Tuesday, April 26

April in Paris II

Paris Double Rainbow
Originally uploaded by AdamP.
Check out this amazing double rainbow, taken by my brother-in-law from his balcony overlooking the Jardin du Luxerbourg.

Monday, April 25

Literate smut

Check out the London Review of Books' classified ads, and you will find the repressed, oblique and allusive pleas of the sex-deprived intelligensia. OK, maybe not *that* oblique.

--Massive-breasted heiress, 38, seeks witty Nobel-awarded intellectual beef-cake gardener-chef-poet with stonking pecs. Like me, you are dynamic, hilarious, serious, ironic, passionate, practical, affectionate, kind, funny, have most of your own legs, and are startled to find yourself still cruising the aisles of the Lurve Bazaar. Unlike me, you don’t exist. Am I right? If so, will consider any M who can make conversation, sense, a living, friends, four cooked meals, hot love and me laugh. Box no. 07/01

--Chomsky seeks Greer. markofabian2@yahoo.com

--Toilet duties. That’s where you come in – buxom, 22-year-old blonde stereotype not shy of adjusting the surgical stockings of 73-year-old misanthrope with poor bladder control. Failing that, just send care home brochures to Box no. 08/05

--I like you because you read magazines with big words. And you’ve got great booblies. I can live without the first. But the second is non-negotiable. Shallow man, 34. When I say ‘shallow’, I mean, damn. Box no. 08/08

Thursday, April 21

50 Ways to Get Fired

A selection from Phat Phree's hilarious list:

-- 42. The Ma Fratelli: Take whatever money you have in your pocket and make B&W copies of the bills on the office copy machine while laughing manically and repeating, "It’s too fucking easy…"

-- 14. The Fredo: Arrive at work early and hide under your boss' desk. When the boss arrives, do nothing but hide for the first three hours. Then roll up his pants so slowly he doesn't notice. Then lick his shin. After he finishes freaking out and asks you what the hell you're doing, tell him that he's crazy, and that you have no idea what he’s talking about. Do the “screws loose” gesture with your hands, and then kiss him on the mouth and say, "You broke my heart."

5. The Hasselhoff*: Explain that where you come from, a Speedo and an unbuttoned shirt is considered "business casual." * God, any excuse to use this photo. Hasselhoff, you handsome bastard.

-- 4. The Finger Licking Good: Whenever you leave the employee bathroom, rather than washing your hands, lick your fingers like you just had a delicious meal.

Coming soon...

Channel 4's upcoming show "I'm Spazticus" features disabled people playing "Candid Camera" style pranks, including:
-- a one-armed man running out of the sea shouting "shark".
-- a porn-loving midget who recruits people to hand him top-shelf magazines
-- a wheelchair user stuck in a tree.
There is also a show on the way that has teenagers order producers to make the shows they want, including "Pimp My Nan," "Getting a Monkey Drunk," and "Junkies Win Prizes," which challenges a heroin addict to find his way out of a maze.
Link from MediaGuardian

Turn your pound cake to red velvet

My friendly neighborhood cake man -- conveniently named CakeMan Raven -- gets love in the New York Times for his baroque culinary confections for the likes of Mary J. Blige.
Four feet wide and 26 inches tall, the cake featured edible approximations of a CD, a musical note, a Dolce & Gabbana shopping bag, a Christian Dior purse, a MAC cosmetics compact, a dove and a near-life-size baby, meant to symbolize Ms. Blige's spiritual rebirth.
Mmmmmmmm....you can really taste the spiritual rebirth.

During my halcyon days in Fort Green, I loved eating CakeMan's signature red velvet cake (limit 4 slices per customer). I lived in an apartment equidistant between CakeMan and Junior's, home of the famous cheesecake and the even-better strawberry shortcake. Also deserving of fame: Junior's "Something Different" sandwich, a massive pile of beef brisket between two giant slabs of potato pancake.

Thinking of Brooklyn makes me hungry.

Truth serum, gay pyramids, and simian security forces

Were truer words ever spoken on Oprah? Jon Stewart, asked which politician he would most like to give truth serum, utters the Zen koan: "Truth serum only works with people that know they're lying."
Link (Windows Media)

In other news:
The new food pyramid is totally gay
Some German guy luuuuuuurves Maude Flanders
Oops I Did It Again -- the Louis Armstrong original
How to Destroy the Earth (you must be very lucky or very patient)
The Goonies 20th Anniversary Celebration
The Simpsons sell out to the Pope

And last but not least:
Monkey SWAT team.

(Next season on 24: Keifer trys to uncover the mole in CTU's covert chimp division -- "WHO ARE YOU GROOMING FOR?!! WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY APE-JECTIVE??! -- and gets his faced chewed off.)

Friday, April 15

I Heart "Get Your War On"

get your war on - delay
Originally uploaded by adrocker.
The clip-art Web comic takes on the Schiavo case.

You say "trivial," I say "learned" *

Great article in Slate about the complex appeal of Trivial Pursuit, which I humbly submit as the best board game of all time. And yes, this may have something to do with the fact that I am nearly unbeatable. I know my wife loves me because she (occasionally, as a rare treat) will consent to play with me.

However, because I am a heartless bastard who hates to lose, I refuse to play Boggle with her (a game in which she recently was designated a grand master).

The article points out that the game was initially intended to make Baby Boomers feel cool, and to delude them into believing that having an encyclopedic knowledge of some crap '60s TV show was actually useful in some way, however small.
But ironically enough, it's the offspring of the boomers like myself that really soaked the game up, because it literally gave us a seat at the grown-up table.
I remember my grandparents' astonishment when I correctly answered that Radar O'Reilly's favorite drink was Grape Nehi—a fact I'm pretty sure I learned directly from a Trivial Pursuit card.
The thing I like best is that despite appearances Trivial Pursuit doesn't rely on the brainless memorization of a million useless facts (although that does help) but rather on deductive reasoning and an understanding of the quirky sensibility of the game.

Nowadays my only problem is finding fresh victims to play with...aside from my loving wife, not many people want to play twice.

G: Thailand
E: From Here to Eternity
H: Henry Kissinger
AL: $0.25, (the card actually says $0.10; the MAD FAQ explains)
SN: Seeds
SL: Duke Snider

*"Pepe: Tell me more! I want to know all the constellations!
Homer: Well, there's... Jerry, the cowboy. And that big dipper-looking thing is Alan... the cowboy.
Pepi: Oh, Papa Homer, you are so learned [learn\éd].
Homer: Heh heh heh. Learned [learn'd'], son. It's pronounced learned [learn'd]."

Gum Art

Originally uploaded by ponyintheair.
Paintings of London on discarded chewing gum - genius...and slightly scary.

Thursday, April 14

Havana Remix

DJ/musical alchemist RJD2 has a video out for his song '1976' that is off the chains. It's brewed from a series of still photos, including lots of great images of Havana's classic cars and the Cuban countryside, that have been cleverly choppped and panned into a 3D landscape. It's a bit hard to explain, best to just watch.

RJD2 put out a few great albums of instrumental hip-hop, then changed course with his latest, 'Since We Last Spoke,' which has nary a hip-hop beat on it and is laced with heavy doses of rock 'n' roll -- refuting Handsome Boy Modelling School's claim that "Rock 'n' roll could never ever hip-hop like this."

Link to the very cool animated video to his song 'Exotic Talk.'

Wednesday, April 13

"It looks like a detonator; It sounds like dynamite."

There are few items I treasure more than my Panasonic 'Dynamite' portable 8-track player.

If you're not familiar with 8-tracks, they are a format between the LP and cassette tape that was briefly popular in the mid- to late-1970s. I got my player at Halcyon, a coffeeshop/nightclub/antique shop in Brooklyn, about 4 years ago, only to find that it didn't work. But a generous 8-Track samaritan (there really are such people!) who I barely knew fixed it for free, and it's given me nothing but joy ever since.

The Dynamite model even used "Good Times" star Jimmy Walker as its spokesman, for obvious reasons.

Some famous pop culture 8-Track shoutouts:
-- The Beastie Boys' "Hey Ladies" video
-- "Dazed and Confused"
-- "The Blues Brothers"

The technology of the 8-track leaves much to be desired -- it squeezes four tracks side-by-side on a piece of tape, with a magnetic head that moves across them to play the song. (Four tracks x right & left channels = 8 tracks)

The big flaw is that you can't fast-forward or rewind, yet have to change tracks if you want to hear the complete album. It also had some serious technical problems: the tapes tend to degrade over time, to the point where if you buy one today that's still shrink-wrapped it's virtually certain not to work. And the moving parts mean that the players themselves break down a lot.

Inconvenient, unreliable, and so-so sound quality -- what's the appeal?

Well, in the case of my Dynamite model, they look undeniably cool, and they're self-contained and portable, so it's perfect for a trip to the park or lying out in the garden. For me there's also retro appeal to listening to an obsolete medium, especially one that evokes Led Zeppelin and Cadillac Coupe de Villes. It's like a sonic time capsule.

Because the 8-track has been passed over as a format, you can get tapes for unbelievably low sums of money on eBay -- sometimes as little as a buck or two. I got EIGHT live Curtis Mayfield albums for the princely sum of $10.

I would love to have the complete set of the Dynamite models.

I need a red and blue one to go with Ole Yeller. I've also tried some baroque hacks to get my iPod to work with the 8-Track player -- something about twinning the cutting edge with something that belongs in a museum. I've tried using an 8-Track -> cassette adapter along with a cassette tape -> audio-in jack, but no luck so far. The quest continues.

-- 8-Track Heaven
-- 8-Track Lesbian
-- History of the 8-Track

And if you've really been inspired, check out my self-styled 8-track T-Shirt, available for purchase at CafePress for $13.99.

The Weather Underground

Only in weather-obsessed Britain could you find a Web site that gives you a "weather" forecast for inside tube stations. Did you know the Central Line is 3 degrees (Celsius) warmer than the Jubilee?

Personally I hate the tube and I'm dreading the day in July when my office moves from Bloomsbury, a 25 minute walk from home, to the blighted corporate wasteland mall that is Canary Wharf, which is two tube lines and an hour away.

For you non-Londoners out there, this is roughly equivalent from moving from Union Square in Manhattan to the Ikea parking lot in Jersey.

*Bonus fact: When Kelly and I lived in Brooklyn post-9/11, the Ikea parking lot was our designated rendezvous point in case of a terrorist attack. We might have been radioactive and full of anthrax, but at least we would have all the flat-packed plywood modernist designer knock-offs we could carry. And in a post-apocolyptic society (Oryx & Crake steez), those vinyl carry-all Ikea shopping bags would really come in handy.

Tuesday, April 12

Who wants to sex Mutombo?

In other news...

A friend writes: "They say that politics is showbusiness for ugly people, but [UK Green Party Paliamentary candidate] Julia Stevenson (dis)proves the rule. She can top my poll anytime, aherr herr!!"
I just hope that's not real fur...

Julia Stephenson - Kensington & Chelsea

Julia Stephenson has lived in Chelsea all of her life and is passionate about reserving and enhancing the quality of life in this unique part of London.

If elected she will campaign energetically to improve public transport, (supporting the river bus service), fight to ban SUVs from our congested roads whilst ensuring education, top-class health care and safe streets are at the top of the agenda.

When not proselytizing on behalf of the Green Party Julia works as an author and television journalist.

UPDATE -- A hidden caption tag on the photo states: "Julia in a fake fur coat." You read my mind, Green Party!

Newfound respect for Idaho

"WHEREAS, any members of the House of Representatives or the Senate of the Legislature of the State of Idaho who choose to vote "Nay" on this concurrent resolution are "FREAKIN' IDIOTS!"

Idaho lawmakers are stepping up to recognise the excellent movie "Napoleon Dynamite." This is the kind of legislation I could really get behind. (It passed unanimously)

Some excerpts:
"WHEREAS, the friendship between Napoleon and Pedro has furthered multiethnic relationships;
WHEREAS, Uncle Rico's football skills are a testament to Idaho athletics;
WHEREAS, Kip's relationship with LaFawnduh is a tribute to e-commerce and
Idaho's technology-driven industry;
WHEREAS, Napoleon's tetherball dexterity emphasizes the importance of physical education in Idaho public schools;
WHEREAS, Tina the llama, the chickens with large talons, the 4-H milk cows, and the Honeymoon Stallion showcase Idaho's animal husbandry;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we, the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the State of Idaho, advocate always following your heart, and thus we eagerly await the next cinematic undertaking of Idaho's Hess family."

Monday, April 11

In other news...

-- Typing fun phrases into Google

-- Common cents fun with pennies

-- Great takeoff of Honda's excellent "Cog" ad done in a dormroom on a £30 budget

-- 278 Mexico-bound KLM passengers get an 11 hour round trip from Amsterdam to Amsterdam, after U.S. refuses flyover because two passengers are on a terrorist watch list, forcing the flight to turn around. They couldn't figure this out before the plane took off?

April in Paris

Had a blast in Paris this weekend at a restaurant called Le Cave de l'Os à Moëlle.

L'Os à Moëlle -- literally translated as "the marrow bone," although they don't serve the bone marrow and parsley salad made famous at London's spectacular St John -- is a tiny little bistro about a 20 minute cab ride from where we were staying near the Jardin Luxembourg.

Le Cave de l'Os à Moëlle, even smaller, is a glorified (as in glorious) wine bar with only 2 long communal tables that's situated across the street.

When we walked in at 9:30 on a Saturday night, the place was bumping, packed wall to wall with a young crowd that was drinking wine, chatting and laughing, as a bartender carved thin slices off a giant leg of cured ham and handed them to good looking girls.

Our party of 7 squeezed into a tiny table that was loaded with bread, cabbage, pickles, and enormously heavy crocks of terrine and pate. We grabbed a new bottle from a wall full of wine bottles (we had consumed one already out on the sidewalk while waiting for our table; prices are the same you'd find at a wine shop) and dug in.

When we got hungry for something more we made our way to the end of the room, where there was brocolli soup, artichokes, hard boiled eggs, and haddock with leeks. Everything was served buffet style, and the bartender (no waiters!) would occasionally bring out another steaming hot dish from across the street.

For dessert, there was a side table laden with apple crumble, rice pudding, key lime mousse, gingerbread and pears stewed in syrup with star anise.

The whole meal was unbelievably convivial and fun. The food was fantastic -- maybe just a smidgen below our previous visit, when the main dish was a thick beef stew, but that was almost beside the point. We were crammed into a tiny table, drinking endless bottles of wine, laughing and eating with friends. The perfect meal.

The price? 28 euros per person.

Next time I'd like to try out the slightly more grown up L'Os a Moelle across the street, where they have a 38 euro prix fixe meal with actual waiters and everything. Both restaurants were created by Thierry Faucher, one of a crop of chefs who fled the stuffy environs of Paris' three star dining emporiums in the late '90s to found funky bistros in unglamorous parts of town -- a tale told by my favorite food writer, Vogue critic Jeffrey Steingarten, which is how I heard of La Cave in the first place.

L'Os a Moelle got a very glowing write-up from the NYTimes' Mark Bittman a few weeks ago.

Another review of L'Os a Moelle, with a bit more background on Faucher and his colleagues in the Bistro Moderne movement, is here.

Wednesday, April 6

The Reverse Art Thief

Grafitti Artist/Provacateur Banksy pulled a fast one this weekend, infiltrating four of New York's top art museums and putting his own art on the walls, with some of it staying up undetected for days.

What a sweet prank!

For more of Banksy's work on Flickr, click here. For an interview from the Guardian with the artist, whose stencil-based work is scattered all over London, click here.

Tuesday, April 5

I Heart Tabloids


Britain's red-tops are eviscerating the unfortunately equine-featured Camilla Parker Bowles ahead of the royal wedding this weekend. The Daily Star, reporting on the delay in the wedding until Saturday due to the Pope's funeral (thereby conflicting with the Grand National horse race), has this to say:

"Prince Charles' mount Camilla is all set to mix the big race, thanks to the Pope."

But it's the picture that speaks a thousand words. Ouch.

And it just wouldn't be a tabloid without some T&A. If you can't read the caption on the saucy Abi Titmuss (yes, her real name), it says:
Least, we THINK she said election.

The rival Sun goes with:
Abi 'keeps clothes on' sensation
Nude pin-up Abi Titmuss fled a crowd of lads who demanded to see her boobs. Abi, 28, looked shocked as over 100 fellas surged at the stage yelling "Get yer t**s out for the lads."

The Sun has a naked woman on Page 3 every day but is too polite to print the word "tits."
Ah, I love England.

Monday, April 4

A sweet as trip to God Zone


After 2 weeks, 2500 km in a campervan, 12 times zones and 73 hours of airports and airplanes, I'm back from New Zealand (aka God Zone, short for God's Own Country). More tales to follow in the next few days, but here's a few highlights:

-- skydiving over Abel Tasman national park

-- a helicopter trip to the top of Franz Joseph Glacier

-- camping on glacier lakes, perfect for an early morning swim

-- a beautiful hike and rare cloudless view of Mt Cook, NZ's highest peak

-- a 2 day sailboat charter in the Bay of Islands and the South Pacific with Dan, Kelly and my Mom

Thanks to my brother Dan for playing tour guide, Amos for taking on driving duties, Noah for comic relief, Mom for finding us a yacht, and Kelly for putting up with 4 boys in a bus.

More pictures here.