Bread obsessive

I guess it’s possible that I’m having a minor manic episode.

Six months or so ago, I watched Michael Pollan’s show on “Air” on Netflix and became mildly obsessed with making good bread.

Last night I made these:

 

 

I have been sleeping four or so hours a night, getting up and going to my day job and then coming home and making bread. I have found some friends who are fiends for sourdough and will pay me for fresh loaves, which is good.

I make my bread from a sourdough starter that I was given from a friend. I have passed it on twice, now. I have been using the recipe from the Tartine book for a simple country loaf. It takes hours, but I’ve made some refinements that allow me to let it proof overnight or all day in the fridge. It makes the final loaf even springier, a tiny bit more sour, and MUCH easier to handle when it comes time to load the loaf into a scalding cast iron Dutch oven and then score it with a sharp knife.

Right now I love bread and making it. This may just be my general obsessiveness and it may pass. It may end up being a third or fourth career.

 

 

Just me and the wife, brainstorming

This is essentially a post for Athenians, and specifically Athenians who are involved with music and/or theater, though anyone who loves Athens and music and theater, or any combination of those three things is welcome to contribute or comment.

Many of you are aware that I am in the furious skronk rock band Music Hates You. I also happen to be friends with members of Hope for a Golden Summer. Some months ago I had an idea- since Music Hates You is arguably the most extreme example of raucous, angry music in Athens, and Hope for a Golden Summer is almost certainly the other extreme- shimmery, dreamy, thoughtful soul/pop/roots music (Gordon, if you’re reading this, I think you might like ’em)- I thought “Wouldn’t it be funny if we learned a half dozen or so of each other’s songs and then did some shows together?” And by “funny,” I mean “Really damn cool.”

I broached the subject with both bands, and everyone is on board, more or less, and we have talked about it, though we still need to all sit down and talk TOGETHER about it, and make some plans. I am hoping to document the whole process on DVD and if we make enough money at the shows, we plan on recording an album of the tracks that we learned. We have been calling it the “Hate for a Golden Summer Projeckt.”

Mrs. Dog and I have been talking about this and her goals for the next year. She is an actor and director and has spent most of our time together traveling to get paid for her work. Now that we have a nice little farmhouse and a dog or two, she wants to come home and stay home. She’s been talking about starting an Athens Shakespeare company. Today, on the way to work, after we had each had about three hours of sleep (she was here for a couple of days, so she went out on the road with Music Hates You last night) she said that she was interested in doing Shakespeare in some unconventional spaces, like barns and warehouses or abandoned churches, and having an Athens band provide incidental music and music between the acts.

Music Hates You, since most of our songs are about anger, mortality, venality, betrayal and sex, is a natural for MacBeth. (Plus, like Hamlet, by the end of the play, the stage is positively drenched in blood. Cool…)

Hope for a Golden Summer… A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I mean, c’mon, how much more obvious could that be?

Ishues for Othello? Parker and Lily for King Lear (or Romeo and Juilet?)? Don Chambers and Goat for Hamlet? Dark Meat for The Merry Wives of Windsor? Who should do Henry V? David Barbe?

Music Hates You played the Secret Squirrel the other night, and we were all struck by how cool the scene was there, and how wide open everything felt. Secret Squirrel’s excellent PA and two-stage set-up would be ideal for unconventional staging of dramatic art and music.

Just thinking out loud here…

If there is hope, it lies with the proles Librarians

Who knew that librarians would be in the first wave to hit the beaches in the war to save democracy?

The FBI came calling in Windsor, Conn., this summer with a document marked for delivery by hand. On Matianuk Avenue, across from the tennis courts, two special agents found their man. They gave George Christian the letter, which warned him to tell no one, ever, what it said.

Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender “all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person” who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow.

Christian refused to hand over those records, and his employer, Library Connection Inc., filed suit for the right to protest the FBI demand in public.

Christian isn’t the first librarian to say “Ah, no. Nope, not even a little…” to the FBI and the Justice Department when confronted with unconscionable demands under the Patriot Act. Good for them.

It would tempting to say “Now maybe they can get dates…” but after having worked at the University Library as a student worker way back when, I know that there’s a lot going on up in the archives that you’d NEVER guess… Oversexed librarians? Who woulda thunk it?

You probably knew this was happening

But just to confirm your suspicions, here is a first-hand account from Agent LittleBird:

So I was approaching the voting place, when this old geezer approaches me and tries to hand me a Republican sample ballot. I just looked at him like he was something I’d scraped off my shoe, and in my best slightly snotty voice said, “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. I don’t vote for homophobes.”

When I left the building, someone else, apparently not a campaign worker, was giving him a very heated lecture.

Today is not a good day to be a Republican in Alexandria, methinks.

More dirty tricks here and here.

OK…. uh, it’s seriously becoming “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery time…”

OK, over here on CNN, you have the Preznit saying “We do not torture.” (Perhaps he means the Royal We?)

Then, over here, you have the vice preznit saying “the administration needed an exemption from any legislation banning “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment in case the president decided one was necessary to prevent a terrorist attack.”

So, as the Heretik says… “WHEN YOU HEAR DICK CHENEY talk about torture, how we do not engage in it, but we need an exemption to do it, you realize Franz Kafka just met George Orwell.”

Right. Well, tell this kid.

Moral authority, once lost, is not something easily regained.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer asshole

Ken Tomlinson, Bush administration lamprey formerly latched onto public broadcasting, gets his comeuppance… from the Heretik:

The “right” ideology in the Bush adminstration governs governmental decisions, most recently in the case of Kenneth Y. Tomlinson seeking to “balance” programming at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Now it seems the rule of that road leads to a money trail that may prove embarrassing to Bush and the recently resigned Tomlinson.[story]

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, the head of the federal agency that oversees most government broadcasts to foreign countries, including the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, is the subject of an inquiry into accusations of misuse of federal money and the use of phantom or unqualified employees, officials involved in that examination said on Friday

TOMLINSON WHO WANTED to make public broadcasting more “corporate” in tone now may find himself more of a political corpse for Bush because of phantom bodies? What’s next? Will we find ghosts in the political machine? The irony of a man who wanted to make things more “right” at CPB being found not to do things quite right has The Heretik lost in laughter. Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? Bert and Ernie are probably fighting over who can give Tomlinson the Big Bird first.

The Stalinists used to call these guys ‘apparatchiks‘. You’ll notice that in all of those Tom Clancy novels (a guilty pleasure… I know, I KNOW…) involving Russian subs or other hardware, the ‘Political Officer’ gets whacked first.

What sort of odious worm signs up to enforce a rigid ideology somewhere like PBS? We’re not talking about a broken system here. Why go fuck with it?

touring is a young man’s game

I am feeling every bit the thirty-seven year old man who went a-touring over the weekend.

We played here in Athens on Thursday night, which led to a sleepy, addled day of work on Friday, then off to scenic Montgomery, Alabama, where we met some new friends, and had the fire marshall poking around to make sure we weren’t packing them in too tightly. Then off to Pensacola, FL’s Handle Bar, and then home to play another house party last night.

I must admit, the house party was my favorite show. We need to get our singer a stunt double and a pickup truck loaded with ibuprofen. His enthusiasm may one day outstrip his ability to heal.

Sleeping on floors and watching other people get drunk was kind of tiresome when I stopped doing it the first time in 1998. Now it’s only less onerous because I haven’t been doing every day for a couple of years. However, in the ritual of creating a phenomenon, there are no skippable steps. You must play the shows. You must meet the fans and find out who they are, and you must must get out there and learn what it takes to move an audience. Record companies never did figure out that ersatz rock bands would never make more than two records… or perhaps that was their plan all along.

Either way, we’ll be coming to a town near you real soon. Just as soon as I get a couple more nights in my own bed.

Popular wartime president

World Leader, respected by all.

Peacemaker.

More like shit magnet lately.

The rest of the world is clearly not drinking the Kool-Aid.

Violence broke out Friday on the streets of an Argentine town holding the Summit of the Americas. At least one building, a bank, was seen burning as armed police on motorcycles and supported by officers in riot gear were facing off against the rioters. Earlier in the day, protesters including soccer star Diego Maradona, called President Bush a “terrorist” and a ‘fascist.”

History’s Greatest Monster

President Carter was on NPR this morning, talking some sense.

These sharp disagreements might be written off as just partisan wrangling, but their impact on our nation’s present and future international policies is significant. Among Republicans, the percentage endorsing diplomacy in preference to military action is minimal, while Democrats take the opposite point of view. In the approach to combating terrorism, two-thirds of Republicans believe that use of overwhelming force is best, while an even larger proportion of Democrats think that, although our armed forces should be used when our nation’s security is threatened, excessive use of military action tends to increase animosity against our country and breed more terrorists. This sharp and growing difference over the issue of whether international disputes can be better resolved by diplomacy or by military action is now the most accurate predictor of party affiliation — more important than gay marriage, homosexuality, or abortion.

I used to wonder what America was like in the years just before Carter got elected. In the political climate that I have lived in as an adult, it’s been difficult for me to imagine how Carter got elected. I am speaking culturally and politically here… Looking back…. let’s see… the US was at the end of a deeply unpopular and costly war where our national integrity had been seriously buffeted by atrocities like the My Lai massacre and the use of napalm on civilian populations. Our economy was a demonic mix of stagnation and inflation, gas prices were out of control, the environment was fucked (so much so that the previous president had been forced to create the NEA EPA to address the problem) and the last elected President before Carter had been forced out of the White House under a cloud of scandal that was the result of a dirty tricks campaign to discredit critics of the President. Hm.

Sound familiar?

Unconscionable

Sometimes the simplest explanation is that the powerful indulge their lowest nature… this is cruelty, plain and simple.

Israel is deploying a terrifying new tactic against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip by letting loose deafening “sound bombs” that cause widespread fear, induce miscarriages and traumatise children.
The removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip opened the way for the military to use air force jets to create dozens of sonic booms by breaking the sound barrier at low altitude, sending shockwaves across the territory, often at night. Palestinians liken the sound to an earthquake or huge bomb. They describe the effect as being hit by a wall of air that is painful on the ears, sometimes causing nosebleeds and “leaving you shaking inside”.

The Palestinian health ministry says the sonic booms have led to miscarriages and heart problems. The United Nations has demanded an end to the tactic, saying it causes panic attacks in children.

Well, one of those a week wouldn’t be so bad, right? I mean, it would be obnoxious, but bearable.

Over the past week, Israeli jets created 28 sonic booms by flying at high speed and low altitude over the Gaza Strip, sometimes as little as an hour apart through the night. During five days in late September, the air force caused 29 sonic booms.

Oh. Every night. All night long.

“The stress is phenomenal,” said Eyad El Sarraj, a psychologist and director of Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, one of the groups filing the petition. “The Israelis do it after midnight and then every one or two hours. You try to go to sleep and then there’s another one. When it happens night after night you become exhausted. You get a heightened sense of alert, waiting continuously for it to happen. People suffer hypertension, fatigue, sleeplessness.

“For children, the loud noise means danger. Adults may know it’s only a sound but small children feel threatened. They are crying and clinging to their parents. Afterwards they are dazed and fearful, waiting for something to happen.”

I can’t fathom this. Who thinks this is a good idea? People wonder where terrorists come from. If you did this for one week over the part of Appalachia where I am from, you’d have suicide tractor bombers in DC for the next ten years. I am not saying that it’s right to blow people up, I am just saying that acting surprised when it happens is disingenuous after torturing an entire population with sleep deprivation and night terror.

More here.