Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving: through the eyes of the plate

I enjoyed Thanksgiving. I think it is one of our best American holidays (if you leave out
the questionable land deal for Manhattan way back when). Here's a travelog of my
weekend with the lovely wife down to Arkansas and back with an eye on the plate.

Obscene tubular food at Laguardia that I did not eat.

Fantastic tubular food at O'Hare Field that we did eat. The older bartender/waiter guy instructed us to "put a finger on top of the pickle to hold the thing together" or else he couldn't be responsible for what happened.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving. There was discussion the night before about turkey cooking methods. ML's sister Kathy had recently purchased a "Roaster". We looked up cooking tips for the Roaster and it didn't look like a very good gadget. Different cooking temps, wildly different cooking times. Warnings about loosing heat when opening the Roaster and so on. I lobbied for the Roasting Bag. I have cooked turkeys with several different methods including deep frying and the cheese cloth aided basting method but the roasting bag wins for me every time. After reading Roaster horror stories aloud from my iPhone it was decided that the Roasting bag would be employed. It really is a fantastic gadget. You'll find it in the spice section.

Here's the bird after it came out of the bag. I tented the bird w tin foil for 30 minutes before carving.

Another great thing about the roasting bag besides the self basting is the ease of which the gravy fixins can
be accessed. Snip the bag and there you go. Ready for gravy.
ML's Mom making the gravy.

A portion of carved bird.

the spread which included inside stuffing, outside stuffing, sweet potatoes, squash, gravy, cranberries, mashed potatoes and...

Deviled eggs on this fantastic Deviled Eggs Presentation Plate.

Here's my plate sans already eaten Deviled Eggs. (I'm way out of control with the Deviled Eggs. I believe it has been detailed before someplace)

I'm including this desert pic (with some seasonal Beaujolais Nouveau in the background) . The desert was good but it was not the focus.

I had decided with that first hot dog at ORD that all bets were off diet-wise so along with more College Football than I've ever watched before in one long weekend came more homestyle cookin. On Friday we went to a restaurant called Debra's Good Eats. My party mostly opted for breakfast fare but I went with the Chicken Fried Steak throwing out the must be a Yankee "not from around here" caveat by requesting the gravy on the side.
I did however go with green beans and mashed potatoes.

Saturday had the most College football games of all and we had a dinner before watching the local finale of Arkansas VS LSU.
ML's mom made her Meatloaf. She likes to do it the way she likes to do it so that means 2 smaller loaves of meat as opposed to a larger one. I believe my friend Chip Robinson would refer to these as "twins".
The aforementioned twins.

Earlier Saturday we had snuck out for a little BBQ. There is quite a bit of good BBQ in Hot Springs. Stubby's is probably #1 in town. McClard's is former Hot Springs resident and 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton's favorite but I really love Roland's BBQ. Roland's used to be in a little shack next to a "Tin Cup" style driving range out on highway 7 just before Hot Springs Village. I went there one afternoon years ago to kill some time and hit through a bucket of balls. Ended up trading some guitar tips for golf tips with the Pro and enjoying some of Roland's great BBQ. Roland's whole family was there on Saturday afternoon when we stopped by. I think they were all heading back to Texas after Thanksgiving. This is one of those points where I was going 'wow' too much to get a good pic but here's my chopped pork sandwich.

The highlight of the College Football action Saturday night was the Hogs. The Arkansas Razorbacks played the nationally rated LSU Tigers. It was a great game, went into overtime but even though Arkansas native Ryan Mallet looked pretty calm at the end kicker Alex Tejada missed that last boot and LSU won the game.

Sunday had us headed back to NYC. After the fabulous hot dog on the way out we were fixated on getting another one on our way back through ORD. We were in a different terminal (TERNIMAL B to Andy York) and there really was no hot dog to be found. There was a Vienna Beef cart but the poor woman was totally overwhelmed so after walking the length of the United Concourse we ended up at an Italian joint for this fine sandwich with grape juice.

I'm thankful for Thanksgiving.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Yeah, Another Gear Post in the small but mighty column

I while back I ordered a custom finger joined 12" combo cabinet for the Fender Pro Jr (detailed earlier here) that I've been
steadfastly dumping money into while I wait for the new super grab and go Doctor Z amps to come out.

A few months before that Chip Robinson (check new website) helped me out by installing an upgraded Mercury Magnetics output transformer. The amp got bigger, had more air on it for sure.

The original Fender transformer is there on the table to the left. Bigger=Better in Transformers

In my quest for a bigger, louder yet lighter rig for local gigs I ordered a "Blues Jr cabinet cut for a Pro Jr" that Mather Cabs in Nashville offers as a standard item. I was able to order it in a custom color (bad ass baby blue of course) that they didn't even list on their site for the nice standard price of $288 including shipping.

Mather said it would be "about 4 weeks" for the cabinet to be delivered. Sure enough. The cabinet showed up 4 weeks later. Beautiful covering. Super lightweight. I started putting it together and noticed a couple screw holes for the chassis didn't line up and their was a gap in between the control panel and the cabinet that I could see through.

I wrote to Mather and Peter Mather wrote me right back to aplogize for the mistake had been made with the cabinet. "Could I used that one while he got me another one?"

Always surprising to run into real customer service these days In a word, Wow.

I used the cab. It sounded great. Put a super lightweight Eminence Tonkerlite with the NEO Magnet in there and the thing was off to the races.

I got the perfect replacement cabinet today. Put it together and it looks and sounds great.
Thanks for your help Chip and thanks to Peter Mather and Meg at New Sensor also.

here's some pics






and of course you have to have the Studio Slips cover for the grab and go.

ah, the after facts....
Original Pro Jr w 10" Speaker-26 lbs
Suped Up Baby Blue Pro Jr w Mercury Transformer, 12" Tonkerlite and Mather Cab-22 lbs

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Smokin'? actually Burnin'!

I can't compete with the fabulous youtube clips in Saturday's Hound Blog on the return of James Williamson to Iggy
and The Stooges but....

Check out Johnny Winter!!

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Yankees: Thanks to Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna

Late in the summer of 1980 I was playing guitar in this band with this girl and her manager suggested that it would be a smart move for us all to move to New York so we did.


The first week we were here we played a gig at the Ritz (now known by it's original name Webster Hall) that was filmed for the movie "Urgh-A Music War"). That was quite an event but another event from the end of that summer stuck with me in a bigger way.


When I first got to NYC Joan Jett's manager Kenny Laguna was quick to ask me about my team. "Who's your favorite baseball team?". I had to admit that my punk rock circumstances had taken me away from the act of enjoying baseball but as a kid in Batavia, IL I had followed the Cubs. Wrigley Field was the first place I ever saw a Major League game on great afternoon field trip with a bunch of kids on a yellow school bus. Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and the great broadcaster Jack Brickhouse kept me dialed into the Cubs. I followed the Cubs coverage in the Chicago Tribune, saved the Trib that celebrated Erinie's 500th home run, but when my folks gave up the Trib in favor of the more local Aurora Beacon News whose sports coverage consisted of less than exciting AP wire crap I drifted away from baseball.

So when I told Kenny Laguna that I used to follow the Cubs he replied "You are in New York now. There art 2 teams and you have to decide." Kenny quickly took us all to 2 games. Out to Shea to see the Mets and then to the Bronx to see the Yankees. The decision wasn't really that hard for me.
I felt it was better to move to the American League so I wouldn't end up rooting against the Cubs. Also, in the trips to the 2 NY Stadiums I found everything about the Yankees to be rather stunning. The team, the history, the uniforms and the food at Yankee Stadium were really amazing. I'll always remember going to the bathroom at Shea and teetering on the heels of my cowboy boots through the standing, uh, water. That and the Navy Blue pinstripes. Joan, of course, stuck with her beloved Baltimore Orioles.
And that was always good for continuing banter between Joan and Kenny (which I'm sure continues to this day)

So seeing the Yanks play in the Bronx with Reggie and all sealed the deal. Followed the team on broadcast TV. The Scooter & Bill White years being some of the most entertaining.

The end of this summer of my cycling buddies hooked my lovely wife and I up with some tickets to see the Yanks at their new stadium which really brought me back. We had a fantastic time up there
and it drew me into the post season.

iPhone Pano pic i took at the new Yankee Stadium

I had heard a lot about the new stadium, some good some bad, but I thought it was a fantastic place. The Yankees beat Toronto and I came home with 40 bucks more than I thought I would so it
didn't seem as crazy expensive as it had been described.

Fast forward to the Series. Watched every minute of every game. Was on the road with another band of Yankee fans last weekend and watched last thursday's game in the bar we were playing in DC. We had to go on during the 6th inning but I had downloaded's "At Bat Lite" iPhone application which I fired up and set to 15 second refresh on top of my amp. It was exciting to keep track of the game from that angle too. I saw them "win" on my phone. 2 days later we were driving back from Knoxville, TN and listened to the whole game on Sirius Satellite Radio. We'd done that before on the Steve Earle tour due to a hiccup in the TV setup on the tour bus. Still exciting as hell.

The Yanks won their 27th Title. Everybody knows that. The Phillies played a great series.
It was all great baseball.

Yesterday as I was doing some errands on my Cannondale Track bike, not so affectionately named "The Murderburger", I realized I had some free time so I snuck downtown to the vicinity of the Yankees Parade.


I really couldn't get too close but it was a blast just being in a huge, positive crowd.


When I was riding back to the East Village on "Murderburger" I remembered going to my first Yankee
game and wanted to thank Kenny Laguna and Joan Jett for taking me there.

Eric Ambel

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