I’ve been jammin’ smoothies hard this summer, keeping the blender out on the counter because half the time I want to make another smoothie before I’ve event washed the blender out. Here are somewhat-vague recipes for a couple fatty, tropical-tasting summer smoothies. They’re both vegan, to boot! (J is in Japan, I have to pick up the slack).

1. Pineapple-coconut nonsense.

INGREDIENTS (all amounts approximate; just guess, basically):

– 1/2 c orange juice
– 1 c chopped-up fresh pineapple
– 3 ice cubes
– 1/2 to 3/4 c coconut milk
– 1 banana, sliced/chunked into small-ish pieces

Blend pineapple and OJ until pineapple is as smooth as it’ll get. Then add ice cubes and blend more; add coconut and banana, blend until smooth. Serve in a big huge frosty glass or two. Serves two normal folks, one smoothie glutton like myself.

2. Avocado malarkey.

INGREDIENTS (all amounts approximate; just guess, basically):

– 1 ripe avocado (that’s not approximate, that’s exact), cut into small chunks
– 1 c pineapple juice -or- 3/4 c orange juice and 1/2 c fresh pineapple chunks
– 1 c low-fat coconut milk, or, hey, fresh coconut juice, what the hell.
– Juice of 1 lime

Blend the avocado and juice/pineapple first, then add the rest and blend till smooth. Put this in TWO frosty glasses; even such a glutton as myself can’t handle all of this one at once.

Okay, here’s the EXCITING BLOG PROJECT that I’ve been hinting at for weeks — okay, months — okay, over a year, to some of you.

Today’s the official launch of truespies.org, a new collaborative blogging project based out of Pittsburgh. It essentially consists of myself and a bunch of real-life and internet friends writing about things we’re interested in — music, food, physics, pedagogy, sports, etc. etc. ad nauseum.

I’m excited about the content we’ve already got up — I think some of the other folks who just started posting within the past month or so already have more extensive content than I have from my past two years of blogging.

My new location for nah pop, no style is: http://truespies.org/andybot

I apologize to all of you who have had to move with me once already, when I went from blogspot to wordpress . . . I think for your sake I’ll “simulcast” and start feeding my new blog onto this one so you still get my content (if I can figure out how exactly to do that) but if you can update your links to the new site that would rule.

Go take a look and enjoy everyone’s writing!

If you and this blog go way back – like, you’re one of the ORIGINAL readers, back when three people read it instead of eight – you probably are familiar with my somewhat unhealthy fascination with criminal defense attorney James Ecker. Same goes for if you’re one of the couple people each week who find my blog by searching his name (okay, okay, so it’s probably just him, searching his own name a few times a week).

An Ecker Surge in the past couple weeks, along with some idle talk on the subject at work, has brought me to install a new feature in this space: Eye On Ecker.

In this feature, we’ll track the many criminal cases this silver fox takes on (historically, we’re talking stuff of the magnitude of Jeff Habay, the crazy ex-state senator who went down in a blaze of glory, and Ronald Taylor, the McDonald’s massacrist) from start to finish. Each time I see Ecker’s name or lovely mug on the tube or in the paper, I’ll make a note of it and will issue regular dispatches on his whereabouts and the results of his cases.

The guy is hired by nearly every high-profile defendant in the southwestern corner of the state; there must be a reason, and I doubt it’s that he’s affordable. These are life-and-death cases in a lot of instances. What does he do and how does he do it? Does he actually win cases or does it always come to plea bargain (I’ve rarely if ever seen an Ecker defendant who wasn’t pretty clearly guilty from day one)? Is that hair real?

We hope to answer all of these questions and more, all while avoiding libel suit, right here in the coming months with: Eye on Ecker.

this weekend

June 28, 2007

– Friday, the 29th: Centipede E’est and Karl Hendricks Trio (sans Alexei) at the Brillobox. I may or may not be able to make this one, but you should if you can. Okay, Manny wasn’t inaccurate when he suggested that “Gen Y’ers view Karl like [Generation X] viewed The Clarks;” I don’t really enjoy watching KHT (or KHRB, or whatever) but regardless of how you feel on that subject, Centipede won’t be playing shows for a while (what with Jim going on tour with Midnite Snake soon), so howsabout givin’ it up for them. Did I mention at the Arts Festival they played “New Sudan”?

– Saturday, the 30th: Des Ark with Julie Sokolow, Every Monster Truck Ever, at Roboto. Article here; I’m stoked that my enlightened editorial overlord chose to run the photo of Aimee reading a huge dictionary in front of the words “FUCK YOU MOTHER FUCKER.” Also, yes, there is a band called Every Monster Truck Ever, and they’re playing this show.

– Hopefully some tennis if I have time.

– The finishing touches being put on the super-secret blog project, and its unveiling. I might actually hold off until Monday morning to unveil it in a major way (not that it’ll be unveiled in a MAJOR way at all . . .) though the official date is supposed to be the 1st of the month. Technical aspects of this have been sapping a good bit of my blogging time, itself diminished because of my lack of home internet. Back to our regularly scheduled blogging soonish.

The latest glancing-about for events tells me that The Mountain Goats return to The Pittsburgh September 27 for an Elko show at the Rex Theater. Will I go? Perhaps. I’ll be brutally, sadly honest and admit that I kind of don’t like the most recent album. Perhaps with promises of lots of older material I’d definitely sign on. Regardless, there’s early warning for ya.

Why so reticent of late? Because you don’t want to hear about my dumb weekend and I’m not sure what else to talk about right now. Lots of smoothies and vegetarian cheesesteaks in my life. Maybe I’ll write an ode to those. Later.

notes on bands

June 22, 2007

EDITOR’S NOTE: I don’t get why this didn’t publish yesterday. I swiggity swear I hit “publish.” Oh well.
A few quick music-related things:

  • My Magic Wolf preview ran in this week’s paper. The release show is tomorrow night tonight; go there after the Joe Jack Talcum show.
  • Speaking of that show, it now features 100 percent less Daddy and a bit more Amoeba Kneivel and Weird Paul Rock Band. Do please come, it’ll be a good time.
  • Just finished writing a preview for next week’s paper of Des Ark. Excited for that show — it’s June 30 at Roboto, with Julie Sokolow and Every Monster Truck Ever.

hassling the hoff

June 20, 2007

Last night, I made some eh-okay pasta: penne with chopped up raw tomatoes, mozarella and an olive oil-balsamic-lemon juice dressing. I’ll eat the leftovers, but I’m not sure if I’ll make it again. I think I used too many tomatoes, and I don’t like raw tomatoes a lot in that context anyway. Oh well.

I then dove into Squirrel Hill to flyer for Joe Jack Talcum. In case you wanted reason to think I’m pathetic, I bribed myself into doing this in the rain by promising myself a bottle of vodka from the liquor store on Murray if I did a decent job of flyering. I hit the regulars (warm reception at the Exchange, icy stares of suspicion at Avalon, goofy nice dudes at Te Cafe who were already planning on coming to the show, doorway of Jerry’s) then grabbed a bus and made it home in time to watch the majority of “America’s Got Talent.”

Yes, that’s right. You probably know me as someone not easily enticed by the camp/kitsch/irony of stupid reality/competition TV shows. However, I have become a huge fan of “America’s Got Talent” this year. For this I credit:

  1. Living alone without the internet.
  2. The variety of acts featured — this isn’t a bunch of assholes who think they can sing.  This is a bunch of assholes who think they can sing PLUS a bunch of people who belly dance, do acrobatics with chihuahuas, break stuff with their butts, etc. etc.
  3. A pre-rehab Hasslehoff prone to losing his shit at random intervals.

The guy toward the end who sang the Police song made my heart feel warm. I hope he goes far. Same goes for Boy Shakira. His act was awesome in that it brought out two major cultural issues: mainstream treatment of trans people (you heard the competing cheers and boos in a way that doesn’t happen often on the show — the disagreement was intense), and the double standard inherent in favoring someone who’s attractive performing over someone who’s not as attractive. Shakira and Boy Shakira honestly do the same exact act; Shakira is a hot Latina lady, Boy Shakira is a kinda flabby guy. I’m glad Sharon and Piers moved him through, even if in doing so they moved the Hoff to angry theatrics.

The biggest disappointment of the night, though, was the judges’ dismissal of the Tuvan-style harmonic singing banjo guy. He was charismatic and talented, though I’ll admit the combination of throat singing and banjo ditties — especially self-referential banjo ditties about the origins of throat singing — is a bit awkward. But still, dude isn’t far removed from Arrington DeDionyso. And the judges’ treatment of him was a bit harsh, not to mention ignorant. It’s not easy to sing like that, frog-sounding or not.

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