12/16/2022 0 Comments
A Micro Memoir by Gina Tron
One of my favorite books growing up was about a farm family. It featured photographs of a woman milking cows and a redheaded boy feeding a cluster of chickens. When I was seven, my dad took me to a feed store where baby chickens squeaked and ran around on cedar chips. I touched their fuzzy bodies, warm from the red heat lamps and begged my dad to buy me one, and he had to drag me out of the store while I cried hysterically. I continued crying for hours after we left and became consumed with the idea of having a pet chicken, one that I could housetrain and teach how to speak. That day I noticed that on my right palm, my veins resembled the beak and head of a bird. For the next two years, I hoped this meant that having pet chickens was in my future.
For months before our baby chickens’ arrival, I read books about raising chickens. Despite having educated myself about the intellectual capabilities (and shortcomings) of the birds, I was still naive. I turned a shoe box into a bed big enough for a baby hen. I intended to pick my favorite chick and keep her in my bedroom, and I still stubbornly believed that if I tried hard enough, I could not only housetrain the bird, but teach her to speak English.
"There's no way in hell we are keeping a chicken in the house, Gina,” my mom attempted to reason with me. You can't train a chicken to do anything. Their brains are the size of peas."
All six chicks were supposed to be female, but I kept hoping that one of them would grow up to be a rooster. My premonition was correct. Big Red matured into a vicious beast with a shiny red coat and floppy comb. He would rape the hens and use his talons to attack my brother and I as we returned from schools; often we’d drop our backpacks and run into the house as we entered our property. Neighbors and friends were also met with Big Red’s rage.
After numerous incidents of numerous people being attacked my parents tried unsuccessfully to sell him at a farm show. There, he tried to attack a Rottweiler from the cardboard box, perforated with many holes, he was in. My dad’s farmer coworker ultimately decided to take him in.
The roosters there, all 12 of them, weren’t impressed with Big Red’s attitude upon his arrival. As we let him out of the cardboard box, they waddled up to meet him. He, in turn, tried to peck the face of one of them. They then collectively chased him off, ostracizing him. Big Red slept the rest of his angry, lonely life in the cow barn until coyotes ultimately killed him.
Portions of this micro memoir are from "Suspect," a memoir to be released by Vegetarian Alcohol Press in 2023.
Gina Tron is the author of multiple books, including the memoir "You're Fine.", absurdist short story collection "Eggolio and Other Fables," and poetry collections "Star 67," "Employment," and "A Blurry Photograph of Home." Forthcoming memoirs "Eat, Fuck, (Write About) Murder" and "Suspect" will be released by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press in 2023. Gina is currently eating crab eggs.
Dog model: Svetlana (thanks Colleen)
I've only listened to Of Empress and dance music for an entire week and not been focused to make an Xmas playlist. Thankfully Colleen Sieber who has excellent music taste has a brilliantly sad Xmas playlist so she's standing in at the Pup Sounds Friday dj table today.
From Colleen: "Please put in a caveat that you should listen to this at your own mental health risk."
When I was very little, when Prince ruled the airwaves, when McDonalds made little plastic Mario Koopas that fluttered and Goombas that hopped, my parents took me to the Science Museum. The streets were slushed with snow and lined with people, gazing up in awe at Emilio Fucking Estevez, seated on a device with a camera, some 20 feet in the air. And everyone whispered their hushed Minnesota whispers, asking if it were even possible that Martin Sheen’s most handsome son could really be there, before us, behind a camera and not in front of it. People in the crowd speculated that it was a double, though why his double would be behind the camera is beyond me to this day. Even more confusing was the question of how the star of Mighty Ducks might be, for any reason, filming the very movie he was meant to star in.
Anyway, months later, my dad took me and my brothers to a swimming meet in a small nothing town where the sunlight bounced off the technicolor plastics of a water park. I sat at the playground while my brothers were competing, underneath one of those swirling turret towers, and watched the light flashing on the water nearby, where boys that would someday become men who really knew how to hold their breath, thrashed madly through the pool as their coaches screamed commands.
I thought about Emilio Estevez, about the way his eyes locked with mine, and I convinced myself that he was probably in love with me. I had been watching The Breakfast Club since I was 4 years old, and thus this seemed entirely possible. Probable, even.
All this is to say, I was also a swimmer. I can hold my breath for a really long time.
I’m doing it right now.
12/2/2022 0 Comments
Pup Sounds Friday: 12/02/2022
Dog model: Brewski (thanks Penni)
December isn't the best time for new album releases but a couple have caught my attention: London-based Sophie Jamieson's contemplative Choosing, and Canadian Black Ox Orkestar's Everything Returns "offering a distinctive take and timbre within the contemporary landscape of Jewish, Yiddish and klezmer music." (from their spotify bio). Irish multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Anna Mieke's album Theatre from a couple of weeks back is also worth checking out.
Otherwise this friday''s playlist is populated by mostly instrumental and ambient music.
It's a good playlist to walk in the woods to, I think, or wherever you can walk.
by Michael Seymour Blake
You’re an innocent British child in 1992. It’s a quarter to 10 and your parents allow you to watch some nighttime television with them. BBC’s been on in the background, but none of you have been paying it much attention.
Turns out it’s a live news broadcast from an allegedly haunted house. One of the reporters is Sarah Greene, a children’s programming host. It becomes increasingly obvious that this whole “investigation” is just the network’s way of serving up some spooky Halloween fun—even if it is at the expense of homeowner Pamela Early (Brid Brennan) and her two daughters.
But something doesn’t feel right. There’s a ghoulish figure lingering near the curtains in the children’s room. You’re sure of it. Others are too. People keep calling the provided number to talk about it.
Back on the set, Host Michael Parkinson, a trusted and familiar journalist/broadcaster, pulls up a still of the curtains. The thing, whatever it is, looms there. You feel its eyes on you. Michael and his guest, parapsychologist Dr. Lin Pascoe (Gillian Bevan), attribute the illusion to shadows and rumples in the material.
They could be right. Maybe it’s just a trick of the light.
No, something’s there. The Early children refer to this entity as “Pipes” because that’s initially what their mother blamed the ongoing strange banging noises on—the benign innards of an unhaunted house.
Pipes. The denomination gives you goosebumps.
Outside on the streets, locals tell frightening stories involving dead dogs, ghost defecation, and child killers. All this, and you’re pretty sure (you keep doubting yourself) that you’ve spotted Pipes a few more times. Silently surveying with those black, sunken eyes…
Your parents exchange poorly concealed looks of concern. The thudding in your chest is almost unbearable. Something evil is unfolding before the entire nation’s eyes. Your parents call the network in a panic. The signal’s busy. Any semblance of youthful security crumbles away as vomit rises in your throat.
Many people were similarly traumatized by the brilliant, misguided airing of Ghostwatch.
Had those poor souls tuned in earlier, they would’ve seen a message making it very clear this was all fiction—a TV movie written by Stephen Volk made to look like a live broadcast. But it’s 1992. You can’t rewind in real time, and the internet is nowhere near what it is today. Thousands felt duped, angered, and traumatized.
Missing that essential opening disclaimer left deciphering the authenticity of the events purely up to everyone’s own critical thinking abilities… and when people are afraid, critical thinking is often the first thing to go. Entire households temporarily lost their footing with reality, women went into early labor, a man defecated in his pants, people puked from pure fright, and, saddest of all, a boy reportedly took his own life days after watching.
The BBC didn’t see it coming. They anticipated some people phoning in, but they’d set up automated messages assuring everyone what they witnessed was for entertainment purposes only. They also had operators on standby to assuage the occasional extra nervous viewer. Thing is, the lines became so flooded that many were met with a busy signal.
Panic and outrage led to this being the first and only airing of Ghostwatch.
This movie’s controversial history may pique your interest or turn you off, but is it any good?
For my money—very.
Director Lesley Manning recalls the filming experience as “fantastically technical.” That much is apparent from the start. It takes a lotta work to create the illusion of live television, and there’s an undeniable meticulousness about Ghostwatch. Executives initially pictured a more traditional filming style—ya know, shot on film with dramatic angles, a polished look, maybe a bit more cinematic distance from all the action—but Manning was committed to verisimilitude. Why ruin the broadcast TV effect by shooting on film? She wanted it to look as authentic as possible. No fancy cinematography or any of that. And she wanted it all on tape, and a good portion utilizing a handheld camera. The final product mimics what a live TV special would look like at the time.
Creative restraint pulled me further into the deception. Besides the opening security footage, Ghostwatch holds back the horror as much as possible, making every effort to seem like nothing is going to happen. Hanging back so boldly earns it a ton of believability. But if you’re not into subtlety, don’t worry—it gets pretty apocalyptic later.
There’s a possession scene that I’d stand by as being one of the best in cinema thanks to how understated it is. Movie possessions often go over the top. They’re frightening in the moment, but eventually kinda blend into each other with tons of screams, howls, and guttural ramblings. This one feels domestic and conceivable. I still can’t stop hearing “what big eyes you have.”
Even at its mildest, there’s an ominous mood throughout Ghostwatch. I never felt safe (despite occasionally having to remind myself I wasn’t, in fact, watching some dry British program). Take the infrared camera demonstration at the beginning for example. Excited people wave and laugh, all thermally lit up. I couldn’t quite say why, but it put me on edge. And any technical blip sent a jolt of fear down my spine.
During an interview about Ghostwatch, a concerned mother described how deeply the pseudo-documentary disturbed her child even before anything spooky actually occurred. There was just “something very sinister in the presentation,” she says.
Something sinister in the presentation. Couldn’t have said it better.
The acting is almost flawless. There are some points when you can see through the charade, but everyone knows the mission. They keep it natural, occasionally sloppy (even stumbling over their words), occasionally awkward. The imperfect stuff of real life. During the first act, a jovial (maybe selling it slightly too hard?) Craig Charles speaks with the Earlys. They seem uncomfortable, words almost muttered, mouths too far away from the microphone. The impression we’re left with is a believable family desperately looking for help. When Pamela chokes up I bought it so hard I went broke.
Further selling the “live television” fiction are the street interviews, which involve local non-actors sharing ghost stories. These apparently-unscripted segments are like sinister pinches of realism spice sprinkled over the baked slow burn horror pie that is this movie.
Some beautifully planned moments can, even if for a second, trick you into thinking you’re watching genuine events transpire.
One of my favorites is when a mysterious circle of goo appears on the Early’s living room carpet. Reporter Sarah Greene uses a handkerchief to check the light fitting for a leak from above, finding everything perfectly dry. Dr. Pascoe asks her (through an earpiece) to sniff the “hanky.” I wanted to scream “don’t do it.” She brings it to her nose and takes a whiff. Nope, no smell. Then the ever-professional doctor requests a sample of the stuff. Greene agrees, but doesn’t have anything to collect it with. That’s when the sound recordist hands her a lens duster. The flow here is so natural that I was momentarily impressed by his spontaneous resourcefulness (of course, it was all in the script).
I could stop here, but I want to describe a little more because I just love it:
Improvised sample tool in hand, Greene crouches over the ooze and uses the suction created by squeezing and releasing the duster to siphon some up. Slurp, slurp, slurp. Such an uncomfortable moment. While you’re busy being vaguely worried about her interacting with the substance, one of the children suddenly appears for a nice little jump scare.
Lurking at the center of it all is Pipes, whose menacing presence violates even the most lighthearted of scenes. By the end, the dribs and drabs we get of his backstory form a haunting mythology. Also, watch closely and you’ll notice him popping up now and again. After I finished Ghostwatch, I went back and rewatched some of the appearances I’d missed. Somehow knowing he was present without my having noticed it made Pipes even more frightening.
Ghostwatch asks us if we should trust something simply because it’s on TV. Should we accept whatever a familiar face on the screen tells us is true? Whether this movie explores these concepts successfully, I can’t say. It sure fooled a ton of people. But did it make them question their favorite news sources, or fact check a celebrity’s comment on some sociopolitical issue? Either way, I respect the ambition.
I may admire this movie too much. I don’t necessarily think it has mass appeal. It’s almost 2023 and most of us have seen some grisly stuff. You may come away underwhelmed. Still, I find it to be, at minimum, among the best “found footage” horror movies ever made. It’s classy without being too stiff and gruesome without using gore.
One thing’s certain: had I seen Ghostwatch as a child that one fateful night in 1992, I would’ve spontaneously combusted.
by Michael Seymour Blake
For some, 1925’s Battleship Potemkin was basically a horror movie. It was banned in France, The United Kingdom, and America due to fears it might incite a mass uprising. Let me repeat that. This film was banned in France, The United Kingdom, and America because they thought maybe a bunch of citizens would watch it and be like, “Let’s overthrow our government! Communism!”
As of now it still holds the record for being banned longer than any other film in British history. But the best part is that it was eventually banned in The Soviet Union too. That’s right. This movie, which drips with Soviet ideology, was banned by Stalin because even he worried it would cause people to revolt. That’s one terrifyingly powerful film.
But it’s not only famous for the sociopolitical weight of its story, the movie also showcases some incredible examples of montage that people still oogle over today. And the Odessa steps sequence itself. Whew! Still shocking and affecting.
The movie doesn’t give us much of a backstory, it simply shows us a situation and unrolls from there. You don’t need to know more than that. Still, it’s nice to have a barebones understanding of the historical context.
By 1905, the Russian Empire was riddled with social unrest. Multiple defeats in The Russo-Japanese War further stirred feelings of discontent and disillusionment. Revolution seemed imminent. Millions of dissatisfied workers were on strike, and naval mutinies began to spread. One of these mutinies took place on the Knyaz Potemkin Tavricheskiy. That’s our ship.
We’re quickly aligned with the already-agitated Black Sea Fleet crew, who are abused and disparaged by the officers in charge. After they refuse to eat maggot-infested meat, the ship’s doctor is called for a public inspection. He clearly ignores the squirming insects and asserts (in title cards) “Those aren’t maggots.” They are, he claims, simply dead fly eggs. The crew rejects the rotten meat.
The ship’s captain, tired of everyone’s complaints, doubles down. He separates those who are “dissatisfied” with the food and condemns them to death. But before the assembled firing squad carries out their sentence, a heroic sailor named Vakulinchuk shouts, “Brothers! Who are you firing on?” His words give them pause. They lower their weapons. An officer tries to reassert control, grabbing for one of the rifles. Then total chaos erupts. The firing squad joins the crew in mutiny. Vakulinchuk is killed in the skirmish.
After successfully commandeering the ship, the crew ports at Odessa and displays Vakulinchuk’s body for all to see. The citizens are roused into action, sending skiffs packed with supplies to the mutineers. But czarist troops appear at the top of a long flight of steps and descend on the crowd like one barbarous creature, killing without restraint or mercy.
The ending is suspenseful, but don’t expect a ton of excitement after the famous Odessa steps sequence (how could it possibly get better than that anyway?).
Propaganda doesn't have to work as a great piece of art, but this movie is both. While modern audiences might be a little bored at times, an underlying vigor keeps this cinematic ship afloat (sorry). Director Sergei Eisenstein said, “Language is much closer to film than painting is.” And there is poetry here; semi-surrealistic images of ghostly hanging sailors, a priest who looks like he belongs in Clash of the Titans, and three lion statues cleverly edited to give the impression of one waking beast all contribute to a feeling of watching an ode on the screen.
The outbursts of violence rival almost any other movie I can think of, at least on an emotional level. Stanley Kauffmann describes the overall feel of the film as “extraordinary eavesdropping,” and that’s one reason why it packs such a punch. At times I was so invested it seemed like I was watching real footage some creative weirdo had shot and stored in their basement.
At one point, the camera cuts to a woman who’s been brutally slashed in the face. There’s no story arc for her as we’ve only just “met” her moments prior. Yet she doesn’t feel expendable. We grieve her loss because she represents the people, and this is largely a story about groups, not individuals. Their deaths are everybody’s deaths. In fact, the ship itself reads as a kind of mass entity… like how some ants can interlock themselves into a raft for crossing bodies of water. The ship becomes the people. Or the people become the ship? Now I’m babbling.
Despite Battleship Potemkin’s legendary status and it being nearly 100 years old, I don’t meet many people who have seen it (outside of film-loving circles and some students). If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to—and not just for the Odessa steps sequence. It’s an important piece of work that explored what montage (which is basically editing) is capable of. Notice how and when the cuts occur. Something’s always being said. We take much of these things for granted now, but back then this was some truly wild stuff.
Eisenstein ideally wanted the score to be rewritten every 20 years so it could remain relevant to newer generations. A cool idea that’s, for me, unnecessary. What’s presented to us works as is. Simple. Direct. Inspiring. Hell, Potemkin radiates sonic energy even without any soundtrack.
This movie is a warning: Don’t tell people that maggots aren’t maggots, literally or symbolically.
11/18/2022 0 Comments
Pup Sounds Friday: 11/18/2022
Dog model: Joe (thanks Janie!)
Over the last week I've listened alot to Laura Jean's album Amateurs, which has a nice 90s indie rock kind of vibe. This friday we have a new album by Weyes Blood I look forward to getting into more. I'm also enjoying Melissa Carper's old-timey country sound on Ramblin Soul' aswell as Fousheé's softCORE (the songs Simmer Down and Die go hard).
Adrian Quesada's album Jaguar Sound is FUNKY nice.
Black Belt Eagle Scout released two songs this week and announced a new album for February (and a video for My Blood Runs Through This Land).
Here is the full Pup Sounds Friday playlist of for November 18th, 2022. Hope there's something you'll enjoy!
I loved talking with my most taurus friend Steven Dunn about canned fish and more (but mostly food). He's so generous and cracks me up on fb all the time. Also if you haven't read his books you're really missing out (go and do)!
K: Steven, maybe I misremember but I think the first time we interacted was when you posted about being part of a Canned Fish Club and that you’d have meetings where everyone would bring different canned fish and eat it and that was basically the club and I thought that was so amazing and I wanted to join or start my own Canned Fish Club, to just sit around and open cans and talk shit and maybe pair them with a drink or two.
One of my favorite foods growing up in Östersund (Sweden) was this very particular mackerel in tomato sauce (Makrill i tomatssås by ICA) that we’d eat on crispbread. It’s still one of my favorite things in the world and I haven’t really been able to find it here in the states, but every once in a while my mom will ship me some and I space them out to enjoy on special occasions. It was just cool to find out someone else was into canned fish and it inspired me to expand my taste. Lately I’ve been getting into sardines.
Anyway, how did the canned fish club come to be and is it still happening? And I’d love to know how you first fell in love with canned fish and what it was for you?
S: The Canned Fish Club was at my old engineering job. I was eating some fancy sardines in the break room one day, and a dude got excited and we talked about all the fish we loved. And he said they'd already had a Canned Fish Club at work, where once a month they'd all bring in stuff and share. A lot of people traveled for work, so they'd bring stuff back, like miso halibut from Japan or black bean sardines from Thailand. I quit that job in 2019, but I need to start a new club.
And speaking of traveling, thanks to you talking about how much you loved the mackerel in tomato sauce in Sweden, I made sure I ate some when I went to Sweden and Norway a couple months ago. I didn't get that particular brand you mentioned, but I bought a bunch of mackerel in tomato sauce. I love how you talk about food, so I also ate some lingonberry while I was there because I'd never heard of it until you were longing for it on facebook.
I first fell in love with canned fish when I was maybe 4 or 5, because me and my grandad would sit on the porch in the summers and eat sardines and yellow mustard on saltine crackers. He'd always assemble it for me, and I loved how he always made two lines of mustard that ran the length of the fish.
K: I love that story, the two lines of mustard. Plain saltine crackers are underrated, I need to try that. My grandpa took me fishing sometimes, ice fishing, and I have this vivid memory of sitting in a tent on the ice and fishing in a hole in the middle. I don't remember what fish but I remember eating it fried on crispbread with butter.
I really miss lingonberries. We’d eat it on or with just about anything: porridges, macaroni casseroles, meatballs. It’s not super special I guess in itself but just a lot of taste and food memories associated with it for me (I should have told you about cloudberries too! Warm on ice cream). Another thing I really miss is my dad’s beef patties made with liver, it has a very special taste and it goes amazing with lingonberries. But I don’t have a meat grinder. Did you care for the lingonberries? I just had lunch and now I’m hungry all over again. I love how you write about food too, and just your life in general.
I feel like I have a lot of canned fish to explore. I ordered some Nuri Mackerel Spiced in Olive Oil and loved it a lot and have been meaning to get more but mostly I get less fancy, affordable cans at the store. The sardines I had the other day weren’t great, more like a mush. You have anything at home you’re looking forward to eating?
I was excited about you going to Norway and Sweden. My grandmother was Norwegian but lived in Sweden but we didn’t really visit there much so I'm not that familiar. What were some of your favorite things you saw or did during the trip? Favorite places? It sucked that the fish church in Gothenburg was closed.
S: Oh man, I love your memory of you and your grandpa ice fishing. I love it so much it feels like my own memory. I had to think about why, and of course there's the overlap of our grandpas, but I think the root of that memory is care, like someone spending some one-on-one time with us relaxing and feeding us. The luxury of rest, connection, and care. And speaking of care, the adult and young adult author, Emily Franklin, in Massachusetts, recently sent me a box full of tinned fishes, all new things for me, like a lot of paté de cavala (mackerel paté). She also sent spiced mackerel from the famous Pinhais in Portugal--I've watched a documentary about them a lot but I've never had any of their fish. Oh, and she sent homemade honey from her own bees. I'm impressed she has those skills, and I admire and appreciate her care to send me those things. We only know each other from facebook, and she sees how much I post about tinned fish. That's what I'm looking forward to eating. I'm in the process of getting a box together for her.
And yes, I loved the lingonberries. I had them with beef patties, gravy, and potatoes, because that's how you talked about having them, so I'm glad you mentioned that meal again in your response. I know you said you have a lot of memories tied to lingonberries, do you mind sharing one that stands out most.
K: Probably the liver patties. I actually talked to my dad about them the other day because I’d written to you about them, asking about what went into them. It’s tied to a memory of helping make them as a kid. But also a macaroni casserole (makaronipudding), and I know you don’t like mac and cheese and I’m not going to sell you on it but it does incorporate bacon and kielbasa sausage! And we’d eat it either with ketchup or lingonberries, a sunday meal.
One time my dad tried to bring homemade lingonberry jam in an old taped up milk carton through customs and I can’t remember if they confiscated it or were so puzzled they let it through. Anyway, I make the casserole from time to time when I want something comforting and use ketchup on it, reluctantly. Oh and blood pudding. It’s a kind of loaf made out of blood and flour, and sliced thin and fried. With lingonberries. Some use syrup, smh. Enough with the lingonberries!
That’s amazing about your friend. Spiced mackerel and mackerel pate sounds delicious! I love that she’s sending you food and you’re preparing to send her something back. And that we’ve made a similar connection through food. I’ve been thinking about food and memories a lot even before us talking about it. I have these comfort attachments to certain foods from when I grew up and maybe it’s heightened by moving to a different culture. How food becomes carrier of memories, a little like some music, connecting you to a place or feeling.
Sometimes I feel like I should write down recipes so these dishes won’t get lost but I almost never follow a recipe and the dishes are never quite the same so I don’t even know what I would write. I don’t have any recipes of my parents or grandparents either, only a Swedish cookbook I consult sometimes, but mostly it’s memory and repetition, using whatever ingredients I have. I wonder what will stick for my kids and what they might try to recreate later on? Are your kids taking interest in the foods you love? Do you keep recipes? Growing up in West Virginia and living in Colorado, I imagine it’s very different too. Any other nostalgic food memories that stand out or brings you comfort or you like to recreate?
S: Okay, mac & cheese with bacon and kielbasa sounds beautiful! I do like mac & cheese, but I think it's an overrated dish--I don't get the big fuss about it, but I'll definitely eat it. Black America is hilarious about mac & cheese, like it's the holy grail of all food, and as if nobody makes it better than Black Americans. We have so much good food in our culture and mac & cheese and potato salad is what we make a big deal about?? And everyone swears their grandma makes the BEST mac & cheese. Okay, rant over ahaha!
And yes, the memory of repetition of cooking. I don't have any recipes but I have certain WV dishes that I feel are important for kids' education: salmon cakes (canned fish again, ahah, and my nostalgic food), potato cakes, and cabbage roll soup. My mom is sorta like the town cook, and she used to be a cook at the elementary school...so food was important in our house growing up. Oh, and speaking of recipes, my wife has a recipe book from her Portuguese mom. My wife was born and raised in Hawaii, but is ethnically Filipino and Portuguese, so it's important to her to cook the foods she loved: Portuguese bean soup, chicken long rice, mung bean soup, spam musubi, and loco moco (fried rice, gravy, hamburger patty, toppied with a fried egg). Our kids are growing up in Colorado with West Virginia and Hawaii foods.
K: First of all, I’m so excited to try these fish tins you sent! That really made my day. I haven't gotten into them yet but I will soon. And I’m here for any and all food rants. I tried to make potato cakes after you posted about it once but it wasn’t successful. Also I’ve never tried salmon cakes but want to (I think R’s family used to make them). It’s interesting picking up all these different foods via the people and places you encounter. My aunt lives in Rome so I have good memories of Italian food I want to recreate and I’ve picked up dishes living here in VA that I never knew before, like pinto beans and cornbread, chicken and dumplings, that I like and make regularly. I’ll stick to Swedish pancakes tho.
I love how food ends up in your writing too. Your first book is called Potted Meat and I love the story in Water & Power, which is your second book about the navy and military culture, where the “I” (you? I hope it’s you lol) ends up stranded in Japan and refuses to eat at Hard Rock Café with the rest of the crew and gets on a random train to find some good food. I like the thought of getting lost without a map and seeing what happens. Do you have any aspirations to write specifically about food and travel? I feel like something like that was mentioned at some point.
Parallels: my dad was a cook too and I think cooked for the preschool I was in as a kid. And he also got on a ship when he was young and ended up in Japan.
Another question: are there any foods you’d be happy to cut out of your life forever, and on the other hand, if you had to eat something every day, what would it be?
S: Oh my god man, your dad was a cook too, and ended up in Japan! That's wild. I'm so happy we're talking about this and learning more about each other.
And thanks for recalling the Japan story in water & power--it's my favorite story in there but people usually don't bring it up ahaha. So extra thank you! That story is one of my favorite food memories, and it made me so happy to write about it.
Re: having any aspirations to write specifically about food and travel. YES! I've had this idea for about 10 years now of mapping French colonialism through sandwiches. But I wanna travel to each place and eat the sandwiches, like eat a torta in Mexico, a po' boy in New Orleans, banh mi in Vietnam, a grilled merguez sandwich in Algeria, and so on. Imma do this in life one day! Hopefully I can get a grant or something.
Okay, so foods I wanna cut forever: Chicken strips and mozzarella sticks (bland-ass foods).
Foods I could eat everyday: some form of eggs, and some form of fish.
What about you, what are the foods you want to cut forever, and the foods you could eat every day?
K: Holy shit you need to pitch Netflix for this Sandwich travel show! And write that book. That would be so good.
I need to ask my dad about Japan and get back to you because I'm not sure if I remember that story right. Do you ever feel like you regret not asking people in your family for more of their stories? I wish I would have asked my grandparents more questions. The older I get the more important that feels, whereas back when I was younger I was too busy with myself to bother, which is probably a pretty common thing. But I still have my parents to ask.
Doing these interviews is kind of a version of that too. Wanting to get to know people better, wanting to connect more. I feel like you keep up with alot of people? How do you keep up with people and do you find it overwhelming at all?
For foods I'd be fine with not eating: I was gonna say chicken but I do like chicken wings, and chicken soup, so maybe not. Eh. Chicken breasts and boiled eggs can go for me.
I'd eat pasta every day, but that wouldn't be good, so I'll say a caprese salad, with good tomatoes. I could eat that every day. Funny that you said you could go without mozzarella sticks.
I'm gonna open one of those fancy tins for lunch in a little while and look forward to it.
S: Yes, chicken breast can get the hell on for me, also. But I love boiled eggs ahah!
I wished I would've asked my grandparents more about their stories also. One of my grandmas died when I was 7, so I didn't get to ask her much anyway, but I was with her a LOT during those seven years. My other grandma, who didn't die until I was 19, told me a lot of her stories, especially about when she used to clean houses for white people, and how the coal companies were like modern slavery, so I feel like I didn't miss much. But I wonder, because she told a lot of stories, that she had a lot more that I could've asked her about. The more I think about myself as a writer, the more I realize I'm basically mimicking my grandma telling me all these stories, and not only the stories, but the material was so important to her, like she'd tell me details about beans, and clothes she wore, and the little space between people's houses in the coal camp, and how couples were cheating on each other. And I also have my grandma's sense of humor because I thought she was the funniest person ever. I've been laughing for 30 plus years at the time I was in the backseat when my dad was driving my grandma through the drive-thru bank, and something unfair was going on and the white lady bank teller was being sassy with my grandma, and my grandma called her a slew-foot heffa who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if it had a hole in the toe and instructions on the heel. I fell out in the back seat DYING laughing.
K: Haha I love those sort of elaborate creative put downs that’s like a whole story, and that you’ve taken it with you. I don’t remember any phrases my grandparents used to use and I kind of wish I’d just cuss in Swedish sometimes but I’m too self-conscious, too assimilated now. Even if I stub my toe or hurt myself I cuss in English, it seems like a missed opportunity!
I’ve been enjoying the shift to fall here in VA and finally being able to wear a jacket and cooking some warm hearty meals. You said on fb something about scheduling your readings and visits to catch east coast fall foliage. You excited about that and is there a particular kind of fall experience you’re looking for, different from there? Is it your favorite season?
S: Oh man, I hope one day you get your Swedish cuss words back! When I was learning Spanish, in college and with people in the town, the people who were teaching me were the most proud of me when I learned how to cuss well. On the other side, a group of Chinese dudes at my college, who were learning English, wanted me to teach them how to cuss in English. It made me so happy when they came to art class cussing me out after they did their homework the night before, which was watching Black 70s movies that I'd given them. What you said reminded me of that: the sorta authenticity or confidence to cuss in another language. In summation, cussing is great ahaha!
And yes, I loooove fall, and Colorado's fall isn't that great because it's not super colorful and it's still hot here, so I run to the east coast every chance I get in the fall. Fall feels cozy to me, and peaceful, and much deserved after a hot-ass busy summer. It's like the world is chilling the fuck out. But mainly, it's just fucking beautiful, especially the light. I can never decide if fall or winter is my favorite season. What's your favorite season?
K: First I have to say that one of the tins you sent, Fangs Sprat No. 2 (smoked) Baltic Sea (sounds like a fancy perfume!), was one of the best meals I’ve had in my whole life. I can’t even explain it! Every bite was so good!
Fall is definitely my favorite here. It does feel like a big chill out. Everything quiets down somehow. I love walking around and the leaves falling around me and it getting darker earlier. Summer is probably my favorite in Sweden, here it’s mostly miserable, having to mow lawns and get eaten by ticks and wasps while you can’t even enjoyably sit outside.
But more a struggle with having quit smoking, in the fall? How do you feel about that now since it’s been a while? If you want to talk about it. I quit several years ago but I definitely kind of miss it when it feels like this, also miss having like… a vice? Don’t know if that makes sense.
Any fall album or artist you’re getting extra into at the moment? I feel like I’m shifting to more melancholy stuff.
S: Man, when we were in Norway and Sweden this past summer, I thought, "This is how fucking summer is supposed to be!" Then I came back to the Denver dessert and was miserable. Fuck a summer.
I miss smoking so much in the fall and the winter. I quit at the beginning of summer 2021, and it was easier because I never liked smoking in the summer anyway, but when fall and winter came with its crispness and beautiful snows, it was so hard not to smoke.
As far as fall albums, Freddie Jackson's Time For Love (1992). My dad used to play that album a lot while he drove us to football games and stuff in West Virginia fall. I forgot about it until I was recently in West Virginia for the fall, and the first thing I listened to was that Freddie Jackson album while I was driving from Pittsburgh to Morgantown, WV. And I usually turn to more melancholy stuff, especially Damon Albarn's Everyday Robots (2014), and that group he was in The Good, the Bad, & the Queen's self-titled album from 2007.
11/11/2022 0 Comments
Pup Sounds Friday: 11/11/2022
Dog model: Tiggy (thanks Lisa)
Sault is one of the most interesting and dynamic (and prolific) musical collectives of the last few years. Having already released the album Air in April this year, last week they surprised released no less than 5 more albums for limited time free downloads on their site with a password you had to figure out from their Instagram post (11, Aiir, Earth, Today & Tomorrow and Untitled (God)). 4 of these are now available for streaming and I'm excited to listen through them all! (they all exist on bandcamp). Two Sault songs bookend this week's Pup Sounds Friday playlists.
Benjamin Clementine's album And I Have Been didn't make last week's playlist because I hadn't listened to it yet but it's been on heavy rotation since. Ane Brun's Norwegian language album Nærmere is also haunting me so far.
Here is the full Pup Sounds Friday playlist for November 11th, 2022. Hope there's something you'll enjoy!
11/4/2022 0 Comments
Pup Sounds Friday: 11/04/2022
Dog model: Banjo
I was excited to find new albums by British punk trio Big Joanie (Back Home) and Norwegian-American Okay Kaya (SAP) this friday. I'm also really digging The Hanged Man's album Tear It All, a swedish band I was unfamiliar with who makes "nightmarishly beautiful pop".
Here is the full Pup Sounds Friday playlist for November 4th, 2022. Hope there's something you'll enjoy!
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