CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE STUMBLED INTO "THE SHALLOW ZONE." WATCH OUT FOR THE ROCKS. SOME OF THEM ARE SHARP.
If you're looking for a blog with meaningful content on the important issues of the day, you've come to the wrong place. This is the shallows, my friend. Nothing but shallowness as far as the eye can see. Let someone else make sense of things. I like it here.

About Me

My photo

I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.
MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT

MY SHALLOW MISSION STATEMENT
Not that there's any weight to it...
IN A WORLD FILLED WITH COMPLEX POLITICAL ISSUES, SOCIAL INEQUALITY, AND FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY, I CONSIDER IT MY GIFT TO YOU, MY READER, TO OFFER THIS SHALLOW LITTLE HAVEN, WHERE NOTHING IS TOO SHALLOW, TOO INSIGNIFICANT, OR TOO RIDICULOUS TO JUSTIFY OUR ATTENTION. IN OTHER WORDS, IF IT'S NOT IMPORTANT....SO WHAT? NEITHER WAS MARILYN MONROE'S BRA SIZE. AND THAT STILL SELLS MAGAZINES, DOESN'T IT?
VIDEO OF THE MONTH

Thursday, December 27, 2012

R.I.P. FONTELLA BASS



You may have already heard that American R & B artist Fontella Bass, best known for her 1965 chart-topping hit "Rescue Me", died last night at the age of 71 from complications following a heart attack. I've always loved Fontella Bass, and "Rescue Me" is a song I've covered in many of my bands. A lot of artists have covered it. It's one of the great kickass R & B songs of all time. Bass was born and raised in St. Louis, and her strong gospel background and powerful voice should have made her a stand-out, but instead it caused a lot of people to mistake her voice for Aretha Franklin's. To this day, I know people who thought that Aretha Franklin was the one singing "Rescue Me" whenever it came on the radio. But that confusion notwithstanding, Bass continued to record and perform until the early 70s when, following a lackluster reception of her album "To Be Free", she retired from music to concentrate on raising her family. In 1990, on New Year's Day, Bass was in New York when she was surprised to hear her recording of "Rescue Me" featured on an American Express commercial. It came at a "low point" in her life, Bass recalled, and it was hearing the song she co-wrote and recorded being used without her permission that gave her the impetus she needed to break out of her emotional slump. She spent the next three years working out a settlement with American Express and the ad agency that produced the commercial before finally being awarded $50,000 in punitive damages in 1993. Bass's health had already been compromised by a series of strokes over the last several years when she was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack three weeks ago. She will be buried in St. Louis, the city in which she spent most of her life, and where, a few years ago, she was inducted into the St. Louis Hall of Fame.


I'm dedicating this week's video selection to Fontella Bass. Hope you give them a listen. Skol!

REGRETTABLE EDIBLES


Okay, it's snowing and cold and I'm sick of filling out the forms I've been filling out all morning. I'm also starving and trying not to eat. So, naturally, it's time to write a post on the worst foods ever while listening to BBC World News radio. Ready? Let's dig in....


SPOTTED DICK

Weighing in at approximately 526 calories, this classic little yuckfest is for some reason hugely popular in Great Britian, Canada, and Germany. Which is interesting since I first sampled it in Denmark. And if you love a good heaping spoonful of raisin-laden suet pudding laced with custard, it's not bad. On the other hand, if you're just trying it because you want to say you ate some "spotted dick" and don't know what the hell it is, it can lead to aa lifelong fear of eating anything with a name sometimes used to identify most men's favorite appendage. Someone told me that the name is actually a reference to another, similar dish made with plums known as "spotted dog." Not exactly edifying. But whatever. Any way you slice it (and you can slice it because it's that thick), spotted dick is without question one of the worst things that ever found its way into my mouth. You can make your own spotted dick (why you would want to, I can't imagine) or you can just buy it in a can and save yourself the price of raisins, powdered sugar, and eggs. Just remember: food with names that conjure up images of body parts...any body parts...is almost never ever anything but bad.


HERRING PATE

Yet another horrible food to which I was first exposed in Denmark. Now don't get me wrong. I love Denmark. I have family there. And I've eaten some very good things while visiting, including flaeskesteg, which is an open sandwich made with roast pork and red cabbage on dark bread. Extremely tasty. I wish that I was eating one right now. But herring pate is another matter entirely. At least for those of us who prefer our Saltines slathered with peanut butter rather than mushed-up fish. But peanut butter is hard to come by in Denmark (my daughter-in-law takes a couple jars home with her every time she visits here in the U.S.) and so when little Danish children come home from school at night they're forced to snack on herring pate while they do their homework. They've become used to it. But this is the same country that gave us "The Little Mermaid", so it sort of makes sense. Although, despite the fact that peanut butter is in short supply over there, store shelves are brimming with jars of Nutella. And if I, personally, were a Dane faced with a choice between herring pate and Nutella, I'd opt for the nut spread. But who am I to judge? All I know is that when I tried herring pate, I was just glad that Denmark also happens to be famous for Carlsberg beer, a cold bottle of which I sucked down immediately to keep myself from gagging. Ah...memories.


JELL-O SALAD

Why do people keep making these damned things? That's all I want to know. I mean, has anyone who's ever eaten a serving of Jell-O salad actually smacked their lips afterward and announced, "Man, oh, man, that was scrumptious!"? I tend to doubt it. Hell, just the sight of one of these culinary non-delights is enough to trigger my gag reflex. But for some reason people keep making them. Sometimes they even put whipped cream on top, as though spreading Cool Whip over a wriggling tower of green Jell-O filled with chunks of fruit and/or vegetables could alter the fact that this is one of the most disgusting foods to ever find its way to a dinner table. Maybe it all just comes down to a sense of tradition. Like putting miniature marshmallows in the green bean casserole you serve at Thanksgiving. No one really wants miniature marshmallows mixed in with their green beans, but over the years they've just come to expect it. Same thing with Jell-O salad. No one really wants it, but if every grandmother in the world stopped making it, it would seem...well...odd. So we put up with it. But it's still one of the worst foods that ever came out of a 1950s cookbook.


CREAMED CHIPPED BEEF ON TOAST

I once read somewhere that, when Humphrey Bogart was dying of lung cancer, he kept asking his wife Lauren Bacall for creamed chipped beef on toast. Apparently, it was one of his favorite meals, but even though he craved it, he was too sick to actually eat it, which, according to the story I read, was very distressing for Lauren Bacall, who had to stand there and watch as driblets of creamed chipped beef ran down her husband's chin. Why am I telling you this? Because I'm a sadist, obviously. But also because it's just one more reason that the very sight of creamed chipped beef is enough to make me bury my face in a bowl of Jell-O salad. This has to be one of the worst things to ever show up on a dinner plate. Granted, there are a lot of people who consider it a "comfort food" and treasure the wrinkled piece of notebook paper on which their sainted mum wrote down the family recipe for it back in 1965. But those people are living in a delusional world where their sense of nostalgia has somehow managed to make it seem okay to mix pieces of chopped beef with milk and then spread the resulting culinary cesspool over a slice of toast. You don't have to be Kosher to know that beef and milk were never meant to occupy the same spot on your tongue at the exact same time. It's not just an insult to your palate, it's an insult to cows everywhere. And I, for one, happen to like cows. So, do your favorite bovine a favor and just say "no" the next time someone offers you a plate of creamed chipped beef on toast.


CLAMATO JUICE

Do I even have to go into detail on this one? It's reconstituted frozen tomato juice mixed with clam broth, for God's sake. That pretty much says it all. Even if you like clams (which I don't), how could you possibly take pleasure in gulping down this fishy concoction? Unless, of course, it's laced with vodka. Even then, knowing that you're drinking something made of tomatoes and liquid squeezed out of a clam should be enough to kill your buzz. But someone must like it because they're still making it. And I still consider it one of the worst "foods" to ever cast its shadow over the dining section of my memory banks.


CHICKEN NECKS, FRIED OR BOILED

I like chicken. I like it baked, roasted, fried, sauteed, and even in salad form (as long as there's not too much mayonnaise). Chicken is an amazing, wonderful, versatile food that has served humankind well for centuries. But there are some parts of a chicken that weren't meant to be eaten by human beings, and I want to go on record as saying that a chicken's neck is one of them. Okay, sure, if you're starving, I suppose it makes sense. But if you're not, why the hell would you even want to? But once again it's a moot question. I grew up with a grandfather who loved eating chicken necks...boiled, no less. Actually, my grandfather ate a lot of things I found disgusting, like dandelion greens and cold baked bean sandwiches, but I never dared to voice my feelings on the matter because he was black, and my grandmother told me that his taste in food came from his upbringing. So I grew up believing that all black people like to eat boiled chicken necks. It was only much later that I discovered the errant nature of my belief. All these years later, I can't think of any black people I know who swear by boiled chicken necks. But I digress (as usual). The point is, chicken necks, whether boiled or deep-fried (as in the photo above), are disgusting. In fact, if you happen to be one of those over-zealous, self-righteous vegetarians who think the world would be a better place if everyone would just stop eating meat, your best bet is to offer all the meat-eaters you know a serving of chicken necks. One bite of meat from the spiny neck bone of a chicken will have them begging you for a bowl of brown rice. I guarantee it. Just be sure to leave the bathroom door open in case they feel the need to vomit first.


TUNA WIGGLE

Why? Number One: It's creamed. Number Two: It's called "tuna wiggle." Need I say more? This is just one more "comfort food" that needs to be banished from the face of the earth. Even if the tuna doesn't actually wiggle, the name still sticks in your head as the stuff is going down your throat, creating a visual to which no one should ever, ever be subjected to while eating. Be smart. Eat your tuna fresh or out of a can. Save the cream for your coffee.


SPAGHETTI AND HOT DOGS

In the picture above, someone has taken the time and effort o actually thread the spaghetti through the boiled hot dogs in what they no doubt consider a fanciful, fun conglomeration of two of America's favorite foods. What could be wrong with that? Plenty, damn it. Hot dogs may be a classic part of American cuisine, but once you know what's in most of them, it's almost impossible to eat one unless it just happens to be that perfect summer day and the hot dog has just come off the grill and you've had enough Molsens to numb you to the fact that you are ingesting beef or pork offals wrapped in a transluscent skin. And spaghetti? Well, let's just say that there's a reason grocery stores sell jars of Ragu. Some things are simply not meant to be eaten together (see "Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast above). My own encounter with this ill-conceived regrettable edible came years ago, when I was visiting a friend who had made it for her son, who usually refused to eat anything, but for some reason, was always more than happy to chow down on boiled hot dogs mingling with strands of naked spaghetti. I tried to eat it, but I was having such a hard time pretending that I wasn't disgusted that my friend took pity on me and handed me a bottle of Worcestershire sauce. "Worcestershire sauce makes everything taste better," she insisted. It was a lie. Not only that, but now whenever I see a bottle of Worcestershire Sauce, I can't help thinking of hot dogs and spaghetti.

So, there you have it. My list of "regrettable edibles". I'm sure you have your own. But if nothing else, I'm a little less hungry than I was when I started this post. Now if it would just stop snowing. Thank God for beer. Skol!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

HAVE YOURSELF A WEIRD LITTLE CHRISTMAS


I guess it's just the years and years of conditioning, but since Christmas is less than a week away now, I feel compelled to write something about in for this blog. I already wrote a post on my three favorite movie Scrooges for my other blog, Nocturne In G Major (which you should read...if only as an early Christmas gift to me), but for this one, it seems that something a little more frivolous (i.e. shallow) is in order. After all, if there's one major holiday that brings out the shallow in people, it's Christmas. My friend, Lissa just spent four hours online trying to find the perfect set of blue lights to drape over an old rocking horse that she wants to set up on her roof. Four hours! Granted, it's not as though if she could have those hours back, she could better serve the world by pinning down that elusive cure for cancer or anything. I mean, she's an Ed Tech. But still.

Anyway, the point is, for all of the higher concepts like joy and peace that are supposed to be the underlying theme of Christmas, far too many of us spend the season in the pursuit of high-profile shallowness. But what might be seen as a sad commentary on society is a good thing for this blog, devoted as it is to the shallowness (albeit in varying degrees) that dwells within us all. So what better way to honor that reality than to dedicate this post to some of the weirdest Christmas performances of all time? I don't even know where to start. Then again, maybe I do. So, have yourself a weird little Christmas and scroll on...


I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who's seen this video who has wondered exactly why someone decided that it was a good idea to pair David Bowie with Bing Crosby for the purpose of singing a Christmas carol. But, clearly, someone did. In fact, according to my cursory research (this is a shallow blog, remember), it all came about because the producers of what turned out to be Bing Crosby's final TV Christmas special (it was taped in September, 1977, and Crosby died of a heart attack a month later, which, technically, actually makes it a posthumous TV Christmas special) thought that adding Bowie to the mix would give ol' Bing a little edge, something that he'd been lacking since...well...since those "On The Road" movies he made with Bob Hope back in the 30s and 40s. Trouble was, Bowie wasn't interested, feeling that the song just wasn't "right for him." So the producers of the show did a little tweaking and came up with the idea of having Bowie sing an original song called "Peace On Earth", written especially for the event by Buz Kohan, Ian Fraser, and Larry Grossman, in counterpoint as Crosby crooned "Little Drummer Boy." It was an idea that shouldn't have worked, but it did. Bowie reportedly loved it from the moment it was broached to him and immediately jumped on the holiday bandwagon, a decision that not only resulted in one of the weirdest Christmas duets ever, but the most successful. Over thirty years later, the song is still selling and is always in heavy rotation on radio Christmas playlists. Interesting to note, though, that at the time the duet was recorded, Bowie had just come out with his dark hit, "Heroes", which, as an added incentive to appear on the special, the producers agreed to air as well. Ah, the art ofcompromise. I just can't help wondering if Bing even knew who the hell David Bowie was.


As though a Christmas special featuring the former Ziggy Stardust and a former big band singer wasn't weird enough, just one year later, in 1978, the people who make the things we see on TV decided that what the world needed was a Christmas special centered around Star Wars, which, of course, at the time, was the most talked-about movie in the entire civilized world. But why wouldn't they? If people were willing to buy Darth Vader bubble bath and Han Solo Halloween masks, why wouldn't they be just as willing to sit through one of the most ill-conceived and horribly-executed TV specials of all time? And "horribly-executed" is being kind. The show was so terrible and so maligned by critics that CBS only aired it once, before sending it to a galaxy far far away forever and ever more. How they managed to convince Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fish to take part in this thing is anyone's guess, but the real question is what did they do to George Lucas to make him write such a terrible screenplay? It's a cringefest from start to finish, with the majority of screen time going to Chewbacca (played by Peter Mayhew, of course) who is upset because his son, Lumpy (yes, Lumpy) has had the head torn off his Bantha doll by stormtroopers in the middle of the Wookies' "Life Day" celebration, which is, apparently, the biggest holiday of the year on the Wookie home planet. Naturally, Chewie wants to set things right, and does, eventually, with the help of his Star Wars friends, but not before they squeeze in a few song and dance numbers, one of which features, Bea Arthur (yes, Bea Arthur), who plays the owner of the Mos Eisley Cantina (you know...the one where we first see Han Solo in the real Star Wars movie?) And did I mention that Lucas not only wrote the screenplay for this piece of Christmas cheese, but directed it as well? Clearly, everyone involved in this thing was either high or just very, very tired. Or maybe they were just hoping to sell a lot of Bantha dolls.


As weird as the previous two Christmas performances were...and remain...they can't hold a candle to the 2011 collaboration of The Flaming Lips, Yoko Ono, and The Plastic Ono Band on last year's "Atlas Eets Christmas" album. Missed it? You're lucky. But I'm here to wrong that right. How and why it happened is anyone's guess, as always, and it's probabaly a question I should stop asking. Maybe The Flaming Lips are Beatles fans. Maybe they're even Yoko Ono fans. Hell, I'm both, but I'd have to have imbibed a whole lot of rum and eggnog to listen to this album all the way through. Yoko sings and makes her usual high-pitched noises, The Flaming Lips play Christmas-ish music with a heavy emphasis on bells, and the result is pretty much some of the worst Christmas music of all time. Is this what Yoko really wanted to do when she and John Lennon recorded the 70s classic "So This Is Christmas"? If it was, it's a damned good thing he didn't listen. Because if this is Christmas, I'm going to start celebrating Kwaanza early. (But I still love Yoko.)

Well, Shallow-ites, there you have it...some of the weirdest Christmas performances ever. I know that I've left out a lot, but, frankly, even I can only endure so much shallowness at one time. Maybe, if I actually do get a few rum and eggnogs in me, I'll be back to dole out more Christmas pain. But until then...well...as always...Skol!