Thursday, May 21, 2015

This just in...

---> I sometimes wonder if people go to the newest hip & trendy restaurants not for the food, but for the abuse. I've recently read a review of such an establishment that has opened in Long Island City. On a Saturday evening, after waiting outside on a line to get in the joint, and if you are fortunate enough to get on the wait list, you are required to don a pair of disposable gloves, choose your own fish from the ice-chest, carry it over to the counter, have it weighed, and pay for it. It then gets added to the "cooking queue". As you are forced to hover over diners who sit stuffed into the thimble-sized dining area, you could be waiting for up to an hour. The Greek owner is also your hostess and the only waitress. She was quoted by the reviewer as saying at one point during a very busy evening, "Oh my God, I'm getting dizzy!" To add to the festivities, some asshole in the crowd decides to switch the lights on and off while yelling, "Opa!", just for effect I suppose. It all seems so very New York faux-cool.

The article also quotes a young man who has been waiting (and hovering) for an eternity, an experience that he compares to jury duty. You are pushed, jostled, forced to wait for your food, but they give you complimentary garlic bread (which was described as 'run of the mill'). And if they seem to have misplaced your order? The response is a casual "Oh, well, the kitchen forgot. It's okay." All this for the privilege of eating at a BYOB shithole for a plate of broiled cod that I have to shell out $22 for? I would rather spend my Saturday night at jury duty.

---> Why does the word "emergency" always precede the word "appendectomy"? Aren't they all emergencies? I mean, how many people have had an appendix removed either voluntarily or via a scheduled surgical procedure?

---> Here's an update on a subject that was a 'hot topic' here on the 'Scat a few years back, the US Postal Service. I had a pleasant conversation with a letter carrier a few weeks back who told me that the recent agreement between FedEx, UPS and Amazon was a boon for the agency, which had been reporting huge billion-dollar losses. They have turned the corner, according to this fella, and their pension fund has never been more robust. A new delivery truck is being designed specifically to handle the extra volume and the previously dark and gloomy mood of the whole mess has become bright and sunny. You see? If the post office can make it happen, anyone can.

---> And finally, an update on another big story, the wreck and sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship. It is in Genoa, Italy, getting scrapped in a recovery shipyard. Some smaller bits are being sold to the public as 'souvenirs', but there's been a much more interesting discovery: apparently, in one of the holds of the ship, a 'big cargo' of cocaine has been found. The vessel is under 24-hour surveillance and a new investigation will be undertaken to get to the bottom (tee hee) of this latest development.

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Where else are you going to get news like this, folks, but here on Tiger Scat? If you really like what you read here, and would like to make a donation to help keep the operation afloat (tee hee again), shoot me an email at, and I'll gladly accept your money. Opa!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Boycott Update

I know my 'Scat faithful are eagerly awaiting a status update on the various boycotts that I have in place, so here goes with the latest:

The local diner (name still withheld because I like the waitresses who work there): The full boycott is still active. First off, we have moved the studio out of the neighborhood, so there's one convenience that is no longer at my disposal. Secondly, we don't eat out that often and if we do, it sure as hell is not going to be at a shitty diner. Thirdly, the owner, although a naturalized Greek, is a big Chelsea fan and for that alone, he sucks. ... I miss exactly two things about it: the eggplant parmigiana, which was better than any version served up by the Italian-American restaurants in the area. And the aforementioned waitresses, some of the hardest working, genuinely friendly servers anywhere. But those two items are not compelling enough for me to lift the boycott.

The shoe repair place: I broke down and dropped off a pair of expensive shoes that needed a serious glue job for the rubber soles, purely out of convenience. To my surprise, the miserable Chinese guy who runs the place now has a woman (his wife? his daughter? his half-sister? who knows?) running the counter and she's a lot more pleasant to deal with. Maybe she steps outside every so often to take a break from inhaling the toxic chemical fumes, maybe she's not affected by them or maybe she's just plain nice. No matter, I asked her to put a rush on the job, and she did so, at no extra cost, and with a smile. Boycott ended.

The NHL: My heretofore beloved New York Rangers are current holders of the Presidents Trophy, given to the team that ends the regular season with the best record. They have put to shame their arena mates, the hapless, embarrassing and altogether disgraceful New York Knickerbockers, yet I still have not been following them. Oh sure, I catch up with the latest in the papers and on line, but without cable (more on that next) and with a seriously decreasing interest in all sports, the Rangers are but a footnote in my life. I wish them luck in the playoffs, but here's how I see it: if they lose, oh well, too bad, if they win, good for them. Boycott over, but interest at an all-time low, so fare thee well, hockey, hope we meet again some day on some frozen backyard pond in the sky.

Cable TV: I really can't categorize this as a 'boycott' any more. I'm not a cable t.v. subscriber any longer just because I'm mad at them; I just don't need it. I have a Roku streamer and I'm "borrowing" the log-in information for Netflix from my nephew. Netflix is the best fucking thing to happen to my t.v. screen, ever. So, let's put this down as boycott over, permanent cancellation in place.

NPR: I have in recent weeks been tuning in every so often to the increasingly mainstream NPR, so I suppose you could say that my boycott has ended. Here's the thing: there is so little quality news broadcasting on the radio that I am almost forced to tune them in to get the headlines, etc, and the occasional special interest feature. I also visit the website more often for the same reason. They distill their stories down to the bare minimum, to avoid listener fatigue. They are funded by some dubious benefactors. Their on air personalities have some of the most annoying voices (and names) on the dial, but in the end run, they are the only game in town. Boycott over.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

in heavy rotation, next installment

Here is the short list of some goodies that have been in heavy rotation here at Scat HQ. Some old, some new, some pop, some blues, hopefully there's something in here for you...

The maestro on his first album for the peerless ECM label, "Facing You", which is on mostly everyone's top piano jazz lists. Beautiful stuff for an early Saturday morning or a late Wednesday night.

When you want some dirty, raw-assed delta blues in your life, you can't get any better than this bad ass motherfucker. Robert Pete Williams is not easy to listen to but he is as real as it gets.

THE WHITE STRIPES: Ball and Biscuit
Jack White has recently joined the consortium of artists who have become owners of the hi-fidelity music streaming service Tidal, and although I have my misgivings about this, I still love him. He is a true keeper of the blues flame, clearly evident on this great live version of his "Ball and Biscuit".

A new sensation out of Australia, I predict this band to be the next darlings of indie rock. Despite that, their debut "Sometimes I sit and think..." is one of the best releases so far this year; this line in the featured song, a sarcastic account of house hunting, should make some of my real estate agent friends chuckle (I hope!): "If you have a spare half a million; You could knock it down and start rebuilding."

This one's a neat little folk-rock gem from a band out of Canada, but don't hold that against them. Joking aside, I often retreat to earnest, well-intentioned songs like "The Great Exhale" whenever I get tired of all the noise and clatter in the world. Enjoy.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Underplayed vs Overplayed, the List

I found myself in a very unfortunate situation the other day: I was stuck waiting in a shop that had classic rock playing on their sound system. Now don't get me wrong, I love classic rock, but as we all know, the genre is subject, more than others it seems, to having its hits played over and over until our ears bleed. And many other songs from these artists are rarely, if ever, played on the airwaves. I know, I know, classic rock radio and streaming strictly hew to one cardinal rule: "Play what they know and play it often." But, for those of us who have a brain and two ears that still function creatively, I've compiled a list of some of these classic rock artists and their songs that I never need to hear again, and some that I would love to hear more often, and I welcome all comments. Except the ones that I might disagree with.

1. Bruce Springsteen
Don't ever need to hear again ("No"): "Born to Run"
Would love to hear again ("Yes"): "Adam Raised a Cain"
My Jersey brethren will have me strung up by my balls for this one, but, really, is there any relevancy remaining in "Baby, we were born to run"? None of the rebellious spirit that the song celebrates is to be found anywhere, in my view. It's more like, "Baby, you were born to conform." Let's instead put into heavy rotation "Adam Raised a Cain", a badass song with badass guitars, badass lyrics and a badass attitude.

2. Eagles
No: "Hotel California"
Yes: "Good Day in Hell"
Hey, I love "Hotel" as much as the next fool, and I usually find myself singing the lyrics and playing double-necked air guitar alongside the boys whenever it's playing, but I've heard it maybe a thousand times, whereas "Good Day in Hell" is a song I've heard maybe fifty times. It's a great little rock and roll song with a killer slide guitar solo, an awkward change of octave after said solo and it's just long enough, at four minutes, twenty-six.

3. Billy Joel
No: "Piano Man"
Yes: "Vienna"
"Vienna" might be a tad too schmaltzy for the typical classic-rock-Joe-six-pack, what with it's string section and accordion solo, but it is a pretty little song that gives the world just enough Billy Joel, that is, if we ever need to hear Billy Joel, ever again.

4. The Romantics
No: "What I like about You"
Yes: "Talking in your Sleep"
Never mind that I actually hate this band's biggest hit, the one song, along with Southside Johnny's "We're having a Party", that I never need to hear, ever again. I have a secret place in my heart for the lesser-known "Talking in your Sleep", because it was one of the first songs I would cue up when I was deejaying dance parties in the 1980's. It would sometimes meet with curious looks, but eventually it caught on, in all its minor scale glory, and I had them all eating out of my hands by the time the floor was ready for "The Politics of Dancing".

5. Boston
No: "More than a Feeling"
Yes: "Hitch a Ride"
On the day that this album was released, I waited patiently for three hours for my dad to come home from work so he could take me to E.J. Korvette's to buy it because I fell in love with whoever Marianne was from the hit single "More than a Feeling". Thirty-nine years and countless radio plays since, I can safely say that I am no longer in love with her. "Hitch a Ride" was always the cut I would skip to when I realized that Marianne had 'walked away' from me for good.

And, finally...

6. Kansas
No: "Carry on Wayward Son"
Yes: not applicable
Sorry, but there is nothing from the band Kansas that anyone, anywhere, has to hear again, anytime.

With all of this talk of moldy oldies and the songs that should be replacing them, I leave you with this gem from a partially-reunited version of Bad Company, your 'Scatter-in-Chief's greatest guilty pleasure. Few would argue that Paul Rodgers possesses one of the greatest singing voices in rock history, even at 60 years old, as he is when this tour was on. Enjoy and keep your ears on.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Word Turds, Volume 2

We've got a couple of quick little Word Turds for you today that just pooped (oops, I mean 'popped') into my head this morning. They are very target-group-specific, so I don't expect much play from the general public on these.

AUDIOPHOOLE: A play on the word "audiophile", which by definition is "a person who is especially interested in high-fidelity sound reproduction". It's the sort of guy who owns a great stereo system and continues to swap out equipment, try new things and setups all in the quest for the perfect sound. But like most hobbies, the costs can get absolutely insane, and with those rising price points, the law of diminishing returns is in full force... thus, an "Audiophoole" is that guy who drops $15,000 on a pair of speaker cables or $10,000 on wall-mounted sound diffusers thinking that he might be missing a pluck or two of a violin in Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe". Oh, and also the guy who thinks nothing of paying $4,450 on a machine that spin-cleans your vinyl LP's. Yes, almost $5,000 for what can basically be done in your kitchen sink.

BORE-MULA ONE: For you racing fans out there who might at least be familiar with the world's premier racing series, Formula One. Over the last couple of seasons however it has been anything but premier. The series is managed by a pathological, 84-year old power-hungry control freak midget, Bernie Ecclestone, whose megalomaniacal behavior has all but ruined the sport. The participants are so far apart in performance and engineering design because of this man's policies that one team out of ten is winning races. Often times, the cars of that team, Mercedes AMG Petronas, are so far ahead that they actually slow down to conserve fuel and wear and tear on the car and driver. Thus, Formula One has now become Bore-mula One.

That's it for now, Turdheads, look for the next edition of Word Turds whenever inspiration strikes again.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Manly men, doing manly things. That only manly men can do.

This one's for the manly men out there, I know there's a few of you still standing...

I did a very manly thing the other night. I watched the fights. Yes, fights, as in boxing, not that bullshit hybrid boxing-kicking-jabbing-grappling thing that is so popular. Just two guys hitting each other with their gloved fists. Granted, most of the rounds were full of aimless swinging and missed targets, but it was a lot of fun watching one guy pummel the other one every so often. Very manly.

Also very manly: ball-sack cupping. Not fondling, mind you, that's just creepy. I'm talking a guy reaching into his pants and cupping his balls while sitting on the couch, watching the fights. It's our way of telling those two boys that they are, indeed, needed, cared for, loved. I often cup my balls while watching television.

Barber shops: one of the last outposts of manliness. Of course, now my local barbershop has been infiltrated by moms accompanying their young sons to the barber, and I understand this is out of necessity what with busy working schedules, commitments of the 'modern' family in this new economic reality and all of that, but the barbershop is still a refuge for me. I can drop F-bombs to the barber, well within earshot of anybody in the shop, without fear of reprisal. We can carry on a conversation about anything, usually mundane shit like 'how's business?" or "did you see the fights the other night?", stupid shit even. But manly nonetheless. And, if the stray mom and her young man-in-training happen to catch an earful of this conversation which may or may not be liberally spiced with profanities, so be it. My grandfather's barbershop, Chubby's in Teaneck, New Jersey, had Playboys piled up along with the daily paper, Time magazine and even The Daily Racing Form. Those were the manly days.

Whiskey: is there a beverage out there that can be any more manly than whiskey? I don't care how you prefer it, whether it be Bourbon, Scotch, Canadian rye or Irish. Nothing says "manly" quite as much as a rocks glass half full of the good brown stuff. In a perfect world, there would be a barbershop where the owner had a secret stash of whiskey that he pulled out for his best customers and then turned on the t.v. with the fights on. That is a slice of manly heaven.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Curioser and Curioser

---I hereby predict that, soon, emailing for personal use will go the way of the Model T, the telex and the telephone landline. You thought that actual handwritten letters were the stuff of crusty old nostalgics? Enter emailing; nobody does it anymore it seems, and those who do tend to keep the communiques extremely brief. I suppose one of the reasons is the volume of emails that many people need to deal with at the workplace; it becomes a matter of fatigue. But it's also another example of the continuing Fed-Ex Syndrome, wherein everything that once took three hours to do, then three minutes, now takes three seconds. Hey, life is short, so why waste it writing an actual letter to someone?

---Mystery. For as popular as it is in literature, movies and television, mystery as a concept remains hugely unpopular. Rare is the person, even the religious type, who is comfortable with mystery. In short, we need to know the reason or cause behind everything. Why else would we have so many sources for information at our very fingertips? Medical mysteries in particular continue to fascinate me, but almost in equal measure to frustrate me. Your Scatter-in-Chief was recently in a world of hurt due to what is still inexplicable leg pain; it came on suddenly during the night and lived with me for three days. Medication and rest are proving so far effective, but neither the doctor nor I have been able to identify the actual problem nor the cause. As a massage therapist, I deal with this sort of guessing game day in, day out, but when it happens to me, I feel a peculiar sense of failure when I can't figure out where the pain came from.

---The short story, or novella, or "novelette" or whatever it is, that I'm writing, "The Captain's Letters" is really teaching me a thing or two about writers, and that is this: it's no way to make a living. To make it work, you really need to: a) know what you're doing, b) a skilled and experienced editor at your beck and call, and c) the time to indulge this ultimately pointless pursuit. It's one thing to have a great idea, or even a riveting plot, and to put them into a collection of words and sentences that will keep the readers entertained, or at the very least, interested, but it's quite another to keep track of all the technical elements that a good story should contain: strong characters, accurate sense of time, place, and location, climate, geography, history, et cetera et cetera et cetera. It's no wonder that I've only completed six very small installments in the last 19 months. Good thing, then, that I don't do this for a living.