The 101er

I’ve been in bed for three and a half days. Flu, I figure. Had a mild fever for most of that time. Erratic sleep but constant tiredness. Much like being at a jam-band festival.
Time stops for me when I’m feverish. Can’t write, which is like hell. And my tastes change. All I’ve wanted to watch are old black-and-white like Judge Roy Bean (a 1950s TV series starring goofy Edgar Buchanan, later one of the Hooterville ensemble on Green Acres et al.) and fourth-rate film noir such as Pitfall with Dick Powell. Book wise, it’s cosy mysteries ( thank goodness there was a new Barbara Allan “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” adventure I hadn’t read yet) and John Creasey thrillers.
Today felt like it was the right time to get out of the bedroom for the first extended outing since Saturday. Went to the comics shop, for more dark-lite fare: the various Justice Leagues’ “Trinity War” conflagration. Ordered Thai food which, just to challenge my frail condition,took an hour to prepare. But at least I had an appetite.
Out of the woods now, I trust. Hale and hearty, at least relatively. Can’t wait until I’m in the mood to watch a dumb comedy again.

Let them read cake!


Hey, they have cake pans on the shelves of New Haven Free Public Library now. It gives new meaning to the term “Reader’s Digest.”

You can check out the cake pans, many of which are comically shaped to resembled cartoon and movie characters, from the children’s section of the library. You have them out for three weeks. The cake pans are renewable.

We used ours when we first started getting lots of yellow squash from our friends’ gardens. I wondered if there was some sort of fruit bread I could make with squash, similar to a zucchini bread.

Better, there was a cake. I found several recipes online for squash cake, then mingled them into one which best suited my own needs and tastes:

One and a half cups brown sugar

One and a half cups white sugar

Three teaspoons baking powder

One-half teaspoon baking soda

Three eggs

One-half cup margarine, or vegetable oil

Three cups finely chopped or grated squash

Three or more cups flour

One-half cup walnuts

One teaspoon cinnamon, and maybe a little nutmeg

Mix up the ingredients until it’s a batter. Pour batter into greased New Haven Free Public Library cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or so.

Our pan was in the shape of Ziggy, the big-nosed Everyman of greeting card and comic strip fame. I mixed brown-sugar frosting for his body and white sugar frosting for the speech balloon above his head (which admittedly came out looking more like a turban). Mabel did the decorating, with food-color markers.

We took the cake to church for the after-service coffee hour, where it was roundly devoured. Our church is just across the street from the library, but we didn’t return the cake pan right then. You have to return it in person, not through a slot in the library wall. The library also wisely insists that you wash borrowed pans (by hand; machines may ruin the surfaces) before returning them.

Rock Gods #285: Adventures in Our Little Music Scene

First, an apology. A little girl has whispered in our ear that we should be sorry we dropped the ball, went home, and left this column lagging. She insists we resume. We think it is because she will have her own band someday and needs the coverage.

In any (guitar) case…

I asked my young friend what kind of band she’d like to see, if she could see any band. “Any band,” she replied. She hasn’t been able to spend much time in clubs, due to an unfortunate age-impairment.

You know how there are songs where, at the end, it changes to more of a rock sound, or soul? If there was a band that sang both rock music and soul or R&B or jazz, that would be the best band in the world.”

We think she’d like  Bear Leader. Their saxophonist, Governor, is schooled in ‘20s jazz riffs, which he substitutes for the standard solo bits you hear in all those old doo-wop songs during the instrumental breaks. Frontpeople Duenna and Khoja bring a world-music feel to the lead vocals, while drummer The Prelector seems to have sprung from some heavy metal netherworld. Bassist “Chalk” Talker does the claw-funk thing, while rhythm guitarist Lec keeps a stable rock base.

We feel our young friend’s need. She wants  a band that jumps around and has fun, but has studied and takes care with history. She has these concerns herself as she prepares to enter the sixth grade next week.

School is in session. Hit the books, and the drums.

Tonight at the Bullfinch: TeachersPayTeachers, NHTA, and a solo set by Abbie Cedarian… Hamilton’s has an early show with Crammer and Schoolmaster (formerly Dry Nurse)…. Dollaire’s features an evening with ‘80s college-rock reprobates Munshi, with opening act Corey Fuse….

Five Worst Store Names on the Upper Level of Westfield Connecticut Post Mall

  1. Lettitful. A name with apparently no meaning, unless it’s simply “full of letti.”
  2. Cacique. A name so obtuse it needs a line underneath it to tell you how to pronounce it. It is a Spanish word for “keeping house,” which is applied to both chefs and political leaders. Cacique the store sells lingerie. The mind boggles.
  3. Dollar-N-Things. They have a dollar. They have things. We need more.
  4. Diva Kidz. A limited marketing demographic, pre-adolescent opera singers.
  5. Buy Buy Baby. Whatever era in which you find the phrase “by, bye baby”—from the jazz-age ‘20s, ‘50s Shirelles or Four Seasons, ‘60s Janis Joplin, ‘70s Bay City Rollers or ‘80s Madonna—it signifies the kiss-off of a lousy relationship. It does not convey security and comfort. And “buy buy” is a little Big Brother, isn’t it?—and we don’t mean the elder siblings of the literal babies this shop is targeting.

Get to the Point! tonight, August 5

The latest of the Get to the Point! storytelling/spoken word/whatever events I host monthly at Cafe Nine is tonight. I hear that some of the LAMP artists will be in the house. I always seek a diverse line-up, and this one is wondrous in its extremes. Formal, informal, theatrical, photographic…

8 p.m. at Cafe Nine, 250 State Street, New Haven. No cover.

Here’s the line-up:

• A script-in-hand performance of Susan Cinoman’s short play “Truth and Sex,” performed by Joanna Keylock and Dan Sarnelli.

• Photojournalist Daniel Smith, who’s home in New Haven between trips to his other home, in Iraq.

• Mike Franzman (explaining photos he took of City Hall)

• Adam Malec of the band Procedure Club, telling a baseball story.

• Actor/director Peter Webster

• Poet/activist Stephen Kobasa

• Teacher/punk Michael Cooper

• Poet Sara Russell

• Storyteller John Nelson (self-described as “one of those carpenters with a bachelor’s degree”)

• Storyteller George Kouros

• Storyteller/garage rock fanatic Fran Fried

• Storyteller Christine Jewell. Her story: “Candy Crush: A Childhood Quest for the Ultimate Treat.”

Plus the usual story-song and myth-reading interludes. I’ll be playing my ukulele.

To be included in future Get to the Point! events, contact me here at

The Pie Inside Us All


In awarding the prize for Best Savory Pie at the big Pie Contest in the Ninth Square last night, Matt Feiner of Devil’s Gear Bike Shop announced that he was physically ill from eating too much pie. “I’m not kidding,” he said. “I may throw up.” But this was because all the pies were so good, he was quick to add.

My family was as excited about the lead-in to the event as we were about the eating at it. We each baked a pie. None of our pies won a prize, but the beauty of the event is that we got to taste many of the winning entries. That’s a prize in itself.

Over 80 folks brought pies to “Pie On9” Pie Contest, which benefited CitySeed’s Food Stamp Double Value Program. Hundreds were there to eat them. Ashley’s provided ice cream to complement the slices.

This was one of those full-blown “On9” affairs with events at multiple Ninth Square storefronts as well as outdoors. We couldn’t drag ourselves away from the pie, however. Few could. This felt like a smalltown Midwestern summer pie social, only it was happening in a good-sized Eastern hipster city. At least three mayoral candidates (Harp, Fernandez and Elicker, naturally) showed up, which suggested that this was THE place to be.

Three of my family’s four pies were completely devoured. The fourth had a few slices untouched, probably because it contained the single most popular fruit of the evening, blueberries, which are ubiquitous at farmers’ markets right now.

Here’s the recipe for what I brought. My parents came from the United Kingdom, so I grew up eating a lot of kidney pie. When I became a vegetarian 20 years ago, I needed to find an alternative. I now have this pie (or some variation of it) every year on my birthday. I’m sometimes the only one in the family eating it, but that’s mainly because nobody else is as crazy about mushrooms as I am.

Savory Mushroom/Tofu (Fake Kidney) Pie

One pound extra-firm Tofu

One pound Mushrooms

One tablespoon chopped fresh Basil

One yellow onion, or two shallots

One medium-size green pepper

One small tomato

Pinch of chili powder

Two cubes bouillon dissolved in one cup broth (or one cup salty homemade broth)

Olive oil

Simple Pie Crust (with top and bottom crust): water, margarine and whole-wheat flour

Cut tofu into cubes. Fry with a little olive oil in a large frying pan until the tofu is even firmer. Remove from frying pan and place in large bowl.

Fry onions in frying pan.

Chop mushrooms and pepper and add to onions in pan. Add basil and chili powder. Cook a little, then add the cup of broth to the pan. Simmer and stir until nearly all the water has boiled away and a thick gravy is left.

Add vegetable/gravy to tofu in bowl and mix thoroughly. Chop up the tomato and add that too.

Pour contents of bowl into prepared pie crust in average-sized pie plate. Add top crust.

Bake in a 400 degree oven long enough for the crust to brown. Bring to Pie Contest.