Saturday, January 27, 2007

Don't Forget Lebanon in all the Fuss

Mazen Kerbaj writes a beautiful blog, with free improvisational jazz (sometimes with bombs as the backing percussion), beautiful strange drawings.

Shit's hitting the fan there too. Stop in, give him a look and a listen. It's well worth the time.


Friday Random Ten (on Saturday)

By request from Marcus:

Redemption Song - - Bob Marley
Audio Track 5 - - (some shit I'm working on)
Big Rock Candy Mountain - - Burl Ives
You Can Call Me Al - - Paul Simon
Low Spark of High Heeled Boys - - Traffic
Since I Fell For You - - Dr. John & Rikki Lee Jones (live bootleg)
Ne Me Quitte Pas - - Jacques Brel
Gimme Little Sign - - Brenton Wood
Step Right Up - - Tom Waits
Amarillo By Morning - - George Straight (living room session w/me on harp, then fiddle)

Bonus Track

Rufus is a Tit Man - - Louden Wainright III

Friday, January 26, 2007

Off The AP Wire

Published: January 26, 2007 11:45 AM ET

BAGHDAD Contrary to U.S. military statements, four U.S. soldiers did not die repelling a sneak attack at the governor's office in the Shiite holy city of Karbala last week. New information obtained by The Associated Press shows they were abducted and found dead or dying as far as 25 miles away.

The brazen assault 50 miles south of Baghdad was launched Jan. 20 by a group of nine to 12 militants. They traveled in black GMC Suburban vehicles - the type used by U.S. government convoys, had American weapons, wore new U.S. military combat fatigues and spoke English.

In a written statement, the U.S. command reported at the time that five soldiers were killed while "repelling the attack." Two senior U.S. military officials as well as Iraqi officials now say three of them were found dead and one mortally wounded in locations as far as 25 miles east of the governor's office.

The U.S. officials said they could not be sure if the soldiers were killed as the attackers drove them to the place where they abandoned the Suburbans or afterward. Iraqi officials said the men were killed just before the vehicles were abandoned.

The daring commando team also took an unclassified U.S. computer with them as they fled with the four soldiers and left behind an American M-4 automatic rifle, senior U.S. military officials said.

The new information has emerged after nearly a week of inquiries. The U.S. military in Baghdad repeatedly declined comment on reports that began emerging from Iraqi government and military officials which suggested a major breakdown in security at Karbala site.

The two senior American military officials now confirm the reports, gathered by The Associated Press from five senior Iraqi government, military and religious leaders. The U.S. military also has provided additional details from internal military accounts.

None of the American or Iraqi officials would allow use of their names because of the sensitive nature of the information.

The U.S. officials, who had seen incident reports of the assault, said the documents indicated two of the soldiers were found in one of the Suburbans at one location and two others in a second Suburban elsewhere. The exact locations were not specified, they said.

The five Americans killed that day ranged in age from 20 to 31.


E&P NOTE: The New York Times last Sunday reported the Karbala incident with a key U.S. denial: "Some police commanders in Babil Province and Mr. Khazaali said one of the recovered vehicles in Elbu Alwan held three American bodies and a fourth soldier who was critically wounded. Mr. Khazaali also said that at least one additional American had been kidnapped. But American military officials said they were not missing anyone, and other police commanders in Babil said the men found in the vehicle were gunmen."

An AP story on the incident from last weekend included the following.


The U.S. military statement about the Karbala attack said "an illegally armed militia group" attacked the provincial headquarters building with grenades, small arms and "indirect fire," which usually means mortars or rockets.

"A meeting was taking place at the time of the attack to ensure the security of Shiite pilgrims participating in the Ashoura commemorations," said a statement from Brig. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, deputy commander of theMulti-National Division-Baghdad.

Thousands of Shiite pilgrims are flocking to the city to mark the 10-day Ashoura festival commemorating the death of one of Shiite Islam's most sacred saints, Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Provincial Gov. Akeel al-Khazaali, who was not at the security meeting, said the gunmen, dressed in military uniforms, were able to drive their black SUVs -- similar to those driven by foreign dignitaries -- through a checkpoint on the outskirts of the city, 50 miles south of Baghdad, because police assumed it was a diplomatic convoy and informed headquarters that it was coming.

"The group used percussion bombs and broke into the building, killed five Americans and kidnapped two others, then fled," the governor said, adding that Iraqi troops later found one of the SUVs with three bodies of uniformed men.

The U.S. military, which has said that five U.S. soldiers were killed and three were wounded while repelling the attack, denied that two U.S. troops were kidnapped.

Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman, said all American forces "were accounted for after the action."

So, yet again we have found ourselves attacked by people who have obviously been trained by Americans, equipped by Americans, armed by Americans, who have had enough contact with the Americans that they speak English as they attack.

I keep coming back to a fragment of poetry from Aeschylus:

So, in the Libyan fable it is told
That once an eagle, stricken with an arrow,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
"With our own feathers, not the hands of others
Are we now slain."


Apology for Light Blogging

Some of it is from having been working extra hours on a project for a friend. No money, just some good music which will back a PSA for a good cause. Because he's doing it on the cheap and mostly out of his own pocket and I play a lot of different instruments he has been calling about twice a day saying "I was thinking that if we used the. . ."

Some of it has been watching the President stupidly and blindly waste the lives of young Americans so that he can avoid acknowledging that he is a dismal, defeated failure who lied us into an illegal invasion, botched it badly, turned the invasion into an brutal occupation, botched that badly and now can't admit to himself and to the nation that there isn't any hope of a graceful or even an honorable ending to the debacle that he and his cronies created and profited from. It's all so stupid and vile that I have been working extra hard at not paying attention to it. I will say this.

If my sense of impending doom is wrong, if they don't gin up a bombing or invasion of Iran, if their escalation in Bagdhad produces anything but more chaos and death, I will publicly and happily say the words that the President is incapable of saying:

I was wrong.

I would love to write that. I would be delighted to write that.

The final reason for my light blogging is just plain old bog-simple laziness. Usually I will try to find something to link to, a video to post or some other small diversion. I haven't. I've been lazy and indolent. I apologise.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My Main Problem With Hillary For President

Is this. In short, I am suspicious about her motivation. I have no idea in the blue-eyed world why she wants the job. She says "I'm in it to win it." She says this without saying why she wants to win.

I have spent long years in the vicious corriders of the Hollywood and Las Vegas music industry. I never was a star, never will be. My talents lie elsewhere. I am a well respected, nay, sought after sideman. In a business where most of the membership of my union makes less than $10K a year from playing music while at the same time over 90% of the membership is unemployed on any given day, I do quite well. You cannot operate and survive in that arena of desperate competition for every single gig without a healthy stripe of ruthlessness and a well developed killer instinct. Yes, indeed, I have not only survived but prospered. Since I'll never be a frontman (can't sing well enough, not good looking enough, don't have any compensating talents strong enough to overcome the first two) the only way I could step up in my field would be to go into producing or label management. Both of them have been suggested and offered to me. I didn't make the step because on examining my motives for going further up the food chain I could only come up with one motive powerfull enough to drive me through a whole new round of knife fights in a ring of leveled sand. Revenge. If I were in one of those positions I would have the power to initiate some well-deserved paybacks, to mete out some long delayed justice, I could become the river of pleasure, wealth, and deep pain.

The only plausible reason I can concoct for Hillary Clinton wanting to be President of the United States is that, like the executioner in The Mikado she has a "little list" of people that have slighted, harmed, derided, and opposed her and her family over the years. Payback is the only motivation I can see for her returning to the ring. During the years of Bill's Presidency she tried to give as good as she got but there were a lot of blows landed that still must sting. As a senator she has done little else beyond positioning herself for this time, this place, and this run for power.

What will she do if she gets it? I predict a period of painful bloodshed as the folks unlucky enough to be on her list of enemies (shades of Nixon) are made to squirm, grovel at her feet and finally bleed slowly.

Her over-reaction to John Edwards' Silence is Betrayal speech where her self defense was personal and vicious is only the first sign of how nasty and mean she is prepared to become in order to achieve her ends.

If she were to ask me about how to deal with the scars and nagging injuries after thirty long years in the bloody games I would tell her what I did.

Get out while you still have a soul. Move to the country. Plant a garden. Play with the dogs, and only draw your sword for the righteous.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Paté de Fruit

I have been cooped up inside the house with two delightful young women for the last few days. It has been cold. There was even snow very close to here. Snow on the Superstition Mountains (if you've ever watch a John Wayne movie, you've seen these imposing beauties). The snow is gone now, after all, this is the desert. Anyway, I spent most of the day in a cleaning mood. But I did take some time to use a few more of the lemons my neighbor so graciously gave me. Country etiquette says without exception that if someone gives you something like fruit or vegetables from their garden you say thank you by giving them something that you make from their gift. It's the Code of the West, and the Cowboy Way. It's also going into the care package my daughter and her roomie are taking back to Medschool with them. I personally love this one. My memory is somewhat dim but I seem to recall picking this up off of an Emeril Lagasse show. It is an all around recipe, the main fruit of Pineapple substitutes well with Canteloupe, the lemon is interchangeable with lime.


one regular ripe pineapple, crowned, peeled, cored and diced (should yield about 1.5 lbs)
1/2 cup pure pectin
2 cups baker's sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (strain through a fine sieve)
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
sugar for sanding

Grease an eight inch baking pan well (or just hose it down with cooking spray, that's what I do). In a small bowl, combine the pectin with 1/4 cup of the sugar and set aside.

Puree the pineapple cubes in a food processor until very smooth. Place that in a large, non-reactive sauce pan with the remaining 1 3/4 cups sugar, the lime juice and the lemon zest over high flame, stirring with a spoon until the sugar is fully dissolved. Bring this to a full boil, then reduce the flame to low and simmer for three minutes. Stirring constantly with a spoon.

Increase the flame to a medium high and return to a boil. Lose the spoon and switch off to a whisk and add in the pectin. Allow to boil at a medium rate, whisking occaisionally until reduced by at least a third. The resulting syrup should be very thick. As a matter of fact, I recommend wearing gloves or mitts and a stout apron while you do this because as it reaches the desired thickness it will start to spit and what it spits will stick and burn. Trust me, that hurts. Have some extra pectin and sugar available to adjust the thickness and flavor to your taste. My kids and I like this a bit more on the tart side, feel free to sweeten up as you care to do.

When reduced and quite thick transfer to the 8" pan and cool on a rack at least overnight. Remove in strips from the pan, and cut into small squares with a well oiled knife. Dredge these in the sanding sugar and serve. This is a perfect companion to Shortbread Tea Biscuits, or good to just munch on your way through the kitchen. Like a liver paté it is spreadable, and can do great things to a plain old mundane English muffin.


Blog For Choice Day

Thanks to Shakespeare's Sister for alerting me to this.

I am very pro-choice. My reason for this (along with having three daughters) is that what goes on between a patient and a doctor is none of my business, and, more importantly in my political view, none of the government's business. It really is that simple.

One thing I am sure that I have done right as a parent (because it has been confirmed by my kids, both in word and action) is that I have always figured that my main duty when it came to things like sex and reproduction was to arm them with the best information out there. Then, armed with the facts, they could make their decisions. After a life on the road playing music I didn't really see any moral high ground that I could take and occupy without base and shameless hypocrisy. I could talk, from experience though, about protection, disease (never had any), and pregnancy. I went so far as to sneak condoms into my daughter's purses, in case they might be too shy to either ask or too respectful of my privacy to raid my stash. I have had long, deep conversations with my kids about this. They have responded by becoming comfortable in their sexuality and open about their thoughts and desires. When I say that none of my children had to deal with disease or pregnancy I must qualify it by saying that it is true as far as I know. This is because I tell their doctors that if my children ever seek treatment and do not wish to inform me, for any reason, the doctor may safely presume that I consent to that treatment. I even filed letters to that effect with the doctors.

I'm a country boy. Hell, even when I lived in Hollywood I was still a country boy. We believe strongly in the right of an individual to live their own life, in their own way.

Choice? It's a very liberating thing. Informed choice is the foundation of freedom. I make mine and I try to live with them without complaint. I grant you the same freedom.

Regarding the choices or procedures a woman, in consultation with her doctor might make I will paraphrase Thomas Jefferson:

It makes no difference to me whether or not my neighbor has one abortion, three abortions, or no abortion at all. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

Other than the rare times I have been asked for my opinion or advice on this deeply personal issue the whole subject is generally put on the ever growing list of things that aren't my job, or my business.