Thursday, March 31, 2005

Good night, Chet

And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

The Musical Me

I was gratified at my guitar lesson yesterday, when after showing my teacher a chord progression I liked, he improved it a bit and said he might have to steal it. In my efforts to add B Major (and other A-major shape barre chords) to my repertoire, I started playing B->D->E->G. He explained to me that these chords sort of fit together because I was playing two chords from Emin and two from E. If I remember correctly, he swapped out the D for an A (so B->A->E->G) keeping three chords in E major. And then he hummed a nice melody over it.

If you are musically inclined, give them a whirl. I suppose there are other similar sounding sequences combining other major and minor keys.

And now I'm really looking forward to this weekend, when we may have a little jam session. I need to get a bit better on some twelve bar blues progressions, working on my 7th chords.

Ruthie, you should play some blues.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Darn News - Extended version

I haven't written in a while, I think maybe because I have been inspired to practice my guitar a bit more, since I started lessons with Snackpack. I'm making progress on my strumming and rhythm, and finally starting to get the hang of bar chords, which really opens up the neck to me, and let's me start learning all sorts of songs.

Easter at Celanie's house was fairly typical, with me eating largely asparagus and potatoes and falling asleep to home movies of Celanie's family. My only regret is not being asleep when Celanie's mom's bare breast flopped out on camera during a video-taped breast-feeding stint.

Today is going to be a busy day, as I have 4 copy-writing assignment s in front of me, along with some editing, brainstorming, PR research, and web-mastering. Even now thinking about it all I begin to hurry through this entry. My scripts for scraping news articles off websites will have to wait, which is just as well since I spent 10 hours working on one for, and remain frustrated by the site. Every now and again, my script will hang, even though my script doesn’t change. I’ll try batching the page reads to trick their robot-detector, and hope that works.

I was happy that the people at Bruegger’s have finally stopped asking me if I want a drink, after 25 consecutive drinkless visits.

I found my dad’s blog. He likes nude women, which is apparently evidence in a child molestation case, so he better watch out, or he’ll fry like MJ after Sneddon parades a string of millionaire accusers' mothers through the courtroom. I hope the jury can remember they are trying MJ for only the crime in question, and not crucify him for his previous transgressions while pinning the whole fiasco on the incredulous testimony of the Cancer Crew.

New music for you to check out: Chris Smithers is a fine little picker, and David Sanborn’s “Lisa” has me interested in jazz, especially the saxophone.

In other news, I have been playing a little online Magic and doing ok. Penguin jugged the big poker tournament, and Bush seems to have killed his press honey moon, and with it, all his hopes of being remembered as anything more than a war-mongering, overly pious drunk.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Googling myself

Here's something I found while googling me:

Monday, March 21, 2005

C is for cookie

I spent most of the weekend contented, gorging myself on Thin Mints and Caramel Delights (oh, I'm sorry, I'm in Yankee-land, so Samoas). When the jig was up, my stomach rumbled a bit, but I knew that was the price I had to pay. Unfortunately, no cookies were available for sale today in my building, so if anyone sees an errant girl scout, tell her Andrew wants cookies in Pittsburgh, asap.

In real news, I hope this indecision by the new judge in the Schiavo case indicates him leaning towards letting that woman die. One more strike against the Christian right, making a federal case out of this ordeal. Where were these slimy politicians seven years ago, before the spotlight was turned on? Probably barking up some other publicity tree.

And my advice for the week. Buy a bullet proof vest, and lock up your children. Beause people are nuts, and all I read about in the news these days is rape, molestation, robbery, and murder (mass or otherwise).

Here's some song lyrics:

You and me were alive
Gliding through the sky
Soaring so high

Colors seemed so bright
That look in your eye
Couldn't find tomorrow

We followed the light
Built wings for flight
And met only sorrow

Colors seemed so bright
That look in your eye
Couldn't find tomorrow

Baby, come on back.
You haven't the knack.
For losing yur senses.

The colors, their too bright
They're burning my eyes.
When is tomorrow?

Saturday, March 19, 2005

My battles with a Candian journalist!

I'm glad the subtle irony isn't lost on you, but a bit dissapointed
that you would dodge the the main thrust.



Mr. Johnson:
I will let others judge whether I am overpaid, but the facts of my life do
not support an accusation of being a drunken colunnist.
I am a light to moderate drinker, but I don't iimbibe at all when I'm
Just thought I'd throw that out there since you put the issue of dishonesty
on the table.
John MacKinnon


In the pursuit of rhetorical flourish...
you badly maimed the facts on which you tried to rest your arguments.
I read your recent column ("Confess already, you baseball dopes,"
March 19) in The Edmonton Journal regarding baseball players' and
other rich peoples' lack of honor. Unfortunately, while I am rabidly
anti-steroids and believe that people like Bernard Ebbers should face
even greater punishment for claiming ignorance about actions he was
required to know about, you still have not supported the following
claims, which reveal your article for what it is, the drunken ranting
of an overpaid columnist.

"It's hard to discern who is emulating whom, but it's safe to say that
qualities such as honour, honesty, forthrightness and integrity are
rare to the point of extinction among elites in many sectors of
society, not just professional sports."

Just because the media makes a circus of a few high-profile cases
doesn't mean that this is the prevailing behavior. I object to this
statement based on my training in statistics, journalism, and logic. I
can say at the absolute very least that your conclusions don't follow
from your premises. And before you penned this statement, you failed
to even listen to or read about the congressional hearings:

"Compared to the disgraceful and irresponsible evasiveness of Mark
McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Curt Schilling and Jose Canseco,
there was a certain smarmy consistency in Barry Bonds' posturing on
the subject of steroids at a news conference earlier in spring

If you had heard even the most popular sound bytes, you would know
several of those players (Sosa, Palmeiro, and Schilling) did not
equivocate at all about their steroid use. They proclaimed their
innocence, under oath.

Your column is worse than the tripe I used to have to edit from
college columns, and more dishonest that any of the people you so
brazenly cast stones at.

Andrew Johnson

P.S. I am requesting that you post a correction retracting the two
statements I listed above.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Me so sleepy

Get a load of this:

As a side note, I think L'il Kim is hot hot hot, and should be given a lenient sentence for those three reasons.

And did you know Phil Spector, of "Let It Be"-ruining fame, is heading to court for allegedly killing a B-Move actress.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

An important message from my guitar teacher

A) Rhythm practice
1. Turn on the metronome to a comfortable tempo. Make sure to do nothing
but listen to it for a few measures in order to feel the beat. Count "1,
2, 3, 4" out loud with it before you start to play.
2. Practice single notes. You can practice with just one note, or by
moving up and down major scales in any pattern. Begin by playing nothing
but quarter notes on the down beats (with the clicks). Then try playing
on the up beats (between the clicks). Try playing 8th notes (two
equal-length notes per click, counted as "One and two and three and four
and"). Mix up 8th notes and quarter notes. Play 8th note triplets (three
equal-length notes per click, counted as "One-uh-let two-uh-let
three-uh-let four-uh-let"). If you can play them comfortably at your
current tempo, try 16th notes (four equal-length notes per click,
counted as "One-ee-and-uh two-ee-and-uh three-ee-and-uh
four-ee-and-uh"). Once you've incorporated all of these rhythms,
improvise with them. Play with different repeating patterns. Come up
with your own rhythmic motifs. The whole time, make sure that you're
always aware of where the beat is falling and which part of the beat
you're playing. i.e., are you playing on the one, the and of two, etc.
If at any point you lose track of the beat, stop playing and listen to
the metronome. When you feel that you've locked in with the beat again,
resume playing.
3. Practice chord strumming. Begin by just playing a single chord,
whichever is easiest for you. Do all of the same exercises listed in
step 2. To play syncopated strums, try to always keep your hand moving,
but miss the strings on certain beats. When you've exhausted that, move
to a two-chord progression. Always make sure that you're staying in
tempo. If you're having trouble staying with the metronome when you
change chords, simplify your pattern. It's better to play one strum per
click and switch chords in tempo than to do a complicated strum and
botch the chord change.

B) Chord practice/note memorization
1. Begin by picking a note on the low E string. Say the note out loud
(or sing it) and play the major chord rooted on that note. Strum that
chord for a few beats, then move to the same chord with its root on the
A string. Then move back to the note on the E string and play the minor
version of the same chord. Do the same for the A-string chord. Always
remember which note is the root of the chord and use that note as your
visual guide for changing chords. Repeat this process until you've
covered every note from the open string up to the 12th fret.
2. Pick a note on the low E string. Say or sing it, then play the note
an octave up, and then the note an octave above that. Move up a major
scale in this fashion. i.e., play E, then the next E, then the next E,
then do the same for F#, G#, A, etc., up the E major scale. Do this for
every note on the low E string, then repeat the process with the A string.

C) Picking practice
1. Practice alternate picking. Turn on the metronome and do all of the
steps listed in 2. A, but keep the rhythm consistent. i.e., use only 8th
notes, or only 16th notes, or only 8th note triplets, and move up and
down a major scale, always alternate picking.
2. Practice arpeggiation. Hold down a single chord and create a picking
pattern. Try patterns on adjacent strings as well as patterns with
string-skipping. Practice economy picking (picking more than once in the
same direction) and then alternate picking (changing direction for every
note). When you're ready, move to a two-chord progression.

D) Practice songs
1. Pick a song from The Beatles book or any other song book. First look
through the entire thing and figure out how you're going to play each of
the chords. Then turn on the metronome or decide on your own tempo and
strum through the song. Keep your strum pattern very simple at first;
one or two strums per chord, but always stay in tempo and make your
changes accurate. If you miss a change, stop playing and isolate the two
chords that gave you trouble. Practice moving between them fluidly. When
you can do this, resume playing the song. Remember to use the root notes
as guides for chord changes. When you can play through all of the
changes in tempo, try to create a more interesting strum pattern. When
you can do this flawlessly, try to sing along while you play.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Save MJ!

Take that accuser of musical genius!

In case you haven't been following the trial, Michael's accusers can't get their stories straight, and it's looking like an acquittal, if not an outright dismissal.

Mazeltov Monday

I baked Challah for the first time, to take to my Aunt's house for the Shiva, and I must say the bread came out superb, two big golden braids of Jewish love. Memories of my uncle inspired me to take great care. Here is the recipe I used, after reading many online recipes.

Put 3/4 cup of steamy water, 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons of honey, and 1/3 oz. of yeast in a bowl. While this activates for 20 minutes:

Whip 3 eggs in a bowl a little bit, and let sit to bring to room temp.

Sift 6 cups of flour and 2 tablespoons of salt in a large mixing bowl.

Push up flour around edges of bowl, basically make the flour pile concave and make it mimic the shape of the bowl. (This will make mixing more consistent.)

Dump yeast mixture, eggs, and another cup and a half of water into bowl. Stir, stir, stir.

When it gets to thick to stir (all the flour will get mixed in and leave almost a completely clean bowl), knead with your hand.

Keep sprinkling in a little flour until it stops getting sticky. You aren't going to add more than about half a cup of flour during this time. Keep kneading. Knead well. Knead for 10 minutes, rest, knead again. I like to pick up the whole flour ball and keep balling it up. How elastic it is helps me judge whether I need a little more flour. The more flour you add, the stiffer it will be. I like the bread to be soft and airy, but not too much so.

Then, grease a tall pot with olive oil. Put dough ball in there. Soak a towel with hot, hot, hot water. Wring out, put over top of pot. Put someplace warm (I put it in my oven without turning it on; the pilot light is slightly warm).

Wait an hour and a half to two hours. Push down dough to get rid of gas. Put a new hot towel on top. Let it rise up again, to maybe double or triple in size.

Push out gas somewhat again.

Cut into two equal parts. Split these two parts into three equal parts. (So you'll have 6 parts).

Now here's how you make the loaves look nice, and this is my innovation which gets the braid strands very nice.

Flatten (one at a time, probably use a rolling pin) the 6 dough balls into pizza circles, and then rolls up the circle into snakes. By making circles, you make the center of the snake lightly puffier, which will make the Challah look like you would expect and buy from a professional.

Braid three snakes into a loaf and tuck ends under loaf.

Put baking paper on a tray and sprinkle with flour and corn meal, and put Challah on this.

Let rise for about 45 minutes-1.5 hour. (All rising times depend on temperature, humidity, and altitude, since PV= nRT applies to baking too!)

Whip an egg a bit in a bowl, add a couple tablespoons of water. Brush this on the loaves, and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Half-way through, turn, and rebrush with egg.

When done, the bread will be golden brown and when you tap it, it will sound hollow like a drum.

It is a mitzvah and a blessing to take a piece of the dough and toss it in the oven before baking. This is God's bread, yo. I don't know the prayer that goes with this.

Also, circular Challah is for New Year's, you normally make two Challahs for the sabbath, and for certain occasions you make a big celebration challah that is essentially two Challahs put together.

This really is a pretty way to make bread, and if you don't like eggs, but like the braids, you can just leave the eggs and poppy seeds out and you have Italian-style Challah.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

My Uncle Alex

My uncle, Dr. Alex Silverman, passed away yesterday. He helped me personally in many ways. He provided comfort, emotional support, and food to a kid who didn't know anyone else in Pittsburgh. Once I was finished with college, and struggling to find a job, he helped me find one of those too. He was respected as a pillar of the Jewish community. Though I have had a rocky relationship with my fiancee's family, my blood connection to Alex upgraded me several notches in their eyes.

Alex served as the president of the ZOA of Pittsburgh, ran an extremely successful dermatology practice, was part of numerous service groups, and invested heavily in his community and in Israel. His two sons are both successful, and kind. His judgment could be counted on in all things.

He passed away in the presence of his wife Roz, on a golf course in sunny Florida. I'm glad that his life was one of joy, for himself and for so many others. I think he accomplished this through modesty, hard work, and faith.

My uncle loved to travel, especially later in life. A world map in his house is speckled with pins, attesting to the breadth of his and Roz's travels. I think that Alex died happy, satisfied with a rich and full life. His practice revealed to him the mysteries of the human body, his travels the myriad cultures and miracles of the world, and his kindness allowed him to experience love, of his family, friends, and peers. And though we can feel secure in his fulfillment, his passing leaves in us a great void.

I didn't get to know my uncle well until college; I spoke with him rarely before I came to Pittsburgh. My life has only been blessed by my Uncle Alex's friendship for about the last six years, through periodic visits for lunch, dinner, and holidays. I wish I had known him better, and I wish I could ever fulfill the debt that I owe to him.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The weekend of music

The band is really coalescing now, with Upstairs Travis on the drums, Mike Mishkin on good guitar or bass, and me on bad guitar. Sadly, I am the weak link in the chain, but once we get a vocalist and another guitar in the mix, then my "music" will be drowned out.

But I shall perservere. My lessons seem to be going well and I have a better grasp of the fundamentals of time that create good ditties.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Smart people in the news today


Eastwood has responded to the talk radio criticism by noting that if you go far enough to the right you encounter “the same idiots coming around from the left.” He deserves another Oscar just for that comment.


"Many economists believe that a consumption tax would be best from the perspective of promoting economic growth," Greenspan said, "particularly if one were designing a tax system from scratch -- because a consumption tax is likely to encourage saving and capital formation."


Bush's advisers have spoken favorably of the economic benefits that could be achieved by moving from a system that taxes income to one that taxes consumption. However, Democratic critics contend such a consumption tax would hit low-income Americans the hardest.

But Greenspan, during a question and answer period, said today that policy-makers can design a consumption tax that would exclude products that are mostly consumed by the poor.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Super Ocho

Super Ocho is playing tomorrow. You must have to go see them. You can find the link to their songs in my January post. Show up and say you read about it here and I'll buy you a drink! I would link the songs again, but I'm trying to drive up my page views.

9:00 pm at the Shadow Lounge

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Who are you

That uses Linux/Unix from California ad hits my site all the time. You should post a comment and show yourself! Maybe Dan? Show yourself!

Here's my poem with my friend Tim's comments:

The War

Solid title.

Brightly burning missiles near

Out here in the country dear

To me, “country dear” means the United States. I suspect most US readers will feel the same way. What missiles are near the US? Are our buildings on fire, or theirs? Characters and actions!

Among the buildings fire

Defense or offense the desire?

This line is clear, and good. The rest in this stanza are a little muddled.

Do we shoot or do we stand?

Do we leave the base unmanned?

These lines are successful in communicating, but I think that these questions might deserve a little more attention. This is a pretty huge conflict, and to sum it up in a couple or three rhetorical questions seems like a bit of a cop out.

Or swarm among the streets of people

Who know nothing of this evil.

Which people know nothing of which evil? I assume these people are the A-Rabs, but the would know about the evil, wouldn’t they? I guess I am just not sure what is going on.

And look into the eyes of man,

And no individual shall stand.

Total human destruction? What’s goin on?

Destroy us or them who knows the side

Only can we as us reside.

I know how you feel about rhyme, but I get the feeling that this poem could be a lot more powerful if you let that go. It seems to me that you are forcing these lines for the sake of rhyme alone, and that’s bad. To be honest, the rhyme isn’t even that great. Keep thinking of imagery, word choice, metaphor, etcetera. You can do a lot more with this poem.

The best pizza

I put my wooden peal and pizza stone to work to make the best pizza of my career. The triumph was in the crispy goodness of the dough, but the toppings were also a success, including Italian tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, garlic, oregano, mushrooms, aged provolone, Perccorino Romano, and goat cheese. The basil was already in the dough.


I'd like to ask all my loyal readers to refrain from eating at the Cheesecake (aka RipOff) Factory until such time as I resolve my legal difficulties with them. Last summer, I did about a month's worth of construction work for the new Pittsburgh location, along with my friends Claudio and Michael. Unfortunately, despite our lawyer sending letters to the subcontractor who hired us -- Combined Design in Las Vegas -- and the Cheesecake Factory itself, there has been no action taken by these assholes. They owe us a total of about $4k. Obviously, Combined Design is counting on us being unable to do anything about it. They're denying a couple of broke recent college grads and a working man with kids and a mortgage of a few measly dollars, that we all could have desperately used last summer. You see, we naively believed we'd be able to pay for rent, and mortgage, and student loans, and other bills by DOING HARD WORK.

But I'll be damned if I'm going to be ripped off by a bunch of Vegas hoods after I smeared nasty black tar all over the Factory's roof and sanded down every inch of the facade of that building, operating equipment I was untrained to use. I was burned by the tar (my skin was bubbling -- just ask Celanie), I inhaled terrible fumes, was provided no masks or gloves, and did I make a stink?

No, I just want my damn pay, and I don't want to give a lawyer half to get the other half. Please tell any media people you know. I can be reached for comment at 412-758-9786.

Call Combined Design at (702) 247-9490 and tell them what you think of their low-life actions. I'm going to compile a media list of hundreds of publications and tell everyone.

Maybe they should pay workers.