Mike Doughty

Mike Doughty will launch a full tour with a band in June for the first time since Soul Coughing broke up. Mike Doughty’s Band features Mike Doughty on guitar and vocals, Thomas Bartlett (aka The Doveman) on keyboards and Shahzad Ismaily on drums. After warmup dates in Hoboken, New Jersey (June 5) and Brooklyn (June 6), the trio will kick off a three-week tour in Cleveland on June 9. The run continues through two nights at Stubbs in Austin, Texas, on July 2 and 3, and includes a June 11 performance at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. Full list of dates below.
5 – Hoboken, NJ – Maxwell’s
6 – Brooklyn, NY – Southpaw

Soul Coughing is on my top 5 all time favorite band list. I also had the opportunity to see Mike Doughty solo, just him and a guitar, last year in Brooklyn and enjoyed it.

I’ll probably be going to the June 6 show if anyone is interested.


custom garments

Veteran travellers to Hong Kong had recommended that we investigate custom tailored suits during our visit. Based on a recommendation for a specific tailor (there are hundreds) from a very senior executive at my company several of our team members had pants and jackets made for them. Since my trip was two weeks I decided to wait and use their goods as a baseline for my purchase.

After whitnessing the process and deciding that everything was on the up and up, I took the plunge. I knew I wanted a very dark blue suit and proceeded to hunt through the fabric book. The difficult part is making the conceptual leap from a 6″ x 5″ swatch to a finished suit. I certainly could have used a little more authoritiative advice from the shop owner, but I generally know what I like and don’t like garment-wise. Measurements are taken – mercifullily little crotch-grab. Next I am led through a series of design questions on flaps, lapels, buttons, pockets, everything. It is all juat a little stressful and very much like Mongolian BBQ – you really can’t blame the guy if it comes out shitty.

The thought also occurred that since we had all the design power, shouldn’t we use the opportunity to really make it “custom” and add like 30 pockets all over the thing. Channel the inner fashion designer. The added benefit of pretty much everyone constantly asking where you got the short-sleeved suit.

A couple days later I went back for the first fitting. They bring out what is essentially a half-finished suit, no zippers, no buttons, one arm only on the jacket. This is where the magic happens. They micro-adjust every seam and fit detail.

Back for the final fitting and payment another couple days later. The finished product looks quite good so far, but I’ll know better once I’ve worn it out. Total cost of all this is heavily dependent on material selection, but basically it is about half the cost of a standard Hugo Boss off-the-rack starter suit.

Out of curiosity and a surprising lack of properly fitting dress shirts in my wardrobe I decided to go for a custom shirt as well. These guys specialize so its off to Ascott Chang’s upstairs. This time there are many more exacting measurements (no separate fitting here) and a few more design choices.

Both these places keep your measurements on file so if I love them I can order up a few more colors as needed.


Voice over IP

From Hollie’s Vonage bill:

(to Hong Kong)
International Minutes: 24
International Minutes Charge:  $0.48

From the Kowloon Shangri-La Hotel Bill:
IDD Call: ~15 minutes
Charge: HK$265.00 ~ US$34.00


nightswimming in the South China Sea

Last week our team was invited out on a yacht owned by the MegaCorp that owns the software company we are out here to visit. Apparently the boat was built in 1957 and is one of only four left in the world. Good times had by all continued through cocktails and dinner.

The chairman had mentioned when we arrived that we should have brought our bathing suits for waterskiing and swimming and prodded me again at dinner on going swimming. At this point I’m seriously considering the logistics and the career damage potential. Then he throws in a “I’ll go if you go”. At this point I’m sold but am trying to figure out how to get him to make it seem like I’m less eager than I really am. When my VP comes to the rescue with a follow-up “I’ll go if you go”. Hosanna.

A quick are-you-sure’s exchanged and we drop trough and leap into the blackness. Now I’m not one to go into natural bodies of water due to my cold-water-tolerance being incredibly low, but uncharacteristically believed our host’s claims of “bathwater” like temps. Swam around the boat three times, hung out shark-bait style for a while and climbed back aboard.

We then were able to educate the Chinese on the meaning of “commando.” China, you’re welcome.


pork on pork

I know this is going to sicken a portion of my audience, but the pork challenge is still running at 100%. Here was a side dish for dinner last night in Lan Kwai Fong.

The closest call came after a sushi lunch I had to resort to some dried pork coated in sugar.


reunion diet

I just found out I have until November 28th for my reunion diet goal.

That’s quite a long way from now. Maybe I should expand my mission? Reunion Ferrari? Reunion ZZ-Top-Beard? What else?



swine all the time

Near the end of day two in Hong Kong we collectively noticed there is an awful lot of pork in our meals. Pork dumplings at breakfast, sweet fried pork dumplings for dessert, minced pork Shanghai dishes and on and on and on. I thought about it for a moment and realized that I had eaten some form of pork at every single meal since I arrived.

Immediately I took it on as a challenge to see if I could eat pork at each meal for my entire ten day stay. I’m about half way there and I’m optimistic I’ll succeed in my mission.

Apparently there is historical rational for this phenomenon. Basically every other kind of meat has gone through some kind of phase of health related disaster at one time or another. Currently you can’t get fresh duck due to some kind of outbreak for instance.


coke light

So over here in China, we’ve all been noticing that the Diet Coke, which they call Coke Light, is much much more like regular Coke than what we get in the US. We’ve almost had drinks sent back at the restaurant because we were convinced it could not possibly be diet.

Enter Google.

I searched for the “sodium cyclamate” which the can listed next to Aspartame (NutraSweet) and discovered Stevia

Its name is Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni. … 300-400 times sweeter than sugar and not artificial anything. Stevia is 100% Mother Nature in the form of a green herb plant of the Aster/Chrysanthemum family, the leaves of which yield its naturally-occurring sweet substance, glycoside, or stevioside. Best of all, it has been shown in numerous research studies to have no ill effects on the human body. In fact, in China, Stevia is also used to aid digestion, lose weight and even stimulate the appetite. It is also reported that Stevia powder heals external skin sores while drinking Stevia tea reduces mouth sores and improve oral health. And if that wasn’t enough, Stevia cooks, bakes, sprinkles, and tastes, amazingly like real sugar, maybe even better.

The FDA has refused to approve it as a food additive in the US. There are numerous other articles which talk about the various potential health hazards. We batted around the idea that the Sugar/NutraSweet industry might be fighting it behind the scenes. Who knows, but I sure hope they figure it out – this stuff is delicious.



super duper job, Iraq is a shining beacon in the middle east – oh wait

 “Mr. Secretary, thank you for your hospitality, and thank you for your leadership. You are courageously  leading our nation in the war against terror. You’re doing a superb job. You are a strong Secretary of Defense, and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude.” -Bush 

Dick Cheney says, “Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. . . . People should get off his case and let him do his job.” [via Paul Krugman]

Really best ever? Huh. I disagree.

UPDATE: Also read Slate’s War Stories – Fred Kaplan