Thursday, April 15, 2004

"We've got the chamber orchestra"

Aeons ago I wrote a blog entry on song parody, a genre I was thinking about apropos of a television special I'd watched starring Mark Russell, writer nonpareil of really terrible song parodies.

While driving this weekend I was excited to hear a superb song parody on "A Prairie Home Companion." The song was a promotional jingle for the city of St. Paul, Minnesota, and it was set, improbably enough, to the tune of Outkast's "Hey Ya!"--the sort of bizarre juxtaposition that represents song parody at its best. I wonder if Garrison Keillor has heard the Outkast song; this number seems like something someone in the band must have cooked up.

To hear for yourself, go to this web page, scroll down to Segment 6 and launch the RealAudio file, and then skip ahead to about 21:05.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Chicago eats

This food article by the New York Times' R.W. Apple brought back pleasant memories of the decade I lived in Chicago and the junk food I ate there. When I return to the Windy City--and that's never as often as I'd like--the chow I nostalgically seek out usually is just the sort of inexpensive, heart-attack-inducing, often superbly crafted food about which Apple rhapsodizes.

I confess I never really developed a taste for hot dogs, Chicago-condimented or otherwise, but I do love me a good Polish, and I can confirm that the Polish sausage Apple ate at the Maxwell St. stand is indeed the best of its kind. There actually are two Polish stands on the corner he's talking about, one next door to the other. Near as I can tell, they're equally good. For a little variety, may I suggest the pork chop sandwich.

Apple also is right to single out Al's for terrific Italian beef in the city, though as a former South Sider I disdain the River North outlet he writes about in favor of the Little Italy location on Taylor St., especially because after you've devoured a greasy beef you can cleanse your palate with a refreshing Italian ice from the stand across the street.

But even better Italian beefs are to be had at Johnny's in Melrose Park, a suburb just west of Chicago. The line moves fast, so be prepared to place your order like this: "Beef juicy hot." (Translated: "One Italian beef sandwich, my good man, au jus and with spicy giardiniera [a relish of carrots, peppers, onions, celery, etc.].")

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Special request

Did anyone happen to tape the Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson variety show Sunday? I already knew I desperately need to see it, and Tom Shales' withering pan in the Washington Post, which I just read, only confirms it.
I'll bite

A game I learned from About Last Night, the arts blog of Terry Teachout and Our Girl In Chicago:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.

The nearest book--on my desk, ten inches from my left hand--is "What Do We Have for the Witnesses, Johnnie?", a Doonesbury collection. I don't think the game works with Doonesbury collections; for one thing, these pages aren't numbered.

But hovering over the Doonesbury book, on top of a small stereo speaker, is Bob Woodward's Shadow: Five Presidents and the Legacy of Watergate, which yields:

"At 11:05 a.m. President Ford turned to the camera."

What happened next? Well, pardon you for asking.