ocean of choice.

If I'd had a TV show in the mid 90s (and exactly why didn't I?), my theme song for the opening credits would've been "Vibracobra" from Polvo's Cor-Crane Secret CD (here's an MP3).

At least that's one choice in an ocean of potential choices, but this morning it seems right. It's not the coolest thing on the planet anymore, is it (too much Mighty Boosh lately, sorry Yanks) but in 1992 it sounded like it was searching for something that I identified with, either the something or the searching. This track in particular still makes me feel like I'm driving around a deserted suburban Raleigh, North Carolina office park at 4 in the morning searching for the one damn exit with an actual living security guard at it to let me out so I can get back to my Hampton Inn and try and sleep for 45 minutes before I have to get up, iron a shirt, drink some shitty hotel room coffee, find my way back to this office park, try not to eat too many of the crappy breakfast pastries, and micromanage my coffee intake for 3 hours so that I can do a sufficiently jacked-up 30-minute demo of some pre-beta software that will probably not do any of the things I'm about to show them by the time it ships...

Brrrrgh. The point was: that the driving around a deserted office park feeling was not bad in itself, and it was complemented nicely by Polvo's mix of playful curiosity and sarcastic frustration. And no one ever really sounded like Polvo again, which is a pretty amazing statement to try and stand behind, but there's always the "Who'd Want To" defense: their CD/album sound is an unwelcoming tangle of tinny guitar (and bass!) intros burying pop songs with lyrics that you either can't hear or can't decipher.


All of which is related to Vegetarian Duck exactly how?: the Wikipedia entry for Polvo linked above finally forces me to take a moment and acknowledge the inadequacy and inaccuracy of Wikipedia in general: I use Wikipedia as the reference engine for this site because a) I think it will get better b) it has entries for lots of my more esoteric and/or pretentious interests and I like the idea of having a common resource for all of these, and c) it's not like these are life and death issues, is it: it's a indie rock band from North Carolina that about 400 people care about anymore.

Which brings me to my beef with this particular Wikipedia entry: straight-facedly citing Polvo as one of the primary instigators of "math-rock", a genre name which is used as a derogatory term in this and many other households ("how was the show?" "fucking math-rock bullshit" is a conversation I believe Mara and I had only days ago). Matt Sweeney from Chavez (another one of my favorite 1990s bands credited with being a math-rock pioneer) had this to say about the term math rock:

"It was invented by a friend of ours as a derogatory term for a band me and James (Lo) played in called Wider. But his whole joke is that he'd watch the song and not react at all, and then take out his calculator to figure out how good the song was. So he'd call it math rock, and it was a total diss, as it should be."

My point is: if I were me (except that I didn't know about Polvo), and I read the Polvo Wikipedia entry, I'd definitely go out of my way to avoid listening to them for even one second because of the cited math-rock association. In fact I'd probably go step on my calculator for even being reminded about math rock.

Ah well, at least the Polvo entry is 4,302 times more accurate and objective than the entry on noise music, which almost caused me to join the Wikipedia team and rewrite it myself.


Last night I made zuppa di pesce with clams, mussels, and shrimp. This definitely isn't the accomplishment it sounds like: the evil Albert Heijn lured me in with their soy milk exclusivity program, and once they had in me in the frozen section they slapped the cuffs of convenience-oriented frozen shellfish on me. Stung.

AH has this bag of precooked frozen shellfish (known in our household as the Bag O' Death) that isn't good for much except dumping into an already-flavorful broth (after removing the tasteless squid and the inappropriate surimi from the bag), heating through, and pretending that you've made a real shellfish stew. So that's what I did.

The recipe I started with came out of an interesting little cookbook of Andy's, An Invitation to Italian Cooking by Antonio Carluccio. I say it's interesting (to me, at least) because Signore Carluccio seems to have been a celebrity chef, but this was back in 1986, before FoodTV even seemed like a good idea (assuming that it sounds like one now). And the recipes themselves are a slightly unusual selection of regional dishes, mixing the old standards with some personal family recipes that I haven't come across before. It's a nice book. Here's what I did.


zuppa di pesce.

4 tbsp. olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
half a glass of white wine
250g mixed shellfish (clams, mussels, shrimp for me)
2 pints or more fish stock
1 bay leaf
pinch saffron
2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 slices buttered toast

Saute onion and carrots in oil for 5-7 minutes. Add wine and cook for 2 minutes. Add stock, bay leaf, saffron, garlic, and simmer for 20 minutes or until carrots are soft.

Add toasted bread, either to soup pot itself or to individual bowls. I added it to the soup pot last night and then to my individual bowl this morning. Both worked.

Serves 2-4.


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