Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's time for a gardening post.

When I lived in Germantown, I learned everything I could about gardening. I thought I was a natural because everything I planted sprouted like crazy. Even things I didn't plant grew there, so I figured I must have some magic touch. Of course, then one day I read that the precise part of Schnitzelburg where I lived was once the town dump, and prior to that, it had been a dairy farm. My yard was essentially a two-hundred year old compost heap, and my cucumbers grew like mad because of the soil, not because of my mad skillz.

Now that I have lived in the Highlands for four years, however, I've spent time planting and digging and growing and re-planting and composting, and I'm absolutely in love with my garden. Mostly, I'm in love with my new raised garden bed. The difference between my garden and most others is that mine is in the front yard.

I have zero sun in my backyard. Grass won't even grow there. I'm not up for cutting down the many trees that provide welcome shade in the summer months, -- seriously, it's a good 10 degrees cooler in the backyard than the front, making the house energy efficient -- so I relegated my gardening to the front yard. And since I have a pretty strict policy about growing only things that provide function over form (as in, everything must be edible or medicinal), I've got vegetables strewn about the front yard. Last year, I had a mini-pumpkin patch that took over everything. It was a fun perk for the neighbors' kids, however, who loved trouncing through my yard picking their own mini-pumpkins.

I've been running out of space lately though, having turned one entire side of the yard into an herb garden, so Friend-with-a-Truck built me a gorgeous raised bed on the other side of the sidewalk. It's spectacular, and will soon yield spring goodies such as Brussels Sprouts, Leeks, Cabbage, Spinach.

Of course, I've already loaded up my raised bed, so I'm still going to have to hide my tomato and squash plants among the landscaping. I'm hoping all this new awareness about vegetable gardening has calmed any concerned neighbors' fears about the hippie growing food in her front yard. I promise to at least make it look pretty, and, as always, I've planted extra for general communal use.

What are your garden plans?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Music update... Bob Schneider story, tour planning, etc.

Some of you have asked what I've been up to musically. Mostly, it's been music business, which has consisted of booking my spring UK tour and making sure the media over there knows I'm coming. There's not much point in playing anywhere if no one knows you're there.

Last week I had a fun surprise message from Bob Schneider, asking me to sit in with him at his Jim Porter's show. I was pulling double duty at the Monkey Wrench that night (the show with Paul K and Adventure), so I only played accordion/saw on about three songs before dashing over to my solo show. But still, I got to catch some of Bob's set afterwards, which is always fun. I like to be reminded that there are still musicians out there who remember that they are there to give the audience a good show, good entertainment, and a good time.

He and I met last year, after one of his SXSW shows in Austin, when a radio friend of mine was too shy to ask Bob for an interview. It is a well-known fact that I like talking to strangers, so I said, "Hi," to Bob and introduced him to my radio friend. They had a nice little chat/interview, after which Bob invited me to play with him at Threadgill's later that evening. And so, a year later when he played in Louisville, I ended up on-stage with him again. It's fun to be a sideman.

Hmmmm ... what else is going on musically? I'm working on re-learning a bunch of Chopin nocturnes on the piano, but now that it's spring, I think I might switch to Bach. Chopin is for when the days are short and the nights are depressing. Bach feels more like spring.

I've been writing a bit, which is nice, but also annoys me because I still have no solid plan for a new record. Every time I finish a new song, I just wonder when the rest of you will ever hear it.

Also -- if any of you would like to purchase a CD, please email me or purchase it directly from my website. EarX-tacy is out-of-stock, and they may be out for some time ...

I think that's about it for business today.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Does anyone use phone books anymore?

There is a phone book sitting on my porch. It's bee there for several days now. I don't want it in my house because, although I do not yet have the hovercar or the jetpack, I do have Google (and an old Yellow Pages should the power go out). The only time I've seen anyone using the Yellow Pages lately is at the Unemployment Office , while folks looked up phone numbers to put on their six-week reviews.

I'm sorry, but the Yellow Pages is going the way of record stores and flip phones, and I don't understand why I keep getting them. I haven't had a landline in 10 years, so I don't even feel like I'm entitled to a YP. Is there some way to opt out? Like a Do-Not-Deliver number? Or at least a way to re-use it rather than recycling it? It seems like throwing something immediately in the recycling bin without using it, is just as wasteful as throwing it away.

Any ideas?

In other news ... I'm bit-by-bit importing my older blogs (the ones from the days of MySpace) to the page, for those of you who have asked for the full archive.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Alienation of popcorn and the middle class.

I'm going to share something with you that I learned on my last trip. It blows my mind on several levels, both because of the sheer simplicity, as well as the bigger metaphysical aspects. And as I go dropping philosophical terms, let me first warn you that today's topic is: microwave popcorn.

I admit, I am a snob about food. I hadn't even heard of boxed macaroni and cheese until college, and though I fully admit that it is the one thing I want after enduring a migraine, it still tastes nothing like macaroni and cheese. Maybe it's like comparing soy milk to milk. As long as you don't expect it to actually taste exactly like milk, then soy milk is a delicious beverage. Same with veggie burgers. In that sense, boxed macaroni and cheese is yummy. But it's got nothing on my dad's macaroni.

Microwave popcorn, however, is different. I don't like it. Some processed foods do an okay job of hiding their chemical flavors, but microwave popcorn just tastes bad. I make my popcorn on the stovetop, often ruining a saucepan here and there when I burn it, but the taste difference is worth a new pan every so often.

Last week, while sitting around the kitchen with a bunch of relatives and a bottle of 18-year-Laphroaig (that's another blog all together), I learned about homemade microwave popcorn. That's right. Just throw a few kernels in a brown paper bag and microwave it. Guess what happens? It POPS!!!

My mind is totally blown because 1) it's delicious and tastes like stove-top popcorn. and 2) I'd never thought of it before, which means despite my honest attempt to be conscious of the food I eat, I'm still far more alienated from my foods than I want to be.

How in the world has the microwave popcorn industry fooled us all into thinking they invented some sort of genius invention? And how rich is the guy who patented that? Probably richer than the Snuggie™ folks.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Food-related Sports: I'm in!

Have you seen that new Visa commercial? The one with the pizza dough acrobat who doesn't just throw the dough in the air, but tosses it behind his back and does all kinds of tricks? It was so neato that I had to Google it to find out where that pizzeria is. It's not real, of course, just a studio, but the guy in the commercial is apparently on the U.S. Pizza Team.

I'll say that again, in case you missed it: there is a U.S. Pizza Team. Extrapolate from that, if you will, and you'll conclude that other countries have Pizza Teams as well.

I like an event that combines athletics and food. One cancels out the other, and it brings a sort of balance to life. It's all very zen, I think.

If enough countries start Pizza Teams, will this be a demonstration event at the 2012 Summer Olympics? Or do you think it's more of a Winter Event because pizza is such a good cold-weather dinner menu?

I think I'm going to practice juggling bagels. Maybe I can start the Bagel Team.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Music and Spring tours!

I'm back from Texas. It was a dreadful ride home, with snow and wind and bad drivers. I thought the December road trip included the most car wrecks I'd ever seen, but this trip topped them all. This time I saw a cattle truck turned over, and if you think it's sad to see a mushed deer, you'd cringe at the images of dead cattle I've got burned in my memory. This is yet another reason that I prefer touring in Europe: shorter drives and less roadkill.

I'm in full work mode, however, and I'm getting excited about a lot of my upcoming adventures. For those of you who have forgotten that I was a musician before I was a blogger, here are some upcoming tour dates:

Louisville/ Fri. March 26: solo show at The Monkey Wrench (along with Paul K & the Weathermen, Adventure, and Ron Whitehead ... show at 9... still waiting to find out my set-time)
Birmingham, AL/ Thur. April 15: Brigid Kaelin and Peter Searcy. We're playing a well-known house concert series called Small Stages.
Atlanta, GA/ Fri April 16: Brigid Kaelin and Peter Searcy. Playing Smith's Olde Bar, the downstairs room. We've got a hot drummer for this one, so we'll both be trios.
Atlanta, GA/ Sat. April 17: Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Brigid Kaelin Trio plays at 2:00. Peter Searcy Trio plays at 3:00. Free festival.
Louisville, KY. Sun April 18: Grand Re-opening of the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs.

Then ... it's Derby Time.

Then ... UK Tour! Late May/Early June in England, Scotland, and Wales. Specific shows to be announced soon.

I'm really looking forward to doing some video blogging from the road.

Okay... i'm in work-mode now, so I shall bid you farewell. More rants and raves to come I'm sure.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

SXSW, Lubbock, the Bible, and Songs.

This week was supposed to be a non-stop SXSW blog, with further adventures from San Antonio and Houston. A family emergency brought us back to Lubbock, however, and so prepare yourself for Stories from Lubbock: Part Four. We were bummed to leave Austin after only one game of frisbee and one meal at Polvos, but it's kind of nice to be around the family again.

Friend-with-a-Broken-Truck and I have been cooking for everyone. It's kind of fun because we both love to cook, but it's also great because of my little "condition" known as vegetarianism. I get sick to my stomach thinking that everyone's wondering what there is for the freaky vegetarian to eat, so it's nice to just cook a meal for everyone. We made Indian food last night, despite every grocery store in town trying to prevent us from doing so -- garam masala doesn't exist in Lubbock, so I had to make my own with a coffee grinder and 7 different other spices. After only mild frustration, a Xanax, and a margarita, things went much smoother. Dinner was fun, and there were only a few comments about ribs and cheeseburgers. I like to cook, and I like it when people discover that meals can be satisfying without including a steak.

I'm learning a lot about the bible. For example, apparently it's okay to highlight in the bible. Somehow, this seemed wrong to me, but maybe that's my own hangup with writing in books.

It also occurs to me that I have not read the New Testament. But every time I hear a verse from it, it just reminds me of a song I like. "Love one another," from Colassions or something that sounds like Cassius Clay, reminds me of Tim Krekel more than it does Jesus. The message is all the same, whether it's a song lyric or a bible verse.

So I don't feel so guilty about not having read the New Testament -- neither that Catholic nor that Jewish guilt I inherited. I just like that I listen to song lyrics. I think maybe you can learn just as much from songs as from church.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Rental car excitement...

About 10 days ago, someone ran into Friend-with-a-truck's truck, rendering it undrivable. Heretofore he will be known as Friend-without-a-Truck, or perhaps Friend-with-a-Ridiculous-Rental-Car.

I've never been one to care much about cars. I've got an unhealthy obsession with Volvos, perhaps, but really I don't care about colors or ugly wings or engine size. My car is really a rather unattractive, rusted, tiny Volkswagen, but fortunately, I don't have to look at it while I'm driving. And it works, except for all those times it breaks. Luckily, I don't drive often, I guess.

Anyway, yesterday, Friend-without-a-Truck pulled up in this rental car the insurance company provided, and I just started laughing. It's one of those Old-Timey looking cars, sort of like the PT Cruiser, but it's the Chevy version. Don't get me wrong, folks, I actually like those cars. They remind me of flappers and Duke Ellington and Al Capone. They remind me of good music. But this one is comic book red, and I scoured SteinMart this morning looking for a bright yellow trenchcoat so he could complete the Dick Tracy look. I've already got a violin case he can borrow.

Anyway, we're trading it soon. I was actually kind of looking forward to cruising down the highway listening to big band music and evading the police. But there is a mysterious migraine-inducing odor within, as if someone smoked inside, and the rental car place tried to cover it up with weird chemical spray. It's not the kind of car you can spend 16 hours straight in.

Too bad. I have a flapper dress in the same cherry red. It would have been perfect. Whatever color it is, I hope it's big enough to transport my keyboard to tonight's show at the Monkey Wrench. I don't think my little VW is up for the task today...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Social hibernation leads to wrinkly fingers.

Last year it seemed like I had a new, crazy story every day for this blog. Now, well, it occurs to me that maybe you have to go have a crazy active social life in order to collect stories. I haven't gone out much at all in the past several months. It's been cold, and as I learned last year, those cocktails add up. It doesn't take too many credit card statements before you start screaming, "I spent HOW much at the Monkey Wrench last month???" And then comes the spending moratorium.

I have learned a few things from my social hibernation, however. The main one, however, is that I desperately want a dishwasher.

I lived my entire life without a dishwasher. (Well, that's excepting the 2-3 years I was a live-in nanny in New York, and the family I lived with had one. But like any self-respecting New Yorker, I never cooked, so the fancy Bosch dishwasher was mostly for show.) My parents STILL don't have one, and my house doesn't either. It's never bothered me before. I mean, I don't mind doing the dishes. It's not like I ever had very many of them.

Well, now, I can't STAND it. I can count on one hand the number of times I've eaten out this year -- a travesty, I know -- and that means several dishes for every meal. I've baked my own bread, crackers, and tortillas all year long, and I've even been regularly using the food processor. Did you know that the food processor ALONE fills up the kitchen sink????

I've had it. Forget saving up for a new record, I'm saving for a dishwasher.

I'm sorry, blog readers. Can you believe that my crazy story for the day is a diatribe about wanting a household product? I promise 2010 will be more exciting than this ... next month, I'll come to you live from Atlanta, Birmingham, and the Derby Festival ... and in May, I'll be blogging live from Europe ... and in June, more adventures await. Is it wrong that what I'm looking forward to most about my upcoming tours is eating in restaurants? And not doing dishes?

Monday, March 8, 2010

Holidays and block parties.

There's this street in Louisville, Hillcrest Ave, where everyone is obsessed with Halloween decorations. I mean, they go nuts, and build haunted houses and haunted yards and giant spiders with giant spider webs. They construct entire graveyards and animatronic ghosts. It happens to be a busy street anyway, so if you forget it's Halloween season and turn down Hillcrest, you're stuck in traffic while all the other cars cruise slowly down the street, gaping at the yard decorations.

Anyway, it's kind of ridiculous, but fun. I used to wonder why other blocks haven't risen to the challenge and created their own haunted streests. But there's no point in challenging the Hillcrest residents to a contest. I've heard they even sell their Halloween decorations along with the houses, mostly, I imagine, because no one wants to move all that crap.

So rather than a competition, I was thinking that other blocks in Louisville should take on other holidays. Like maybe my street can get REALLY into St. Patrick's Day. We can get animatronic leprechauns and huge statues of St. Patrick and Irish flags and harps everywhere and blast U2 or deedly-dee-tunes from our homes.

Maybe another street can just make Valentine's Day belong to them, and own it. Or Bastille Day. Or Texas Independence Day (which I forgot to celebrate last week, sorry!). Or Secretary's Day or Veteran's Day or President's Day. Ooooh, I would LOVE to be assigned President's Day. Imagine it ... replicas of Lincoln's bible and life-size statues of James K. Polk, who is clearly the hottest President of yore.

I think I'll write my Metro Council Representative and see what kind of funding there is for giant shamrocks or Gettysburg reenactments.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I don't run ... Ummm, I mean sure I do.

I was at a function last week ("function" -- doesn't that sound important?) when I saw someone I went to high school with. We weren't friends then, not for any other reason than she a few classes older, and I figured she didn't know who I was. But I smiled at her and she introduced herself asking if I was Brigid. Then after a minute of catching up, she said, "Do you run?"

This made me almost choke on my green chili wonton because, my faithful blog readers, you know how I feel about running. I giggled and told her, "No, I don't run. I'm a terrible runner. I can't run a mile. I don't want to."

She said, "Oh, I could have sworn I saw you this week out running. I even thought, 'Wow, Brigid Kaelin runs. I should run too.'"

Then, suddenly I remembered the afternoon I ate 5 Samoas and 10 Thin Mints and had the sudden urge to run around the block. It was either a massive sugar rush or (more likely) the pure guilt of having eaten 15 Girl Scout cookies in 10 minutes.

I asked her where I'd been running ... and indeed, it was in my neighborhood, in that random 3-minute jog. Makes me look good, eh? Or at the very least, inspirational... but then I 'fessed up about the Girl Scout Cookie Incident, and I think she felt much better about herself after that.

That's me -- out to make people feel good. Just let me know how I can help. I'll just be here, with the last 5 Samoas staring at me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nerd alert.

It's getting busy, and I'm finding it difficult to write songs and blogs -- "and" being the key conjunctive there. I can write songs, or I can write blogs, but doing both in the same few days seems impossible. Do other writers out there have similar problems? My poet friends, what say you?

Anyway, I keep a list of things to blog about when I'm not feeling inspired. Today I bring you a website that will blow your minds:

No, it's nothing like J-date and has nothing at all to do with the Jews (Happy Purim, everyone, by the way -- sorry I forgot to deliver Hamantaschen this year).

Somebody has gone to all the trouble to archive EVERY SINGLE EPISODE OF JEOPARDY! It's created by fans, for fans, and has no association whatsoever with Jeopardy Productions.

Some thoughts:

- I love that each episode is titled. It's not just titled by date or season, but it's titled with the contestants' names, as in: Ryan Stoffers vs. Nick Yozamp vs. Surya Sabhapathy.
- The questions (answers) are hidden, and you have to rollover with a mouse to reveal them, allowing an online visitor to guess appropriately.
- The waging calculator is brilliant ... allowing you to input all three contestants' earnings and see a mathematical explanation and suggestion for what each contestant should wager in Final Jeopardy.
- It's great to be able to keep up your skillz when you are someone who really just dislikes watching TV (that would be me).
- There is what's called the "Coryat Score," which is a the players score if there is no penalty for incorrect answers, for each game. Totally nerdy. And two-T's hott.

Anyway, have some fun poking around on that site. Also, in typing this blog, I think I have decided on my new dream job: Clue Crew!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Notes from the Unemployment Office.

This morning, I accompanied my best friend to the unemployment office. You know me ... always up for an adventure. It's weird to think, but now half of my musician friends had to go and get jobs, and half of my full-time career friends are now unemployed. My morning walking partners have shifted from classical guitar players to former non-profit workers.

This morning I dutifully arose at 6-something, drove to a faraway land in Louisville that reminded me of Amarillo, Texas, with its wide lanes and strip malls, and waited in line (in the north, you wait ON-line, but here we wait IN-line) outside until the doors opened just before 7:30. I kept hoping that the 50+ (heavy on the plus) people in front of us were also just one person plus a friend, meaning that maybe there were really only 25+ people in the actual line ... but no, we waited a full two hours before getting to speak with someone.

I could write a hundred pages based on this morning's adventure, but I promise I won't. I find it absurd that this can't all be done online (not the northern version of "in"-line, but the actual Interweb and stuff). I understand that you can request checks online, but you must show up in person for your reviews, which involves simply filling out a form and handing to a person who says "Thanks! See you in six weeks," that could easily also be put online. But then I suppose there are plenty of governmental forms that could be easily put online and aren't...

I am thankful that I'm not unemployed and that I don't have to stand in that line again. Although, for the record, my being self-employed only guarantees that I'll never be eligible for unemployment benefits, despite all those years having worked a "real job" and paying into the system. Add me to the list of "under"-employed folks, I guess, and I'll keep searching for paying gigs (please, no more "no pay but great exposure" shows!). Maybe I could play accordion each morning for the depressed folks at the Unemployment Office. It would either alleviate some depression and make people smile momentarily, or it might run some folks off the deep end.

This morning, I was proud of myself for being cognizant enough NOT to attract the crazies. (Generally, they swarm to me like bees to my zinnia garden.) The crazy one was right in front of me, too, so I consider this a grand feat. The poor guy three people in front me had to listen to her diatribe about "aliens among us," the end of the world, and the "things you wouldn't believe I've seen." She sounded perfectly sane -- don't they all -- and you wouldn't have noticed the odd nature of their conversation unless you were eavesdropping.

Well, eavesdropping was impossible to avoid in a line of such close quarters, and the novel I'd brought with me was losing the fight for my attention. The crazy lady started talking of all the crucifixes and garlic she kept hidden at various places in her home, as if such items of lore would protect her from the aliens. "Something's coming, I tell you. Something. I know. I've seen it."

The poor kid caught listening to her sermon couldn't escape, stuck in that unemployment line for two hours sneaking furtive glances to me and my friend, who smiled sympathetically, then turned our backs to the crazy and our noses to our novels, all the while speaking nonsensical "German" to each other because we didn't want Crazy to think she could engage us as well. It's really quite amazing how much you can actually communicate to someone when you're speaking gibberish. Every so often, when it looked like she was trying to catch my attention, my friend would pull me by the coat collar toward him and mumble, "She's looking at you. Turn away." I just replied, "Volkswagen sprachen, ja?"

I don't like this whole Depression thing. It's sad, and I'm sorry that 10% of the country has to deal with that. I know everyone there this morning would rather be working that in that horrid line. Except maybe that crazy lady, who I'm not even convinced had a reason to be there. I think maybe she just liked the audience.

Self-employment may not qualify me for unemployment checks, but at least I work from home, I guess, where the only crazy person is me. I don't have a crucifix, but I have plenty of garlic.