Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I can has Psapp?

With the internet taken over by Lolcats, it was only a matter of time cats would take on the music business. Although they look like gentle, rational humans, the musical duo of Psapp is clearly one of their victims: check out their album art for example. Psapp's music is playful, filled with exotic noises and weird percussions that make you raise your ears and look for the mouse. Behind it, you also have some catching melodies full of twist and turns, and unusual lyrics ranging from childhood sing-song to depressed stories about death (on a lively tune, of course).

Unfortunately, they seem more popular in their native lands than in this big country where cats are not so good at taking up all the space. So maybe if you check out their music too, we can all write them a nice letter with many pictures of our cats and convince them to come and play for us here. Their third album ("The camel's back") is coming out in the US soon (it's been out for a year in the Old World..) and is becoming my favorite. Not that "Tiger, my friend" and "The only thing I ever wanted" are any lesser, you can't possibly go wrong with such titles!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seamless constructions

I'm not a huge fan of modern art, especially the very abstract, cerebral stuff (you know, those three pieces of plywood painted bright red or blue to make you reflect on the deep meaning of art and so on). To me, art doesn't "work" if there's no clear display of skill that elicits a direct emotional response.

So I was very impressed by the latest exhibit at the American Indian Museum of works by Brian Jungen. So much that I didn't mind going twice in the space of a week. The pieces displayed are all built from highly recognizable implements of modern life, often heavily branded (suitcases, Nike Air Jordans, golf bags, plastic lawn chairs, etc), turned into Native American craft, masks, totems, and fantastic animals. The construction is seamless, and at the same time you recognize the elements of a pair of shoes, they have become a very elaborate mask and there's no going back (or is there?). Of course, there are layers of meanings and symbols woven into these constructions, it is modern art after all. But it is a direct experience anybody can appreciate, and a good reason to walk around this new museum and sample its spiced cocoa on the way out!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monkey shirt explosion!!

I like wearing silly T-shirts with naive designs, so I started making some. Here is exclusively for you my latest creation: Parkour monkeys (mmm, maybe not so original, but Parkour hippopotamoi are a lot harder to draw).

I had fun making them anyway, and I bet they'll look good on you.

I apologize for the shameless self-promotion, but those are good looking monkeys, no?

get them at:

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Battle of the Noggs

The skies have gifted us a full week-end of snow just before Xmas, and so there is only one reasonable response: make Eggg Noggg!!!

While looking for recipes, I realized there was (at least) two schools of Egg Nogging: the Dark Rum School and the Bourbon School. Which one will win?

School of Darkness Rum-flavored Egg Nogg
Ingredients (for 4 small cups):
* 4 good eggs (salmonella is not invited)
* 1 can of sweetened condensed milk
* extra fresh milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* dark rum
* powdered nutmeg

1. Separate egg whites and yolks, whites in a big bowl
2. Beat the Christmas spirit into the egg whites until they're stiff and fluffy. Use a fork and several friends for an old fashioned arm work-out, or a mechanical egg beater for faster results. I do not recommend electrical equipment, as a bit of pre-egg nogg exercise will make your arteries forgive you for drinking such beverage.
3. Mix all the other ingredients, except rum and nutmeg
4. Fold in the egg whites, a third of it first, then the rest. Mix very gently until lumps disappear
5. Add rum to your liking. Thinking of all the egg bacteria, add more rum.
6. Taste the mixture, until there' s enough rum in the mix or no mix left.
7. Add nutmeg and/or cinnamon and/or cocoa powder
8. Make a second batch!

School of Mighty Bourbon Egg Nogg
Ingredients (similar quantities):
* 4 good eggs (nobody invited salmonella, I tell you)
* 1/3 cup sugar
* 1/2 cup Bourbon
* 1/4 cup Brandy
* 2 cups milk
* 1/3 cup heavy cream
* nutmeg

1. Separate egg whites and yolks, both in a big bowl
2. Warm-up your beating muscles beating the egg yolks with the sugar, until it's thick and lemon colored. Then add the Bourbon and Brandy slowly to the mix. Remember, more Bourbon equals less worries about raw egg bacteria. A cup measure doesn't have to be precise.
3. Now that you're nice and warm, beat the Christmas spirit into the egg whites, like in the previous recipe.
4. As long as you're at it, pour the cream into a small bowl and, guess what? yes, beat it into fluffiness.
5. Now you're getting thirsty, so mix gently the egg whites and then the cream into the boozy yolk mixture. Done?
6. No, you forgot the nutmeg. Now you can drink.
7. There's nothing wrong with a second batch, it's a great arm workout!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Méthode naturelle

So, I have been looking a lot at the "Natural Method", a somewhat radical physical education philosophy that permeates a lot of what Parkour is all about. It all comes from one man, Georges Hébert, a pioneer in French physical education around the beginning of the 2oth century. He trained military fighters, sailors, school children and olympic athletes, wrote theoretical and practical books and essays about physical education and had an exceptional understanding of physical activity in general.

I stumbled upon one of his early books on google books and spent most of my spring, summer and fall translating it into English, with tremendous help from Gregg of Hawaii PK. There is a ton of great information in there for traceurs and other athletes as well as anyone interested in basic fitness. It's about a hundred years old, and yet most of it is still extremely relevant and applicable to modern sports and fitness. Yes, there are pictures of men with funny mustaches. And massive muscles too, so don't laugh too much unless you can measure up to their fitness scale.

Mr. Hébert, chapeau bas and thank you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Krusty Duck

So all this blog thing started when Phil talked about duck recipes... here's one of my favorites, really simple, really delicious.

- dough: 2Lbs flour, 1-2Lbs coarse salt, 2 egg whites, 1 pint water.
- a duck. If you can't find one, use a chicken instead (downsize the quantities on the dough, unless you have a really fat chicken)

Mix all the dough ingredients to get a soft dough. Wrap the duck with it, then cook in the oven for an hour at 400⁰F. When done, crack open the crust (don't eat it unless you have a serious sodium deficit!) and retrieve the steamy beast. If you can't find coarse salt, use a much smaller quantity as fine salt will be more efficient.

The recipe can be scaled to work with any bird, even saving a Thanksgiving turkey debacle... but that's another story.