Saturday, December 23

Best Eats, 2006 Part I

It's that time again, children. For the second year running I give you the highlights of a year of very good eating, but this year there was one meal that stood out so much that it deserves its own entry.

Best Meal
Arzak, San Sebastian

This lunch, eaten with Kelly, Brinley, Duncan, Bernhard and Cristina, has not faded even a little in mind since it took place a week ago. This is serious 3-star Michelin dining, with a price tag to match. As Bernie wrote on his blog:
So, what exactly does a meal cost at Arzak? The first answer is: not enough. I would have given all my blood, promise my first-born, anything, on top of paying the bill. The second answer is: if you see my bank manager this month, tell him you haven't seen me. A late mortgage payment will be worth it.
Duncan managed to score a separate little dining room that was basically inside the famous kitchen, where we watched an army of chefs prepare course after delicious course.

Occasionally someone would wander over to throw some meat on the glowing hot grill, and at one point Elena Arzak, the daughter of owner Juan Mari Arzak and his culinary partner in deliciousness, came over and graciously chatted with us.

The menu was as follows. I have a Spanish/Euskadi copy in front of me as I write this; the English translations were jotted down on a napkin and began to seem less and less of a priority as the mealcontinued and the wine flowed.

Little Tastes
Arroz crujiente con setas
(handmade rice cakes filled with musroom pate and sesame vinaigrette)
Caldito de alubrias con manzana
(red beans with apple puree)
Arraitxiki con rabanitos
Puding de pescado con fideos
(redfish wrapped in fried pasta with figs)
Melon relleno de queso
(melon, cheese and parmigiano)

Celofan de ostras templadas
(unbelievable oysters, barely warm but still tasting of the ocean like when they're raw, served with potatoes and a gauzy cellophane draped over top)
Manzanas conaceite de foie
(caramelized apples with truffle oil and pomegranate and orange sauce

This was one of the real show-stoppers of the meal; Kelly and Cristina both woke up the next day with the taste of it on their tongues, like a dreamy after-image.

Cigalitas tibias al arte inyectadas de maiz
(split crayfish with corn)
Laminas de cardo y alcachofa
(braised leeks and artichokes)
Flor de huevo y tartufo en grasas de oca txistorra de datiles
(poached egg with mushroom and fresh chorizo

At this point I became somewhat mentally altered by the variety of food placed in front of me. The top of my skull began to buzz pleasantly. I think the technical term, although rarely used in restaurant criticism, is "tripping balls."

Beguiandi en ebstracto
(squid with apple compote)

Rape con hilos y medula
(monkfish with radish)

Pato bien azulon
(duck with purple potatoes)
Tacos de vacuno con patatas de pimenton
(beef with spicy potatoes)


There were too many to count, and at this point my desire to obsessively write down every dish in English was notably diminished. This was no doubt helped by many bottles of the excellent wines chosen for us -- the white Hermanos Lurton Cuesta de Oro, the red Les Terrasses.

Sopa y chocolate "entre vinedos"
Ostras de chocolate plateadas
Torrija de Champagne
Esfera (I remember in particular an amazing chocolate rosemary ice cream)

Friday, December 22

That didn't take long...

The American t-shirt industry is unmatched at turning hipster comedy into hipster t-shirts with a minimum turnaround.


UPDATE: Ikea-esque instructions from Kottke

Wednesday, December 20

"We're looking at you, Crisco-Boy"

It was hard for the cab driver not to take the New York City Board of Health's vendetta personally...


The Onion's 2006 Retrospective

"Looking back on the stories that captured the imagination of the give-a-shits"

#1 Thousands More Dead In Continuing Iraq Victory

#2 Al Gore Caught Warming Globe To Increase Box Office Profits

#3 Kevin Federline, Wife Divorce

#4 Ken Lay's Children Inherit 4,000 Pensions

#5 Israel Bombs Anti-Semitism Out Of Lebanon

#6 Karl Rove Accused Of Throwing Midterm Elections

#7 NASA Launches Probe To Inform Pluto Of Demotion

#8 Osama Bin Laden Takes Credit For Crocodile Hunter's Death

#9 Generous Vice President Cheney Gives Hard-Working Media Field Day

#10 Coretta Scott King's Wiretap Ends

Also see top unreported stories of the year

Tuesday, December 19

Tough weekend for cartooning

Joe Barbera, creator of "Tom and Jerry," "The Flintstones," "Scooby-Doo," "The Jetsons") and "Rocky and Bullwinkle" writer Chris Hayward both die, and "Betty & Veronica" go from this:


to this:


Holiday Gift Guide

It's not too late!

The Steering Rapper


The Tadpole iPod cover for kids (or clumsy adults)


Personalized Mii T-Shirt


(may I suggest the Zach Braff Mii, David Foster Wallace or a host of other celebrity Miis?)

Cocoa Puro Kakawa Chocolate Covered Cocoa Beans


Wednesday, December 13

Make Your Own Action Figure


Guess where I'm eating this weekend...

The culinary mecca of San Sebastian, Spain, famed for having more Michelin stars per capita than any place on earth...if you care about that sort of thing. I just want to eat my fill at places like Arzak -- described below by the recently departed NY Times food critic and bon vivant R.W. "Johnny" Apple in his final column:
One fine Easter day, my wife, Betsey, and I ate our Paschal lamb -- a custom throughout Christendom, and especially among the sheep-herding Basques at the Arzaks' 110-year-old roadside tavern, rated three stars in the Michelin guide.

A faintly gamy deboned chop came to the table wearing a tissuelike coffee-flavored "veil" a taste-enhancing shroud made by baking a layer of cafe con leche between sheets of Silpat pan liner. With the pan juices poured over the meat, partly melting the "veil," you get a sauce remarkably reminiscent of American red-eye gravy. Arzak's food is modern and entertaining like that, often witty, never overwrought, limited largely to local ingredients white tuna, fresh figs, fino sherry.

Update: Killer website on S. Sebastian pintxos, the Northern Spanish version of tapas, can be found here

Monday, December 11

How much fun is the Wii?

From the "Wii Motion" Flickr stream

Sunday, December 10

'This American Life' Is Ready for Its TV Close-Up

glassThe TV version of the radio show is due in March on Showtime. It sounds like it will be weirdly cool, or maybe just weird.

In the end, they decided to give (host Ira Glass, right) a desk. But not just any desk.

"What if your desk appeared out on the landscape?" Wilcha wondered. "On an abandoned freeway, on the Salt Flats, in the woods. But you never make mention of it or point to it."

So Glass, staring at the audience through his big, black-framed glasses, introduces the show and the stories from behind a sleek, art deco desk made of shiny, red wood. In one shot, the desk and Ira sit in the middle of Utah's Salt Flats, looking like an inconsequential speck in a vast moonscape.

Tuesday, December 5

I may have been the last to see this one but I just don't care...

TV Round-Up

Preparing for my full-immersion return to American TV...I give you the latest from TV Land:

11065_0005-- Ricky Schroeder and his racing car bed to star on the new season of '24'. The living room train held out for more money and got dropped. Also on '24' this year: the scary pimp from 'Deadwood', the kid who died of AIDS on "Life Goes On," and Captain Dudley "Grand, lad, Grand" Smith.

-- Reports that Steven Hawking and David Hasselhoff would both appear on this year's Celebrity Big Brother -- which would have caused a singularity of reality TV goodness so dense that nothing, even light, could have escaped its gravitational pull -- have sadly been shot down by the robot-voiced physicist's team of publicist nurses. Don't worry, the Hoff is still going to be available for hassling.

max-clooney-- The pet pig owned by Booker from "Roseanne" has died. Not sure why this even made the papers. Defamer has news of the huge BBQ tribute. Bonus trivia -- it was once co-owned by John Revolta's wife!

67101483v4_240x240_Front-- Tori Spelling to write memoir. Wait, she can read? I always thought that Donna Martin graduated only thanks to West Beverly's unbelievably lax testing procedures.

Friday, December 1

Today's coastal weather report

Sunny, with a PLAGUE OF FREAKING DORITOS at high tide.


Apparently a container fell off a ship near the Outer Banks, still intact due to their air-tight packaging. Good times for North Carolinan Cool Ranch lovers! (Dethroner asks: "Where are Doritos made that they need to be transferred by cargo ship? Keep vaguely Mexican-themed chip production local!")

Wednesday, November 29

The Wii Lebowski

Because I interviewed the president of Nintendo Americas today, and in the footsteps of He-Lebowski and the NSFW Lebowski, I give you....

The Wii Lebowski!

Dr Seuss vs Malaria

Very trippy educational comic by Dr Seuss, created for the U.S. Army during WWII.

Composite airport takeoff photo

busy airport
Originally uploaded by superlocal.

Friday, November 10


Wikipedia kicks knowledge on the common American pastime of calling dibs on the front seat, supposedly to refer to the armed men who rode next to stagecoach drivers.

Where does it come from?

"First use of the phrase to refer to automobiles occurred in 1954 when the TV series Gunsmoke became extremely popular."

Calling out "shotgun" to obtain the front passenger seat dates back to the 1960s, according to The Straight Dope, which says that references to the stagecoach version can be found as early as the 1920s.

(Not to be confused with this)

More rules on Wikipedia, including the in-poor-taste "Kurt Cobain" variation, here.

Thursday, November 9

"Snow Crash" comes true, again

First author Neal Stephenson's depiction of a virtual reality metaverse in his novel "Snow Crash" has already come true, in a pointedly self-concious fashion, in the virtual 3D world of Second Life.

Now scientists have found evidence that backs up Snow Crash's description of speaking in tongues, aka glossolalia, as a neurolinguistic phenomenon that short-circuits the brian's normal language centers.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.

Colbertian Election Analysis

stephen_colbertStephen Colbert, or, rather "Stephen Colbert," ain't too happy with the election results:
Tomorrow you're all going to wake up in a brave new world -- a world where the Constitution gets trampled by an army of terrorist clones, created in a stem cell research lab run by homosexual doctors who sterilize their instruments over burning American flags.

Where tax and spend Democrats take all your hard earned money and use it to buy electric cars for national public radio and teach evolution to illegal immigrants.

Oh, and everybody's high!

Tuesday, November 7

The Onion on Frito-Lay's new marketing message


"Weren't Sun Chips healthy enough for you, you goddamn hippie bastards?"

Thursday, November 2

"You can't get through Detroit training in no pool!"

Apologies if this is everywhere on American TV, but I just watched it five times and laughed out loud every time at the 00:49 mark...

Rapping Paper


Thursday, October 26

Neologism of the century (so far)

Defamer: "A giant horsefly has landed in the ointment Borat has been enthusiastically slathering upon his NEON-BENUTSLINGED body in anticipation of his movie's imminent release."

(emphasis added, not that a word like NEON-BENUTSLINGED really needs any extra oomph.)


MemeWatch: I fought the claw-toy machine and the claw-toy machine won

For SpongeBob, 3-year-old sacrifices freedom

Houdini babe takes toy initiative
Boy stuck in supermarket game

And who says I want to be rescued?
Boy, 3, crawls up into pizzeria claw toy machine, doesn’t want to leave


Honey, did you take your zombie pill this morning?

For the last few years I've been taking pills for a rather strange condition, very similar to narcolepsy, that causes me to fall asleep at the most inopportune times -- at the theater, at the pub, even once in the front row of a very loud big band jazz concert.

picture(38).jpgAfter spending a very strange evening in the NYU sleep lab, wired up to a few dozen electrodes that were in turn connected to big black box that left me looking like Darth Vader's idiot cousin (see right), I got my diagnosis: idiopathic hypersomnia -- known to my friends as idiotpasick hypersomnia -- which basically means I sleep too much and they don't know why.

I did, however, get a prescription to some lovely wakey-wakey pills that have made all the difference, called Provigil -- notice what those clever pharmaceutical marketers did with the name?

aacThis morning I gleaned two excellent facts: on The Street they're known as zombie pills, and by taking them I was unknowingly being trained to be a next-gen hyperalert killing machine. Sweet!

From the BBC:
A controversial drug which can keep people awake for days has been tested by the UK military, MPs have been told.

Modafinil pills - known on the drugs scene as "zombies" - are used to treat the rare sleeping disorder narcolepsy.

The Ministry of Defence has previously denied testing the drug on troops although it reportedly bought thousands of pills ahead of the Iraq war.

Defence contractor Qinetiq told the commons' science committee the drug had recently been tested for military use.
Thanks modern medicine!

Monday, October 23

The View from Space

Via Warren Ellis, pix of the space shuttle launching, as seen from the International Space Station a chase plane:

S&M, Latex and He-Man

hemanAh, He-Man -- Christmas specials, homoerotic children's programming...murder?

In a master-slave relationship gone wrong, 39-year-old American Charles Henson tried to kill his former allergic-to-latex girlfriend in London by stuffing his rubber glove-clad hand into her mouth.

Feeling this method lacked a nais se qua, he also shouted He-Man's catchphrase "By the power of Grayskull!" Miraculously, Henson's ex-girlfriend survived the attack DESPITE the invocation of a magical castle from a 1980s cartoon.

Henson sounds like a real peach, combining the most charming aspects of a kinky lawyer and demented killing machine. From the Guardian:
Henson denied he was trying to kill her, saying this was not allowed in their contract. "In section four of the contract, it says the master does not have a right to kill the slave," he said. "If I break bones, cut her, leave scarring or wounds without her consent - that's not allowed."

He said if he had wanted to kill her his military training would have enabled him to do so in "four seconds". Addressing prosecutor Lynne Matthews he said: "I can take the palm of my hand and kill you by shoving your nose into your skull. That's a four-second death. If I wanted her dead, she would be dead."
I have the power, indeed!

Wednesday, October 18

Sorry folks

I've been a bit busy.

Check out more here.

We will hopefully soon be returning you to your regularly scheduled blog program...

Tuesday, October 10

Lord McNutty?

WTF? Dominic West, who plays Officer Jimmy McNulty on "The Wire," is English -- and went to Eton, no less? Nice Bal'mer accent, there, Dom!

(Idris "Stringer Bell" Elba, who DJs under the stage name "Big Driis the Londoner" is also a Brit)

Friday, October 6

The Art of Being the Hoff

Step 1: Show up drunk for a live TV appearance to promote the rancid piece of Hollywood garbage that is "Click," and mispronounce the name of your costar as "Adam Sanglier."
Step 2: Pass out in the airport lounge. A Popbitch reader spotted him in Heathrow's BMI lounge, "clearly very animated and excited about his flight. He chatted loudly and enthusiastically to everyone, then seemed to get suddenly very tired. He fell into a deep, deep sleep until he was woken by his mobile phone. When the caller asked where he was, he bellowed: 'I think I'm in Dublin'."

Step 3: Forcibly expel your automotive long-term companion KITT from the gay car closet:

"We have some fairly X-rated outtakes on 'Knight Rider,'" he told students at Trinity College, Dublin, where presumably he's a visiting scholar teaching a seminar in Becoming a Huge Star....In Germany 101.

"Kitt was constantly asking, 'Do you want me to take you home Michael?' in that very camp voice of his."

William Daniels was not immediately available for comment.

Step 4: At no time allow anyone to hassel you.

Sex advice from the NHS


Take That Bill Buford

_39334039_buford_body203Bill Buford is tough. Tough enough to hang out with English football hooligans. Tough enough to brave Mario Batali's kitchen. But especially, tough enough to watch a mind-numbing three straight days of the Food Network. His verdict? The FN has weeded out true chefs like Batali in favor of dumbed-down purveyors of mediocrity like Rachel Ray. If the FN were a food, Buford essentially argues, it would be pap.
The shows made now are full of exacting, intimate, amplified, and exaggerated beauties. (It’s not erotic, I can confirm — that’s not why it’s called food porn. It’s just unreal. You will never meet a Playmate of the Month; you will never eat the red, juicy tomato that you see on “Barefoot Contessa.”)
But wait a minute...Not erotic? What about the bodaciously posh Nigella Lawson, England's beloved "yummy mummy," who slathers olive oil on a raw shoulder of lamb in a manner reminiscent of a back alley masseuse, with a wicked glimmer in her eye that makes you think that maybe, just maybe, there may be a happy ending in your future?

NigellaSlate TV critic Troy Patterson notes that Buford "obviously hadn't seen Lawson make guacamole."
Or even heard her say "guacamole." In the first episode of Nigella Feasts, working on a side dish for her cornbread-topped chili con carne, she endowed the word with illicit implications, pronouncing it with the roundest O imaginable, as if the sound itself might ripen the fruit. O, avocados! Having scooped them into a bowl, Lawson first reflected on the succulence of their flesh, then got down to business "massacring the avocados with [her] masher." She mashed without pity. "Hmm—disturbingly satisfying!" she moaned. You want me to put my chips in that?

Tuesday, October 3

No, it wasn't real manure

Biff from Back to the Future has a message for the haters: Stop asking me the question.

5000 years in 90 second

A brief history of the Middle East

apologies for my absence...

...from the blogosphere, but work is getting crazy with a new product I'm working on that launches in two weeks.

Sometime around the end of October, I hope to resume regularly scheduled monkey daemon service. In the meantime, check out some links on:

-- eating in New York
-- an audio interview with Michael Lewis, author of "Liar's Poker," "Moneyball," and the newly released "The Blind Side."
-- fancy cocktails
-- and of course a mother lode of YouTube goodness

Wednesday, September 20

The Reverend

Monkeydaemon is perpetually in danger of becoming all YouTube, all the time. It's just a bottomless pit of goodness! I promise to throw a few words in between all the videos, but in the meantime check out the Rev. Al Green just destroying this version of "Simply Beautiful" a capella style. Was there ever a more apt title? Would you throw a bucket of boiling grits on this man?

Tuesday, September 19

Just Like Chocolate Cake Batter

In honor of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy's decision to upload antidrug videos to YouTube, let's take a trip down memory lane...

Check out Helen Hunt in an after-school special about the dangers of making angel dust in your high school chemistry lab. After being pressured into trying it by her teenage Owsley-wannabe boyfriend -- "C'mon, it's just like licking the bowl after Mom makes chocolate cake!" -- Helen proves that phencyclidine really does "affect everyone differently." I won't spoil what happens next.

More of the Beck

Hot off the back of his insane "Being John Malcovich" puppet-centric live tour, here's a new video of the forthcoming album, "The Information."

Monday, September 18

Fareed in Charge

photoCan someone please put Fareed Zakaria -- Daily Show favorite, Newsweek International editor, and author of the widely-read post-9/11 essay "Why Do They Hate Us?" -- in charge of U.S. foreign policy?
The world of Islam is extremely diverse. We should recognize and act on this diversity—between Shiites and Sunnis, Persians and Arabs, Asians and Middle Easterners—and most especially between moderates and radicals. But instead the White House is lumping Chechen separatists in Russia, Pakistani-backed militants in India, Shiite politicians in Iraq and Sunni jihadists in Egypt all together as one worldwide movement. This is, of course, exactly what Osama bin Laden has argued all along. But why is Bush making bin Laden's case?

Sunday, September 17

"A Melted Rasta Barbie"

8384_512The Observer Music Monthly weighs in with its top 10 list of worst plastic surgeries.
After Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Vince Neil and Elvis Presley, we have:

5. Axl Rose

When Axl was holed up creating Guns 'N' Roses' eternally awaited album Chinese Democracy, he got creative with his face, too. Sporting the classic 'wind tunnel' look and red-raw skin, he emerged like a melted Rasta Barbie doll, without the jugs.

Friday, September 15

That's One Expensive Bottle Opener

Personally I prefer my "Simpsons" opener which states, eloquently:

Homer: "No beer and no TV make Homer something something."
Marge: "Go crazy?"
Homer: "Don't mind if I do! Whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop whoop."

This is pretty cool though:

Let's Go To The Hop

sock_hop2005I've been listening to this song over and over. Never gets old.

Radio Citizen - The Hop

More hott tunes on the right sidebar.

(via Captain's Crate)

Ah, what the hell, here's another: Radio Citizen - Everything