Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Half Dollar Hot Dogs on Air

Ted and I (half of the HDHDs) are going to play a song or two live on WXDU tomorrow night around 8pm during Chris's show. [Ted's the one with the demonic eyes in the photo above.] I'm scared...not of Ted, but of singing and playing into a microphone. I was trying to practice last night and I wasn't doing so well. But Ted is really really good, so maybe I can just hide my playing behind his. My strumming is still not up to par and my vocals leave alot to be desired. Where's a magic ukulele fairy when you need one?

Last night, my strumming was aided by the use of a pick. I do love to play with a pick. Is that so wrong?

Seasonal Happiness

In the past, I have noticed that I suffer (as we probably all do) from a little bit of seasonal depression. It seems like around December, my jobs get crazy busy, it's cold outside, there's not alot of daylight, there's alot of holiday obligations, etc. It can be a drag.

But in July, it's different. It's warm outside, there's lots of daylight, you can sit outside on the porch and have beers with friends, you can go swimming in the ocean, etc. And of course it's National Hot Dog Month. I was thinking about hot dogs last night. (Shocking, I know.) The hot dog is simply a happy food. I cannot imagine someone bawling their eyes out while eating a hot dog. I could see someone crying over a bowl of soup or a piece of toast or oatmeal, but not the weinie. Hot dogs are often eaten with other people who are also happy. You just can't be sad and lonely while eating a hot dog. And I have noticed that it's hard not to smile while eating one. Have you noticed that, too? Maybe, I am nuts.

Also adding to my seasonal bliss this July has been the ukulele. Like eating a hot dog, I cannot imagine anyone being unhappy playing or listening to ukulele music. Well, except maybe some of Stephin Merritt's ukulele songs. But with the inherent brightness and beautiful tone of the instrument, even Merritt's sad uke tunes make me happy. At High Dollar Hot Dog practice, we are continually coming up with quirky, playful songs that we want to play on the ukulele... such as Roger Miller tunes, 70s pop songs, and some vintage pop songs from the 30s. I doubt you'll ever hear an Elliott Smith or Morrissey song covered by the HDHDs.

National Hot Dog Month ends today. I am a little sad that the holiday is over, but not too much. I'll just have to make more of an effort to eat hot dogs and play ukulele music throughout the year. Maybe my parents will serve bacon-wrapped hot dogs for Christmas dinner. Or the HDHDs could find a New Year's Eve gig. That would be the best.

One day, I promise to stop writing about hot dogs and ukuleles. But it might be awhile.

Friday, July 27, 2007

What Happens When You Google Hot Dog

I like to post pictures with my blog entries as anyone can probably tell. I am an extremely visual person. In my previous post, I really wanted to post a picture of a hot dog, but I didn't find one that fit my mood tonight. However, I did find these, which kinda creep me out.

Radio Show, Tuesday July 24 6-9PM

Allman Brothers - Midnight Rider
Desi Arnaz - Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps
Skeets McDonald - Don't Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes
Ashley Stove - Amen Grasshopper
Arcade Fire - Keep the Car Running
Small Sins - Is She the One
Brian Eno - I'll Come Running
The Replacements - I Will Dare
Marshall Crenshaw - Cynical Girl
Luna - California (All the Way)
Gene Kardos & His Orchestra - A HOT DOG, A Blanket & You
Les Chauds Lapins - These Foolish Things
Fluffy Hunter with the Jesse Powell Orchestra - The Walkin' Blues

Sunday night, I ended up having dinner at James Joyce. (Federal was too crowded and James Joyce was blaring Camera Obscura, who I love to the point of obsession). About halfway through my burger, I heard a familiar guitar line and the words "I've gotta run to keep from hiding/And I'm bound to keep on riding." I racked my brain trying to figure out who was singing this song. Once I was told that it was the Allman Brothers, I knew I had to play it on my radio show. There is definitely not enough Allman Brothers being played on WXYC these days. And "Midnight Rider" is just a great song. I just now tried to play it on the ukulele and it has too few chords and it relies too much on vocals. Neh.

And folks, my favorite holiday of the year is coming to a close. National Hot Dog Month is just days away from ending. So sad. In honor of the last few days of this monumental holiday, I had to play "A Hot Dog, A Blanket, and You" by Gene Kardos and his Orchestra.

I gotta get back to the ukulele practicing. But I do want to play some 70s soft rock or 70s country rock on the ukulele. Maybe I can try America's "Sister Golden Hair."

My entire playlist can be found here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Late Night Horrorscope

America - Lonely People
Ocie Stockard & the Wanderers - You've Got Me There
The Four Yanks - Dudu Wam
Eric Bachman - Genie, Genie
Ella - Angel Eyes
Roba Stanley - Single Life
Beck - Paper Tiger
The Minders - I've Been Wondering
Little Willie John - Let Them Talk
Wayne Newton - Strangers in the Night

It's hard to listen to any song these days without rating it ukulelebility. America's "Lonely People" has a high ukulelebility rating, but Little Willie John's "Let Them Talk" doesn't.

Right now, I am really trying to figure out the chords on Buck Owen's "I Betcha Didn't Know." My musical limitations are really killing me these days. I want to be able to play four-fingered chords, strum in rhythm, and sing in key. AND I CAN'T!!!! And I really want to be able to listen to songs and figure out the chords for them. I want it so bad. I just gotta conquer this one Buck Owen's song.... maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Gutterglory & Gut Glory

My senior year at UNC, I realized that I needed to take one physical education class or else I wouldn't graduate. Yikes. I had taken an 8am aerobics class my freshman year and I knew that I didn't want to do anything like that ever again. Who wants to work out that early in the morning? As a college student, I sure didn't. During my senior year, the only time I worked up a sweat was dancing all night long at a local rave somewhere.

Anyway, there were stories about an easy PE class that didn't require any physical exertion or sweat and even allowed SMOKE BREAKS. (I am so glad that I grew up in this state.) I needed to take that class. It was bowling. It was hard as hell to get in the class because everyone else at UNC wanted an easy PE class, too. I took a gamble my final semester of college by signing up knowing that there was a great chance that I would be rejected. Thank god I made it into the class.

Bowling met on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons around 3:30 or so, which was great, because it allowed me, some of my classmates and a huge group of friends to go to Papagayo's for margarita pitchers before class. So not only did we get smoke breaks, we went to class tipsy on margaritas.

Our instructor was cute, but he wore those god-awful, tight, polyester coach shorts. Ew. But he was cool. Well, at least he didn't seem to mind or notice the margaritas on our breath. He encouraged us to do midnight bowling (bowling with the lights off)... which is always fun when you're a little tipsy. We had ridiculously easy multiple-choice tests, like how many pins are there in a frame? He didn't grade us on our bowling scores or number of strikes or technique really... if he did, I would've flunked. I never even broke a 100 in my bowling class. But I did make an A.

UNC offered its final bowling classes this past Spring semester. The student union's bowling alley is now closed and the university plans to turn that space into offices.

In March of this year, I joined a bowling league. I became part of a super team with some guys who are bigger music geeks than I am... I love it. They came up with the brilliant name Gutterglory, a nod to the now defunct indie rock band, Butterglory. The day before Gutterglory's first game, I fell and sprained/fractured my ankle. Luckily, the boys were able to find a last minute sub, who's been covering my slot since April. But last night, I was back in action! We got beat by the other team 2 out of our 3 games. But the one game that we won, I bowled a 120!!!! My cute, polyester-shorts-wearing, bowling instructor would be proud.

I wanted to celebrate my incredibly high score, so my teammate, Mark and I headed over to the Federal to meet up with some of the other bowlers. After a couple beers, Mark, who was starved suggested that we drive over to Cook-Out to get a burger and a milkshake. I was a little hesitant because for one, it was 12:30 at night and two, I am not a fan of fast food burgers. But he said that they had really good milkshakes. Let's go!!

As we were driving, Mark was telling me about Cook-Out's seasonal WATERMELON MILKSHAKES. Oh. My. God. We pulled up to the lighted menu board and then everything after that was a big blur. Before I could blink, we were driving away with two bacon cheeseburgers with grilled onions and two watermelon milkshakes. Mark and I sat at my kitchen table and enjoyed an incredible, late-night, gluttonous meal. The burger was really great for fast food. It was a decent thickness and rather juicy and had a good meaty flavor. The bacon on it ROCKED.

Oooooohh. But that milkshake. It was incredible. The watermelon chunks were so large that they kept clogging my straw. You couldn't help but use a spoon. I was afraid that the creaminess of the milkshake would overpower the sometimes delicate taste of the watermelon. But that was not the case at all. It was great. They had a gazillion milkshake flavors on that menu board, but the watermelon will only last another month or so.

I think that a late-night trip to Cook-Out might be mandatory for all future bowling nights.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's Playlist

Today, I spent some more time looking for my lost beloved John Schneider album. During my search, I realized that I have been really neglecting my records. So, this evening, I decided to listen to some. They included:

Electric Light Orchestra - On the Third Day (side two)
Duran Duran - Seven and the Ragged Tiger (side one)
Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman (side two)
Little Feat - Sailin' Shoes (side one)
Seals & Crofts - Summer Breeze (side one)

I just don't get Electric Light Orchestra. But I loved that Seals and Crofts album side.

But John Schneider is still lost.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

High Dollar Hot Dog's Second Show

If you didn't know already, I belong to an all-soprano ukulele band called the High Dollar Hot Dogs just formed last month. The HDHDs had our second public appearance (and our fifth time playing together) last Saturday night at a party on my deck. It wasn't our best performance, but it was our biggest audience. But we didn't suck. I personally had a great time.

Once we sat down on the deck, got our instruments ready and our music set up, I looked up and thought, "Whoa. What in the hell are we doing?!? And who the hell are all these people!?!?" I have no idea how many party-goers were at my house on Saturday night.... somewhere around 70. And I didn't really know alot of them. That made me feel nervous about playing and singing.

But then we kicked into gear with the High Dollar Hot Dog theme song, "Ragged But Right." I felt a little better then.

At our practice last week before our gig, I was told that the band voted [without me] to drop "All of Me." I was sad, so I said, "What if I sang it Ethel Merman style?" We tried it with my accentuated vocals and Ted was stunned. It was a hit Saturday night, but I think that Ethel and "All of Me" now need to be laid to rest. I sang it again at practice last night (with just my regular voice) and it just didn't feel right. "All of Me" now needs to be retired to the HDHD archive.

Here is a super short video of us playing "Ragged But Right." Noah's voice is so great.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Radio Show, Tuesday July 17 6-9PM

Mark Kozelek - Up To My Neck In You
Jefferson Airplane - She Has Funny Cars
Hall & Oates - Had I Known You Better Then
Great Lake Swimmers - When It Flows
The Shocking Blue - Send Me A Postcard
Chris Isaak - Don't Leave Me On My Own
Innocence Mission - Tomorrow On the Runway
Frankel - Dressed In Uniform
Jens Lekman - Black Cab
Annie Hayden - Wood and Glue
Camp Creek Boys - Honeysuckle
Eels - Packing Blankets
The Hi-Life Companion - You're The Greatest
The Edwin Hawkins Singers - Oh Happy Day

Bill introduced me to the Great Lake Swimmers last month. Their record Bodies and Minds is really wonderful. I don't know much about them except that they are Canadian and they play very pretty music and I missed them when they came through town earlier this summer. I listened to their three albums on the way to the beach and back.

Tina and I used to dance around the radio station to "Send Me A Postcard" by the Shocking Blue. That song absolutely rocks. And I love Mariska Veres' boots.

The entire playlist can be found here.

I still haven't found that John Schneider record.

Monday, July 16, 2007

John Schneider Is Lost

On Saturday night at Christa's going away party, I was telling Chris and Elizabeth about my prized John Schneider album. I said, "I'll go get it." I left to look for it and never never returned. I didn't mean to leave them hanging but I couldn' find it and then I probably got dragged away by someone else at the party.

I'll never forget that John Schneider record. That was the first record that I ever bought with my own money when I was nine. I was so proud of myself. I bought it from Zayre in Burlington (even though my family and our neighbors called it Zayre's for some reason). I loved that store... the records were right there when you first walked in. At that same time, I also bought a K-Tel collection of soft rock hits called Songbird. What an monumental event that was. I mean, who would I have become if my first album purchases in Zayre's were REO Speedwagon or Pat Benetar or Hall & Oates?!?! (I didn't become a Hall & Oates fanatic until I started djing at WXYC.)

Tonight, I searched through all the rock albums in my house and I couldn't find it. But as I was searching, I ran across Bonnie Tyler's Faster Than the Speed of Night album. I almost mistook Ms. Tyler for Mr. Schneider.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Heart Richard Serra

My trip to New York this month was filled with wonderful things. In addition to various hot dog activities, there was a recording session with the Badgers and Ewald made bacon-wrapped figs dipped in chocolate. The music was rough and I learned that attempting to play Duran Duran's "Rio" on ukulele is harder than I thought. And good lord. Figs. Wrapped in bacon. Dipped in chocolate. Incredible.

On my last day in New York, we went to the MOMA to see the Richard Serra retrospective. His work is so amazing and I think he might be my favorite sculptor. To be in the presence of one of his works is just thrilling. Serra creates these magestic metal torqued ellipses and spirals that have subtle bends and twists. I feel like you have to spend a good five or ten minutes with one of his pieces to "get it." Upon first glance, the sheer size and material of his works can be very intimidating. But the closer you get, the more inviting they become. Walking in and around them is dizzying and mezmerizing. They manipulate sounds as well as your perspective and balance. Heck, I can't describe his works. I lost the art history lingo when I graduated 14 years ago. But if you have the opportunity to see Richard Serra's work, I highly recommend that you go.

All the pictures from our Richard Serra experience can be found here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

My Musical Horrorscope

Today's horrorscope (long form):

Esquivel - Johnson Rag
Golden Smog - Pecan Pie
Ray Charles - It's Alright
L'Ensemble Tamaril - Papio
The Beatles - He Said [Sketch II]
Ella Fitzgerald - Summertime
Bob Dylan - Forever Young
Magnetic Fields - You Love To Fail
Emmylou Harris - Every Grain of Sand
Jimmy Preston & His Prestonians- Rock The Joint

Two Dylan songs, a song about pie in the summertime, and the final song about rockin.' Seems like a great horrorscope to me. Today's going to be good.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ukulele Aftermath

For some reason, we always use alot of post-its during practice. Probably because Noah is an office supply nerd.

Radio Show, Tuesday July 10 6-9PM

Bob Mould - See A Little Light
Badfinger - Baby Blue
Jonathan Richman - That Summer Feeling
Trembling Blue Stars - Idyllwild
Billie Holiday - Blue Moon
Stampeders - Sweet City Woman
Kermit & Fozzie - Movin' Right Along
My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow
Ella Mae Morse - Solid Potato Salad
Chris Powell & The Five Blue Flames - Hot Dog (BEST SONG EVER!!!)
Lulu Belle & Scotty - How Many Biscuits Can You Eat
Emmylou Harris - Every Grain of Sand
Beatles - Girl
Gene Kelly & Donald O'Conner - Moses
We All Have Hooks For Hands - The Man Trying to Outfox Us All

Tuesday night's show was fun. At one point, a random thought popped into my head that had absolutely nothing to do with what I had been playing during the first two hours of my show... I wanted to hear a song about potato salad. I left the control room with 30 seconds to go on the song playing over the air. I knew which potato salad song that I wanted to play (I say this as if there are dozens of potato salad songs), but I couldn't remember which section in the library the CD lived. Deep in thought about finding the potato salad song in less than 30 seconds, I hurried down the dark narrow hallway toward the blues library. I wasn't looking where I was going and I bumped into Bill.

When I ran into Bill, I was still immersed in my task at hand and I said, "I gotta find a song about potato salad." Once that sentence came out of my mouth, I realized how ridiculous I must've looked and sounded.

Entire playlist can be found here.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Making New Friends

Ever since Christa told me that she was moving away, I keep thinking, what in the heck am I doing here? Why do I remain in Durham? Friends who used to be really close have now either moved, gotten married, or had kids. No matter what anybody tells me, I know that people with kids want to hang out with other people with kids. Couples like to go have dinner with other couples. And right now, I can count my single friends in town on one hand.

I've been tossing around the possibility of moving. Moving away. Moving out of North Carolina. Moving out of the tiny three-county area where I have spent my entire life. I love Brooklyn and I love San Francisco, but could a naive, impressionable Southern woman survive in either of these places? (Heck, could I afford to live in either of these places?) I think I need to travel and explore some cities to see what I like and what I don't. And to see what I could afford and what I couldn't. There is no way that I could psychologically survive living in a little studio apartment. I'd die. But for now it doesn't matter... I need to stick with my job for at least a couple more years. But that gives me time to investigate new places and to save some moving money.

In the meantime (or maybe as a backup plan), I need to work on building new friendships. And I have to admit that this blog has helped. I've met lots of new people including music folks and some hot dog folks. I've also rekindled some old friendships. This blog has given me the opportunity to meet folks that I thought I'd never meet, such as Charleen Swansea from Ross McElwee's documentaries.

Last month before taking off for Coney Island, Charleen Swansea invited me and Bill over for beer and cookies, which turned into inviting us over to for wine and homemade brownies, which were divine. We had a great time and discussed her daughter's artwork, my relationship status, living in Chapel Hill, and her father's tiple.

She begged me to play my banjo uke for her, which I reluctantly did. I was a little scared. I haven't been playing for very long and it's a huge struggle. I pulled it out and opened up my songbook and started the first two lines of "Walkin' After Midnight" and Charleen busted out laughing. I stopped and and turned beet red in utter embarrassment. She continued to laugh. I am probably quoting this a little incorrectly, but to the best of my memory, she said, "You know what you sound like, Charlotte? Well, it's like your first born son and you're changing his diaper for the first time [insert huge laugh] and he has a little accident on you!! [insert tremendous laughter with a knee slap and rearing back in the seat]" I was horrified. She told me to continue, but I couldn't.

I didn't take it too harshly. We proceeded to talk and laugh about all kinds of things... men, food, films. I could've stayed there all evening. But I had to get back to ukulele practice. It was so great to meet Charleen and I know that we'll be hanging out on her porch again soon. I want to eat more of her brownies. At one point in the evening, she looked at me and said, "I love you, Charlotte. You're like buttermilk and silk." I think that this is one of the best compliments I've ever received.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

New Jersey Hot Dog Jaunt

I was really happy to catch up with my friend, Robert, on this trip to New York. He loves a hot dog and is always more than willing to take me, Lee and Ewald to try new hot dog stands in and around New York. He can tell you where to find some of the best eats around the city... always a good friend to have.

Today, Robert, Fenna, Lee and I took a short trip over to Jersey City to try a dog at Boulevard Drinks, where they only serve hot dogs. No french fries, no onion rings, no hamburgers. Just hot dogs. And soft drinks. I tried their onion chili hot dog. I learned that this did not mean two condiments, but it was a single condiment of spicy chili laced with onions. Very tasty.

We also traveled down the street where I ate my first White Castle burger which was very odd. We don't have White Castles in North Carolina and I've had only one fast food burger in the past 18 years to compare the White Castle to. The sandwich is a little bit smaller than a Biscuitville biscuit and the meat is the thickness of a piece of bologna. Robert, Lee and I shared it and then ate an Indian pistachio popsicle (not from White Castle), which I gotta say was better than Locopops.

Robert also took us by Singh's Department Store, which was a bit scary. Lee and I thought it was closed at first since you couldn't really see inside. But then we realized that the reason you couldn't see anything was that there was stuff packed to the ceiling. There was only a single narrow path down the center of the store and you really couldn't see a thing. It seemed like what bad dreams are made of. I think that someone had an obsessive compulsive hoarding disorder and filled a room with as much stuff as possible and slapped a store sign over it. I really loved it and could've spent all day in there. The figure that you see standing in the photo below is standing in the entrance at the very front of the store. That's how crammed this store was.

Robert says that he might be coming to North Carolina to work on some new stories on barbeque and might be willing to take me along. Whee!

Folks, We Have A New Wiener & Champion Of the World

Last night, I rewatched the hot dog eating contest on ESPN2 here at my new favorite Brooklyn bar, Shenanigan's. ESPN edited out Koby's reversal of fortune at the end. They showed a crowd shot for the final seconds instead. I was told by friends in the bar that I was a conspiracy theorist since I accused Kobayashi of cheating last year and again this year. I even dreamt last night that Kobayashi's score was changed from 63 to the letter 'C.' However, I am not really sure what the 'C' stands for, but hey, it was a dream.

Entire photo collection of the hot dog eating contest can be found here. Don't worry, there are no puking pictures.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

66 HDB!

The event began with of all things... CLOGGING!! Clogtastic!!

I love the horrified face of the number-spinner:


Yes, I was this close to Joey. I took this picture. Luckily he didn't puke on me when I got his autograph. He stole my pen.

Koby doesn't speak English, so I couldn't ask him to pose with me. He had on a clean shirt.

More later.

It Feels Like Christmas

We finally have the VIP Passes for THE big event, thanks to Jared, my hero. I didn't think that they would come through, but I got the email that the passes were at the IFOCE offices and I just needed to send someone over there to get them... easier said than done when one's still in NC. But I am here now and I am so excited, I cannot sleep.

I am just a few subway stops away from where I'll see Takeru Kobayashi, Joey Chestnut and Sonya Thomas in just 12 hours! I am so wound up and excited. Not only am I on vacation from a crazy time at work, I'll have the pleasure and the privilege of seeing Kobayashi and Chestnut battling it out up close and personal!! We have never been inside the gate at the Coney Island event. But we are this time. WOO HOO!!!

I keep thinking, "I hope I get spewed upon." But then I realize, "Oh wait, that's kinda disgusting."

HAPPY HOT DOG MONTH EVERYONE!!! May you be spewed upon only if you're into that sort of thing. Otherwise, I hope that you and your friends can keep your hot dogs down.