Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Didn't Watch 2 Broke Girls Last Night

Kat Dennings

I didn't watch 2 Broke Girls last night. On purpose. No, not because I feel the show is racist, etc. For whatever reason, there are many reviewers out there who hate hate hate 2 Broke Girls, but I find it generally amusing and all of the actors and actresses seem to be having a genuinely good time. And if I can believe the ratings, I'm not alone. And Kat Dennings is certainly easy on the eyes.

Garrett Morris

And Garrett Morris is always a joy to watch. I'm probably showing my age, but Morris was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live, and one of the best of the lot, too, IMNSHO.

So why did I choose not to watch? Two words: Andy Dick. And that's the only time I'm going to write his full name in this post. There seems to be consensus that he is "aptly named" -- so I'll just refer to him as "Dick" when I have to. In case you hadn't heard, he made an appearance on 2 Broke Girls last night. I left the room.

Phil Hartman

Why do I hate him so much? Why does he disgust me? I think it's for the same reason that Jon Lovitz hates him. The story can be found on many websites: Phil Hartman's wife Brynn had problems with substance abuse. But she'd been clean and sober for 10 years until one night at a party early in 1998, when Dick talked her into doing some cocaine. Five months later Brynn shot and killed her husband, and then shortly afterward took her own life, leaving two children ages 6 and 10.

It is believed that Dick knew of Brynn's issues and her sobriety. No, I don't think Dick planned the eventual murder-suicide, but tempting someone who has been sober for 10 years with cocaine - that's just plain evil.

It still makes me melancholy to remember Hartman's passing. I'm not any kind of celebrity worshipper, but the news of his death really saddened me. I still remember where I was that day when I heard it on the radio, driving along on North Lamar Avenue.

Jon Lovitz -- yeah, I know -- tells the following story:

The feud has been going on ever since beloved comedian Phil Hartman was killed by his . . . wife. Lovitz maintains that it was Dick that set the whole thing into motion. "[Dick] was doing cocaine, and he gave Brynn some after she had been sober for 10 years. Phil was furious about it - and then five months later he's dead," Jon told press.

Then, last year, there was a strange exchange between Dick and Lovitz. While dining out with friends, Lovitz says Dick came to his table and started trouble. "He looked at me and said, 'I put the "Phil Hartman hex" on you - you're the next one to die.' I said, 'What did you say?' and he repeated it. I wanted to punch his face in, but I don't hit women."

Then last week, the two encountered each other again. And Jon was looking for an apology from Dick. Instead he got more lip. When Lovitz asked Dick to say he was sorry, [Dick] replied with "do you want to be in my movie?" That was the last straw. "I grabbed him by the shirt and leaned him over and said, 'I don't want to be in your movie! I don't want to be in your life!' I pushed him against the rail. Then I pushed him again really hard. A security guard broke it up. I'm not proud of it . . . but he's a disgusting human being."

The New York Post -- again, yeah, I know -- adds the following details:

Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada, who witnessed the assault, said, "Jon picked [Dick] up by the head and smashed him into the bar four or five times, and blood started pouring out of his nose." Lovitz told Page Six, "All the comedians are glad I did it because this guy is a [bleep]hole."

I have this fantasy of someday meeting Jon Lovitz and shaking his hand. And then asking him "Is this the same hand that pounded Dick's face into the bar?" and he'll say "Why yes, it is." And I'll tell him "Thank you. I will never wash this hand again."

Sunday, February 17, 2013


I just finished reading Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street by Neil Baroksky. I discovered the book via Barofsky's appearance on Jon Stewart's show.

It's an interesting, if somewhat flawed, read. I'm a big fan of P. J. O'Rourke -- his earlier works like Holidays In Hell, Parliament of Whores, The Bachelor Home Companion, and Republican Party Reptile are sheer genius, and also extremely funny -- and Stewart's talk with Barofsky led me to think that Bailout might be of the same stuff. Alas, Barofsky is not another O'Rourke.

Barofsky is also not William Faulkner: this is his first book and it shows.

But Barofsky is the former Special Inspector General (SIG) charged with overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), and Bailout is not just another dry economics text. As an outsider to both Washington DC and the writing world, Barofsky's words ring genuine and he really cares about the issues he raises.

The book is not without humor:

As he cleaned his office, I told Kevin something he already knew: "I never would have survived without you, you know. SIGTARP wouldn't have survived without you."

"Fuck you," he answered lightheartedly.

But the real reason to read Bailout is because it is a singular memoir of an honest man who really was "on the inside" of a huge government program. Barofsky began the job with no experience of the realities of Washington politics, but as an ex-Federal Prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's Office in New York City who had sent many drug lords and crooked Wall Street executives to prison, he didn't just roll over and cooperate with the Treasury Department. Instead, he focused on doing what he believed was just. And that made him many, many enemies.

Admittedly, the account in Bailout is rather one-sided, but even the firmest adherent of the "there's two sides to every story" school of critical reading is going to be stunned at some of the government malfeasance described in this book. You can't make some of this shit up. And if you still have problems believing it, Barofsky provides ample and comprehensive footnotes to document his story.

I'm still in shock from some of these revelations. How could Congress have the foresight to see the need for a Special Inspector General to protect a $700 billion hand-out from the inevitable criminals who would flock to that huge pile of money -- and yet be so naive as to trust the banks to use the money in the best public interest? How does the Treasury Department get away with its blatant bias towards Wall Street and its "fuck you" attitude towards the American people? For instance:

Nothing more emphatically attested to the double standard Treasury applied to its handling of the crisis than its incompetence in addressing the foreclosure crisis. As familiar as I had become with HAMP's failures, I had not really fully appreciated the cynicism behind the program's execution until ... [former assistant secretary of the Treasury Herb] Allison made the absured claim to us that the program had never been intended to help the 3 to 4 million home owners that the president cited in his speech announcing the program actually stay in their homes through permanenent modifications. Instead, he said, the goal had always been to make 3 to 4 million offers for trial modifications. That claim of such a meaningless standard for HAMP seemed particularly callous ...

I'm not a religious man, but as I read Bailout, I couldn't help but think that there is a very special place in Hell awaiting some of these people for the misery they inflicted on so many Americans. At least, I hope there is.

In short, Bailout is a worthwhile read. The writing is sometimes less than smooth, but it is nonetheless a compelling, honest, and fast-moving narrative, and the "one man against the system" story will resonate with everyone.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eurorack Is Taking Over The World

Just for fun -- and for my own convenience when I someday win the lottery -- below is a list of 89 companies that make Eurorack synthesizer modules:

4ms Pedals
ADDAC System
ALM Busy Circuits
Abstract Data
Analogue Solutions
Analogue Systems
Atomo Synth
Blue Lantern Modules
Broken Silicon
Bubblesound Instruments
Circuit Abbey
Dave Jones Design
Din Sync
Division 6
Elby Designs
Electro-Acoustic Research
Electronic Music Works
Encore Electronics
Expert Sleepers
Flight Of Harmony
Future Sounds Systems
Happy Nerding
Hinton Instruments
Innerclock Systems
Intellijel Designs
Kilpatrick Audio
Koma Elektronik
LZX Industries
Livewire Electronics
Livid Instruments
Lowgain Audio
Mad Rooster Lab
Make Noise
Malekko Heavy Industry
Manhattan Analog
Medic Modules
Mungo Enterprises
Oakley Sound Systems
Pittsburgh Modular
Rebel Technology
STG Soundlabs
Signal Arts
Snazzy FX
Sound Modular
Steady State Fate
Subconscious Communications
Synthesis Technology
Synthesizer Factory
Synthetic Sound Labs
The Harvestman
The Voice Of Saturn
Tiptop Audio
XAOC Devices

This list is by no means comprehensive. I know that if I were really diligent, I'd snag an image of one or more of each company's module(s) and show it above each of the links. Or at least a descriptive line or two. But as much as I love this stuff, no way am I going to do that for 89 different companies.

Below are four companies that sell misc and sundry synthesizer modules (and other stuff -- there is no shortage of weird and arcane musical devices in the world):

Big City Music
Analogue Haven

And here's a website that helps you plan your Eurorack modular rig layout:

Module Planner

And finally, here's a website that is a database of synthesizer modules -- Eurorack and other formats, and a layout planner, too:


They claim to have 971 modules in the Eurorack category. Wow. Let's assume they cost an average of $300 apiece -- for a mere $291,000 I could have 'em all!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip Recipe

Chuy's (pronounced "Chew-eez") is a texmex restaurant here in Austin that is something of a cultural institution. They've grown and changed over the years, but in most ways eating lunch at Chuy's last week is about the same as eating lunch at Chuy's in 1985. If you've ever heard the slogan "Keep Austin Weird", Chuy's is part of the "weird" they're referring to. That said, the food is really good and you get a lot of it for not a large price.

Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip was, for a long time, a "secret" item that wasn't on the menu: when you'd sit down and the server set you up with chips and salsa, you could ask for Creamy Jalapeno and they'd happily bring it to you for free. It's rather less of a secret these days, but the fact remains that it's awesome: I just Googled on "chuy's creamy jalapeno" crack and got 156,000 hits.

Long story short, when a friend mentioned that you can find the recipe online and make it at home, I knew I had to try it. So here's the recipe -- afterwards I'll talk a little bit about why it is what it is.

- mix 1oz Hidden Valley Ranch dressing with
- 8oz of mayo,
- two heaping tablespoons of sour cream, and
- one 4oz can of pickled jalapenos, then
- stir it up and add buttermilk until it's at the desired consistency

It turned out great! The whole family loved it.

The one thing I flubbed is that I didn't puree the jalapenos; they were chopped in the can, but the dip probably would have been better if they jalapenos weren't so "chunky". But it still turned out really good. It's great with corn chips or as a sauce (hot or cold) for flautas and whatever.

If you go looking, there are a lot of recipes out there that claim to be "Chuy's Creamy Jalapeno Dip". I looked at a number of them and concluded "okay, this is Chuy's, the emphasis is going to be on making good stuff with a fast, simple simple process so that even someone who works at Chuy's can make it when they're hung-over and / or under the influence of a controlled substance" (your average Chuy's employee resembles one of the cast of Linklater's Slackers)(and, in fact, may have actually appeared in the movie). So I eschewed things like "minced garlic" and "dash of lime" and went for simple, and it worked.

Actually, I came up with two recipes: recipe #2 is the same as above, except it also has tomatillo sauce mixed in. For whatever reason I couldn't find it at my local HEB yesterday.

In the interest of full disclosure: if I wanted to make an exact replica of the Chuy's dip, I'd probably need to use ingredients from Sysco. Like many restaurants, Chuy's uses a number of Sysco products in their kitchen (or so I am told). So "real" CCJD is probably made with Sysco Ranch Dressing and Sysco Pickled Jalapenos.

Future plans: Chuy's also makes the best chile relleno on earth. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Dream Of Wires / the Packrat

I Dream of Wires is an upcoming documentary on modular synthesizers. Who'da thunk it? I mean: this is a hobby that used to be pretty much the exclusive domain of universities and well-heeled musicians. But in the past few years it seems like it's going mainstream. Which makes me happy -- but also surprises the hell out of me.

Much much more at

Alas, it's still a bit too expensive for me. But maybe that will change. It seems like there are a lot of people like me who dreamed of owning a big modular setup when they were young, and now that they (and the technology) have grown up, and they have some disposable income, they're indulging themselves. Eurorack is becoming extremely popular -- I wonder if any of the major players in the synthesizer biz (Korg, Roland, Yamaha, Moog, etc) will jump into the game? I'm sure there will always be "boutique" module manufacturers who charge $500 or more for a unique component, but if the big guys get involved, modular may begin to fit into my budget.

Which leads to this wonderful webcomic I've just encountered: the Packrat. David Lovelace, the strip's creator, is pretty seriously in tune with the topic. For example:

Guilty. And this one is entirely too close to reality:

[I couldn't find any guidelines for linking to the Packrat's site, so if the images above cause any ire, please let me know]

Sunday, February 10, 2013

You Live In Red Green Blue

DUCK DUCK PUNCH - RGB (slightly NSFW for lollipops, chocolate milk, and boobies)

The best song ever written about the Internet.

Having spent entirely too much time in Second Life, I really love this.

Free music download:

And speaking of "RGB", Roberta and I have been working our way through the "NetFlix Original Series" House Of Cards, and it's very good. It has that certain sucks-you-in quality that, I'm sure, is exactly what NetFlix was hoping for. Warning: don't let your dog watch the first two minutes of the first episode.

I confess, I'm not sure I totally buy Kevin Spacey's southern accent, but there's some really good talent involved in this show: directed by David Fincher, starring Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright (aka The Princess Bride), Kristen Connolly (from The Cabin In The Woods), and relative newcomer Corey Stoll, who has enough charisma for 3 actors and I predict we will be seeing a lot more of him in the future.