Saturday, November 23, 2002

Since we became Willy Street denizens we often stroll over to Jamerica for dinner. Like many Madison restaurants it's a tad overpriced, and I probably wouldn't go all the time if it weren't so close. But it's the closest eatery to our little house (not counting the hot-dog-stand freakout in front of the thrift store), and it's pretty tasty. They jerk pork, they jerk salmon, they jerk scrambled eggs--let's face it, they jerk everything.

We like the wall of effluvia. There seems to be an infinite number of pictures of Bob Marley, and one or two of Haile Selassie. There are lots of bikini girls, and children's scrawled essays, and guys smoking spliffs. There's John and Yoko in Maoist drag, and the Jamaican soccer team (named, somewhat disappointingly, the Reggae Boys). There's a promo shot of Madison scenester Ken Fitzsimmons from his Little Blue Crunchy Things days. There's also a promo shot of music legend and Velvet Undergrounder John Cale. There's a poster of a dog wearing sunglasses and saying, "Yah Mon."

The place always seems a little grungy, and the silverware is cheerfully mixed. Ereck got a fork last night that looked like something a Viking would eat with. The young chap who seats us is attractive and gracious and always seems a little uncomfortable. We like him, too.

We like the pulsing dancehall music and the ginger beer, and we like the esoteric Carribean groceries, including an item behind the cash register that always makes me laugh: soup mix that is, to quote the label, Cock Flavoured.

Friday, November 22, 2002

Drove to Wawautosa with Tag last night to see the big Richard Buckner shew. What we saw was mesmerizing if not dazzling, which is to say that Richard Buckner is not so into the hard sell. Granted, I was largely unfamiliar with the material and might have been more engaged, otherwise, but Richard's songwriting is more meditative than hooky. Supposedly his sound-system specifications (the rider, as they say in the business) got lost somewhere, so because there weren't enough mics and stuff, he didn't get to use all the equipment he brought--including, tantalizingly, a pump organ. Instead he switched between steel-string and classical guitars. Richard wins plaudits for his original capo usage: I've never before seen a man put two capos on a guitar at the same time. But his songs are unrelentingly ethereal and bleak: the only line that stays with me today went something like, "My death will be my revenge." After the show, in the theatre office, Richard seemed a little sad. About half the audience had left by the time he finished--in part because it was freezing in the theatre--and he didn't play an encore. I hope he's okay.

Opening was Wisconsin's own Jeffrey Foucault, a folkie with altogether less gravitas than Buckner, but a little more stage presence. He endlessly retuned his Martin between numbers, which I found very boring. (I'm all for alternative guitar tunings, except maybe I'm not.) And he told anecdotes that were not altogether fascinating, one of which began on this perhaps accidentally hilarious note: "With the money I made from my last tour, I put a new muffler on my truck." Mostly his stories provided insight into what it must be like to sing and tour the mid-level folkie circuit: a lot of house concerts in the Downers Grove, Illinoises of the world, a lot of crashing on friends' floors.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

I bought a new computer.

I got one of those $200 computers from Wal-Mart with the defiantly anti-Microsoft operating system Linux on it--or more precisely, Lindows.

I promptly erased Lindows and replaced it with a Microsoft operating system. So sue me.

This is like a year-2000 era computer at best, maybe 1999. It has 128 megabytes of RAM and an 800 MHz processor. (The processor was manufactured not by industry titan Intel or even also-ran AMD, but rather: Via. Via?) On the other hand, it cost $200. And, appealingly, it has Ethernet built in.

It came with no modem, no floppy drive, and no CD burner. But I just all but retired my old computer, which is called, affectionately, Hank (this is not just frivolity: our computers here at the house are networked and each one has to be named something). So I took the modem, floppy drive, and CD burner out of Hank and put them into the new computer, called, even more affectionately, Faron. Faron also came with only a 10-gigabyte hard drive, but soon the old drive will come out of Hank, and then Faron will have two hard drives.

Things already seem much faster and better. Hank has a lowly, 90 MHz Pentium chip, with 40 megabytes of RAM. Slow. Reliable, but slow.