Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 16

( #SundayLeftovers )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we melt your spoon and serve you edamame. Lets open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: Jeff Simpson

CREDIT: 13th Floor Elevators - You're Gonna Miss Me

[Recipe of the Week: Edamame Fried Rice]

Credit: Kitchen Daily - Lauren Braun Costello

I was looking for a simple fried rice recipe this week and came across this interesting version...


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
4 scallions, trimmed and chopped
2 carrots, diced
2/3 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
4 cups cooked white rice (cold)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil


1. Heat a large nonstick saute pan or wok over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan.
2. Add the garlic and ginger and saute until fragrant and soft, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the scallion (or onion) and carrots, and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
4. Add the rice, edamame, soy sauce, and sesame oil, stirring constantly to evenly distribute and heat the ingredients.
5. Use the back of a fork to break up the rice if it is sticking in chunks.

The writer recommends using day old rice as it cooks better and also suggests adding meat if you are so inclined.

[DIY of the Week: Gallium Spoons]

I just read a book called "The Disappearing Spoon" about periodic table of elements, written in the least nerdy way possible. This is a fun experiment that came out of it. Mess with your friends!

Molds and Gallium can be found here

[Video of the Week]


I think my first post with Drinking Made Easy will hit this week. I will post and let you know. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Friday, February 25, 2011

Do you know what today is?

( #TGIF )

I think this Russian girl is trying to tell us something....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Samurai vs. Shadow Ninja?

( #Ninja, #Samurai )

Check out this cool performance piece from Japan (credit: Nerdist).

Cream of the Crop...

( #MachoMan )

This dude really was not in his right mind... and it was awesome.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Count...

( #SnoopDog )

This might be the greatest picture ever...

Image Credit: HoePlease

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush: Don't Give Up

( #PeterGabriel, #KateBush )

I love Peter Gabriel's album "So". Every song is a classic. While there were a few videos to support this record, I never knew there was a video for "Don't Give Up" (I was only 6 when it came out)...until today:

Thanks to Zoe Strauss for posting it.

Neil Finn takes request from an iPad

( #NeilFinn, #iPad )

Crowded House singer Neil Finn (who is an excellent front man and a personal favorite) has long been in the practice of inviting local musicians to play with him during his solo shows. I felt it important to focus on that before I mention that the person invited on stage was noticed for waving around an iPad.

Frankly, I think it is douchy and I hope that it doesn't encourage Apple fanboys to start bringing their iPods to concerts (like they do at movies), but I will give the kid props for getting on stage to play with Finn. He does an admirable job.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Request: Typos

( #Typos )

Image Credit: 500CPM

I am going to let you in on a secret true be-loggers...I am a terrible self-editor. This blog is infested with typos, poor punctuation, and bad sentences (and one could argue bad writing). I can edit other people's work (or things I wrote a while ago) just fine, but anything fresh from my own mind tends to be skipped over and read quickly.

After my boss informed me that her 18-year-old daughter picked apart a few of my posts (simultaneously shaming me for bad grammar and terrifying me that 18-year-olds are reading this blog), I decided to crowd-source my editing. If you find typos in my work, please do me a favor and let me know via the contact form. I have said it before and I will say it again, I like feedback on the blog (even the negative), so if you have a moment to report an error, I would greatly appreciate it.

Italian Double?

( #IgnazioBoschetto )

A couple of weeks ago at a family party, my Aunt mentioned she saw a kid on an Italian variety show that looked like me (when I was younger). I tried to look it up on my phone but the connection at the place was terrible and then I promptly forgot...until she had her son send me this.

Ignazio Boschetto: Age 15

I thought to myself... hmmm... that sort of does look like me. But you be the judge readers:

Joey: Age 11ish

NOTE: This kid has a deeper voice than I do now.

Politics: Breast Feeding & Michele Bachmann

( #MicheleBachmann, #BreastFeeding )

Image Credit: Gage Skidmore

The liberal press is in a minor uproar over Republican Michele Bachmann's criticisms of Michelle Obama's proposed program to offer tax breaks for breast pumping equipment. Reading a few articles about the situation, I felt the need to step back and make a comment.

It is easy to call Bachmann an anti-breast-feeding nut, but the woman claims to have breast-fed her five children (and I believe her). Her issue is with the government have a program subsidizing the equipment to encourage the practice. So here is my issue with the press: instead of calling out Bachmann as an uncooperative asshole, they call her anti-breast-feeding. This marginalizes her to most people as a nut and paints over the fact that we have people trying to get into office for the sake of general disagreement.

This is the sort of behavior that is ruining this country and our political framework.

In the long run, what could offering tax breaks on breast pumps really cost the tax payers versus the long term ramifications of not giving breast-feeding? The two things driving up the deficit in this country are medical benefits (including medicare) and social security. Any long term, outside of the box thinking that promotes a healthier society should be encouraged.

There should be national direction and education program since it is clear that people have gotten very far away from the basic skills needed to survive and thrive. This goes back to a few of my previous comments on this blog about the concept of national identity and goals for our government in a global economy and society. What are we trying to be and what are we trying to save?

PS: If anyone is going to get on my ass about the benefits of breast-feeding being inconclusive versus formula, please stop. Read this and just accept that millions of years of evolution beats Carnation instant breakfast for babies.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 15

( #SundayLeftovers )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week we have an unintentional religious theme. I just found some random things that all seem to be related (except for recipe which could be considered a religious experience down south). Let's open the fridge and see what the hell is going on...

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: A History of Sin

CREDIT: Kurt Vile - Jesus Fever

[Recipe of the Week: BBQ Pulled Pork]

Here is a recipe I did last week. Because I didn't have any BBQ sauce, I made my own. I cut way more onions than needed for the sauce because I wanted more in my sandwich.

BBQ Sauce

3 large onion, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon of butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1 (40 oz) bottle tomato ketchup
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1/8 tsp. mesquite smoke (just a few drops - optional)
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

In a saucepan, heat the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and ground cumin in butter. Cook until the onions are softened.

Stir in the brown sugar, molasses, ketchup, apple cider, vinegar, and mustard. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes longer. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Stir in a few drops of mesquite smoke flavor if like a smoky flavor (optional).

Place the mixture in a crock pot set to high heat.

BBQ Pork:

Get a 2 lb pork shoulder and brown it in the saucepan. Then put it in the crock pot and walk away for 6 hours. Pull apart the pork with a fork and serve in a roll.

[DIY of the Week: Turn your old NES into a DVD player]

This is an expensive and time consuming DIY, but if you are a nerd, you might have to do it:

DIRECTIONS:Turn NES into DVD player

[Video of the Week]


Thanks for reading this week! If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Announcement: New Writing Assignment

( #gigs, #drinkingmadeeasy )

Image Credit: Mel B.

I am pleased to announce that I will be writing for the Zane Lamprey "Drinking Made Easy" blog starting next month. One of my friends (BT!) heard about open positions at DME and knew my gig with Phillyist was coming to an end—so I made contact.

I will still be writing for this blog, and from what I am told, I can integrate my articles for DME pretty easily here. I am very excited by the news and I hope you all enjoy Drinking Made Easy now and in the coming months (with my stink all over it).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Joey Interviews... Gary Sutton (writer of Oskaloosa Moon)

( #GarySutton, #OskaloosaMoon )

Image Credit: Tim Snell

Sometimes this little blog creates fun opportunities for me (without me having to do a thing). This post just so happens to be one of those situations. Last week a writer named Gary Sutton came across my Amazon profile and then my website (to send me a note). We exchanged emails about his most recent book “Oskaloosa Moon”. Gary kindly agreed to answer a few questions after I finished reading it.

“Oskaloosa Moon” is the story about a young man with a facial deformity growing up in Iowa in the 50/60’s. His deformity instigates a few adventures and (of course) causes issues. Other readers have mentioned similarities to Forrest Gump and now that analogy is stuck in my head. While there are similarities, Sutton’s story does not sugarcoat the harsher aspects of our society—this book is not a fairy tale.

Before we get into the book, I thought your named seem familiar. There is a Gary Sutton that writes financial books—is that you?

I've written a few business books. The most recent was "Corporate Canaries" by Thomas Nelson and "The Six Month Fix" by Wiley.

How did you get into writing?

Started liking the process in high school. Thought then that I wanted to write a book one day. Vietnam interrupted and then family. Took about three more decades before I had anything worth saying and it started with a series of business books. I felt I had enough literary license to the analogies that it seemed possible that I could write a novel. So I did.

Where did you get your inspiration for “Oskaloosa Moon”?

I think much of the book is what I experienced and what I saw. Some of it is what I imagined could have been. My junior high and high school girlfriends refuse to read it believing that it's my story—it bothers them too much.

Did you have to do a lot of research to get the geography down?

No problem at all; this is where I grew up. I've been to every locale. But, I did have a lot of old friends scan the manuscripts for accuracy and added details...except those two girlfriends who couldn't bear the story.

Moon is a complex character. While reading the book and trying to get into his head, I had a hard time deciding if he was an outright genius, a savant, or had a slight learning impairment. What is your official position?

With apologies, I don't have one. He's what you think he is.

Moon’s physical disability is a major plot point in the book—you waited a chapter to reveal that information to the readers, why did you hold off instead of giving the reader the information right away?

Telling all quickyly is journalism. Holding back is fiction. Journalism is information delivered efficiently. Fiction is entertainment unfolding.

The book gets pretty dark towards the end—why did you choose that direction?

There was an actual incident here in San Diego that inspired that. A deformed young man named Dale Akiki was wrongly imprisoned. The story reasonably tracks some of the things that happened to him.

One of the characters, Mr. Nordstrud, was written out of the book rather abruptly—was he always intended disappear or did you plan to revisit him at some point?

He's a composite of some helpful adults along the way who nudged me away from trouble and pushed me towards better directions. No... I had no plans to revisit the character. Some of those good people disappear.

The main antagonist of the book (Dr. Throckmorton) plays like a classic comic book villain. Did he always exist as such a bastard or did you ever envision a more sympathetic (shades of gray) version of him at some point?

In fact you are so right, there was no evil guy in my small towns. But—the Superintendent and the Principle of Ames High did try to withhold my diploma.

As a writer, what is your opinion of eBooks? I read Oskaloosa Moon on a Kindle, and I am just curious what a published pro thinks of this new distribution model. Do you think it will be better for writers by cutting out the publishers (eventually)?

I view this as an inevitable business model, but feel bad about the gradual and steady loss of print and longer stories. I still don't have a Kindle, iPad or NOOK but will soon, just to not be left behind. No, I don't think it will be better by cutting out publishers. I've already had two novelas stolen and columns resold without permission, and so, the ease of digital theft will hurt the middlemen a lot but also the providers just as it did to music.

I want to thank Gary for this time and for writing a very engaging novel. Mr. Sutton is working on a few books at the moment: a revision on a non-fiction book for college seniors on how to snag that first paycheck and he is hoping to publish a new fictional novel in 2012.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Page Cavanaugh Trio: Three Bears

( #ThreeBears, #Jazz )

Saw this on Boing Boing the other day and thought my readers would enjoy it...

Not everything has to be sarcastic on this blog :-)

Monday, February 14, 2011

A song for your Valentine...

( #ValentinesDay, #BlackJoeLewis )

CREDIT: Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Bitch, I love you

Hipsters pissing on...

( #Hipsters, #Zelda )

... at least 4 things I hold dear from my childhood. Normally I find these mash-ups endearing, but the people who put this together forgot to add the spice of charming and instead sprinkled in douche....

Look again at this dot...

( #CarlSagan, #Space )

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 14

( #SundayLeftovers )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! I hope everyone enjoyed Date My Beard Week on this blog and the douche playlist over at Squidbuster. I don't do theme weeks often, but I think it was pretty fun. This week on Sunday Leftovers we cook Jambalaya and avoid a CGI Penis. Let's open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: Spirits by Goro Fujita

CREDIT: Lia Ices - Daphne

[Recipe of the Week: Jambalaya]
Credit: Esquire Magazine & Sarah O'Kelley


1 stick plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 lbs diced andouille or other smoked, ready-to-eat sausage (about 7 cups)
3 cups chopped yellow onion (about 1 ½ medium onions)
2 cups chopped celery (about 5 ribs)
2 cups chopped green bell pepper (about 2 medium peppers)
1 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp minced garlic (about 3 medium cloves)
4-lb roasted chicken, skin and fat discarded, meat pulled (about 5 cups)
1 qt chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied together with kitchen twine
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp hot sauce (or less if desired)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp ground coriander
4 cups Uncle Ben's Original converted parboiled rice, or other parboiled rice
1 bunch scallions, chopped


Preheat oven to 450 degrees and start chopping.

In a large pot — at least 8 quarts with a tightly fitting lid — melt butter until foamy over medium-high heat. Add andouille and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes.

Add onions, celery, bell peppers, salt, and pepper and cook until onions are translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add pulled chicken, chicken stock, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and coriander. Stir to combine. When liquid comes to a simmer, add rice, cover, and transfer pot to preheated oven. Cook until rice has absorbed all of the liquid and is tender, 30 to 40 minutes. (The rice should be moist but not wet with excess liquid.) Do not remove lid before 30 minutes to check — quickly — for doneness, as you will interrupt the steaming process. (Note: Cooking any grain is about steam. The cooking time here depends on your pot's ability to retain heat and the lid's ability to trap steam.)

Remove from oven. Discard bundle of thyme and bay leaves. Add scallions and stir to thoroughly combine. Salt to taste.

Serve in bowls, passing extra hot sauce on the side. (Note: There is always carryover cooking with rice, so if you're not serving immediately, transfer to a large platter or bowl.) Serves 10 to 12.

[DIY of the Week: Solar Powered Battery Charger]

What you need:

A clear, water-proof container. (Dollar Store tupperware with built in O-Ring)
AA Battery Holder (Radio Shack, also fits AAAs if you're careful)
One or Two Solar Panels rated 4 Volts or above
Blocking Diode (Radio Shack, or buy 100 for $1 off eBay.)

Tools you need
Soldering Iron
Safety Goggles
Some wire

Click Here for full directions

[Video of the Week]
Warning: This is not safe for work or near children (there is a CGI penis).


There could be some very cool writing assignments I have lined up over the next week, so check back here for more information. If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Friday, February 11, 2011

Date My Beard: Episode 04

( #beards, #dating, #valentinesday )

The finale of Date My Beard...

If you want more episodes of Date My Beard, let us know via the contact form

Thanks for watching!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Watch Jimmy Fallon tomorrow night!

( #TomCleary, #MikeGordon )

My friend Tom Cleary will be on Jimmy Fallon tomorrow night at 12:30 AM (technically Saturday morning) playing with the Mike Gordon band. If you are so inclined, stay up and watch!

Date My Beard: Episode 03

( #beards, #dating, #valentinesday )

We return to the Chairman and his beard in Episode 3. He discusses keeping the beard strong...

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Superman Classic

( #Superman, #Disney )

What if Superman cartoons were done by Disney? Take a look:

PS: I love that they got the guy who played Superboy in the 80's TV show to do the voice. Good stuff!

Date My Beard: Episode 02

( #beards, #dating, #valentinesday )

Date My Beard Week continues with the introduction of Red Beard. The story behind this episode is that this dude was installing pavers in my yard when we were starting the site, so I got my camera and this is what happened.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

You think you are cold...

( #ice, #polar )

...check this guy out

Credit: Boing Boing

Creepy Monkey Waiters with masks

( #Monkey, #Japan )

Credit: io9

Japan continues to push the creepy factor with this establishment that dresses monkeys in girls clothing and puts a human mask on them to finish the job. I don't think I want to eat anywhere that has free range monkeys roaming around.

Date My Beard: Episode 01

( #beards, #dating, #valentinesday )

In honor of Valentine's Day, here is the most pure kind of love—beard love.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Date My Beard Week: Great Beards

( #beards, #dating, #valentinesday )

Here is a little warm up for Date My Beard Week. The Top 10 Greatest Beards...

Date My Beard Week!

( #beard, #dating )

I have good news and bad news for you readers. Most of you know I run a few websites that caters to my odd sense of humor. Sometimes they pop with audiences (like Squidbuster), and in the case of Date My Beard, they fizzle.

I have shut down the Date My Beard domain, moved the site as an archive under the "JoeyLombardi" brand and will publish some of DMB's greatest hits right here on this website. With that said, I am pleased to announce "Date My Beard" week! Every day will feature a classic episode of Date My Beard featuring the Chairman of the legion of beardites.

If there are further seasons of Date My Beard, they will be released right here on this site (and then published to the DMB Archive).

Thanks for watching!

Annoucement: Douchebag Playlist Week @ Squidbuster

( @squidbuster, #douche )

This is going to be a fun week on the blogs. Here at Ordered Chaos we are airing the full "Date My Beard" series starting today. My Sunday was super-productive doing homework (not watching the Superbowl) and setting up a "Douchebag playlist" over at Squidbuster.

It is going to countdown all week (twice a day), so pop over there if you haven't lately (I know, I haven't updated it too much). If you have never visited the site, check it out, I think there are moments of social satire brilliance captured there (and some really stupid things too).

I hope you enjoy the content at both sites this week! Thanks for visiting.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunday Leftovers: Volume 03: Issue 13

( #SundayLeftovers, #Superbowl )

Howdy true be-loggers, welcome to Sunday Leftovers! This week I am busting out the newest version of the Bufflejoe (v. 3.0) for the big game, celebrating the year of the rabbit, and showing you how to upgrade a flashlight on the cheap. Let's open the fridge and see what is leftover...

[The Back Window]

CREDIT: Arrested Motion

CREDIT: Hey Rosetta - Yer Spring!

[Recipe of the Week: Buffle-Joe 3.0]

NOTE: Need a crock pot


1 large loaf of bread (the crustier the better, make sure it is wide)
Chicken breasts (about 2.5 lbs)
3 oz tomato paste
Two red onions
8 oz chicken stock
Celery stalks (cut into strips)
Blue Cheese Dressing
Shoe-String French Fries
Cooper-Sharp Cheese
Two Large bottles of hot sauce (your choice)

Seasoning Pack (for fries)
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon onion powder

1. Two days before you want to eat the sandwich: Put the chicken breasts in a zip-lock bag and fill with buttermilk. Seal it, put it in a bowl (just in case it leaks), and refrigerate overnight (at least 4 hours).
2. 12 hours before you are ready to eat the sandwich (or the night before): In a large bowl (or in the crock pot) - mix chicken stock, the tomato paste, and 4 oz of hot sauce. Put the mixture in the crock pot, set it to 10 hours cook time, low heat.
3. Dice up the two red onions and caramelize them in a frying pan - transfer to crock pot.
4. In the same pan, cook the chicken 4 minutes on each side and transfer to the crock pot.
5. Mix it up, walk away for 10 hours.
6. 10 hours later: Get a wooden spoon or fork and break the chicken apart (should be very easy).
7. Take out the french fries, preheat the oven, season the fries with the seasoning pack, and cook as directed (don't be afraid to hit broil for the last 4 minutes).
8. Mix blue cheese with hot sauce and treat as a spread for the sandwich.
9. Cut open the loaf of bread: Add the spread, then the cooper sharp, then the celery, then the chicken (use a slotted spoon), and then the fries. Drizzle a little spread on top of the fries.

[DIY of the Week: Supercharge a cheap flashlight]

[Video of the Week]
The year of the Rabbit


Big week coming up on the blog, I am merging the original Date My Beard site into, so the entire season of DMB will be aired starting tomorrow (for those of you who haven't seen it). If you need to reach me, you can do so here. As always, don't take shit from anybody.

Smell You Later,
~ Joey

Twitter | Facebook

Friday, February 04, 2011

White Stripes Live (Let's Shake Hands)

( #WhiteStripes )

Inspiration: Happy Friday

( #TGIF, #Work )

Phillyist Repost...Flugtag Coverage

( #Flugtag )

In the last of my "Greatest Hits" with the Phillyist, here is the video I filmed and edited of the Redbull Flugtag. The article was fine - but this video makes me laugh four months later.

It was a nice ride with the Phillyist, thank you all for coming along. Looking forward to focusing on this blog and finishing up my MBA this year.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

White Stripes Live (Seven Nation Army)

( #WhiteStripes )

Since the White Stripes are calling it quits, I thought it would be cool to ride out the rest of the week with some live clips.

Filibusted: Government Filibusters explained

( #Filibusters, #Senate )

This video is a little long, but a great (yet sad) view of how our government works.

Filibustery: Episode One from Newsbound on Vimeo.

Check out more at Filibustery

Jose Pistolas: Nachos

( #JosePistolas, #Nachos )

Bartender Buddy | Image Credit: Me

Its no secret that I love Jose Pistolas in Center City. Great bar, great food, great staff. When I see other bars and pubs getting recognition, I often wonder why Joses doesn't get any press. So this article made me pretty happy...

The Feast: Jose Pistolas Nacho Domination

Phillyist Repost...Tom Amoriello Interview

Listening to classical guitar on a Sunday afternoon might not be the activity of choice for most Philadelphians, but the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society is hoping to change that. The Society held their Member's Concert this past Sunday, one of many scheduled in the coming months. Phillyist had a chance to speak with Tom Amoriello, a performer and member of the PCGS about the concert and the organization.

How did you get involved with the Philadelphia Classical Guitar Society (PCGS)?
I have been a member since 1992 and volunteered my time by serving on the board of directors, collecting tickets at the door, selling CD's for the artists, escorting visiting performers to lunch, setting chairs up for our student recitals and festival, and adjudicating competitions—this is small in comparison to what others involved in the organization have done.

While I was a guitar major at Rowan University , the PCGS provided master classes with international artists—please remember this is pre-Youtube, so in order to see many of these artists who you would read about you had to attend their concerts. Most of them with the exception of Christopher Parkening and a few others did not have major label distribution or much media exposure.

You mentioned attending Rowan University, how did you get your start in classic guitar?
My Grandpa Jordan, who passed when I was three, had an old non-functioning Silvertone (electric guitar) that was around so would dance around to act like a superstar. I really loved the music that my parents enjoyed in the late 70's such as Billy Joel, The Beatles and Elton John—I wanted to be more than just a listener or spectator.

I had my first guitar lessons at The Philadelphia Music Company which was located around Broad & Passyunk Ave in 1984. After three years of Music Store Lessons with five different teachers I decided to teach myself using VHS Instructional Tapes and Guitar Magazines. I was not very musically inclined and had to work for every inch of progress. Eventually I attended Music Tech of Minneapolis which was the equivalent of an Art Institute of Philadelphia but for music. I did all of this before my formal study of music on the college level.

Rumor has it that you were a bit of a metal head—how did you end up playing classical guitar?
I still am a metal head! I even attended [Ronnie James] Dio's last concert before he passed in Atlantic City back in August 2009. I also love rare pointy electric guitars like the Peavy Razer—it doesn't get any more metal than that! I would love to tell you that I was weened on Brahms and have such a cultured background in music but that would not be true. I guess I became disinterested in becoming a trend chaser in the early 1990's—I really liked the physical sensation of challenging music and the classical guitar is right at the top of that list.

Getting back to PCGS, ultimately what is the goal of the organization?
PCGS is a community of members of all ages and accomplishments that support classical guitar activities throughout the Delaware Valley. They present concerts—typically on the 2nd Sunday of the month as well as informal gatherings—providing members of all levels performance opportunities.

What's next for PCGS this year?
The theme of the 2010–11 season is "A Celebration of Women Guitarists" which will feature local and international performers which are all held at the Settlement Music School located at 416 Queen Street. You can go to to keep you up to date on our scheduled events or to become a member—you do not need to be a guitarist as many of our members are simply aficionados of guitar music.

Thanks for your time today!
Thank you for the questions and bringing attention to the PCGS.

UPDATE: You can learn what Tom is up to on his new website:

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Peace Out: White Stripes

( #WhiteStripes, #JackWhite)

Unless you have been living under a rock, you must have heard the news that the White Stripes are closing shop. I am sure Jack White will announce 27 new projects by the week's end. Still - we are taking a moment to morn the passing of a band that rocked.

Happy Groundhog Day!

( #GroundhogDay )

Is Congress Exempt from Paying Student Loans?

( #Congress, #Loans, #Government )

Image Credit: Joe Gullo

I received the following text via email the other day and it got me all fired up:

Monday on Fox news they learned that the staffers of Congress family members are exempt from having to pay back student loans. This will get national attention if other news networks will broadcast it. When you add this to the below, just where will all of it stop?

35 States file lawsuit against the Federal Government

Governors of 35 states have filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on.

This is an idea that we should address.

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform... In all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

If each person that receives this will forward it on to 20 people, in three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States."
But while searching for the actual Fox News article, I found that picked up the chain-mail, and here is the true story:
Q: Is it true that members of Congress, their staffers and their family members do not have to pay back their student loans?

A: Not true. Some congressional employees are eligible to have up to $60,000 of student loans repaid after several years — just like other federal workers. But that’s not the case for members of Congress or their families. (Read More)
Bottom Line: While the chain-mail seems to have gotten the facts wrong, it is good that people are paying attention and it is good that the facts are out there if people are willing to look (took me 3 seconds to find the real story).

Phillyist Repost... Kids Getting Stupider Response

NOTE: With Phillyist going dark last month, the Gothamist network has allowed me to reprint some select articles on my own blog.

This month's Philadelphia Magazine cover story tackles the issue of kids getting stupider. When I first saw the cover, I thought this would be an article that has a crazy headline and then backpedals. That thought was closely followed by "What does this have to do with Philadelphia?"

After reading the article, my first hunch proved (mostly) right. Author Sandy Hingston does wonderful job painting a picture of an appalled mother shocked that her high school senior son doesn't know the days of the week, spends six hours a day playing Warcraft, and doesn't read books in class (they watch movies instead), but then turns it all around by bringing in specialists to prove that kids today just learn differently. (Neurologist Anjan Chatterjee's explanation about not needing to know the days of the week has to be misquoted). My issue with the article is that it is essentially the same thirty-year-old argument that started with the Atari generation and keeps popping up with every new technological fad.

Today's villain isn't the gaming console, it is social media. "Kids spend too much time on Facebook and Twitter instead of reading War and Peace." The solution to this issue is still the same—pull the kids away from the computer/tv/video game and make them do something else. I don't have kids of my own, but I am around plenty of people who do. I see parents who let their kids do whatever they want, and I see the parents that regulate. Guess which kids are doing better in school and can actually hold a conversation?

Bottom line, if your kid spending six hours playing Warcraft bothers you so much, unplug the fucking computer and lock them in the basement with a book-light and the complete works of Leo Tolstoy. Another crazy idea: play the annoying game they are obsessed with to get a window into their world.

Back to my other question about what this article has to do with Philadelphia (since it was published in Philadelphia Magazine), as far as I can tell—not much. The Daily Beast ranked Philadelphia as the 11th smartest city. The University of Pennsylvania continues to dominate the college scene while Drexel, Temple, Villanova, Swarthmore, and Haverford gain recognition. Additionally the city seems to be developing its own identity with a culinary renaissance and our art, drama, literary, and musical scenes have burgeoning support structures in place as well.

I get what Sandy Hingston is going for—have one conversation with a mumbled-mouthed sixteen-year-old with a hoodie over his eyes and ear-buds blasting and you will want to damn the whole generation, but we need to be patient. Hingston's article says that these kids excel at absorbing massive amounts of information in small bites, maybe they are keeping to themselves because they don't like what they see.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Chinese Popcorn

( #Popcorn, #China )

The Chinese make all the kernels pop at once... with an explosion.

Phillyist Repost...Reggie Wu Interview

( #ReggieWu )

NOTE: With the Phillyist going dark, the Gothamist network has given me permission to reprint some of my favorite posts.

Just a few short decades ago Philadelphia was a thriving east coast home for the 80's metal scene. Reggie Wu, a founding member of the Philly metal scene, was a guitarist for a band named Heavens Edge. Reggie became "Philly-famous," and was signed to a contract with Columbia records. He sat down with Phillyist to tell us his story.

When was Heavens Edge active and where did the name come from?
We started around 1987 and stayed together until 1992ish. One of the guys in the band—Mark (Evans) was in a band called Network but they had to change their name because another band was already using it. They held a fan contest to pick the new name and Heavens Edge was one of the options. They didn't use it but he remembered it and then we used it. A lot of people think it was [a combination of] our names "Evans/Reg"!

What was the Philadelphia music scene like when you were playing?
It was hot—Philly was awesome! Cinderella and Britny Fox earned record deals, so Philadelphia was the national hot spot for a bit. Every show was a mob scene. WMMR was fully behind the band.

How did the band get their record contract?
We set up a showcase at the Troc and invited seven labels to see us. Our managers said we would be lucky if one showed up. Right before we went on, they said all seven were there. We had a great show and got verbal offers from every label. It was the night of dreams.

Did you have any crazy rock star moments?
For us there was really no rock star lifestyle. I was the only one in the band who had a child so on off days I would landscape to make extra money because the salary from the band was never enough. Kept you real humble. There was one perk—when you are broke and trying to make it, all music equipment is impossible to get—when you finally get a record deal, all the music equipment is given to you for free.

The 80's metal/rock scene was very ... white. What was it like being an Asian American guitarist in the metal scene and in Philadelphia during that period?
It really wasn't a big deal. I was a big fan of both Loudness (Akira Takasaki) and Jake E Lee. I guess I never really thought of myself as different.

How did you get started with music?
My mom is a classical piano teacher. It was the rule that at four or five-years-old we learned classical piano and a second instrument a few years after that. My second instrument was the violin and I hated it. Eventually I got a guitar, which obviously I loved.

But your parents were against playing metal guitar as a career?
Coming from a Chinese family, it was all about being a doctor or lawyer (as my siblings and peers became). So when I told my parents I was going to pursue music they were against it—if I wasn't doing it their way I had to leave. So moved out at sixteen.

What was it like being sixteen-years-old and on your own?
It was awesome. I was the only sixteen-year-old with an apartment, although I was totally poor. You just got use living that way. I cut lawns after school for money and jammed every spare second that I had.

I was very fortunate. There were a couple of key families that really helped me stay alive. To this day I am grateful for what they did for me and I am still very close to them.

Did you ever make up with your parents?
Yes. Unfortunately my younger brother passed away in a tragic accident when he was fifteen. I was nineteen at the time and it brought us all back together. I am super close with my parents to this day.

As grunge became popular, what happened to the band?
Our shows definitely became smaller—the attendance got much thinner. We were struggling financially and creatively. We tried to get a bit grungy but it just wasn't us. Me, Dave and George started another band that was "grungier" but it didn't go anywhere.

Mark started a cover band to make some income—things were bad then. I sold most of my guitars for groceries. I had the fifth seven string ever made; Steve Vai got the first four—I sold it for like $500, it is probably worth a ton more today.

How did you land on your feet?
My mom was a classical piano teacher—she always had me teaching when I was young. When the band broke up, I ran an ad in a local paper and got my first twenty students. I have been teaching ever since.

Is it hard to tell your students to focus in class with your rock and roll experiences?
I try to relay all the info that I can and give them as much good advice as possible. I relate well with my students. Nothing is more gratifying than seeing them succeed. It is all about helping the next generation get rockin!

Looking back, what are your overall thoughts on the Philly metal scene?
We all formed a really close-knit musical community. There are some really amazing musicians in this area. I am very proud to say I came from the Philly music scene!