actions depicted.


Paranoid Castle
Hip Hop / Rap
"Weed Man"
Likely, the other offerings from Paranoid Castle will give me a better sense of the music, but "Weed Man" is the most popular on iTunes. Here we go. Nice background to the rap lyrics which is storytelling and quite easy to visualize. Humorous and understandable. Quite entertaining. I can see the Humboldt set playing this over and over, getting the munchies and ordering a pizza, forgetting that the song is on repeat and then discovering it again for the first time.
After the lovey-dovey tunes from round 2, this random bracket set for the competition is oddly gratifying. Rock versus Hip Hop, both risque in nature for either sexual overtones or blatant drug use.

The winner of this round is Paranoid Castle.

SXSW BBN R2 - Dinner And A Suit vs. Air Traffic Controller

Round 2 of our randomly developed bracket gives us Dinner And A Suit versus Air Traffic Controller.

Dinner And A Suit
"Where We Started"
Started off sounding like OneRepublic or some other nice boy band that I would have eaten up as a teenager (before I discovered Nine Inch Nails, dying my hair purple, and green Converse.) It's a lovely song; but perhaps I am feeling dark and jaded this evening as it does not move me to feel anything other than "Oh, that's sweet." I have a feeling this band is all over MTV in the late afternoon. One of my three readers will point out that they were in the latest Disney movie or something of that ilk.
Check out the Joe Jonas doppelganger walking through the cornfield in slow motion a la Chris Martin in Coldplay's "Yellow.


Air Traffic Controller
"You Know Me"
Not sure what it is about love songs this evening. I like the back and forth between the two vocalists. It's catchy. But I keep wanting them to really rock out and have some serious drums and thumping beats. Maybe they do that live? It's a fun song. Clearly of the hipster persuasion. Likely I will enjoy other tunes.
And here we see an amalgamation of fun and instruments ranging from a stand up bass to a didgeridoo.


Round 2 goes to Air Traffic Controller.
How... unexpected.
You're welcome all those in the aviation industry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SXSW BBN R1 - Swamp Cabbage vs Zeds Dead

Looking back on the last competition, I spent an inordinate amount of time listening to multiple songs from each band.  The less tedious version of this will be to review the most popular song on either iTunes (first choice) or YouTube (second choice) and if the band is not easily found on either, we go to their website or social media postings. Then, when the band goes head to head against another band we've already heard from, I'll pick the second most popular song.

I foretell there will be some judgement calls on my part... it should be interesting.

First round! Swamp Cabbage vs. Zeds Dead.

Swamp Cabbage
Sounds like something I'd hear in a True Blood episode. Banjo. Dirty guitar. I can easily picture myself with my Floridian cousin out in the swamps in his Mud Mobile, coming across a gator or two and drinking some filthy spirit that burns my throat to the point I can sing along with the lead singer in his gravel tones.


Zeds Dead
"Rude Boy"
Okay, we are immediately into dubstep. This isn't usually my style unless it's a version of a song I already like; I don't really know how to dance to dubstep, or maybe it is meant to be just pure enjoyment whilst listening in your car with the bass turned to 9... #suburbanwhitegirlproblems. If this is your thing, check them out. I can tell that they mix beats per minute while playing up and down the scale for intensity, then throw in a few snippets of dialogue to keep the momentum going.
There is a version with Omar LinX which I enjoyed more, but them ain't the rules.


Round one goes to Swamp Cabbage. 
Let it be known I prefer the iTunes version rather than the live set. 

SXSW BEST BAND NAME - Let the competition begin!

Once again, I will NOT be attending SXSW in Austin and seeing the amazing bands I've been wanting to see live - especially Seryn.

To remedy this and keep myself entertained, I will once again conduct a non-scientific and completely biased competition to determine the best band name performing over the next few days. How do I do this? Glad you asked.

I went through the list of bands performing that are listed on the SXSW site, A through Z. Then, I selected the band name that sounded the most interesting, made me chuckle, or generally sounded off the wall. Why? Well, why not. My rules. This year, I am selecting a name from each letter of the alphabet. (Sorry, Dr. Awkward. So close to making the cut!)

From there, I will build out a bracket which places the bands against each other for rounds of competition. I listen to a handful of songs by the band (ones that I can find online) and determine which band's music I prefer. The band with better music gets to move on until we have a final winner. Remember the winner a few years ago? Ham Sandwich. 

I am not allowed to chose a band name that I have heard of before, nor can I choose what is clearly one person performing or a comedy act. So with that, here are the bands that are up for the win!

Air Traffic Controller
Cello Fury
Dinner And a Suit
East Cameron Folklore
Foxboro Hot Tubs
The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer
In-Flight Safety
Jam Jam
Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds
Manic Sheep
Not In The Face
Paranoid Castle
Quiet Company
Royal Teeth
Swamp Cabbage
The Unlikely Candidates
Volcanos On Lo
Yuppie Pricks
Zeds Dead

Bracket forthcoming. Let the competition begin!

Music Monday - "Rock Away Blind" by Lindsey Buckingham

Slightly belated, sorry.

I heard this for the first time a few minutes ago; woke up from a dream and needed to expel some energy. I kept expecting a heavy drum beat to kick in, but I think the genius of this song is that it allows you to imagine the backing instruments yourself.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tech Thursday - Winklevoss Twins, Space and Bitcoin

This article on CNN yesterday struck me as interesting.

In essence, the Winklevi are paying Virgin Galactic in Bitcoin to go to space. Richard Branson's company has been accepting it for payment, which further supports the virtual currency's place in our future. The Winklevoss Twins are also invested in Bitcoin and promoting their own capitol group, which should come as no surprise that they would enjoy the media attention around their "unique" purchase with a futuristic payment method.

Austin, Texas has announced that Bitcoin ATMs will be coming in the near future with one already established in a bar. My guess is that they are capitalizing on upcoming SXSW which drives music lovers and techies to blog, tweet, post and video all the new offerings. In my opinion, this is great PR for Bitcoin ... and free media and branding.

Even mainstream television has picked up on the Bitcoin movement. Shows like "Almost Human", which is set in the near future, make frequent reference to the untraceable currency.

Bitcoin is in it's infancy; or perhaps more correctly, its formative years. The value is volatile and still fluctuates, though it is becoming more steady as society begins to adopt it as an alternative to cash and credit. It is worth paying attention to during these growing pains. And yes, investing in a Bitcoin or two now could be a great investment in the long run.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Silence of the Braised Lamb's Neck

I had a lunch date planned with a colleague today, but he rescheduled an hour before for a later date. This now bumps him down on the "G's Favorite Pilot List" which stands as thus:

1. Captain Blue Eyes (no one is going to take away his number one spot. Just not going to happen.)
2. Dougie Doug
3. Mister Jim
4. Tommy P
5. Cantabene (Because he left us, other wise he'd be above Tommy.)
6. Duane (Yeah, that's right Duane. You just got kicked to the bottom!)

He doesn't care. Trust me.

So with time on my hands I went to the gym for 20 minutes of intense elliptical, 20 minutes weights, 10 minutes treadmill. Felt pretty good! From there I hopped over to Sprouts to figure out what I wanted to create for dinner. On special? Lamb necks for $2.99 a pound.

Well there you go.

Figuring that it would be similar to a shank, I decided to get a few key ingredients and head home.
Lamb necks, flour, garlic salt, black pepper, lemon, onion, tomatoes, white onion, butter, olive oil, potato (I actually decided on couscous instead, but the photo was already taken.)  
I could have added fresh rosemary from the garden, but decided against it this time. 

First step, get the necks dredged in the flour and spice mixture. 
While you are coating these, put one tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a good pot. You want the heat high enough to crisp the lamb but not so high to create a smoke bomb. 
For me? It's the range at 7.
Lamb has a lot of fat, especially this cut, but you need to crisp up the exterior and eventually saute the onions and tomatoes. You may remove the fat later. 
Once the lamb is coated, put it in the pot. This applies to shanks as well.
It's not rocket science. 
Sorry for the blurry photo, but I needed to be quick at this point. 
You need to get the onions and tomatoes chopped and ready to go in the pan once you remove the lamb. 
 Now you need to remove the lamb to another plate. Place the chopped onion in the pot and lower the heat. Toss in the tomatoes once the heat is reduced and you're at a low, low simmer. 
BE CAREFUL OF GREASE! Too much and you need to remove it from the pot. 
You can see it's slightly smoky. 
Now, I used fresh tomatoes but it's completely acceptable to use diced canned tomatoes. Just make sure they aren't seasoned or have something weird like jalapenos in the can. 
Fresh is best!

There will be people who disagree with me, but I think a good, long braise should include wine. 
Just a cupful of a non-expensive but a trusty tasting Cab Sav. 
Today I used a 2012 BV which is more than adequate with which to cook. 

One you pour in the wine and add tomatoes to the onions, it should look like this:

Sorry it's upside down, but you can figure it out. You're smart. 
Note that we are on absolute low, simmer. Here's when you add the lamb back. 

 If you wanted to add a starch like potato, do it here. Just place them quartered around the meat. 
I'm opting for couscous so that won't be until the final five minutes of cookery.

Oh, maybe I'll have a glass myself while we wait. 

Because now you just LEAVE IT ALONE! Let it simmer for two hours or so. When the meat falls off the bone, it's done. This method can be applied to any cut that is more bone-in than flat cut. In fact, you could probably braise pretty much everything.

Now I know what's your going to ask... can I do this in a crock pot or oven? 
The answer is yes. 
But you're going to need to sear the meat in a pan anyway. So unless the pan is also oven-proof, don't make a bigger mess in your kitchen than you need to. And crock pot cooking is better for a lamb stew than a bone-in cut. Just my POV. 

Okay, it's been an hour and a half, let's take a look.

 The meat is pretty soft on the bone, so I'm going to flip it and keep waiting.
Now the other side will soak in the yummy goodness of onion, garlic, tomato and wine. 

Lamb is good. It's described as "gamey" but I don't really know what that means. I lived in New Zealand for a while and ate it rather frequently. 
Fun fact: There are seven sheep for every person in New Zealand.

But I prefer lamb over beef. And I don't dig pig. Unless it's bacon.

Huh. Apparently "Wine Wednesday" is trending on Twitter. 
I suppose another few sips are therefore sanctioned by my Twitter following. 
Oh yes, I'm big on Twitter. 
Like, 45 whole followers!
More than my very silent three readers here. 
(cough cough)

Time to roast the Brussels sprouts.
I like to keep it simple with sea salt and white truffle oil. They get nice and crispy. 
Roast for 15 minutes MAX at 350 degrees F.

When the BSprouts are nearly done, I'll remove the lamb from the pot to rest and put in the couscous. 
Five minutes covered, turn off the heat. That's it. 

Try not to get the couscous all over the stove like I did.

Uh, where did the wine go?

Let's take a look at the final product.


Next time I would try grilling to get more crispy bits and remove more fat.

Here's a trick for the leftover sauce. Strain it, refrigerate, remove the fat and use for a base for the next meal.

Bon appetite!

See what happens when a Pilot stands me up for lunch?

Things that might take away a headache

It's Wednesday. I've woken up at a ridiculous time and besides watching Being Human season two, thought I might do a little web surfing.

Go to for cuteness?

I'm not a huge fan of cats, but I love *JAZZ PAWS*

Song on my iTunes Wish List.

I only own two Vampire Weekend songs. This isn't one of them but should be.

This pretty much sums up what happens when nerds get drunk. Moveable kitty ears and asking puppets about necrophilia.

First photo I saved on my MacBook Pro.
Me in Bangkok on the Chao Phraya river. I actually dislike Thai food and had a not-so-great time. Not a huge fan of Southeast Asia. Sorry.

ZzzQuil works if you just want to sleep through the headache. Or listening to a thunderstorm with heavy rain. Or good music recommended by a friend.

I hope that helps. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Come With Me Now

I haven't been listening to the radio lately, but I had an early morning meeting in Addison so I was flipping between stations. 91.7 KXT which is my "go to" station is having a membership drive, so I tried 102.1 which usually plays good alternative music in the morning. Sure enough, after a few moments a new tune started... with an accordion. Wait, what? An accordion? An accordion and a thumping drumbeat. Next, fat deep bass lines supporting the melody.

Woah! Come with me now. I'm going to take you down. 
Woah! Go with me now. I'm going to show you how.

I'm trying to figure out which band it is, but I'm driving and can't Shazam it. 102.1 doesn't always list the song and title. Glancing down at the dashboard, I see the title "Come With Me Now". Okay, that's a start but might be challenging to find on YouTube. I try to remember some lyrics just in case I have to search harder.

I think with my heart but ... confusing myself with something that's...

Far away I heard him say. Don't delay I heard him say. 
Oh my god, the singer sounds like an angel! Is this Keane? It can't be. Back to the chorus. I can tell it will wrap up soon. I have to buy this song. I already want to plan a play list around it for the gym later.

Song ends. I hold my breath. Jagger says, "That's the new song from Kongos. When I saw them with the accordion, I didn't know where they were going with it. Now you know too. They'll be at EdgeFest."

Check them out for yourself.

Monday, March 3, 2014

It Could Totally Happen

If I was on The Walking Dead, these are the things I would want to do...

I don't have the greatest priorities in the Zombie Apocalypse.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Music Monday - Beck "Wave"

This is my recommendation for Music Monday; a hauntingly beautiful new song from Beck called "Wave".  Even if you saw him perform it on SNL, it's worth listening to again. And again.

But if that is a little too dark and moody, I have another option.  (And sometimes emotional music with gloomy weather might make one down. And you shouldn't start your week that way.) How about this instead?

Open to suggestions for next week.