Thursday, August 25, 2011

Chris expands your musical horizons.

Hello, friends!  I'm currently neck-deep in the production of the Top Secret Internuts Project.  If all goes according to plan, it'll be ready for public consumption next week.  Have your bibs ready because there's gonna be so much drawn butter!*  In the meantime, I'm going to be very lazy and share a bunch of my favorite music mashups instead of, you know, writing words.  Relax, put your earbuds in and I'll see you all next week!

*Plastic bibs are recommended but not required for the enjoyment of the Top Secret Internuts Project.

The Mashups!

Pink Floyd and The Bee Gees...together at last!

I can take or leave Annie Lennox but Adele is awesome and this remix is phenomenal.

Petula Clark's "Downtown" mixed with "Octopus's Garden."  I still can't listen to "Downtown" without thinking about Seinfeld.

Ozzy Osbourne meets A-Ha.  This works surprisingly well!

Nirvana and Michael Jackson.  Do I have to write more?  Listen to this.  Now.

This isn't the best mashup of the group but it does feature Christopher Walken dancing so it's well worth your time!

Alright, these next two aren't mashups at all. They're just really good...

The Punch Brothers (featuring the world's best mandolin player, Chris Thile) covering "Kid A" by Radiohead.  If you only listen to one painstakingly accurate bluegrass cover of a Radiohead song, this should be the one.  For purists only!

And I'll leave you with one of my favorite bands performing one of my favorite songs by one of my other favorite bands.  Please, enjoy The Derek Trucks Band (featuring Susan Tedeschi) performing "The Weight."  Stay clear of that hurricane, Internuts, and I'll seeya back here next week!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Chris survives an earthquake.

I don't want to alarm you guys but the earth was just shaking for a minute!  I put up with east coast winters specifically to avoid stuff like this.  Get it together, geologists!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Chris stands in the place where he lives.

Hey there, gang!  The days are getting shorter, the air is getting cooler, and a new school year is about to begin.  That’s right, Internuts, summer is drawing to a close.  I, for one, will be greeting autumn with open arms!  Fall has always been my favorite season.  I love the cool weather, the changing leaves and the opportunity to cover my beer gut in a hooded sweatshirt.  Since I’m already filling you in on my seasonal preferences (and beer gut), let me tell you a little bit about the spot where I’ll be carving jack-o’-lanterns this year.  It’s my adopted hometown of…


You can see me if you squint.

I originally put down stakes in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to be closer to my office (as many of you know I am a wealthy haberdasher and bon vivant).  Thankfully, “Conshy” has provided me with more than a short commute over the last few years.  Conshohocken is about one square mile in size and situated on the east bank of the Schuylkill River, a few short miles from Philadelphia.  The name “Conshohocken” is taken from a Native American phrase which means “Pleasant Valley.”  As a resident who is required to correctly spell “Conshohocken” on a regular basis, I can attest that “Pleasant Valley” would have sufficed just fine.  Here’s an insider’s trick: make sure you always include a “hoho” when you write “Conshohocken” and if that fails just write illegibly!

This doesn't end well...
William Penn, namesake of the pencil*, purchased the land around Conshohocken in 1683 from the Tammany Indians.  Penn then installed hardwood floors and a finished basement and “flipped” the land to local Quaker, Jasper Farmer (a farmer) for a tidy profit.*  William Penn would go on to build and, subsequently climb to the apex of, City Hall in Philadelphia where he was ultimately shot to death by bi-planes.*  Jasper Farmer went on to divide his land between a number of other Quaker families who would begin the industrialization and incorporation of Conshohocken.


Yes, this is a strip club.
Conshy would go on to play an important role in the Revolutionary War.  The aforementioned role being an escape route for terrified retreat from the British.  In 1778, General Lafayette led 2000 troops across the Schuylkill crying “Mettons-nous la baise outta esquiver” or “Let’s get the fuck outta Dodge.*”  Another hero of the Revolution was Edward “Ned” Hector, one of the few free African American men to fight for the Continental Army.  Hector holds a special place in my heart because I happen to reside on Hector Street.  Hector Street: home of two bars, a nut store, a deli, a strip club…and me!  Take that, Redcoats!!!

*Tremendously untrue.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves!  A census tells us that, in 1833, Conshohocken had one store, one tavern, one rolling mill, one grist mill and six houses.  Not a strip club to be found!!!  Following the war, Conshohocken began an industrial boom that would last well into the 20th century.  The natural resources of the area combined with easy access to the Schuylkill (and later, railroads) made Conshohocken a major supplier to the growing metropolis of Philadelphia.   To bastardize a quote from The Simpsons, Conshohocken was a city on the…grow!

A helluva town.

It's a proud day as Springfield Conshohocken is declared one of America's four hundred fastest-growing cities.  And why not?  Business is booming!  Half the country wears Springfield Conshohocken galoshes.  And say hello to the state's first Aqua-Car factory.  Keep 'em coming, boys!  The city's even in the celebrity business.  Everyone knows Professor Rubbermouth hails from Springfield Conshohocken. Everybody's chipping in; even this fellow [a dog pulling a wagon with a sign, "I'll pull for Springfield Conshy"] has Springfield Conshohocken's can-do spirit.  So watch out, Utica: Springfield Conshohocken is a City On the...Grow!

According to a respected history of Conshohocken, the booming town attracted “young, unmarried transient men.”  This would explain how I wound up here with a hobo’s bindle and a song in my heart.  By 1900, most of the “unmarried transient men” had become married and decidedly less transient.  While earlier residents began to plant their roots in the community (if you know what I mean) a surge of immigrants arrived to work the many factory jobs available.  Most represented among the new arrivals were the Irish.  The Irish neighborhoods were known locally as Irishtown, Whiskey Lane and Cork Row.  I think it’s safe to say that people had some hang-ups about the Irish back then.  Luckily, a recent influx of college students and young professionals has restored Conshohocken to the whiskey-soaked Gomorrah it was meant to be!

The industrial boom continued through the middle of the 20th century while the factories of Conshohocken produced sorely needed supplies for both World Wars.  Eventually, the need for steel and rubber declined and the leaders of industry started to “mettons-nous la baise outta esquiver.”  Many of the pre-industrial factories closed or were repurposed.  The roving hoards of drunken Irishmen became married and decidedly less drunken.  Conshohocken was slowly being deserted. 

Luckily, urban redevelopment began in 1974.  Most of the deserted factories were cleared away and new businesses began to spring up (including the office I currently work in).  The completion of the Matsonford Bridge connected Conshy to the main thoroughfares of Eastern Pennsylvania (Routes 76 and 476).  A large section of land next to the Schuylkill was transformed into luxury condominiums.  Things were looking up…

Until 2008, when this happened…

Oh boy...

A fire began in an unfinished building of the Riverwalk Millenium apartments (where the sprinklers had not yet been installed).  The fire spread to the other buildings of the apartment complex until it was an 8-alarm blaze.  86 fire companies were called in to battle the inferno.  Thankfully, no lives were lost in the fire (with the exception of a few slow-moving cats) and the apartments have since been rebuilt and opened for new residents (with LOTS of working sprinklers).  The property damage was estimated at $80 million.  Burn.

And that brings us up to present day!  I’ll share one damning anecdote before I loudly sing the praises of my new home.  I never shared this story with my parents so, Mom and Dad, I didn’t want to worry you unnecessarily and I hope the statute of limitations has expired on this particular story.   Here we go!  A few months after moving to Conshy I spent the night in Philadelphia with a friend of mine.  The next morning, I received a troublesome text message from my roommate informing me that we had been robbed.  After a tense (hung-over) train ride home I learned that someone had broken into our house, stolen a bunch of high-priced electronics and rolled.  Included in the purloined goods were an HDTV, a laptop, a few cell phones and various other prized possessions.  The Conshohocken Police were notified and it didn’t take long to realize that one of the stolen cell phones had a tracking feature.  Jump to a few hours later when a call was placed to the phone and the police could HEAR IT RINGING inside a local residence.  All the stolen goods were found and the perpetrators were summarily incarcerated.  The entire investigation lasted about 6 hours.  Needless to say, alarms were placed on the doors and windows shortly thereafter.

My stint as a local crime fighter notwithstanding, my time in Conshohocken has been fantastic!  I can walk to work.  I can walk to several phenomenal bars and restaurants!  I can walk to a train to go into Philly!  I can walk to Edwards-Freeman Nut Store (THE SAME NUT STORE I PREVIOUSLY REFERENCED)!  Conshohocken is a perfect mixture of big city excitement and small town convenience and I plan to reside here for the foreseeable future.  Alrighty, my Internuts, that’s all for now!  I’ll meet you back here real soon!  

Monday, August 8, 2011

Chris eats squid in ink sauce.

Hey everybody!  Let me start today with a bold proclamation: this is going to my favorite blog ever.  Now, I certainly don’t have the hubris to say that my writing will be particularly good.  It will be funny in a lukewarm sort of way and rife with grammatical errors like it always is.  However, I had more fun researching today’s entry than any other post I’ve done for this site.  Apparently, I entered the perfect combination of unrelated words into my search engine and I can’t wait to show you what I stumbled upon.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!  Please, friends, strap yourselves in and get ready to learn way too much about…

Squid in Ink Sauce!


It has been three full months since last I sampled some gross-looking food for your amusement, my dear readers.  It looks like that streak is about to come to an end.  Today’s taste test began like all the others…while walking around in my local Whole Foods looking for stuff that might make me dry heave.  Let me tell you, folks…no marginally-popular-blogger-with-an-infrequently-recurring-food-testing-feature worth his or her salt would pass up a can of squid in ink sauce!  It’s irresistible!  But before we crack the lid and dig in, let’s learn a little something about the fascinating sea beast I’m about to put in my tummy tum tum!

A squid in the wild.
Squid are terrifying alien creatures that would sooner eat your face than look at you.  Unlike their cousin, the cuddly octopus, squid have 10 arms (the standard 8 limbs plus 2 long tentacles to drag sailors to the murky depths of the sea to be consumed, body and soul).  Squid possess something called salivary papilla.  Oh, you haven’t heard of salivary papilla?  Let me fill you in, dummy!  You know that little mouth that shoots out of the alien in Alien?  Bingo!  Salivary papilla is a toothy extension of the squid’s tongue that it uses to drill into shell and bone.  Also, squid ACTUALLY SECRETE ACID FROM THEIR MOUTHS, so…yeah.

This is to scale.
Squid do not socialize with other squid.  They generally keep to themselves and make fiendish plans with their unnervingly large brains.  Squid are the Unabombers of the ocean.  They also get around like underwater Blue Angels.  Squid have built in jets that propel water out their butts fast enough that squid can travel 25 mph in deep water.  And guess what…they can grow to be big.  Really, really big.  The Colossal Squid has been estimated to reach 46 feet long.  Its eyes are 16 inches across (like an extra-large pizza).  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the skin of a squid is covered in chromatophores which change color faster than any land animal.  Squid are better chameleons than chameleons are.  Watch this. this.

Alright, I’m about to tell you a story that begins with me researching this article and ends with a Japanese sex doll.  While I was bouncing around websites I remembered a podcast I heard a few months ago about octopi (not quite squid but close enough).  I suggest you give it a listen…it’s really good.  Anyhow, the affable hosts describe something called the Pillow Octopus.  This stuck in my mind because the male Pillow Octopus is a few centimeters long and the female Pillow Octopus is 40,000 times that size.  AND THEY STILL GET IT ON!!!  That’s like an average sized man getting down and dirty with a woman 4 times the size of The Statue of Liberty!  If you’re wondering about the logistics of this sinful act, the male Pillow Octopus holds its sperm in one of its tiny little arms, BREAKS THAT ARM OFF ITS BODY and gives it to the female to get the job done.  Nature!

Now, that’s some interesting stuff and I wanted to find a cool picture to post of the Pillow Octopus for your enjoyment at home.  Being the na├»ve young lad that I am, I typed “pillow octopus” into Google image search and was simply astounded by what I found.  As it turns out, there is an “octopus pillow” on the market from Japan that is meant to be voraciously humped by lonely women.  To give you a glimpse behind the curtain here at Internuts Headquarters, I actually spit coffee out of my mouth when I found this.  AND IT GETS BETTER!  The manufacturers of this plush, pink invertebrate (you’d think they’d want it to have a bone…ZING!) were nice enough to offer their own selling points.  The following is transcribed EXACTLY as I found it…

Have you ever envied your friends for owning so lovely a toy pillow? We are so excited to recommend you such bracelet. This toy pillow is perfect for pretend play, nap time, lounging and kids room decor. Surely your friends will envy you the other way round on condition that you home such a toy pillow by yourself.

Many girls like toys, so boyfriend often buy some animal toys for their girlfriend. If you are worried what you should buy for you girlfriend, come on! We will introduce this octopus pillow to you. This octopus pillow will be your best choice for you. When your girlfriend received the stuffed octopus toy, she will feel you are always with her. She will never be afraid on a dark night because your octopus pillow will be her good fellow, it will always stay with her. These plush stuffed animals feature super cozy material, touches soft and comfortable. Of course you can decorate your room with it! Wherever you are at home, office or car, it will be a good accessory for your room. Your family also likes it.

You guys, I’ve been reading and re-reading those two paragraphs all day.  I’m considering having them both chiseled on my tombstone.  I hope you find that as funny as I do because bringing this octopus pillow to the attention of a wider audience has become my new goal in life.

What were we talking about?  Ahh, squid in ink sauce!  At this point, I’m only barely paying attention to the food I’m supposed to eat.  Eating squid doesn’t really phase me.  I’ve had calamari plenty of times and I’ve eaten squid at sushi bars before.  What really got be riled up was the ink.  Squid ink is composed primarily of melanin (which gives it the dark color) and mucus.  That’s gross.  In the wild the squid will squirt a large cloud of ink as a “smokescreen” to confuse predators.  They will also produce smaller, denser globules of ink to act as decoys.  This behavior is way too smart for an invisible monster with acid saliva!


I pop the top of my tin of squid and take a sniff.  It smells fishy.  This is to be expected, I suppose.  The squid is broken into smallish chunks but the overall appearance is disconcerting.  The ink is black and oily.  I spear a particularly succulent looking hunk of squid and give it a taste.  Well, it’s pretty good!  The color is very off-putting but it tastes like any other piece of squid.  A little rubbery but pleasant enough.  There is a bunch of salt in the ink sauce (probably as a preservative) but it takes the edge off nicely.  I would not hesitate to try squid in ink sauce again but I might close my eyes while I do it.

Try to not think of this when you go to sleep tonight!

Alrighty, Internuts!  That brings us to the conclusion of today’s installment.  I hope you learned a little something about squid.  I hope you learned a lot about Japanese hump octopi.  I am still hard at work on The Top Secret Internuts Project and will unveil it as soon as possible.  Until then, I’ll try to be more diligent about putting out a new blog post each week.  Until next time!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Chris teases you a little bit...

Hey you guys!  I've been hard at work at the Secret Internuts Project but I wanted to give you a first look at the progress that's been made so far so you don't think I've been napping this whole time (I've only been napping most of this time).  Take a listen and keep checking in for the finished product (it'll probably be a few weeks).  

Say hi to your mother for me,