Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wacky Neighbors.

I've got a wacky neighbor. When I first moved in almost four years ago, she was right there waiting to greet me. I have a tendencies to attract crazies, and I've learned to go with it. It's usually easier than dodging them. (Just last night, I made accidental friends with Fun and Friendly Hans from Germany at the airport bar while I was waiting for Friend-with-a-Truck's flight to arrive.)

Anyway, the wacky neighbor is a witch. She knows spells and can talk to animals. One time she lured my roommate's runaway cat out from the bushes by getting down on her hands and knees and having a conversation with him. Another time she showed up on my doorstep with freshly cooked borscht, and several other times she's sent her grandkids over with banana bread or little trinkets.

I've grown quite fond of her over the years, mostly because she's always got the answer, whether it's about cooking, or art projects, or animals, or love, or humanity. She's a wacky woman, but she's very wise.

This morning she knocked on my door around 8:30 am. I was on my 4th "snooze," and I assumed it was a religious solicitor. Maybe I'd read their pamphlet later, or maybe the wind would toss it straight to the recycling bin. But the solicitor was persistent, and I figured I should wake up anyway. So I went downstairs in my pajamas and saw Wacky Neighbor barefoot and grinning at me.

"Good morning, Wacky Neighbor," I said.

"Do you knit?" she asked.

"I have been known to knit," I answered.

"Hurry, take my hand, and come over to my house with me. I've got something for you. You're going to scream when you see it."

This might be exactly what Hansel and Gretel heard before they stuck their heads in the oven, but I decided it wasn't too early for a good morning adventure. So I obliged. Also barefoot.

Her house, as you might imagine, is full of cats.

I followed her upstairs, where I watched her have a nice conversation with her labrador, who honestly seemed like he understood everything that witch said. Then we poked around in a closet, full of all kinds of treasures. She said she's been ill, which is why I haven't seen her, and she wanted me to have a few things she wouldn't be using anymore, and would I be so kind as to pry free that wicker chest?

After re-locating multiple framed photos and prints, I was able to liberate the chest.

"Now, take that home straight-away. Don't peek until you're home. Then you can call me. But I know I'm going to be able to hear you scream from here."

Again, very Brothers Grimm, don't you think?

But I took the box home, and found all kinds of treats inside. Loads of alpaca yarn, a ton of knitting patterns, needles of all sizes, an almost-complete alpaca sweater, and an almost-complete U of L colored baby blanket.

Things I've learned:
1) Always say yes to the wacky neighbor.
2) Everyone's getting alpaca socks for Christmas this year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reminiscing about England. Part One.

A year ago today, I arrived in Manchester, England, for a month-long tour of the United Kingdom. In Louisville, Kentucky, this morning, I woke up shivering under the blankets and listening to the BBC. It feels like England outside today. It's crisp, and things seem to have a purpose. Summertime is for frolicking aimlessly, but autumn yields brainstorming and goals.

I always liked that the Jewish New Year starts in September. It feels new. It's the time to get fresh notebooks, new accordion files, pencil sharpeners, and flip charts.

My Fall 2009 UK tour fell through, and so I'm using my new notebooks and whiteboards to plan a Spring 2010 UK tour. I miss chip butties and stone walls and trains and castles. I've also found my notebook from last fall. I didn't blog daily when I was there, but I kept a journal for the most part.

I'm going to share some of our adventures over the next few days, but I'm also going to post some of the videos we made while we were there.

This first one happened one year ago this week, and features the collapse of the US economy, my first (and only) experience with Xanax, and what happens when two middle-class musicians from Kentucky get bumped to First-Class on a trans-Atlantic flight abroad. Here is your peek into how the rich folks fly.

Starring Peter Searcy and Brigid Kaelin:

Monday, September 28, 2009

Jonesin' for more Love Jones, already....

I never saw Love Jones back when they actually lived in Louisville. By the time I was old enough, I lived in New York, and the guys in Love Jones had already moved out to LA, gotten big record deals and were in the movies and stuff. When I heard their songs in "Swingers," I never even knew they were from Louisville. I just liked their fun, funky, tunes.

But when Peter and I went out to LA a couple of years ago to do some recording for some Sony Connect project he was working on, we stayed with his friend Ben. Ben used to be in a band with Peter, and is now one of the lead singers/writers for Love Jones. And thus began my immediate appreciate for his band. On that lone LA trip, we giggled together, played some music at Phil's house, and they even managed to produce an accordion out of the attic for me. (There's always an accordion in the attic.)

They played the Monkey Wrench last night. It was a fun crowd and a sold-out show. I couldn't find a place to sit, so I just stood right up front, danced, and sang along.

Not only are the guys in LJ fantastic instrumentalists (full disclosure: the Love Jones drummer also happens to be MY drummer, so maybe i'm a bit biased) and great songwriters, but they are amazing entertainers. It's part Vegas-nightclub, part New York Supper Club, and part Latin dance club. I'm sure there are loads of other "parts" thrown in their too, but that's the best I can do for now.

Going to one of their shows is way more fun than seeing stand-up comedy because they don't pick on the audience. Okay, so sometimes they might jump out and play a cowbell in your ear or chase you to the bathroom with a tambourine, but it's all in good fun. Plus, you can't help but dance.

I'm still riding high from last night's intimate show. I'm sad that half of them went back to LA this morning. You LA-folks need to go hear them sometime. I'm already going through severe Love Jones withdrawal. I can only go hear so many sensitive singer-songwriters before I need a good Love Jones fix, you know?

Friday, September 25, 2009

My show tonight and a story of yore.

There's a new bar in Louisville, and it's based on an old bar in the days of yore. The days of yore are, technically, the days before I was born. Sometime in the early 1970s, my parents used to hang out at the Zanzibar on South Preston. My mom was still a teenager, and either she looked old, or she looked so hot that the bartenders didn't care. Or maybe it was that she was hanging out with an older man like my dad. Or maybe it was the 1970s and nobody cared.

Anyway, I think they may have actually met at the Zanzibar, but they've never told me this directly. They probably don't want to admit they met at a bar. My mom has a old Z-Bar t-shirt. My dad has a green jacket that reads, "ZAC," proving that he was one of the few members of the Zanzibar Athletic Club. I doubt they ever played any sports.

The Zanzibar closed before I was born -- who knows why, maybe it was because they let in underage sneaks like my mom -- and eventually became a charming cafeteria-style restaurant, The Brown Bag. The Brown Bag closed recently and earlier this year some friends of mine bought the building. They excavated the original exterior, exposing a tile front with the letter "Z" in plain view, and completely renovated the place, putting in a great bar and a stage shaped like a free-throw line. They have dubbed it the Zanzabar, which is pronounced exactly like the Zanzibar. It's got good food and good whisk(e(y.

They have live music there, and tonight I'm playing there. Cool, eh? With David Mead. And Butch Rice. My parents will be there too. They're still married, which is probably weird to most of you. They like each other too. I even saw them holding hands last night at the LEO Awards Party (more about that party another time -- what a wild event). Maybe I'll talk them into doing a dramatic reenactment of how they first met. Maybe we should all dress up like the 1970s so as to get them in the mood. I need to go iron my hair now.

See you at the show!
Zanzabar 2100 South Preston
8:00 Butch Rice
8:40ish Brigid Kaelin (that's me!)
9:45ish David Mead

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cooking at home = leftovers every night. Ugh.

Now that I've moved back into my own house, having been a transient for the past few years, I've re-discovered the kitchen.

I'm also trying to figure out if it really is cheaper to cook at home when I don't have a big family to feed and am not a Sam's Club member. I spent $22 at Kroger's buying ingredients to make my two loaves of bread. Of course, I guess I'll be able to make lots of loaves of bread now. But who wants to eat toast for every meal?

Other recent kitchen projects have included a huge batch of frijoles negros, the recipe courtesy of Rob from the Muckrakers, whose blog was the inspiration for my own daily blog. Today, I made a massive batch of delicious hummus (soaked those chick peas just like I soaked the black beans), as well as a pumpkin loaf, making good use of the volunteer pumpkin patch that is growing in my front yard. (It turns out those decorative mini-pumpkins actually make pretty good pumpkin bread. Bonus points for fitting in the toaster oven.)

The problem is now that my dinner options are: Toast, hummus, black beans, and a slice of pumpkin cake. Those are also my lunch and breakfast options.

Maybe I'll get take-out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toast: a for cure existential angst.

This spring I was so good at getting up early and writing everyday. Now it seems all I do is get up early and deal with horrible grown-up stuff. There are more things going wrong with the house than I ever thought possible, and I'm ready to liquidate and move to Argentina. It seems like I haven't been able to work on music in ages, and I'm still not caught up with grown-up stuff. Ugh. I'm not in the cheeriest of moods, forgive me.

But do you know what does cheer me up? Toast!

It's so simple, but so delicious. When Peter and I were on tour in the UK last fall, we stayed with some wonderful musicians in Manchester. They are vegans and they cook at home all the time. Staying with them reminded me how often my friends here in Lousiville tend to go out to eat. But Kirsty and Mat from Manchester went to the market daily, got fresh produce, and even baked their own bread.

One evening after a good meal and a late night of playing music, Mat got incredibly excited and inspired by an idea he had. He was going to have toast! And wouldn't we like some too? I was honestly a bit disappointed because his eagerness made me think perhaps he had been hiding a puppy all evening and was about to produce it. But he was excited, and so I agreed to have toast too.

But then ... he took some freshly baked bread ... and sliced it ... and put it in the toaster ... and put delicious English butter on it .... and it was amazing.

So I'm making bread right now because it's cheaper than buying bread. And I'm on a buying moratorium. And I cannot WAIT to have toast! It had better cheer me up.

Monday, September 21, 2009

AMA Conference

What a blast! I always end up leaving Nashville with a new pair of boots and several new friends. The first year I went to South by Southwest, I was somehow able to blog everyday of the conference. This time at the Americana Music Conference, however, I didn't even attempt daily blogging.

Let me sum up the week, Harper's Index Style™:

4: pairs of cowboy boots that Friend-with-a-Truck and I brought in our suitcases
7: pairs we returned home with.
2: pairs of boots you get free with the purchase of one
2: hours that John Fogerty played when he was supposed to play 40 minutes
2: average AM time I went to sleep each night
10: songs I played during my official showcase
1: visit to the Noshville Deli (not enough, but at least it was on Rosh Hashanah)
6: latkes consumed at the Noshville
1: meal consisting of pickles and ice cream because they was the only vegetarian items provided by the label sponsoring the luncheon
1: new Texan friend acquired
1: new friend to visit in Atlanta
9: pairs of boots I wanted but did NOT purchase.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Adult Book-It .. just in time for Rosh Hashanah

Okay, my reading friends, let's get back to our idea of an Adult Book-It!™ You know, that Pizza Hut sponsored reading initiative of the 1980s that rewarded free personal pan pizzas to kids who read X number of books a month.

My dad was a runaway winner in the Adult Book-It!™ we started back in the spring, but I think it's time to renew our own commitment to reading. I just need to stop comparing myself to ye-who-reads-two-thousand-pages-a-week.

Friday evening is Rosh Hashanah, and it's about to be a new year: 5770. (That's only five more years until a palindrome ... très exciting!) So let's make our Rosh Hashanah Resolution to be to read more.
What are you reading now? What will you read before Yom Kippur? Or Halloween? or Chanukah? Or Christmas?

Fiction? Non-Fiction? Maybe you need to read _New Moon_ before the movie comes out? (Charles.) Or maybe it's time to review _Italian For Dummies_ (Kyle.)? Or maybe I need to finally finish that James Michener tome before I go back to Texas (It turns out _Texas_ isn't the best vacation reading).

Keep track. Maybe we'll have a pizza party.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Americana Conference ... you can hear my band on Wednesday.

So yesterday you learned that I love going to galas, and today I'm confessing that I also love going to music conferences. For the past several years, I've gone to loads of conferences ... the Radio Non-Commventions in Louisville and Philadelphia, the Triple-A Radio Conference in Boulder, South by Southwest, and my favorite: The Americana Music Association's Conference in Nashville.

What's funny is that my first year going to those conferences, I traveled there as a quasi-Radio Promoter for Label X. Most other conference-goers (DJs and Radio Promoters and Publicists and Attorneys) never even really knew I was a musician. Through all these multi-day events, I've met a load of friends from all over the country. (Hi, friends from around the country!) We've seen some of the best musicians in the most intimate settings, and we've attended some of the craziest late-night waffle parties. Once or twice I was known to jump on stage and play accordion with whatever band was there, but for the most part, my radio and label friends knew me as the ubiquitous redhead-in-braids.

Guess what, music industry friends? It turns out, I am a MUSICIAN too! Yep, and for those of you attending the Americana Conference in Nashville this week, I'm absolutely ready to hang out and show you the ways of fine bourbon and where not to hang out in Nashville.

But I invite you to our first hanging-out stop: The Basement in Nashville on Wednesday night from 8:00-8:45. I'm playing my OWN showcase at the AMA Conference this year! No, I'm not on a label. No, I'm not independently wealthy. Someone at the AMA just liked my music, and when I applied for a showcase, they offered one. Cool! I'm also bringing down my full band, and I plan on having a rollicking good-time of a show, completely with accordions, and musical saws, and maybe even some yodeling.

So come down, hang out, and let me entertain you. I'm kind of glad I'm playing on the opening night of the conference. Once my showcase is over, I'm just another conference-goer ... up for anything and ready to hear some music. See you Wednesday!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pink Tie Ball.

I went to the Pink Tie Ball last night with my good pal Ben. His wife is galavanting around Europe and was thus unable to accompany him to said event. I'm a good standby date for several reasons. First, I love going to galas. Second, I can entertain myself when my date has to go shake hands or wine and dine. Third, I talk a lot, especially to strangers, which is useful when there is assigned seating. Actually, maybe that last reason is more of a reason not to take me ... I'm pretty sure I said all kinds of annoying random things to the people sitting at our table. But then I'm used to being the crazy one, so I don't really care.

There's a trend these days in fundraising events to have Fill-In-Appropriate-Color Tie Events. All such events are Black Tie, but instead they say "Green Tie" (the Operation Brightside Ball) or "Pink Tie" (the Breast Cancer event). Clever, I suppose, but it sort of limits your wardrobe choices.

After accidentally sending Erin a text intended for my mom, saying "can i borrow your pink dress tonight?", I found myself with TWO pink dresses from which to choose. Erin was kind enough to offer hers up as well, despite the misdirected text. I went with my mom's because she lives closer, and I somehow managed to find two shoes that matched each other, and almost matched the dress.

The pink dresses at the Pink Tie Ball were mind-blowing. Old ladies in bright pink fitted ballgowns, young model-types in absurdly short hot pink numbers, and all kinds other women in gorgeous look-at-me dresses.

It wasn't until I ran into my friend Sarah that it occurred to me these people were probably wearing old bridesmaid dresses. She and her friends had been playing the game Point-Out-the-Bridesmaid-Dress, which I thought was pure brilliance. I was even annoyed that my past bridesmaid dresses are blue, yellow, and brown. I wanted to have a reason to wear one of them.

So I've decided that for the next big Black Tie fundraiser in Louisville, it shouldn't be a Fill-In-Appropriate-Color Tie Event. It should be Wear-Your-Old-Bridesmaid-Dress Tie Event. But folks shouldn't come dressed ironically. They should embrace the old bridesmaid dress, even if it's fuschia and orange and from 1987. They should wear it proudly and with matching eye-shadow. Someone please let me know if such an event exists.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ed.

Ugh, I wrote a little "Where-I-Was-On-September-11" story for today's blog, but then I erased it. (Brief recap: I flew into Newark that morning at 8:30am and was enjoying the view of the gorgeous Manhattan skyline, awaiting a flight to London that never happened. Still mad about that canceled trip.)

Then I decided a better thing to do would be to wish Ed a Happy Birthday. Ed was Rebecca's boyfriend, and Rebecca was my cubicle-mate/BFF at CBS News, where I worked. Ed's birthday is September 11, but it's a wee bit overshadowed nowadays, for understandable reasons.

In 2001, when we were stranded at Newark, my parents and I tried to go have birthday drinks with Ed and Rebecca that evening. The bridges were closed, however, so we were stuck at some hooker motel in New Jersey, the only available rooms in town.

Ed, I hope you have a glorious birthday. I know we haven't talked in, like, eight years. Aren't y'all in Boston these days? Good move. I like it there. Tell Bex that we need to hang out soon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A good essay about a bad headache.

Today, I have a headache. Again. It's the tail-end of a migraine that hit me yesterday. Please don't suggest drugs I should take. I've tried most of them, and any new ones would only be denied by my horrible health insurance plan. Instead, I just load up on various OTC pain meds, which don't work. Then I vomit and eventually knock myself out with an OTC sleeping pill or some other pill offered to me by one of my friends with good health insurance. My head still aches this morning, but the chills and the sweats have passed.

For today's blog, I offer you an essay from the late 1970's, written by Joan Didion. It's from her book The White Album, which is a fantastic read. For those of you who suffer, and who know what it's like to have people think you're just whining about a regular ol' headache ... read on.

"In Bed" by Joan Didion

Three, four, sometimes five times a month, I spend the day in bed with a migraine headache, insensible to the world around me. Almost every day of every month, between these attacks, I feel the sudden irrational irritation and the flush of blood into the cerebral arteries which tell me that migraine is on its way, and I take certain drugs to avert its arrival. If I did not take the drugs, I would be able to function perhaps one day in four

The physiological error called migraine is, in brief, central to the given of my life. When I was 15, 16, even 25, I used to think that I could rid myself of this error by simply denying it, character over chemistry. "Do you have headaches sometimes? frequently? never?" the application forms would demand. "Check one."

Wary of the trap, wanting whatever it was that the successful circumnavigation of that particular form could bring (a job, a scholarship, the respect of mankind and the grace of God), I would check one. "Sometimes," I would lie. That in fact I spent one or two days a week almost unconscious with pain seemed a shameful secrct, evidence not merely of some chemical inferiority but of all my bad attitudes, unpleasant tempers, wrongthink.

For I had no brain tumor, no eyestrain, no high blood pressure, nothing wrong with me at all: I simply had migraine headaches, and migraine headaches were, as everyone who did not have them knew, imaginary. I fought migraine then, ignored the warnings it sent, went to school and later to work in spite of it, sat through lectures in Middle English and presentations to advertisers with involuntary tears running down the right side of my face, threw up in washrooms, stumbled home by instinct, emptied ice trays onto my bed and tried to freeze the pain in my right temple, wished, only for a neurosurgeon who would do a lobotomy on house call, and cursed my imagination.

It was a long time before I began thinking mechanistically enough to accept migraine for what it was: something with which I would be living, the way some people live with diabetes. Migraine is something more than the fancy of a neurotic imagination. It is an essentially hereditary complex of symptoms, the most frequently noted but by no means the most unpleasant of which is a vascular headache of blinding severity, suffered by a surprising number of women, a fair number of men (Thomas Jefferson had a migraine, and so did Ulysses S. Grant, the day he accepted Lee's surrender), and by some unfortunate children as young as two years old.

I had my first when I was eight. It came on during a fire drill at the Columbia School in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I was taken first home and then to the infirmary at Peterson Field, where my father was stationed. The Air Corps doctor prescribed an enema.

Almost anything can trigger a specific attack of migraine: stress, allergy, fatigue, an abrupt change in barometric pressure, a contretemps over a parking ticket. A flashing light. A fire drill. One inherits, of course, only the predisposition. In other words I spent yesterday in bed with a headache not merely because of my bad attitudes, unpleasant tempers and wrong-think, but because both my grandmothers had migraine, my father has migraine and my mother has migraine.

No one knows precisely what it is that is inherited. The chemistry of migraine, however, seems to have some connection with the nerve hormone named serotonin, which is naturally present in the brain. The amount of serotonin in the blood falls sharply at the onset of migraine, and one migraine drug, methysergide, or Sansert, seems to have some effect on serotonin. Methysergide is a derivative of lysergic acid (in fact Sandoz Pharmaceuticals first synthesized LSD-25 while looking for a migraine cure), and its use is hemmed about with so many contraindications and side effects that most doctors prescribe it only in the most incapacitating cases.

Methysergide, when it is prescribed, is taken daily, as a preventive; another preventive which works for some people is old-fashioned ergotamine tartrate, which helps to constrict the swelling blood vessels during the "aura," the period which in most cases precedes the actual headache.

Once an attack is under way, however, no drug touches it. Migraine gives some people mild hallucinations, temporarily blinds others, shows up not only as a headache but as a gastrointestinal disturbance, a painful sensitivity to all sensory stimuli, an abrupt overpowering fatigue, a strokelike aphasia, and a crippling inability to make even the most routine connections.

When I am in a migraine aura (for some people the aura lasts fifteen minutes, for others several hours), I will drive through red lights, lose the house keys, spill whatever I am holding, lose the ability to focus my eyes or frame coherent sentences, and generally give the appearance of being on drugs, or drunk. The actual headache, when it comes, brings with it chills, sweating, nausea, a debility that seems to stretch the very limits of endurance. That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.

My husband also has migraine, which is unfortunate for him but fortunate for me: perhaps nothing so tends to prolong an attack as the accusing eye of someone who has never had a headache. "Why not take a couple of aspirin," the unafflicted will say from the doorway, or "I'd have a headache, too, spending a beautiful day like this inside with all the shades drawn." All of us who have migraine suffer not only from the attacks themselves but from this common conviction that we are perversely refusing to cure ourselves by taking a couple of aspirin, that we are making ourselves sick, that we "bring it on ourselves.

And in the most immediate sense, the sense of why we have a headache this Tuesday and not last Thursday, of course we often do. There certainly is what doctors call a "migraine personality," and that personality tends to be ambitious, inward, intolerant of error, rather rigidly organized, perfectionist. "You don't look like a migraine personality," a doctor once said to me. "Your hair's messy. But I suppose you're a compulsive housekeeper." Actually my house is kept even more negligently than my hair, but the doctor was right nonetheless: perfectionism can also take the form of spending most of a week writing and rewriting and not writing a single paragraph.

But not all perfectionists have migraine, and not all migrainous people have migraine personalities. We do not escape heredity. I have tried in most of the available ways to escape my own migrainous heredity (at one point I learned to give myself two daily injections of histamine with a hypodermic needle, even though the needle so frightened me that I had to close my eyes when I did it), but I still have migraine.

And I have learned now to live with it, learned when to expect it, how to outwit it, even how to regard it, when it does come, as more friend than lodger. We have reached a certain understanding, my migraine and I. It never comes when I am in real trouble.

Tell me that my house is burned down, my husband has left me, that there is gunfighting in the streets and panic in the banks, and I will not respond by getting a headache. It comes instead when I am fighting not an open but a guerrilla war with my own life, during weeks of small household confusions, lost laundry, unhappy help, canceled appointments, on days when the telephone rings too much and I get no work done and the wind is coming up. On days like that my friend comes uninvited.

And once it comes, now that I am wise in its ways, I no longer fight it. I lie down and let it happen.

At first every small apprehension is magnified, every anxiety a pounding terror. Then the pain comes, and I concentrate only on that. Right there is the usefulness of migraine, there in that imposed yoga, the concentration on the pain.

For when the pain recedes, ten or twelve hours later, everything goes with it, all the hidden resentments, all the vain anxieties.

The migraine has acted as a circuit breaker, and the fuses have emerged intact. There is a pleasant convalescent euphoria. I open the windows and feel the air, eat gratefully, sleep well. I notice the particular nature of a flower in a glass on the stair landing. I count my blessings.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Bare cupboards and a tube of Vegemite staring at me.

I haven't been to the grocery in a while. It's so bad that I'm out of the staples. No olive oil. No pepper. I do have some kosher salt in a box, but I have to put some in my hand first, lest I pour a salt blanket. I've got some dry black beans that I just started soaking, and a few strange canned items left behind by previous roommates (look for the Hormel Chili with Beans to appear on eBay soon).

The only other item in my cupboard: Vegemite.

On our European tour last fall, Peter and I acquired an Australian travel companion. You other world travelers know that acquiring an Australian travel companion is not odd at all. I think many of them just live in those hostels and look for poor lost Americans to look after. It's like some Mormon missionary thing, except their mission is not about JC. Theirs is two-fold: 1) to help us drive on the correct side of the road and remind us when we're drifting over and 2) to promote Vegemite. In fact, it just might be Kraft who sponsors these Aussie's trips abroad. I certainly don't understand how they can afford to just spend a year skating about Europe.

I remember distinctly having a proper English Breakfast one morning in Manchester. I was sitting there enjoying my mushrooms (the veggie substitute for the ham-like bacon they serve), when Wayne (pronounced two syllables: "WAH-aine") pulled a little yellow tube out of his pocket. He then spread a brown paste over his toast and ... ATE IT!!! Peter and I were perplexed, but WAH-aine continued with a straight face. I must give him credit, as he extolled the virtues of Kraft's little brown paste, and ate it without making whiskey-face.

Several months ago, WAH-aine shipped me two tubes of Vegemite all the way from Perth, Australia. I haven't had the nerve or the empty-kitchen enough to try it.

And so this morning as I am up early, with only toast and Vegemite in the cupboard, I give you a real-life, no-stunt-doubles, real-time experiment:

I am now putting a single slice of wheat toast in the toaster. Wow, my toaster oven is more complicated than I remember. Okay, I've somehow lost the tube of Vegemite. Must locate it. Aha! It was hiding behind the Cream of Mushrooms and the Mysterious Can o' Chili. The toaster smells like it might catch on fire, so I remove the toast and unplug it.

Toast is finished. The yellow tube of Vegemiate stares at me, unopened. I should probably prepare a glass of water. Okay, I'm opening the tube. What's this? A little aluminum seal, to prove that my Vegemite has not been tainted. Eww! Whiskey-face before I even spread it on the toast. But here goes ... I am brave and adventurous.

Wow, it's harder than you might think to squeeze the Vegemite out of the tube. But a single column adorns my toast, and I am about to spread it around thinly. Okay. Deep breaths for the first bite.

Okay, not bad. Really salty. I'm rolling it over my palate to check for earthy undertones. Uh-oh. What's this flavor creeping in? I do not know this flavor. Oh, this is gross. Really? They eat this every day? Oh no ... here it comes. Must. Find. Water. Whiskey-face!!!!!!!!

Okay, I was mostly-kidding when I started this blog, but seriously, I need to go brush my teeth now. WAH-aine, how do you do this?? Is it like iocane powder? Do you just build up an immunity and use it as a weapon against poor lost foreign travelers? Hmmm ... come to think of it, Iocane powder comes from Australia too...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Musicians, propeller planes, and queso.

I spent the weekend in Lubbock, Texas, and took a vacation from pretty much everything. I'm back in blogger mode now, and I hope you'll forgive my long absence. For today's blog, I offer you some blatent name-dropping, a ridiculous story, and a funny picture.

I left Lubbock yesterday in a little propeller plane, which was scary. As I looked out the window to my view of a spinning propeller, I thought, "Buddy Holly once flew in a propeller plane, and now all they've got is a statue of him." Admittedly, it's a pretty cool statue though, and it's surrounded by plaques of all the great musicians to come out of West Texas. There are many of them. Joe Ely, Waylon Jennings, Roy Orbison, and Tanya Tucker. Which leads me to today's anecdote.

About three years ago, a drummer friend of mine called and asked me to come hang out at this charming restaurant in Louisville called Ramsi's. It was around midnight, but he was hanging there with a few of his friends in from out of town, whom he thought I'd like to meet. I'm always up for a late-night Ramsi's snack, so I skipped on down there. When I arrived, I saw my friend sitting in the library-themed room at a round table with four other people, one of whom had on a magnificent leopard-print jacket and matching accessories. She had perfect nails, was immaculately groomed, and looked incredibly familiar. Then we introduced. "Brigid, this is Tanya. Tanya, Brigid. You're both singers." Several cocktails later, we were singing an a cappella duet of "Son of Preacher Man" and gorging ourselves on Ramsi's awesome chips-n-queso.

See, I told you it was a name-dropping ridiculous story. But here ... according to the photo, she thinks I'm #1. It could have been the Maker's talking though. (If the photos don't show up through the Facebook auto-import, go to

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tex-Mex rules.

Today's blog comes to you from DFW, or the Dallas/Ft Worth airport. I'm on my phone, so forgive the lack of proper paragraph form.

I could eat Mexican food for every single meal and be happy. During SXSW this March in Austin, I ate a total of 34 meals, only 4 of which were something other than Mexican.

But that's what's great about Texas. It's possible to eat at 30 different Mexican food establishments and have them all be awesome.

I think my biggest complaint about Louisville Mex food is the lack of black beans. Except for
El Mundo, which is completely delicious, every place serves refried beans. Refried beans are not only icky, but they are made with lard, which is not veggie-friendly. The frozen margaritas at Sol Aztecas can make me overlook the refried beans, but then i leave hungry and bored with the mushroom quesadilla (hold the cheese) i always get. And El Mundo is awesome, but excepting lunch (the only time I eat there nowadays), there seems to always be a long wait or the kitchen is "about to close" and they won't seat my party. So that leaves me with just the one black-bean-vegetarian-friendly Mexican food place in Louisville.

Someone please tell me I'm wrong? Guide me to the secret amazing TexMex place? Lolita's would be perfect if they had black beans.

Anyway, this problem doesn't exist in Texas. Even Taco Cabana is to die for.
I've just enjoyed a most excellent breakfast in the Dallas airport, complete with black beans. FWAT has breakfast tacos. I've got 14 meals to eat here, plus maybe a few snacks. Chips-n-salsa heaven!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Antibiotics rule.

My elbow is better. Thanks to all of you who wrote with concern. I can even play the piano again, as long as I don't attempt any ragtime. My left arm needs a little break for a while. It's still oddly swollen and hurts a wee bit, but the antibiotics are working magic. Speaking of antibiotics and their magic...

This elbow injury also led to a message from my childhood best friend whom I haven't seen in ages. She's a Registered Nurse now and doesn't live in Louisville. She had some insight into my weak elbow. Her last message to me said, in praise of antibiotics: "If this were the year 1800, this little elbow infection would/could have been the death of you."

So now I'm thinking about all the poor folks who died of an elbow infection. How horrible would that have been? I mean, they could have died of The Plague or The Consumption, you know, something romantic at least ... but an elbow infection? How do you write that on an epitaph?

Then I was imagining all the other illnesses in my life, -- there haven't been many, honestly -- and I wondered if something else would have gotten to me first. I'm 31. That's old for a few hundred years ago. I had a tooth abscess when I was 20 that might have killed me, I suppose. Although, then again, I only got it because I had my wisdom teeth removed, which I wouldn't have had done in the year 1800, so I don't think that counts. Can you die of chicken pox? I've had bronchitis a few times, but that was from playing in smoky bars, so again, I don't think I would have gotten that two hundred years ago.

I guess, if I were living in the year 1800, this elbow infection would, indeed, have been the death of me. Poor Troubador Brigid. Her elbow got the best of her.