Saturday, June 30, 2007

Is Kobayashi's Reign Coming To An End?

Many folks have emailed me this week about Kobayashi's reported jaw arthritis. Brought on by misaligned wisdom teeth and competitive eating training, Kobayashi's ailment allows him to only open his mouth as wide as two fingers.

Is it true or is he just full of bologna?

Joey Chestnut (on the left) ate 59 1/2 HDBs (hot dogs & buns) last month at a Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Qualifier in Phoenix, AZ shattering Kobayashi's old record of 53 3/4 HDBs. It seems that Kobayashi has maxed out at 52 or 53 HDBs at the past several Hot Dog Eating Championships. Can Joey eat on July 4th at Coney Island like he did in Phoenix?

By the way, the reason that Chestnut is pointing to Kobayashi is because he cheated last year. Kobayashi threw up into his cup. The crowd saw it. We all booed and screamed, but the judges let it slide. Usually a "reversal of fortune" means instant disqualification, but Kobayashi drank it. That's all I have to say about that.

I want Joey to bring the coveted mustard belt back home to the USA.

Despite the hype of the Chestnut/Kobayashi rivalry, my hot dog hero will always be Sonya "The Black Widow" Thomas. Swallow Sonya Swallow!

National Hot Dog Month starts tomorrow. Happy Holidays!!!!

Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm A Rock Star

As I've written about before, I've been trying to learn to play the ukulele over the past few months making slow, but gradual progress. My development picked up speed once I started playing with Noah, Elizabeth, and Ted. We've been practicing together now for about a month which has been absolutely thrilling for all of us. After our very first practice and after consuming a few beers, we decided to become a band. An all-soprano ukulele band, called the High Dollar Hot Dogs. (We're still working on our MySpace page.)

On Wednesday night, during a light rain (before the BIG thunderstorm), the High Dollar Hot Dogs made our debut on the front porch of a little house in the Glencoe Mill Village. We covered songs such as "Walking After Midnight," "All of Me," "Ragged But Right," and "Tonight You Belong To Me." The dozen or so folks there seemed to like it. They applauded for us, which felt so great! And I think that everyone in the band was shocked with how good we sounded. I, especially was surprised considering that I can now play several chords and sing at the same time! I usually stuff a couple socks into the back of my banjo uke to soften it, but Wednesday night, I played with only one sock!

We have another show at a party on July 14th, which is so exciting!! I still need to work on feeling confident about projecting my voice and playing loud enough for people to hear the beauty and the uniqueness of the banjo uke's sound. With enough practice, I hope that I can play without any socks at all!!!

Someone once told me that guys learned to play instruments to pick up girls. And guys typically think that girls who play in bands are hot. Will a banjo ukulele have the same effect?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Radio Show, Tuesday June 26 6-9PM

Loney, Dear - Hard Days 1,2,3,4
Patience & Prudence - Tonight You Belong To Me
Galaxy 500 - Blue Thunder
Tom Waits - Old Shoes (& Picture Postcards)
The Smiths - Well I Wonder
Les Chauds Lapins - Vous Etes Jolie
Curve - Horror Head
The S.O.S. Band - Take Your Time (Do It Right)
Rod Rogers with the "Swinging" Strings - Little Rug Bug
Bob Dylan - The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
Lil Johnson - Sam-The Hot Dog Man
Coon Creek Girls - Banjo Pickin' Girl
Nancy Sinatra - Jackson
Louis Armstrong - Sunny Side of the Street

I have been so stressed out with various obligations (especially work) that I have just been in an overwhelmingly crappy mood for the past few days. Last night's show felt slapped together and didn't flow well. But I really didn't really care As soon as Bill walked in, I barked at him and he pretty much avoided me for the rest of my show.

But I did play another song of the Loney, Dear album which I liked. I think it's time for me to go get that one. I'm sold on them.

I also enjoyed Nancy Sinatra's take on "Jackson," but who was that singing with her? Was it Lee Hazelwood? The liner notes didn't say. We have several Nancy Sinatra albums at the station and I think I'd like to explore them. I am all too familiar with "These Boots Are Made for Walking" but I don't know anything else about her work. Lee Hazelwood, too. Who are these people?

And I am finally getting a gradual lesson on Bob Dylan. I am completely enamored with his John Wesley Harding album, especially "The Ballad of Frankie Lee and Judas Priest." I listened to that song several times on my way to ukulele practice on Saturday. It is really wonderful.

The entire playlist can be found here.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Radio Show, Sunday June 24 3-5PM

chris powell & the five blue flames - hot dog
ella fitzgerald/louis armstrong - summertime
eartha kitt - i want to be evil
helen o'connell - brazil
kay starr - you're just in love
carmen miranda - yipsee-i-o
harry belafonte - jump in the line
cliff "ukelele ike" edwards - dinah
rosemary clooney/bing crosby - how about you
ethel merman - everything's coming up roses
blossom dearie - rhode island is famous for you
spike jones - knock knock (who's there?)
marion hutton - three little fishes (itty bitty poo)
shirley bassey - big spender
betty hutton - doin what comes naturally

Today was the final Divaville that I will ever cohost with Christa. Although I was getting a little teary on my drive up to WXDU, we had a great time in the station. I was dancing so hard to "Brazil" by Helen O'Connell, I seemed to have injured my hip. On the good side.

I just love Ethel Merman's "Everything's Coming Up Roses." I recommend singing it at the top of your lungs. Out of tune. Like no one else is watching. It feels great. But I should think twice before consuming caffeine... that drug brings out the crazies.

I think that the idea of Divaville grew out of a Thursday Night Feature that Christa and I cohosted on WXYC in the late 1990s of jazz and female vocalists from the 40s and 50s. In 2000, we cohosted a show of female vocalists once a month on Sunday mornings on WXDU. Eventually, Christa took the show into her own hands and created Divaville, a 2-hour show dedicated to the music that makes us both melt: vocalists of the 20s - 60s. Over the past six years, I'd sometimes pop up at WXDU to help out. My "help" usually was just me saying, "OOOO, let' s play this. Or I want to hear that." I would always want to play "Hot Dog" by Chris Powell or the "Monster Mash" by Bobby "Boris" Pickett.

Today, Christa and I sang Kay Starr's "You're Just In Love" together... each singing the separate parts. It was a lovely spontaneous duet just for the two of us during our last radio show together. I keep telling myself that I am not going to cry about Christa's departure.

Our entire playlist can be found here.

Radio Show, Tuesday June 19 6-9PM

Ethel Merman - Heat Wave
We All Have Hooks For Hands - Jumpin Jean-Luc
The Shangri-Las - The Dum Dum Ditty
Versus - Shangri-La
Les Paul - Chicken Reel
Jens Lekman - A Man Walks Into A Bar
Bowerbirds - Human Hands
Don Lennon - Young People Need Guidance
Louis Prima - Oh Marie
Lonnie Donegan & His Skiffle Group - Does Your Chewing Gum Lose Its Flavor (On the Bedpost Overnight)
Cripple Lilies - Bella of the Rocks
Sugarplum Fairies - Not Smart At All
Little Willie John - Leave My Kitten Alone
Richard Hawley - Just Like the Rain
Annie Hayden - Swingin Party

I don't know what's happened to WXYC's Music Directors, but whatever it is, I like it. The MDs must've all fallen in love at the same time a couple weeks agoor something, because the music in rotation (the required hourly tracks that all DJs must play) is really wonderful: lots of pretty melodic pop music. Just this week, I discovered We All Have Hooks For Hands, the Sugerplum Faires and the Cripple Lillies, all of which are in rotation. My new favorite local band, the Bower Birds, have something in rotation. Two months ago, I dreaded playing the required cuts, because I felt like it was all noisy, scronky, dissonant stuff. But lately our rotation has introduced me to lots of new stuff that I love like Autumn Shade and Loney, Dear. Go Music Directors!!!!

So, I find myself thinking about Ethel Merman's voice kinda frequently these days. Doesn't everyone? Years ago, I couldn't stand the sound of her voice, but she's grown on me and now, I think I love her. It' s fun to sing along and imitate her. Try it sometime. And look at her with the Muppets! I don't remember seeing that episode... I'll have to put it in my Netflix queue. BTW, if you would like to hear Ethel Merman this afternoon, tune into Divaville on WXDU from 3-5PM.

Last week, Christa sent me a link to a Louis Prima performance which we discussed at length the hilarity of Keely Smith. Just check out the expression on her face. You can hear Louis Prima today on Divaville, too.

The entire playlist for last Tuesday's show can be found here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

RIP Pogo

Every evening when I drive home from work, I pass by Pogo's house. Pogo would always be sitting by his kitty door on the back stoop or in the grass nearby, as in the photo above. He was always there every night. Always. Seeing Pogo on the back stoop meant that everything was alright in the world. Last night on my way home from work, I drove by Pogo's house and he was not there.

Today, Pogo passed away. I'll miss him. But Pam will welcome him in kitty heaven with squishy food, kitty treats and Dolly Parton music. I miss Pam, too.

Monday, June 18, 2007

I Have Versus Stuck In My Head

I had mentioned to Rossi that I was thinking about going to find this outsider art stone village north of Hillsborough. He wanted to go, too.

In my life, I've passed by this house a million times on my way up Hwy 86 on the way to Danville to see my grandparents. It on the right soon after you pass Hwy 49 in Prospect Hill. I have always loved this house... the trees, the porch, the stone wall and stone fountain. If I were to move out to the middle of nowhere, I'd want to live in a house just like this.

But I had no idea of what was on the other side of the driveway down the embankment. Wow. I squealed. It was a miniature village made of stones, concrete, bricks, and found objects. I was blown away.

In 1968, retired tobacco farmer, Henry L. Warren started building his little stone village. And it grew. It was very inspiring.

If this ukulele thing doesn't work out, I want to make beautiful, crazy yard art, too.

But when I say the word "Shangri-La" in my head, I cannot help but think of the song by Versus. I'll have to play that tomorrow night on the radio.

Hey, Your Bacon's In My Chocolate!!

I had dinner with Christa one night at Torrero's last month where I ordered bacon-wrapped shrimp. I declared "wrapping anything in bacon makes it taste better. I'd even eat bacon-wrapped chocolate."

Lo and behold!!! I walked into the hair salon yesterday to find this:

#1 ingredient: Milk Chocolate. #2 ingredient: Bacon. #3 ingredient: Salt.

Those crazy Vosges chocolatiers who create things such as a wasabi chocolate bar or curry chocolate bar have now taken chocolate to the next level. THEY PUT BACON IN CHOCOLATE. And holy pork, it tastes amazing. I knew that Christa would be just as excited as I was.

We were both a little hesitant about tasting it. But it was really really good. I am not a fan of milk chocolate in general... the darker the better in my book.

But if any of you have been to my house lately for a chocolate tasting, you know that I've been loving this dark chocolate bar with smoked sea salt from a chocolatier in Beaufort, NC. So, I was ready for the bacon. Logically, it was the next step.

The milk chocolate was perfect... anything darker would've overpowered the salty meaty goodness of the bacon which was crunchy and very tasty. Not "Bacos"-flavored, but real, honest-to-goodness, right-off-the-hog BACON!!! The consistency of the bacon in the bar was perfect and provided a divinely meaty finish to each bite. (Be sure to click on the photo of the bar and look at that piece of bacon... it looks so delicious!)

Wacky chocolate makes me so happy.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Brooklyn's Banjo Ukulele Band

I have to thank Bill for telling me about Les Chauds Lapins. They perform 1920s and 30s French songs using of all instruments: THE BANJO UKULELE. Their amazing interpretation of "These Foolish Things" ["Ces Petites Choses"] is absolutely stunning. You must go to their MySpace page right now and listen to it. I mean it. And "Vous Etes Jolie" makes me melt... I want to be able to play my banjo uke like that. It's the most beautiful music I have heard in a very long time. I've got chills.

I also like that the English translation of Les Chauds Lapins is the hot rabbits. Heh. Heh. Heh.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Radio Show, Tuesday June 12 6-9PM

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Halfway To Crazy
10cc - I'm Not In Love
Ricky Nelson - Stood Up
Willie Nelson - Opportunity To Cry
Loney, Dear - Saturday Waits
Maxine Sullivan - Blue Skies
Steve Martin & Bernadette Peters - You Belong To Me
Ronnie Lane's Slim Chance - Roll On Babe
Roy Orbison - Blue Bayou
Jon Rauhouse (And Neko Case) - East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)
The Statler Brothers - Flowers On the Wall
Josh Ritter - Lillian, Egypt

For awhile now, I have been trying to remember the Jesus and Mary Chain song that I was consumed with during my freshman year of college. I finally found it. "Halfway to Crazy." There was a very cool boy who I met my freshman year who loved the Jesus and Mary Chain and he was the only reason that I listened to the record. I wonder what happened to that long-haired, grungy, Jesus and Mary Chain boy?

Lately, I've been listening to stuff that I have dumped onto my Ipod and kinda ignoring my CDs and LPs. But last weekend, I pulled out a Roy Orbison collection that I haven't heard in a very long time. Wow! I just cannot get enough of him especially "Blue Bayou." His voice is just beautiful. I get weak in the knees when I hear him.

I also played a track from a Swedish band, who I almost passed by due to what I considered to be a dorky name: Loney, Dear. But boy am I glad that I didn't. Their track, "Saturday Waits" was really great. I glanced at their website and I just love this:

"Emil Svanängen, one of those 'I've never been in a relationship but damnit if I'm not lovesick' guys who writes and records prolifically while seated on the edge of a rumpled bed in his small apartment..."

Now that sounds right up my alley. I'll have to try some of Loney, Dear's other songs. But dammit, they are playing in NYC with the Sea and Cake and I am going to miss it!!! Oh well.

Entire playlist can be found here.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Hotdogs on Sunday

Ok folks! Hold onto your seats. I have some very exciting news!! Durham will soon have its very own downtown hotdog stand. Look for its premiere on June 23rd at the Durham Rising Festival. I was told that this festival was to be a celebration the completion of all the downtown sidewalk and street construction. But the website doesn't say that. Heck, the website doesn't even say what the festival is for... probably because I don't see how in the world the City is going to finish the downtown mess in two weeks.

Claud (pictured standing by her brand new hotdog stand above) will be premiering her hotdog stand at the CCB Plaza on the 23rd. Today she had a trial run in her backyard. She has a couple adjustments to make on the cart and she needs to work on some bun issues, but overall, I think it's going to be a big hit! Durham just keeps getting better.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Hot Diggity! Hot Diggity!

Before you read this post, let me tell you something. I love hotdogs. I am obsessed with hotdogs. I was a vegetarian for 12 long years and the meat that I missed was hotdogs. My craving turned into obsession when I worked at Merge. I think that everyone in the office loved hotdogs. On a very regular basis, someone in the office would make a hotdog run to Squeaky's up at NCNB Plaza on Franklin Street. In 1999, we gave our ten-year anniversary compilation called Oh, Merge the subtitle Sexy Panties and Hotdogs. Fans mailed us weird hotdog-themed items such as odd photographs, whistles and squirtguns. We loved it.

Today, my obsession (aka sickness) for the beloved frankfurter was rekindled. Despite the sunburn and Skip being sick (I hope you're feeling better!), today was an amazing day. Chris, Germaine and I took a trip to Charlotte to see an IFOCE-sanctioned National Hotdog Eating Contest Qualifier. As I am sure that everyone reading this knows, there is a huge event on the corner of Surf and Stillwell at Coney Island every Fourth of July: Nathan's National Hotdog Eating Contest. In order to compete at this event that is now broadcast on ESPN, you must win one of the qualifying events. Today marked North Carolina's first ever qualifier.

Germaine was asked by the IFOCE [International Federation of Competitive Eating] to film the contest. She shot some amazing footage and I cannot wait to see it. Rich Shea (one of the masterminds behind this whole marketing scheme that is called the IFOCE) was really nice and told the two of us to go wherever we wanted for the event. We could go backstage, in front of the stage, even ON STAGE during the event. I shot alot of great pictures. But who the heck is that Sonya poseur on the right?

That guy in the middle, Hal Hunt, or as Rich Shea says "the Faith-Based Eater" won with 28.75 HDB (hotdogs with buns) which is less than half of the world record holder, Joey Chestnut. The Sonya Poseur only downed 28. But Hal had Jesus on his side. He prays before each event. He even prayed when Skip, Germaine and I saw him win a grilled cheese sandwich eating contest at the NC State Fair in 2005. (That's him sitting and praying on the far right in the photo below.)

Rich is going to send me some t-shirts and VIP PASSES to the big daddy event on July 4th at Coney Island. This will be my fifth year making the pilgrimage to Nathan's. I am so excited. It's gonna be freakin' HUGE. I have to get my signs ready. I'm still rootin' for Sonya Thomas, as the black widow of the gurgitators will alway be #1 on my list. But I want Joey Chestnut to beat that pompous punk Kobayashi.

Radio Show, Tuesday June 5 6-9PM

Frederick Knight - I've Been Lonely For So Long
Silicon Teens - Let's Dance
Clientele - Winter on Victoria Street
Bobby Darin - Lonely Road
Elvis Costello - Radio, Radio
Dinah Washington - What A Difference A Day Makes
Pete Townshend - Let My Love Open the Door
Velvet Underground - I Found A Reason
Ennio Morricone - Once Upon a Time In the West
Billy Bragg & Wilco - California Stars
Ella Fitzgerald - You Do Something To Me
Tito Puente - Ran Kan Kan
Ernie Kovacs - Hot Cakes and Sausage
Brigitte Bardot - Moi Je Joue

I think that I could play Wilco every week on the radio. And why shouldn't I? I love them.

Cole Porter. Cole Porter. I've had "You Do Something To Me" on the brain for a couple days. It makes me very happy. I wanted to play it on the air on Tuesday, but I couldn't think of any version except for Ella's during the 45 seconds I had before the song playing on the air ended. The Ella songbooks are easy to find, so I played her version. Eh. I wish I had taken the time to find a version with a little more gusto. Lately, I've found some of Ella's songbooks a bit schmaltzy. But her Cole Porter songbook was my gateway into the world of vocalists and tin pan alley songwriters.

"Lonely Road" by Bobby Darin is one of my all-time favorite songs. I absolutely love Bobby Darin. Before I ever bought a CD player, my Bobby Darin obsession led me to purchase a his 4-CD box set. I'm crazy for the man. If I were ever brave enough to do karaoke, I would want to sing Bobby Darin songs all night long. Especially "Lonely Road." I used to sing it to my cat, who really didn't care one way or another about the song or Bobby Darin as long as she got a treat at the end of the song. He'd probably do a kick-ass version of "You Do Something To Me." And his hit, "Beyond the Sea" makes me weak in the knees. I think that if someone sang that song to me while playing the ukulele, I think I would melt.

I'm working on a new mix tape, and I think that Tito Puente's Ran Kan Kan from the Mambo Kings soundtrack is going to be the impetus. GO TITO!

The rest of Tuesday's playlist can be found here. I love my radio show.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Four-Week Countdown

In four weeks, I will be united with my new love:

I don't know if I can wait that long! Sigh. Isn't it dreamy?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ankle Freedom

I went to the physical therapist today. It was a great visit! I have graduated!!! I still have a way to go in my recovery, but it's just exercises that I need to do on my own. I have to remember to do them! But I have removed the ankle splint! Right now, I have on shorts for the first time this summer. It feels great! I even tried on some non-sneaker shoes to wear with my shorts, but I am not ready for that yet. My calf without a splint is such a wonderful site.

And the most exciting thing is that I can go biking!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have to stick to flat, paved surfaces (like the American Tobacco Trail) and I have to keep it short and easy, but hot damn! I can ride a bike! And I can start a little bit of light walking, too. I am so excited to get out of this damn green polka-dotted chair!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The King Has Been Dethroned

Move over Kobayashi. Your piddly 53 hot dogs are not going to cut it this July 4th.

Joey Chestnut: 59 1/2 in 12 minutes.



Sunday, June 3, 2007

Lone Lonely Alone

For the past week or so, the general pain in my ankle has subsided but I am still a little unstable and have limited mobility in my ankle joint. I am able to get up and and do basic stuff like short driving, short walking, laundry, etc., but these remaining limitations are really taking their toll on me. Now that I am not in pain, I desperately want to get back to doing everything that I used to. But I can't, and that is driving me crazy. I cannot walk on grass or gravel. I cannot run. Heck, I cannot even walk fast. I can't walk down stairs without taking one single step at a time.

I finally ditched the cane this weekend not because my doctor instructed me to, but because I am so sick of using it. And I am sick of people telling me that the cane is sexy. It's not. I'll admit that Fred is quite handsome in his natty tux, top hat and cane, but he's dancing with his cane and not using it to hobble across the room. And he's not a girl.

I think that the lack of exercise is really draining me physically and emotionally. I just need to get out and run or do some yardwork or bike or swim or something. I think that if I could exercise, I'd have more energy. I've been active all weekend in the sense that I have been going out to restaurants and seeing friends and going to shows. It's nice to be around people, but it's not cutting this malaise.

As I drove to Chapel Hill this morning, I listened to the end of The Charm of the Highway Strip by the Magnetic Fields and then I decided to get my one-song musical horrorscope, which was the following Wilco song:

Shakin' sugar from a sugar spoon
Peppermint tea afternoon

Alone, alone, alone

Taking a shower take another nap
Watching television take a bath

Alone, alone, alone

Feel like a book, but I just cant start it
Feel like a lover, brokenhearted
Look in the mirror at the face in the glass

Look like a question no one ever asks

Like I'm supposed to be

Lone lonely alone Like
I'm supposed to be

Go for a walk, go for a drive

Listen to the stereo stay inside

Alone, alone, alone


Like I'm supposed to be

Lone lonely alone
Like I'm supposed to be

It's a great song, which I played over and over in the car. But what a horribly depressing musical horrorscope! I hope tomorrow's is something more cheery. Maybe I'll get a Fred Astaire song tomorrow. That would make me happy.