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Dear Whole Foods:

December 14, 2010

now that's fresh

To the Fine Folks at Whole Foods;

Please delicately alert your Financial Planning Dept to prepare themselves for a shift in their earnings this quarter. I’m sorry to inform you that I won’t be there for lunch every single weekday for the next few months. I know this will be quite a blow to your bottom line considering my:

-$13 salad-bar boxes. most often they are filled, ironically, with food that is globally popular due to it’s low cost of production; falafel, hummus, creamed corn (i mean DAMN, the government freaking PAYS us to grow CORN)…but that shit weighs alot, and that cute hand-chalked sign clearly states “7.99 a lb.” (except on wednesdays! woot woot!)

– $5 Pom Teas. i’m glad that pomegranate juice might be nature’s most perfect food, because it sure as hell is the planet’s most expensive.

– $$$$$ FYI: don’t add those marinated tofu cubes to that box made of 75% recycled material for Christ’s sakes, or you might as well be throwing 4 new tires from the Range Rover dealership on your salad.

– none of your chickens have suffered in tiny, dark cages. the pigs all lived in bucolic frolic chatting with friendly spiders, and the cows just had headaches and lied down in the grass and never woke up, so i lug home $40 worth of meat on St. Paddy’s day and i can sleep at night due to clear conscience vs. exorbitant amounts of beer.

– $1.99 a lb for LOCAL CHERRIES!!! wow that sound cheap!! and from just around the corner! and look at all those exclamation marks! and some brilliant little fucker in the back of the produce department managed to pre-pack all those cherries into plastic bundles that ended up costing me $9!! i’m still eating fucking cherries!!!

– Some super thoughtful dude named “Adam” has some really great taste in wine. he was kind enough to go around and place little cards on the really super yummy wines that he and his cultured wine friends were thoughtful enough to pre-taste for us. interestingly, some other, less thoughtful dude always seems to forget to put PRICE TAGS on the “ADAM’S PICKS” and i am left in gasping heap on the floor of the check out counter.

– pizza guy is hot. why is the pizza guy always so hot? and tattooed? and there is an ever- rotating supply of hot tattooed pizza guys? and the pizza is next to the wine….and across from the chocolate section. i can’t flirt with some DUDE that works at WHOLE FOODS, and i can’t drink WINE in the middle of the DAY and go back to WORK, and no way in HELL am i passing chocolate without immediate self-loathing. There must be some really manipulative woman hater in retail planning. genius.

So Whole Food peops, while i know you are doing much good around the world, i am going to have to let some other hapless working stiffs micro-fund Micronesia, and maybe i can save enough money to buy my OWN damned farm and grow my OWN damed food!!

In Vegetables and In Peace,
your old pal Kate

The American Dreams Casino

December 14, 2010

Las Vegas has bitten the hand that fed it. In the past, people could walk into a casino in nothing nicer than a Donald Duck sweatshirt, a yard of your favorite cocktail, and shoes (had it been raining). However, that folksy charm disappeared after Las Vegas was glamorized in that film, Honeymoon in Vegas. How is a person supposed to feel relaxed and at-home when Celine Dion is absolutely killing her New Day show not a mile away? Ridiculous.

There are still great places, but they are few and far between. For every one bastion of the old-school, like Margaritaville or Fashion Cafe, there are ten ridiculous places. So how do we find our way home from this over-priced mess? I developed a business plan for a casino that reeked of simplicity. After many, myself included, were displaced during Katrina, people needed a few things. One of those things was entertainment. A few more were homes and the timely recovery of their children’s corpses, but seeing as how we weren’t handy and didn’t own scuba gear, we chose to focus on the former. My cousin Kinder and I chose to open a casino in the southeastern United States. Caledonia, Mississippi to be specific. Easily the nicest city in the United States to rank above the 78th percentile of both middle-school football jersey sales and non-racial lynchings.

With the collective $720 we had been given by FEMA, we created our dream casino. The American Dream casino. Consequently, we the sign we hung outside of the barn said simply “American Dreams Casino.” It was a great sign. We found out that it would also light up if it caught fire. Now, opening a casino is no small feat, but with our bankroll, we could afford to throw money at any problems we encountered.

Now, as I had mentioned, Vegas alienated the people that made it what it was. We knew that if,people began to slightly sour on our casino 70 years after it opened, it would be an unmitigated failure. We were “in it to win it.” So much so that we made that phrase the tagline for the casino. So we couldn’t just build rich, we had to build smart.

So without further ado, let’s discuss the operational aspects of the American Dreams Casino.

Children:

I understand that Vegas is a great place to take your children and teach them about craps and horse handicapping. However, they should NOT be on the gaming floor. They are too young and too easy to kick if your trifecta gets killed by a lazy Asian jockey. So, at American Dreams, we have a special day care center. It’s a the crawlspace under the building, only removed the wood latticework that surrounded it and replaced it with razor wire so the children would be securely contained. People don’t want to gamble if they think there’s a chance their kids haven wandered into the swamp. This facility was often underutilized, as few children ever came, so the odd child could usually be taken care of by handcuffing (or ziptying, if you’re a coddler) them to the back of the coat closet. That way, the child can sleep under the coats, and if they wake up, there are tons of hangers to play with.

Gaming:

Pai Gow Poker? I hear those words, and I fear that my pappy, Big Dale, is going to bust through that door knee-deep in one of his ‘Nam flashbacks. And many of my friends feel the same way. Big Dale had a reputation. We wanted simple, American games. Like rock, paper, scissors. All but the simplest men can pick it up in a matter of hours, and it’s a great wagering game, for both players and spectators. Initially, all patrons bet on the man, until Little Dale (unrelated), told us that we can bet on the man OR the symbol. After five weeks of follow-up via email, we got it. What Little Dale had meant was: You can bet on the man OR the symbol. With a house take guaranteed not to exceed 40%, everyone leaves a winner. Except for people who don’t have a financial stake in the casino. But they’re paying for the experience more than they are anything else.

Sports betting has never been hotter. However, if you can’t watch TV anymore because an owl took your DirecTV dish, you’re left without a lot of options. At least, you were. What’s growing faster than football, NASCAR, and rock, paper, scissors combined? America’s “appetite” for live competitive eating. Down in these parts though, we just call it “eating.” The competitive aspect is incidental since we LOVE our food. But due to some contractual issues with boards overseeing competitive eating, we couldn’t use the more traditional foods. But when the Dear Lord shuts a door, he kicks out a window. That’s how we found ourselves in bed with our first sponsor, Chipotle. It was something of a mixed blessing though, as the name recognition of Chipotle was wonderful, but the size of the burritos was prohibitive. When people are gambling on outcomes, they want to bet on big numbers, like 60 hot dogs, or 47 chicken wings. Hence our country’s hatred of soccer. People are less inclined to become excited when the outcomes are simply 1 or 2. Or in the case of Little Dale, 4. He should have known better.

Food:

Historically, gamblers were more than satisfied with the end pieces that the eating contestants couldn’t consume or keep in their mouths, but once our eating contests disappeared, we decided to go in another direction and offer people clean, prepared food in exchange for money. Like Sbarro does. Almost immediately, the American Dreams Casino became home to the North American flagship Sbarro. Eat it, Times Square Store #4412!!!

Celebration was short lived, as many patrons felt the change was a step backwards from the original food service outlet, so now we just sell dried apple rings and Andy Capp’s Hot Fries out of the day care center.

Entertainment:

It has always been the thinking of ownership that the rock, paper, scissors competitions would bring a drama and sense of exclusivity to the American Dreams Casino that would rival current Las Vegas entertainment staples such as the Pussycat Dolls and Siegfried. Beyond that, simply watching the children in the day care center has proven to be a captivating source of entertainment for 35% of our male patrons.

A dartboard was introduced briefly, but when the darts weren’t stolen, they were often used against the staff to rob the casino of apple rings and, on occasion, children residing in the day care center.

The incorporation of a Back to the Future pinball machine was short-lived. Little Dale, weighing 390 lbs., collapsed into the machine while attempting to lift his 5th Chipotle burrito, relegating the machine to the scrap pile.

Nightlife:

After a woeful misunderstanding of what “bottle service” was, an ATF raid resulted in the revocation of our liquor license, so any alcohol provision and consumption are at the discretion and risk of the casino patrons. Further, after the “bottle service” incident, there is a zero-tolerance policy on glass, which gives the casino a charming beach atmosphere.

Taking the beach motif a step further, a casino host will drape a sheet over an casino patron for a nominal fee ($.10) for something we have branded the “cabana experience.”

Summation:

Through ingenuity, recognition of a gap in the market, and an understanding of our customer base, the American Dreams Casino and Gambleteria has become successful beyond our wildest dreams. Despite operating out of a condemned 2,100 sf schoolhouse, annual revenues have grown to almost $14 million per year, with over 98% flow-thru to the bottom line, creating an asset worth more than $102 million when valued at a conservative 7.25% capitalization rate.

Fuck yeah.

In Which Penn Recites, from Memory, All the Lyrics to “Whoomp! There It Is”

December 13, 2010

Before we dive in to what you all came to examine, the masterful leagues of Tag Team, I would like to take a moment to examine the construct and story behind “Whoomp! (There It Is).” So if you will, please indulge me, and perhaps learn a little something about yourself on the way…

Now, scholars from Columbia to Oxford have written paper after paper on what DC and The Brain Supreme find to be “it”, so I won’t bore you with my own theories (it’s pussy), but I wanted to examine the structure of their work.

DC and The Brain Supreme (henceforth to be referred to as “The Tag Team”) spurn many of the more proven and tested rhyming schemes in order to evoke their own sense of whimsy without taking the listener down an all-too-familiar path. I happened to study with DC in Cambridge during a fellowship we were taking at a creative poetry (is there any other kind? How droll!) workshop. During the creation of the lion’s share of his work, DC wore his Chaucer influences on his sleeve, to the point that it was often difficult for the reader to tell if they were listening to “The Miller’s Tale” or a from-the-heart ode to gin and juice and diggin’ it.

Like all good artists, DC evolved. Following the death of his wombat, Ricky, DC went through a well-document dark period where most of his rhymes focused on the existential dilemma of man. His work during this period is widely regarded as the greatest examination of the human condition in modern history, but it lacked a certain “je ne sais FUNK.” It was riveting material, but at no time did it make the listener or reader feel compelled to bend over some freak in a spandex dress while pantomiming a lasso.

Enter: The Brain Supreme

Before his work with Tag Team, the Brain Supreme travelled anonymously, creating some of the most electric jazz music since the days of Davis and Mingus. His staccato approach towards storytelling assaulted the reader with reality.

For example: When the Brain Supreme conveys to the listener “here’s a shovel/can you dig it, fool?” I FEEL as though there is an obese toothless black man screaming in my face. Shakespeare never did that. Cervantes never did that. Joyce did that, but only in his later work.

Forgoing the Keatsian rhyme pattern “ABABCDECDE” was no small sacrifice for The Tag Team, but their departure paid off in spades. They instead created their own rhyme scheme, which is rarely seen today, when most poets lead with their influences. However, the rhyme pattern of:

A
(senseless bullshit)
A
(senseless bullshit)
B
(senseless bullshit)
B
(senseless bullshit)
C
(senseless bullshit)
C
(senseless bullshit)
D
(senseless bullshit)
D
(senseless bullshit)
E
(senseless bullshit)
E
(senseless bullshit)

has since been adopted as THE rhyming scheme of popular hip hop. I could go on, but then there would be no reason for you to purchase my upcoming book of musical criticisms tentatively titled “C’mon (And Ride It): An Analysis of Late 90’s Party Rap from a Classical Perspective.”

Please do not look at them in the eyes.

Tag Team back again
Check it, direct it
let’s begin
party on party people
let me hear some noise
DC’s in the house
jump, jump rejoice
there’s a party over here,
a party over there,
wave your hands in the air
shake your derrier
these three words
mean you’re gettin’ busy
whoomp! there it is
hit me

Chorus:
Whoomp! there it is
Whoomp! there it is
a little louder
Whoomp! there it is
Whoomp! there it is

upside down
and inside out
I’m bout to show all you folks
what it’s all about
when it’s time for me to get on the mic
and make this (motherfuckin’) party hype
I’m takin’ it back to the old school
cause I’m an old fool
who’s so cool
if you wanna get down
let me show you the way
whoomp! there it is
let me hear ya say

(Chorus)

Bridge:
Whoomp!
Shakalaka shakalaka shakalaka shaka
Whoomp!
Shakalaka shakalaka shakalaka shaka

point blank
gin and juice
I drank
gettin bent
getting bent
as I puff on the dank
slam dunk it
stick it
slip it
and slide
that b-double-o-t-y
(oh my!)
ooh that’s it
c’mon, c’mon
whoomp! there it is
I’m done

(Chorus)

some say I’m crazy
’cause I’m pushin’ up taises
the underground sound that you have found
amazing outstanding demanding
commanding
you people dancin’
That’s a breath taker
I produce AKA the
undertaker
you want to come down
to the underground
Old school –
here’s a shovel
can dig it fool?
can you dig it?
we can dig it
can y’all dig it?
we can dig it

why double up
as I flow
to the fly
from the school of old
hardcore kick the folk lore wreck
Three to the two and the one
mic-check
mad skill flow
ill on the mesh of steel
That’s the grill of the microphone
I just killed
Party people it’s your party
Tag Team is through
whoomp! there it is
I thought you knew
whoomp! there it is
Tag Team music
comin’ straight atcha
That’s me DC the brain supreme
And my man Steve Roll’n
Bring it back ya’ll bring it back ya’ll bring it back
Here we go

 

Outro:

Whoomp! there it is (x6)

Reasons Why Someone’s Prison Nickname Could Be “Biscuit”

December 10, 2010


1. They are a treat for all the big dogs. (Very likely)

2. Their physique is round and pockmarked (Likely)

3. They giggle effeminately when playfully poked in the stomach. (Very unlikely)

4. They’re yeasty. (Somewhat likely)

5. It was their Christian name. (Extremely likely)

. . . . . . . . . .

REASONS SOMEONE’S PRISON NAME COULD BE “CHEWY”

1. White Trash bastardization of Latino nickname “Chuey” (very likely)

2. Commentary on tough constitution, either emotional or..uh…physical (very likely)

3. One who likes to bite (very likely)

4. One who is very fond of Star Wars (unlikely)

5. One who makes shitty biscuits (likely)

– Kate

even he can't get through that biscuit, mang

Penn’s Best Music of 2010

December 9, 2010

Originally posted on http://www.justaguything.com

It’s December, so ’tis the season for the most hallowed of traditions, rating the music we’ve been listening to for the past 11 months, then bitching about everyone’s choices but your own. No doubt, depending on the reader, the picks will be regarded as too mainstream, too obscure, or just dumb.

Among other year-end lists there seemed to be more consensus among the entries, and fewer obscure picks than in years past. this could just be that familiar bands were putting out the best music, or the critical set and their readership are getting more savvy during the age of free music and shared information. Either way, we are feeling a little better about not including two-piece Tejano Hardcore bands from Silverlake and Williamsburg on this list. Feel free to include your pics in the list, but try not to hurt our feelings. Just kidding. Hurt ’em.

10. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor

While it’s easy to see why a sprawling concept album about a Civil War ship from a New Jersey rock band would be a critical darling, it’s surprising to listen to that album and find exactly how engaging and accessible it is. The Monitor is not a fast-paced album as most songs run about 6-8 minutes, but the cohesion of songs demonstrates that TA stick to their point, and do so with songs that run from painfully slow and deliberate to the abrasive pop that that erupted from their previous effort, The Airing of Grievances.

9. Robyn – Body Talk

There’s pop music, then there’s Top-40 “Why are my ears-bleeding?” music that we have come to accept as pop. For 14 years, Robyn has made this distinction clear by turning out songs that are catchy, danceable, without sounding like they were written with the lowest common denominator in mind. At 31, she can crank out songs with cliched titles like “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What to Do” yet still make you believe that she means it. If, five years ago, you would have told me that Robyn, Kelly Clarkson, and Kanye West would restore my faith in pop, I would have punched you. But here we are.

8. A Place to Bury Strangers – Exploding Head

The overdriven tone of their past albums remains intact with Exploding Head, but APTBS adopt a more accessible sesnibility by putting the lead vocals in the forefront of their sound, as opposed to the muddled lyrics they presented on their last self-titled initial effort. The opening track “It is Nothing” doesn’t tap the listener on the shoulder to remind them of the band’s identity, but rather smacks them with a folding chair. Urgent guitars still guide the band’s sound, but their placement against even more notably new-wave vocals shows that anyone who had deemed this band as too noisy or heavy should probably give Exploding Head a listen before making a final ruling.

7. Big Boi – Sir Lucious Leftfoot…Son of Chico Dusty

Often, too much of a premium is placed on innovation in the music world. Fortunately, Big Boi got most of his need for innovation exorcised during his work with Outkast, and now is simply focusing on being the best MC with the tightest beats in hip hop. Singles like “Shutterbugg” are quintessentially Big Boi. While they don’t raise the bar for anyone else in the game, after a listen to “Ain’t No DJ,” it’s clear that he doesn’t need to worry about his competition, cause he’s playing his own game.

6. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Damn you, Kanye. Why can’t I just hate you? You act like the biggest jackass for 99% of your very public life then you crank out a performance on MBDTF that shows how dynamic the genre of hip hop can be if you lose sense of convention. Following the strangely myopic “808’s and Heartbreak”, Kanye swings the pendulum in the other direction to create an album in which the only common thread is success. And just because he can, Kanye breaks out a nine-minute flow for “Never See Me Again” over an infectious piano melody and makes us completely forget that we hate autotune. Now that’s impressive.

5. Los Campesinos – Romance Is Boring

Romance Is Boring pulls double duty showing how the band has grown both in the tone of their lyrics and their composition, while still demonstrating that they haven’t yet found themselves where they’re going to end up. The title track and “Straight in at 101” are perhaps the best representations of what the band is capable of with their instrumentation. The complex arrangements are marvelous on some of the more ambitious songs in the repertoire, but occasional convolutes the message that Los Campesinos put forth. Now that they have proven artful in their arrangements, one is left with the feeling that a minimalistic approach to their more earnest tracks would add even more weight to Gareth Campesinos’ dazzling songwriting.

4. Black Keys – Brothers

Whether or not the Black Keys have done something truly special with their latest release, or simply got to capture a bigger audience isn’t entirely clear. With only two pieces, it’s hard to find a marked departure from their earlier efforts, which isn’t a value judgement, but rather a point of interest. It’s probably not a coincidence that their best and most popular tracks (like “Tighten Up) are the ones that stay truest to the formula, as their game has been the slickest elevation of muddy blues-rock. It continues to work for them, as their reluctance to step away from their bread and butter is more than counteracted by the introduction of new effects and tighter production that allows the Black Keys to be the best version of themselves.

3. Frightened Rabbit – Winter Mixed Cocktails

What is most remarkable about so many somber bands is their ability to stay singularly somber without wavering. Upbeat bands often have their dark moments, but bands like Frightened Rabbit sing like every day is to be met with exasperation and defeat. The worst (best) part of that mantra is the fact that Frightened Rabbit can take an album like The Winter of Mixed Drinks and turn it into a portrait of angst worthy of Thomas Mann.

2. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening

Bifurcating the heavy hearts bared in the first and third entries, LCD Soundsystem (read: James Murphy) takes pains to ensure not that everyone is alone, but rather that everyone is together, so let’s fucking dance. He’s not the first person to take this stance, but, following This Is Happening straddles the absurdity of “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” and the disarming sincerity of “All My Friends” to create an album that is absurdly honest. Ok, “Drunk Girls” might just be absurd. But to focus on that is to miss the point. LCD’s great truth has always been the surface and the beats. Murphy is becoming the Godfather of dance music, and from 3:00 to 3:15 on “Dance Yrself Clean”, it’s easy to see why.

1. The National – High Violet

Having abandoned much of the restraint that kept “Boxer” one of the most cohesive albums of the decade, The National have rewritten their formula, focusing their melancholy on legitimate pop songs like “Bloodbuzz, Ohio” while showing they can still ease back into their old act with “England” and “Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks.” The National should find themselves teetering on the edge of stardom with their next album, but if the past is any indication, they will continue to sell their brand of dramatic orchestration and see if the masses swallow it. If not, they can take comfort in knowing that their previous two LP’s grew into “High Violet.”

Does this DVR make my butt look big?

December 9, 2010

Tivo is ruining my life. Wait…Tivo is making the world a better place. I can’t decide. I am extremely picky about my television preferences. I don’t watch sitcoms or dramas or most reality shows. So I used to come home, flip through some channels, and generally find nothing on. I was then forced to go do something with myself. NOW I HAVE TIVO. What a brilliant idea that was. I end up searching for and recording every obscure documentary or news program that interests me and I cannot WAIT TO WATCH THE DAMNED THINGS. I wake up and flip the tv on. I come home from work and flip the tv on. I’m like YAYYYYYY “ANCIENT ART OF SPAIN” IS ON!!!!!!! OH MY GOD “I SURVIVED IN THE HIMALAYAS”!!! I haven’t exercised in 6 months. My ass is feeling the effects of prolonged contact with the couch. I do, however, feel much more informed. Soon, people will say I “have a good personality”.

h e l p   m e .

if there are white guys in the jungle, i'm recording it.

Penn’s 25 Most Played Songs on iTunes

December 8, 2010