How to Survive the World Air Guitar Championships, aka The Hangover Cure that Changed My Life

A couple of weeks ago, prior to the US Air Guitar National Championships at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, I was bemoaning the hangovers I knew awaited me since we foolishly decided this year to schedule the air guitar national finals a mere weekend before the World Air Guitar Championships in Oulu, Finland.

As host and “Master of Airemonies” for these events, my job is to set an example of inebriation for the competitors and crowd, as I often say from the stage: “One important rule here, please don’t be sober for this. It will just look stupid.”

9581695926_40fb8e581c

So there I was, bemoaning my chronic hangovers, with their accompanying headaches—headaches so bad I cannot lay my head on my pillow and usually am forced to down 4 Advils and take 45-minute scalding showers in order to relieve the pain—when my friend and air guitar compatriot Mr. Hot Lixx Hulahan (aka Craig Billmeier) said, “A friend of mine claims to have a great hangover cure. I’ll email him.”

And, let me tell you — it changed my life! I’ve now road tested this thing in three countries with countless alcoholic beverages—from beer to Jägermeister‎ to whisky to wine, and plain and simple: it works. On the worst days, I woke up with a very mild headache and general feeling that I had not gotten enough sleep (I was averaging 3 hours/night in Finland). But in general, I felt great.

The guy, to whom I owe an immense amount of gratitude, just wrote a blog posting detailing his prescription.  I didn’t really follow this to the letter, mostly I just took the vitamins he suggested. Though I generally avoided eating red meat, the one night I did gorge a plate of Swedish meatballs, I noticed the hangover was stronger than the other days. Still, I no longer had the splitting, debilitating headaches of hangovers past.

So, THANK YOU AARON PROBE! And may this help the rest of you!

In short, go buy two bottles of vitamins:

•Vitamin B complex (with no added vitamin C in it)

•Milk Thistle

I took 1 of each pill each evening, about an hour or two before I started drinking, and then another 2 pills when I got home at anywhere from 2 to 5 in the morning. I woke up feeling great!

From Garden to Gullet: Doing Farm to Table at Home

There’s another great piece by Mark Bittman in the NY Times today highlighting research that suggests that getting Americans to mere eat one more fruit or vegetable per day would lower health care costs and save lives:

Each additional serving of fruit or vegetable would reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease by about 5 percent, to the point where if we all ate the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, we’d save more than 100,000 lives and something like $17 billion in health care costs.

I’ve been doing my part by growing herbs, fruits and vegetables in my garden at home. Here’s what I’m growing at the moment:

Kale, arugula, 4 varieties of tomatoes, 4 pepper varieties, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, shiso, kumquats, oranges, lemons, limes, persimmons, blueberries, and strawberries. Obviously everything is not at harvest stage at the same time, but the summer has been amazing.

Today, for lunch, I made an omelette with sautéed chopped shishito pepper, diced cherry tomatoes, basil and goat cheese, with a side salad of kale tossed with olive oil, sea salt and brown rice vinegar.

Image

Few things in life are as satisfying as picking things from the garden, cooking them, and then eating them.

How to Shop and What to Look for When Buying an Antique Stove

A friend of mine who fronts the excellent band Ponyboy just bought a house in Nashville with her husband, and today she emailed me with this question:

I remember really liking the stove you used in your renovation (just from pics) and wondered where you found them and if they were pricey? Just trying to do a few upgrades.

Such a rock and roll conversation, right?

Well, it turns out I actually had some advice for her. These are lessons I learned when renovating my house—the house I recently wrote about in the Home & Garden section of the New York Times.

Here’s what I told her:

I found my stoves on Craigslist – they were in pretty mediocre shape when I got them, but I had them serviced and then re-chromed all the chrome pieces.

The cost was $800 for 2 stoves, delivered. Servicing was about $125 and rechroming was $500 for the 2 stoves. One is a Gaffers and Sattler (harder to find, don’t recommend as parts are weird and hard to replace) and the other is an O’Keefe & Merrit – these are everywhere, and places do restore them. See if you can find one already restored if you don’t want any hassles.

Do a search for “antique O’keefe stove nashville” and see what comes up or check craigslist.  If you find one on craigslist, make sure you go through it stem to stern to make sure everything lights and works. I didn’t, and I wish I had!

Then I quickly checked Nashville craigslist and found this ad for an O’Keefe for $200.

If you’re looking in Los Angeles, these stoves are everywhere. Just be sure to make sure to light  every burner and the oven and broilers. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache that way. Here are some photos of my stoves, post refurbishing:

IMG_0484 IMG_0485 dan stove

If you need service on the east side of LA, I loved this guy at Eagle Rock Appliances.

If you need any parts re-chromed (if any of the chrome is rusted) I took mine to General Plating, south of downtown. They weren’t very fast or cheap, but they did a great job and I couldn’t find anything cheaper.

The Gaffers and Sattler stove is in my house, and the O’Keefe is in the guest house I rent out on Airbnb.

Bon Appetit!

Literary Death Match: Finally, I Won Something!

Last night I competed in my first Literary Death Match in Los Angeles. Miraculously, I didn’t have to go first (though I was in the first round and did lose the coin toss) and I did not take second place, as is my tradition in air guitar.

It was a lot of fun, and the readers and judges were all hilarious and utterly enjoyable. Kurt Braunohler was particularly genius, and if you’ve never seen his show Hot Tub at the Virgil every Monday night (that he co-hosts with the amazing Kristen Schaal), you should.

I read my recent piece from the New York Times, which I’m currently working on adapting into a book.

The show was very much like an air guitar competition, though there was no 4.0-6.0 olympic figure skating scale scoring, just a winner/loser for each round. The second round was “Pulitzer Prize Pictionary,” which I only won because someone shouted to me the final book, “The Color Purple.”

When I got home, Whisky wanted to wear my medal. How could I say no?

Image

Here’s who competed:
Margot Leitman, a Moth Grandslam winner & author of Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase
Travis Sentell, screenwriter/novelist and author of Fluid
Kathy Ebel, TV writer (Cold Case, Law & Order) and author of Claudia Silver to the Rescue
Dan Crane, co-author of To Air is Human: One Man’s Quest to Become the World’s Greatest Air Guitarist (and called “Bill Murray trapped in the body of Sid Vicious…” by The New York Times)

THE JUDGES
Literary Merit: Rachel Kushner, author of The Flamethrowers & Telex from Cuba (a National Book Award finalist)
Performance: Ali Wongcomedian extraordinaire, who’s appeared on The Newsroom & VH1’s Best Week Ever
Intangibles: Kurt Braunohler, comedic genius, co-host of Hot Tub comedy show

From the archives: The Easy Leis singing “Beauty Hula”

I was looking for something the other day and came across this version of an amazing Polynesian song my old band The Easy Leis used to perform in Brooklyn.

I remember us all listening to a cassette tape of this track, transcribing a few words at a time, then rewinding it, playing back. It took hours and our transcription was entirely phonetic but it sounds pretty close, at least, to a non-speaker like myself…

Here’s a video of an “actual” version of the track.

[youtube url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loEeS46yvNs]

 

Literary Death Match – May 30

I’ll be reading/performing/competing at Literary Death Match LA on May 30. 

It’s more or less like competitive air guitar, but with words…

Image

Where: Busby’s East, 5364 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles (map)
When: Doors at 6:30; Show at 7:35 (sharp); afterdrinks after
Cost: $7 preorder; $10 at the door

 

 

THE JUDGES  
Literary Merit: TBA!
Performance: Ali Wongcomedian extraordinaire, who’s appeared on The Newsroom & VH1’s Best Week Ever
Intangibles: Kurt Braunohler, comedic genius, co-host of Hot Tub comedy show

THE READERS
Margot Leitman, a Moth Grandslam winner & author of Gawky: Tales of an Extra Long Awkward Phase
Travis Sentell, screenwriter/novelist and author of Fluid
Kathy Ebel, TV writer (Cold Case, Law & Order) and author of Claudia Silver to the Rescue
Dan Crane, co-author of To Air is Human: One Man’s Quest to Become the World’s Greatest Air Guitarist (and called “Bill Murray trapped in the body of Sid Vicious…” by The New York Times)

Hosted by LDM creator Adrian Todd Zuniga

 

Art Project – Using Old Glass Jalousie Window Slats to Make Art

IMG_0226
Whisky would prefer I throw her tennis ball than make art from old glass slats.

In my house I renovated last summer, most of the windows were the jalousie slatted glass type. They function like Venetian blinds, but they’re made of glass and don’t really offer much in the way of insulation or security. So, I decided to replace almost all of them.

(Unfortunately, the bulk of the replacement windows were crappy aluminum sliders—it was one of the first, and most expensive decisions I had to make, so I opted for the cheapest route. I wish I had done salvaged wood windows instead — which I did end up doing for several windows which turned out great).

IMG_0230Not wanting to throw anything away (I also had my contractor make a headboard out of the scrap wood from the ceiling) I kept the glass thinking, “One day I’ll make an art project out of these.”

I ruminated for months on what to do with the glass. My brother suggested making “sandwiches” of the glass using paint between each sheet and stacking them, letting the paint ooze out in between (a technique he’d done before with wood). But the glass was so heavy once you started stacking them, that this seemed unworkable.

Another idea was to paint the glass and then lean each slat against the wall using 2 nails to hold the slat. I was telling my friend John about the idea and he had the brilliant suggestion of buying a glass drill bit, drilling 2 holes in the glass, and then mounting them on the wall. So that’s precisely what I did.

IMG_0257

IMG_0260
I made a template for the drill hole using a block of wood and this made measuring nice and simple.
IMG_0259
I had read that adding water as you drill kept the drill bit cool and prevented the glass from cracking. I only cracked a couple.

IMG_0280

IMG_0283
Once all the holes were drilled in 10 pieces, I painted them with blue acrylic paint mixed with gel. I varied the texture of each one, sometimes using very little paint and sometimes using a lot. I also blended some with white paint to alter the hues.IMG_0037
I used aluminum spacers and rubber washers to make the glass look like it was floating off the wall (also one of John’s suggestions).

IMG_0282

IMG_0042
Finished!




Thanks Everyone!

Image

Just wanted to say thanks to all the kind words from friends and random strangers about my story in today’s Times. It’s not exactly the story I ever thought I’d write, but it’s nice to know people liked it.

Here’s a photo collage I made that the Times wasn’t able to run showing the ceiling demolition.

Also – I didn’t really include the fact that the property is a duplex (and trust me, renovating two houses at once is even more fun!) I rent it out on Airbnb, so check it out and if you’re coming to LA anytime soon, perhaps you can stay here!

I’ll also note that the one thing that kept me from completely coming unglued was having a kick-ass contractor. Those are his legs dangling from my ceiling. If you’re in LA and you need a really nice, funny, totally honest contractor, let me know!

Piece coming out in NY Times

before-after

A piece I wrote about my trials and tribulations renovating a house (and the subsequent destruction of my marriage) will be coming out in the NY Times soon. I’ll post again about it…but here’s a before/after photo in the meantime.