April 30, 2009

Rule Number 2

Continuing the series of Thomas B. Marlows's Guide to Holiday Traditions, I bring to you Rule 2: The Proper Consumption and Use of Holiday Chocolate.

2. Eating Holiday Chocolate

Chocolate given as a gift during a time of the year associated with a holiday shall be consumed in the period between one week prior to and one week after said holiday. Past this time period, the chocolate can still be eaten - but must be manipulated into a more appropriate form.

2b. Using Post-Holiday Chocolate

After the week has passed, the chocolate must be transformed in order to eat it. For example, say you receive a chocolate Santa Claus and can't finish it by January 2nd. You can easily switch it to New Year's Chocolate by melting it, reshaping it into a rectangle, and carving 2010 (or whatever) into the rectangle - now you have an entirely new, holiday-appropriate chocolate bar!
Melting chocolate is not difficult; it can be done either with a watchful eye and a microwave or with a double boiler on the stovetop. After it is melted, the reshaping can be as easy or as complicated as you'd like. Have leftover Valentine's Day chocolate? Make chocolate quarters or dollars in honor of Washington's birthday. The possibilities are endless - well, not really...but there are many possibilities.

Watch a video of me discussing Rule 2 here, and more images of an example chocolate rose here.

April 27, 2009


Things clicked this weekend.

I'm not exactly sure when, exactly, it happened, but the two gigs in La Crosse were wildly successful. I mean, we didn't hit platinum (250,000 more weekends and that'll do it), and no panties were thrown at the stage, but we played Common Swift music for strangers and they liked it. They danced and they sang along and they screamed. As a band and as individuals, I think we all came home feeling proud and excited and happy (also smelly and exhausted, but that's not the point).

At lunch in Westby on the way home, somebody mentioned that this might have been their best weekend ever - if not best ever, in the top 10 for sure. That comment got me thinking about what my top 10 best weekends ever are...and I'm having a really tough time coming up with them. Maybe later this week, I'll try and tackle that list - but for now, this past weekend is solidly in the top three. The stories aren't that great when retold; I get the feeling that only the people who were present for the trip are going to truly appreciate how cool it was. The two days were a blurry blend of jokes at everybody's expenses, the adrenaline rushes of playing gigs, and the giddy optimism after playing to our capabilities and impressing people.

The thing that I'm going to remember the most about the weekend was something Strutt said to me Saturday night at Nighthawk's. After we had finished playing, Milktoast started their set while we started to unwind and take advantage of the mostly open bar ("I'm in the band" is SO cool to say). We were all feeling good and I was dancing in our area of tables. Strutt said something like "I like you when you're drunk." I must have protested or gotten a look on my face, because he then amended it to "I like you when you're happy."

It's nice to be happy again.

April 23, 2009

Weekend Gigs

This weekend, the band I play keyboard in is playing two gigs in La Crosse, WI. We're called Common Swift, and we're pretty pumped about the shows. The last sixish months have been spent writing, refining, and recording new music, and it'll be pretty fun to try them out on strangers. Friday night we're playing a basement show with a couple of other bands, and Saturday we're opening for a band called Milktoast at Nighthawk's Tap.

Not only am I looking forward to the weekend because it is undeniably awesome to play shows, but I get to hang out with Scott, Amanda, and Thom! I don't think I have ever had a bad time partying in La Crosse with those guys, and it's pretty much entirely my fault that my visits up there are not more frequent.

I promise to return to the interwebs with stories galore (or at least three) from the weekend of shows. It'd hardly be rock and roll without something to brag about - although it probably won't be a true rockstar weekend unless I don't remember something storyworthy as well. Huh. I'm sure that if there is something important to remember, someone will be able to recall it.

Listening to: Amos Lee - Better Days
Reading: Modern Gentleman, Chapter Two: Entertaining

April 21, 2009

Rain Day

"Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains." - Bull Durham

Today it rained. And snowed. Since it would be pretty uncomfortable and not that productive to try and do archaeological survey in those conditions, we had a rain day. To fill up the time, I went with Elizabeth and Susan to lovely Princeton, WI. It seemed like half of the stores were closed - including (presumably) a potter's studio. He must have a hell of a beard, since he named it "A Hairy Potter." We went into Twister, a coffeeshop/store. Susan and Elizabeth had mochas, and I had a completely unnecessary americano. It was my 3rd cup of coffee of the day...and the best, by far. I'm not one to complain about the Americinn's complementary coffee, but it's not winning any awards anytime soon.

In addition to the americano, I bought "The Modern Gentleman: A Guide to Essential Manners, Savvy & Vice" - so far I have read Chapter One: Out and About. Nothing too spectacular, but good for soaking up time in the hotel for sure.

We had lunch at La Casbah - I had a grilled vegetable wrap with a garlic sauce. I suppose I should be bringing my camera along for these excursions...you'll have to take my word that the wrap was quite good.

Back at the hotel, I did some reading and generally killed time until 7:15, when the Cubs and Cincinnati Reds squared off in game one of a three game series. Rich Harden pitched a good game, and the Cubs offense took advantage of Micah Owing's poor command of the strike zone (a trait that the Reds bullpen shared as well) en route to a 7-2 victory.

Listening to: David Gray, "The Other Side"
Reading: "The Modern Gentleman"

April 20, 2009

Mapping the Delicious

All right, kids - this is post 1.

My name is Jeff - I live in Madison, Wisconsin and am an archaeologist/musician (rockstarchaeologist). In my spare time, I enjoy reading, cooking, reading about cooking, and baseball (in particular the Cubs, but the game itself as an object of beauty). This blog will mainly cover these topics, plus any funny stories from projects I'm working on around WI.

As of now, there is one regular feature - Thomas B. Marlow's Guide to Holiday Traditions. This will be a series of rules to follow as you plan/celebrate holidays, as well as life in general. For example, Rule 1: The Proper Naming of Girl Scout Cookies.

Thin Mints - no debate here; the most popular species.
Caramel Delights - the first controversy. Currently, the Girl Scouts sell these cookies branded as either Caramel deLites or Samoas. Caramel deLites' flaw is the inane spelling of delight. However, this pales in comparison to the travesty that is the Samoa. Samoa is an island group and nation in the South Pacific with a rich culture and history - NOT A COOKIE. What's wrong with 'Caramel Delight?' It's properly spelled and perfectly descriptive. The cookies themselves (the best the Girl Scouts sell, by the way) are both caramelly AND delightful.
Peanut Butter Patties - also a good descriptive name of the cookies, as opposed to the incorrect branding of this species, Tagalong. There are two main problems with the 'Tagalong.' First, it is often mispronounced as Tagalog - the second largest ethnic group in the Phillipines and also a language native to that island group (Did a Girl Scout exec vacation in the Pacific right before going on a cookie naming binge? Seriously.) Secondly, Tagalong? What does that mean? The cookie will somehow sneak into your luggage as you go off on a trip? As far as I'm concerned, Tagalong is the name of the littlest bunny sister in the Disney film "Robin Hood"... which is probably an entirely different post topic altogether.
Peanut Butter Sandwich - also referred to as the 'Do-Si-Do'. Why? If I remember correctly from 8th grade gym class, the Do-Si-Do is a square dancing move...which has no connection at all to cookies.
Shortbread/Trefoils - These shortbread cookies have the Girl Scout Trefoil design in them. Either name is acceptable.

There are more varieties of cookies, but really...who eats any of them besides the ones discussed above? They also seem to only have one name, eliminating much of the potential controversy.

Bonus Example: Rule 40: In Regards to the Eating and Reading of Fortune Cookies.
Fortune Cookies are to be broken apart and eaten before reading your fortune. Failure to comply by Rule 40 voids the fortune contained within said cookie.

In addition to these completely serious rules that you should make every attempt to follow, I can see a weekly recap of archaeological travails as a possible regular post, and probably a regular NL Central rundown. We shall see.

Wow...I wish I had some Caramel Delights right now :(