The solar eclipse
You’ve probably seen news coverage about Monday’s solar eclipse, and the corresponding places across the United States that find themselves destinations for viewing the eclipse in its totality. That means the moon will completely cover the sun—and its tenuous atmosphere (the corona)—and will be a totally fucking awesome thing to experience. The solar eclipse falls on a diagonal line stretching from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, but if you can’t make it to a total eclipse spot, you’ll still be able to see a partial eclipse from anywhere in the contiguous U.S. The longest duration of the total eclipse will be about two minutes and 40 seconds, near Carbondale, Illinois. Guess where I’ll be Monday? (I booked the Airbnb two years ago.)
If you’re lucky enough to be at or traveling to a total eclipse location, be warned that some towns are projecting that their supermarkets will run out of food and even gas stations will run out of gas. A lot of these small towns don’t have the resources to host a huge influx of eclipse-viewers, so it’s a good idea to bring any supplies you absolutely have to have (e.g., coffee) and fill up on gas on the road, before you arrive.
NASA is the best and really only source you need for your solar eclipse information both scientific and practical. The one thing you must remember to enjoy your eclipse is to protect your eyes. NASA links to this site of reputable eclipse glasses brands; see also on this page information about libraries and NASA viewing locations that are giving out free glasses. Also know that looking at the eclipse through cameras, telescopes, and binoculars will fuck your eyes up if they don’t have the proper filters on them. (Here’s more information on that front.)
Reference the “Where Can You See It?” section of this page for the time to view the eclipse. The moon will start covering the sun an hour or more before the totality hits, so get to your viewing spot well enough in advance so that you can take it all in (through your protective glasses!). It’s technically okay to take your glasses off during totality, but they need to be worn when the eclipse begins through when it ends. I plan on keeping mine on the whole time, because it’s really not worth the risk of permanently damaging your eyes.
The next eclipse doesn’t happen in the U.S. until 2024. There’ll be a couple more in South America in 2019 and 2020, and one in Antarctica in 2021, but this one is happening Monday, and all you need to do is go outside, and with a little planning (AND GLASSES), you can experience one of nature’s coolest events.
Canned fish gets a bad rap. It’s not considered as appetizing as fresh fish, and tuna, especially, can look (that disc-shaped can) and smell like cat food. I understand the criticism but encourage fish eaters to give it another shot; canned fish is economical and tasty, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to elevate it beyond tuna fish sandwiches. (I’ve made this tuna dip countless times since chef Melissa Clark visited our office in March.) The other night, wanting something easy for dinner but fancier than cheese and crackers, I grabbed a can of sardines. I made some pan con tomate, the Spanish tapa prepared by toasting baguette slices, rubbing them with the cut side of a tomato half, and drizzling olive oil and sprinkling salt over each slice. On top of each piece, I layered a chunk of sardine (halved open, backbone removed), a grape tomato slice, and a tear of basil. Then I drizzled a little more olive oil and sprinkled more salt on top. The acidity and sweetness of the tomato paired nicely with the mild smoky, fish flavor of the sardines, and the crisp bread added contrasting texture. Eating these fish toasts alongside some manchego cheese, a few olives, and/or a simple salad would make for a nice little Mediterranean meal, one that doesn’t require any cooking and that might sway you over to fish that comes in a can.
Ever since my first club show—Jesus Jones and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin at The Unicorn in Houston, August 29, 1991—left me with tinnitus for three long days, I have been a devoted user of earplugs, sometimes to the consternation of my fellow fans. (“You’d better take those out when Bob Mould gets onstage!” one guy yelled at me before Sugar at Mississippi Nights in 1994.) I’ve stuck to various forms of foam earplugs, though if I had to choose a favorite, I’d say the cylindrical Quiet! Please ones—blunt but effective. Over time, though, the bluntness part of that equation has annoyed me more; it tends to cut out higher frequencies and emphasize the low ones, which is why I’ve often wondered why the kick drum is so high in the mix at shows. It wasn’t, necessarily, but my earplugs made it sound that way. I’m not quite at the stage of going to an audiologist for custom-molded earplugs, so I tried out Etymotic’s ER-20XS at the Pitchfork Music Festival last month. They performed well, taking 20 decibels or so evenly off the sound, so I wasn’t left wondering why the kick was so high and the guitars so low. Etymotic has a graph spelling out the attenuation of foam earplugs to explain that phenomenon, but I was just happy that the music didn’t sound muffled. I can’t buy the Etymotics in a plastic bin full of 80 pairs like Quiet! Please, so I’ll just have to be careful with these.