Archive for the ‘Popular Culture’ Category

Venti Half Caf Def Breve?

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

I have never been a big Starbucks customer; thankfully, I was born without a discriminating coffee palate. I can enjoy most anything. But I wonder if I would enjoy the most expensive coffee in the world? I am speaking, of course, of Kopi Luwak. This primarily-Indonesian coffee is made of coffee berries that have been eaten and, uh, inspected for quality by the palm civet. How do civets inspect for quality? Well, they pass the berries, if you get my drift. It gives a whole new meaning to roasting. It’s a little bit like a naturally occurring Mochaccino.

Asian Palm Civet

Asian Palm Civet

According to the Wikipedia article

The beans are washed, and given only a light roast so as to not destroy the complex flavors that develop through the process.

Complex? Process? Well, at least they are washed. It’s a little bit like a fine Barolo. Instead of 3 or 5 years in an aging barrel, the beans age in civet bowels for a few hours. You might call this coffee “high end”. Prices for this gourmet coffee range from $120 to $600 per pound, although on-line bean prices are typically expressed per 100 grams to prevent seizures.

If you prefer your coffee “filtered” by a different animal, Kopi Muntjac is coffee from berries that have passed through barking deer.

Muntjac Barking Deer

Muntjac Barking Deer

From Vietnam comes another special blend, Weasel Puke. Weasel Puke comes from coffee berries that have been ingested and subsequently regurgitated by the local version of the Asian Palm Civet. Apparently, the berries in Vietnam upset the tummy of the civets so that they must, you know, throw them back up. I’m guessing that this coffee is like a strong roast sumatra.

There have been reports of single cups of these coffees selling from anywhere between $50 and nearly $100. I wonder if the $100 cup of Kopi Luwak was anything like double roasted. Now that would be complex.

Playa Please!

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

When reading, it takes a whole lot of awkward to make me uncomfortable. It doesn’t happen very often. But it happened this morning as I read an article in today’s Washington Post with the headline Fashion Guidance for Aging Japanese Lads.

The article begins

For 12 straight years, sales have fallen in Japanese department stores, with clothing sales — the most important category for revenue and profits — driving the slide.

Behind the sagging rag trade is demography. Young spenders are increasingly rare. And there are swelling herds of older savers.

This seems perfectly natural because, as the article states later on

With 22 percent of the population already older than 65 (compared with about 12 percent in the United States), and with the old predicted to outnumber the young 4 to 1 by 2040, Japanese retailers, marketers and publishers are all trying to tease more purchases out of the elderly.

But before the article got to this point, it gave me a full-blown case of the heebie jeebies

Enter OilyBoy — a slick new magazine designed to excite consumption among “elder boys.”

Weathered, wrinkled and bald though they may be, the aging Japanese lads who read OilyBoy are still out on the town, drinking. Or up in the mountains, backpacking. Or down at the beach, surfing.

If you have read that far, you are rewarded with this infelicitous quote

“We don’t think we have become elderly people,” said Masami Kanno, 52, editor of OilyBoy, which appeared on newsstands this fall and is selling briskly. “We think we are players, even if we are 50 or 60 or 70.”

50 or 60 or 70? Players? What the krunk is Masami thinking? Listen, if you ask me, hip hop means The Sugarhill Gang and rap music means Kurtis Blow. So, no, I’m not exactly a “player”. But I have enough playacation to say: Playa please, you be trippin’ Masami.

Thanks, But No Thanks

Thanks, But No Thanks

OilyBoy, Tease, Elder Boys, Excite, Aging Lads, Drinking, Old Boy!

Yeech!! Here’s what comes to my mind. Sorry fellas.



As it turns out, OilyBoy is the nickname of “the late Jiro Shirasu, once the coolest guy in Japan”. Well, I feel all better now. Now someone get me a beer outa dat Playa Pack.

Happy Birthday Skunk and Nuge

Saturday, December 13th, 2008

Today happens to be the birthday of two of rock’s most interesting characters. Jeff ‘Skunk’ Baxter and Ted Nugent were both born on this day in 1948.

Jeff Baxter was a founding member of my all-time favorite group, Steely Dan. He went on to play with another successful group, the Doobie Brothers and has been a sought-after studio musician in the years since. I saw him playing with the Doobie Brothers when they came to Blacksburg Virginia. I would guess this would have been some time around 1978.

Ted Nugent has had a long solo career and frequently declared that he did not drink or use tobacco or marijuana. A member of the Board of Directors of the NRA, he is frequently in the news espousing conservative views and support for gun and hunting rights. At one time, he was thinking about a career in politics and, more specifically, a run for the US senate from Illinois. He currently lives in Texas, so I doubt we will see him mentioned as a Candidate in Blagogate.

Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent

Jeff Baxter is another interesting character, but you are much less likely to hear about him. I remember him at the Doobie Brothers concert at Cassell Coliseum on the campus of Virginia Tech. He spent the entire concert playing his guitar, sitting on a stool, wearing headphones. Not exactly the consummate entertainer, but a real commitment to the music.

Baxter’s second career has been as a self-taught defense consult on matters relating to missile defense. He has had contracts with the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies, and companies such as SAIC and Northrop Grumman.

Jeff Baxter

Jeff Baxter

Happy Birthday to two great musicians and entertainers.

In Memoriam: Michael Crichton

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

Michael Crichton died yesterday, November 4, 2008.  Crichton was the author of many books, including The Andromeda Strain and Jurassic Park.  He was also a movie and TV writer and director.   His movie credits included Westworld and Coma.  As a youngster, I saw movies like The Andromeda Strain, Westworld, and Coma.  They were pretty scary for their time.  Yul Brynner as the gunslinger in Westworld made an especially lasting impression.

Crichton was also creator and executive producer of TV’s ER.


The Real Plumber

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008

Here in Vienna VA, there is a well-known character that goes by the name Sal.  Sal is a real plumber and I believe he even owns his own plumbing business, so watch out Sal, you just may be tapped to help “spread the wealth”.  Sal is an Obama supporter.  How do I know such personal details of someone that I have never even met?  I have been carefully studying this picture for hours, and it is the only conclusion I can draw.

Sal The Real Plumber

Sal The Real Plumber

It is hard to see in the picture, I know.  But at the upper right of the Obama Biden banner, it states simply: “Sal The Real Plumber”.  On his porch, there are two headless mannequins, each holding a drain plunger.

Joe Wurzelbacher, eat your heart out.

If you find yourself in Vienna some time, and you see Sal on the street, go ahead and introduce yourself.  Go ahead, take the plunge!