Wednesday, December 19

2008 Top 10 of everything

In no particular order, my favorite things this year:

1. Darjeeling Limited
Where can I get some over-the-counter painkillers?

1a. Hotel Chevalier
Natalie, such a cute tuchus!

2. M.I.A - Paper Planes
Some I murder, some I let go.

3. No Country for Old Men
What business is that of yours, Friend-O?

4. Momofuku Ssam Bar
9 people, 1 pork butt, 24 oysters, and massive amounts of kimchi

5. Lost season finale

6. Every single moment of Friday Night Lights, season 1
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose.

7. Hanco banh mi, no mayo, extra spicy
Any closer to my house, it would be in my basement

8. "Cult of Personality," Guitar Hero
Channeling my inner Vernon Reid, on 'medium' at least

9. 30 Rock
Help me Liz Lemon, you're my only hope!

10. Stevie Wonder live, guest appearance: Prince
There's a ribbon in the sky...

Tuesday, December 18

Great news! Settlement paves way for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit

Peter Jackson and New Line have finally reached an agreement over how to split up the billions of dollars generated by the Lord of the Rings trilogy, paving the way for Jackson (and, not incidentally, Sir Ian McKellan) to make a film adaptation of The Hobbit.

Jackson will executive produce the film rather than direct it, but I think all Lord of the Rings fans just breathed a sigh of relief. You just know he's going to do it up right.

Intriguingly, looks like there is also a cinematic sequel to the Hobbit in the works, which will presumably fill the gaps between the end of the Hobbit and the beginning of LOTR.

Monday, December 17

Summiting K2

Chris Warner, my friend Bernhard's brother, stars in a great NBC program about K2, the world's toughest mountain. As Bernhard writes: "It's a nail-biting tale, one that involves scandal and death."

Click through to see the show.

Monday Links

  • America's licensed peyote dealers, known as peyoteros, see business slipping due to scarcity of the cactus that produces the drug. The 250,000 to 400,000 members of the Native American Church are the only people in the United States for whom peyote is legal. (Troubled times for Texas hallucinogen harvesters)
  • Monkeydaemon song of the year "Paper Planes" has a new video featuring M.I.A. serving up hoagies to the Beastie Boys. (Paper Planes video)
  • Picture = 1,000 Words Dept.

  • ( Second Avenue Deli re-opens)

Friday, December 14

The Wire's Felicia Pearson -- live on WNYC

I'm listening to a great interview on WYNC with Felicia Pearson, who plays the stone-cold hitwoman Snoop on The Wire. She's got a memoir out and is also doing press for Season 5, which premiers Jan. 6 on HBO.

The interview is archived here.

Kottke notes: "It's apparent from the interview that she doesn't so much act in The Wire as play herself." Nevertheless, she says in the interview that she has several new acting gigs in the works.

Felicia came to the attention of The Wire's producers after introducing herself to Michael K. Williams at a club, saying: "You'll never believe this, but I'm a girl." In the WNYC interview, she talks about being a gay woman on the streets of Baltimore. Williams' character Omar is of course noted for being TV's most famous gay gangster (a much better portrayal than fat Vito on the Sopranos).

Here's a NY Times profile of Snoop -- both the character and the actress, who uses the nickname in real life. And here's a great Fresh Air interview with Wire co-creator Ed Burns, where he talks about Snoop at length.

Thursday, December 13

Ike Turner: He was your garbage man

Ike Turner was not a nice man. I don't think anyone, especially Tina, is disputing that. But can we stipulate that a lot of very talented artists are assholes or worse? I don't think that completely invalidates the historic and funky music that Ike put out, either during the birth of rock'n'roll, during his days singing alongside his wife in the Ike & Tina Revue, or in his solo days.

Lots of great music over at Hype Machine, but I'd like to highlight a few particular favorites:
  • Garbage Man: "I know I'm dirty and everything but I just want a bit of your time...I got some lovely curtains, it'd look beautiful hangin in your kitchen window."
  • I Feel Alright - Live from the University of Maine, Portland in 1974. Download the whole concert here.
  • Getting Nasty - Just a sweet, soulful piano jam, used to great effect by Jurassic 5 in "Concrete Schoolyard."

Secret Latkes

I love secret restaurants in New York, so when I read about a hidden kosher deli nestled inside the Diamond District (thanks again, Midtown Lunch), I had to check it out.

To reach the Diamond Dairy (no, they don't milk cows there -- it means that it's non-meat to abide by kosher laws), you enter a huge complex at #4 West 47th St that is home to dozens of independent jewelers, each with their own small patch of real estate.

I had to make a few circuits before I spotted the staircase (back left as you enter) that leads up to the D.D. I pulled up a seat at the bar and ordered the small latkes and a few minutes later two perfect specimens were placed in front of me with apple sauce and sour cream.

I'd give the latkes a B+ (not quite crispy enough) but the secret joy of unearthing a hidden New York eatery bumped up the lunch to an A.

photo credit: Midtown Lunch

Next up -- again via Midtown Lunch -- a Peruvian lunchcounter in an elevator bay.

Wednesday, December 12

Lucali -- Brooklyn's Best Pizza?

I have worshipped at the church of Grimaldi's and made the lengthy pilgramage to DiFara's, but I never really found Brooklyn pizza nirvana until Sunday night, when my wife and I walked deep into Carroll Gardens to Lucali -- a bare bones pizza joint with the best damn crust I have ever had.

Lucali's is small and popular, so expect a wait. Every pie is handmade by owner Mark Iacono, although he does have a few helpers. We got there at 6:40, less than an hour after it opened, and there was already a healthy crowd outside. Bad news: It was raining. Good news: The place is BYOB, so everyone was happily drinking on the sidewalk. Bad news: We had a bottle of wine but no corkscrew.

No matter -- less than 30 minutes later we were in. No menu, and few choices: We went with the classic pizza margherita and weren't disappointed. Crust scorched, almost blackened by the 750 degree oven; riddled with big, chewy air bubbles; a tangy, sweet sauce and just enough fresh mozzarella sprinkled with grana cheese post-oven. Each slice stood up nice and proud when you lifted it off the pan -- no drooping.

Total cost of the meal? $30 for two people.

Friday, December 7

Rocking the Rascal

George: They gave me my own personal Rascal, Jerry.

Jerry: Well, it's comforting to know that you'll be going straight to hell at no more than three miles per hour.

If you ever wanted to travel senior citizen steez, this is your chance. Woot is offering up the Invacare Zoom Blue Scooter for the low, low price of $399. Call it what you want -- we all know it's a Rascal.

All of this time you were walking under you own power, battling gravity like a sucker, when you could have been rolling deep in this beauty. Top speed, 4.5 mph.

I'm thinking of getting one for my trip next weekend to The Villages, a 55 and over retirement metropolis in central Florida (population 68,768). The preferred local mode of transport is the pimped-out golfcart, but maybe I'll change all that.

I've told everyone that I'm going to visit my grandparents (happy birthday Nana!) but in actuality I'm just scoping out the place as my future home. Only 23 years to go! And only 3 years until I can swim in the 35 and over pool. They don't like those raucous 34-year-olds splashing around and making a nuisance.

Thursday, December 6

Bollywood Tractor Fight, bitches!

(via Jalopnik)

Bacon Lover in training

It's not quite ready kid.

(via I Can Has Cheez Burger)

WTF is Slamball? trampolines? I have no idea what it's all about, but check out this clip of highlights and, even better, the video below from the slam ball dunk championship (a made-up sport's subset side event?)

Watch as our man, and I quote: "Goes huge with the air, then a Superman layover, then curls it up for the scoliosis spine compressor before popping up with the strong between the leg finish. Are you kidding me?"

I'm...really not sure.

For a bonus, watch (real-life basketball star) Darius Miles give the most incomprehensible post-dunk commentary of all time. Say what, Darius?

(via ESPN's True Hoops blog

Ernie K-Doe: Here Come the Girls

Forget watching the video below, and just listen to the song. Ernie K-Doe's "Here Come the Girls" is a banging New Orleans soul track with an addictive beat.

It was featured in a British drug store ad and is now taking the country by storm -- amazingly it has a good shot at being the Christmas No. 1 (a big deal in the UK; the songs don't usually have anything to do the holiday itself).

"I can live without coffee, I can live without tea, and I'm leery bout the honey bee/A Philly steak, I can leave or take, but the girls are a part of me."

Ernie K-Doe was best known for his song "Mother-In-Law" -- read more about him over on the Funky 16 Corners blog.

If you want to download "Here Come the Girls," you can buy it at Soul Jazz or on iTunes, listen on Hype Machine or rip from the YouTube video using Vixy.

(via Popbitch)

Wednesday, December 5

Wednesday Goodies

Prequels to The Wire: Omar's first stick-up, Bunk meets McNulty, and Prop Joe in grade school (via Kottke). Next and final season premieres January 6 -- an early happy birthday to me!

UPDATE -- More great promos all gathered here featuring McNulty, Marlo, Omar, Carcetti and Bubbles (who we learn was born Reginald Cousins).

Now, I hate almost all TV ads, especially since the blessed TiVo entered my life, but I found British ads to be particularly crap -- low production values, no humour, just painfully bad. Apparently I'm not alone (NSFW language).

Check out that rather touching letter that then-Pres. Bill Clinton wrote to Chris Webber after his massive "time-out" blunder (probably) cost Michigan the 1993 NCAA championship. Especially apt when the pre-Lewinsky Clinton writes about the "countless mistakes" he has made.

Tuesday, December 4

Philip Pullman, "Golden Compass" and Religion

Lots of anticipation and dread about a perceived "watering-down" of some of the more anti-religious (or anti-organized religion, or anti-Catholic) elements in the movie version of The Golden Compass.

Here's what Mr. Pullman himself has to say on the matter (he echoed similar themes in a talk that I saw a few weeks back):
I've always made it clear that theocracy - the political exercise of religious authority, which is what the Magisterium in the story embodies - is a special example of the regrettable tendency of humankind to believe in "one size fits all" answers: to cling to the extreme of dogmatic fundamentalism whether religious or not. In fact (and I've pointed this out too many times to go through it all again) the purest example of theocracy in the twentieth century was Soviet Russia. So I have no problem with the way the film has put the emphasis; it could hardly have done otherwise.

Then he drops this bombshell, when asked why the "His Dark Materials" books do such an elaborate examination of Christianity but neglect to mention Mr. J.C. himself:
His omission from HDM was deliberate; I'm going to get around to Jesus in the next book. I have plenty to say about him.

Whoa Nelly! Could this be the long-awaited Book of Dust he's referring to?

And to all the people whose eyes glaze over with all this talk of religion, I have one thing to say to you. Go see the movie if only because it has a kick-ass armored polar bear voiced by Ian McEwan. (He's not smiling)

Fat tastes good

I'm a little late in posting about an excellent, fun and tasty Thanksgiving dinner, but my friend, the noted bon vinant food photographer Scott Campbell, has finally posted his photos from the evening. Click here to see them all.

It was an eclectic crew in Brooklyn, and I'm glad to say that everyone got along swimmingly, thanks in part to the ultimate social lubricant. Not alcohol -- Guitar Hero.

Oh, and the food? Well, check out the menu and the corresponding flavor agent/animal fat.

Brussel Sprouts (bacon)
Turkey (confit'd in a mixture of duck and pork fat, pictured above)
Mashed potatoes (large quantities of butter)
Stuffing (bacon, pork fat, and butter)
Apple and Pecan Pie (duck fat, shortening)

Suffice it to say, it was an epic feast. Two days in the kitchen for me and my mom, less than an hour for everyone to eat to their heart's content (and then some). I stressed about the turkey (we also did a traditional one) but at the end of the night I had the ultimate seal of approval: No leftovers.

What is it about New York City kids?

"The Littlest Hustler" in this week's New York magazine is the story of Alex Goldberg, a ridiculously, maybe even unhealthily mature 14 year old who treats Nolita like his own private playground, networking and/or scamming his way into free sneakers from Nike and floor tickets for the Knicks.

It's a great article, managing to make me feel disgusted and envious at the same time. The tagline is "Portrait of a New York childhood, in the extreme," and it may be the best summation of why you should (and simultaneously should not) raise a kid in New York City.

When I was 17 I came to New York for the first time to visit a few colleges and hang out with some friends I had met on a bike trip -- two cool Brooklyn girls who went to private school, had parents who worked at "Saturday Night Live" and seemed unbelievably hip and mature to my sheltered Midwestern ass. Kids in New York seemed to do everything a good five years earlier than the people I knew: Go out to fancy restaurants with friends, order up car services, do drugs, have sex...

It was all very alluring, and I'm sure it played no small part in me wanting to move to New York, where -- suprise, surprise -- I now live about 5 blocks from the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood where I first caught that sexy glimpse of NYC living. I guess the question is, would you want that for your own kid? Reading about Alex Goldberg, simultaneously envying his life and wincing at how fast he grew up, I have absolutely no idea.

Wednesday, November 28

So that's what the beehive is for!

When Amy's beehive hairdo "isn't embarrassingly falling off her head, it doubles as an onstage snort stash," Stereogum reports.

Check her out at a concert in Zurich earlier this month. First she plays around with her hair for a while, and then....Well, some of the commenters note that she "may just be cleaning her nose." Watch the video and judge for yourself.

After a series of cancellations and unhappy audiences, Wino has cancelled her tour, claiming that she "can't give it my all onstage" with her husband incarcerated.

Tuesday, November 27

Chains Eyeing Brooklyn

One of the nice things about Brooklyn, or at least the part where I live, is that there aren't a million and one chain stores. You still find Starbucks, but not every block. Looks like that may not last long.

The NY Daily News reports that the likes of Duane Reed and Chase bank want to open dozens of Brooklyn outlets. Starbucks alone wants 75 more stores in Brooklyn over the next three years.

While this might be welcome news in the areas that are just starting to gentrify, where a Starbucks means often means the tipping point has been reached, does anyone really think this is a good idea for the borough overall? Part of the charms of Brooklyn are the neighborhood spots like Gorilla Coffee and Victory. Obviously this doesn't apply quite the same way for banks and drug stores, but the general point is the same.

As an aside -- my wife works for Chase (originally for one of the banks that was acquired by it) and in our old Ft Greene apartment, the giant Chase motto used to beam into our bedroom window like a ghostly Death Star, reminding her that she had to go to work the next day.

I'd hate for those same corporate logos to invade Brooklyn even more, but I fear it's going to happen anyway.

via Racked

Monday, November 19

Friday, November 16

Who wants bacon?

Read more at the source

Burial Grounds of the Caribbean

Come to the "Happiest Place on Earth." Enjoy the family-themed entertainment, including the rides which have been cross-marketed into Hollywood blockbusters.

But please, people -- stop dumping your loved one's ashes during the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

The Haunted Mansion is much more appropriate.

Not the Daily Show with Not Jon Stewart

Thursday, November 8

Wii Skii

What does skiing have to do with the Wii (besides being among the only words with a double-i) ?

If the screenshots from this game are to be believed, the two will be a match made in magical fun-land.

The Tokyo Mango blog reports:
Using the Wiimote and nunchuck as poles, you can zoom down all kinds of terrain—glaciers, moguls, half-pipes. And you even get to customize your avatars—pick one of 24 faces and combine them with your own look: cool t-shirt skier, the trendy matching ski bunny, or the serious slalom racer.Coming on the heels of Guitar Hero and Table Tennis, it seems the Wii games are getting much better.
More screenshots here.

Happy Birthday Minnie

Minnie Riperton, blessed with one of the most amazing voices that music has ever known, would have been 60 years old today.

In honor of the occasion, the awesome music blog Fufu Stew has a huge post that contains not one but two collections of her music -- one from her solo career, and another from her days with the progressive rock band Rotary Connection.

If you don't know Minnie, or only know a few songs, these downloadable box sets are the perfect way to get to know her spine-tingling sound.

Minnie was beloved by, among others, Stevie Wonder. She sang in his backup group Wonderlove and he later produced her album "Perfect Angel," containing the monster hit "Lovin' You."

As a bonus, Fufu Stew provides a bonus track of Stevie singing "Perfect Angel" and "Lovin’ You" at the Soul Train special celebrating Minnie's life.

Wednesday, November 7

Wednesday Weirdness

Georgian riot police are apparently 'Star Wars' fans, or maybe there was just a post-Halloween sale on Stormtrooper masks. Either way, I hope those rebel protesters have a high midichlorian count.

Frank Reynolds -- I mean Danny DeVito -- has his own limoncello? All you have to do is stick some lemons and sugar in a jar of grain alcohol, but hey, good show, mate. The really creepy part is the little commercial ditty he uses to promote it. Click through on this link to listen.

Monday, November 5

Just say no to 'McSpaced'

Discord is in the air with news that schlok Hollywood director McG is remaking the cult Brit TV series "Spaced," created by Simon Pegg and the team behind "Shaun of the Dead."

Spaced is -- was -- a brilliant one-camera sitcom about two 30-something slackers in the late 1990s who pass their days in a haze of self-delusion and "Star Wars" references. In fact, "Spaced" may have more mentions of Star Wars than any show in the history of television, including a running gag about the terribleness of "Phanton Menace." It ran for a mere 14 episodes over two seasons, in the enviable Brit style of not stringing out shows until their ratings and/or quality decline.

While "The Office" has shown that good UK -> US remakes are possible, that show was wise enough to enlist creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant to consult on the transition. No such luck with "Spaced." Pegg and his co-creator Edgar Wright were not invited to work on the new show, virtually ensuring its crapitude.

Wright writes on his blog:
We've gone long enough preserving the memory of the original by not doing a third series, not to mention turning down SHAUN TV versions and sequels. Getting involved with this would be a insult to the fans who've supported the show for nearly ten years.

Put simply I wouldn't want to get involved in a new version of the show for fear of it being our very own PHANTOM MENACE.
Check out below a tiny eyedropper of Spaced goodness below -- it has inspired me and missus to do a series of totally aweome pantomimed gun battles. And for god sakes, get yourself a region-free DVD player and order up the original before the craptacular forces of American television takes a dump on what once was.

UPDATE: At least there's one piece of good news. Variety reports that the original is "almost set to be released Stateside, after a long delay over the clearance of music rights."

Friday, November 2

Tag -- I'm It

pop-o-matic "tagged" me; here is what I have to do:

A). Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog...

B). Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself...

C). Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs...

D). Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

Here we go...

1. I once spent more than 3 hours and $400 in pursuit of a slice of pizza

2. My trademark toast is "Art Vandalay"

3. My job this year included interviews with Peter Gabriel and Archbishop Desmond Tutu

4. I am a Guitar Hero

5. Last month I wore two unmatched shoes to work -- twice

6. Adam Goldberg is no friend of mine

7. I am a master of karate and friendship for everyone (except Adam Goldberg)

Tuesday, October 30

Back from London

Heyo! Just spent a hectic but fun week in London, and I can report that:
  • Borough Market still rocks my culinary universe. Why on Earth does New York not have a place where you can both buy amazing produce and cheese (a la the Greenmarket) and also eat amazing food? When I went to Essex Street Market a few weeks back this seemed to be on the verge of happening, but there was of course nothing like the raclette, toasted cheeses, and chorizo sandwiches that Borough has in abundance.
  • People like to drink at English weddings. A lot. I knew it was a troubling sign when my table started playing drinking games between the appetizers and the main course. My last truly coherant memory was of the delicious "posh bangers and mash," although I do remember being truly befuddled that "Take Me Home, Country Road" is apparently a standard UK wedding signalong. Somewhere, John Denver is smiling.
  • St John is not just about the bone marrow and parsley "salad" which involves roasting beef bones and then scraping out the gelatinous marrow onto toast with sea salt. The process is messy and disgusting, which explains why my wife will no longer accompany me to this esteemed establishment, but oh my god is it delicious. When I went for lunch last week I ventured into the dessert menu and on the sage recommendation of my waiter tried the chocolate malt custard -- a ramekin with dense chocolate on top and velvety yellow malt custard beneath. New on the menu, you heard it blogged here first. Truly amazing.
Tonight, carrying on with the UK theme, the missus and I are going to see an interview with Philip Pullman, author of "His Dark Materials," the movie adaptation of which looks resoundingly kick-ass if the trailer is any indication.

And then I shall retire to my (Brooklyn) country manor, whereupon I shall:

Spend the rest of the evening on the Wii
Today I purchased Guitar Hero III
For those who art about to rock, we salute thee

Thursday, October 18

More "Dayman" Remixes

A few readers have gotten in touch asking for the raw MP3 of "Day Man" so they can make their own remixes.

Here it is: "Day Man (raw MP3)"

To make "Day Man: The Remix" I used two software programs: Audacity to chop up the audio and Apple's Garage Band to add drums and strings and splice it all together.

Don't forget to comment here, linking to your work.

Saturday, October 13

Day Man -- Fighter of the Night Man

If you haven't seen this week's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" ... Oh. My.

The set-up to the following makes it infinitely funnier, but just watch it anyway and then tell me this isn't the wrongest show on television (and I mean that in a good way).

"Day Man" just might be the catchiest TV jingle since "The Day My Computer Said 'Hello'."

Check out my super-amateur remix here: Day Man - The Remix

More: 10 reasons you should be watching 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

Friday, October 12

Monkey Daemon: The Mix

Trying a little something new here. Culled from the Monkey Daemon podcast, a monthly selection of musical treats. Tip of the hat to many great music blogs including Soul Sides, Captain's Crate and Moistworks.

Download the full mix here.

Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

Monkey Daemon: The Mix #1

Sur Les Traces De Fela -- Mokobe Feat Seun Kuti Et Egypt 80

Let it Be -- Ike and Tina

Wish I Didn't Miss You (Nuffwish Remix) -- Angie Stone

Mercy Mercy Mercy -- Marlena Shaw

Memory Lane -- Minnie Riperton

Bad Girl -- Lee Moses

God Put a Smile Upon Your Face -- Mark Ronson (feat. the Dap-Kings)

Hey, Hey -- Gershon Kingsley

Burning Spear -- The Soulful Strings

Making Time -- Creation

Gold Lion (Diplo Remix) -- Yeah Yeah Yeahs

No Diggity (J-Star Remix) -- Blackstreet

Answer Me -- Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings

I Can Hear You Calling -- Three Dog Night

(illustration of Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings from
The New Yorker)

Thursday, October 11

If you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes...

...I'm in real trouble.

I had an early night last night, and a relatively calm morning before heading into work today.

So how to explain the fact that I looked down at about 11 am and realized I was wearing two different shoes, one black and one brown?

Oy gevalt...

Tuesday, October 9

McNutty's off the wagon?!

The Wire is coming back. If you haven't seen what may be the best drama series on TV, run out to the Corner and buy some DVDs. Also showing on HBO now.

Thursday, October 4

Wednesday, October 3

Welcome back Clocker

Brooklyn's least reliable timepiece is back in public sight after renovations. If you and a friend agree to meet at a certain time, make sure you're both referencing the same face of the clock -- they almost never agree.

Wii Bowling: The Senior Tour

Maybe old age won't be so bad.

Check out this incredibly high-production value video of a multistate Wii bowling tournament between half a dozen retirement homes. Reminiscent of old NFL Films footage ("From the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field) except, you know, with old people. And video game bowling.

Tuesday, October 2

For all you forex trading stoners out there...

I love how this story could very nearly have been written about oil, or aluminum. Allan Dowd, we salute you!
Strong Canadian dollar said hurting pot exports
Thu Sep 27, 2007 10:51pm BST

By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The strong Canadian dollar has hit the illegal marijuana sector just as it has other industries that export to the United States, one of Canada's best known legalization advocates said on Thursday.

But western marijuana growers have also benefited from Canada's strong economy, especially the booming Alberta oil patch, which has increased domestic consumption, according to Marc Emery, a founder of the British Columbia Marijuana Party.

The Canadian dollar touched parity with the U.S. dollar last week, topping a rise of some 60 percent over the past five years. On Thursday, it was still hovering around par, at C$1.0014 to the U.S. dollar or 99.86 U.S. cents.

A stronger loonie -- so called for the bird engraved on the one dollar coin -- has cut the profit of selling potent "B.C. Bud" marijuana in U.S. markets at a time when producers in Canada struggle with tighter border security and competition in the United States with pot from other sources.

Top quality Canadian pot is selling for $3,500 (1,725 pounds) a pound in the United States, compared with C$2,400 (1,180 pounds) in domestic markets, according to Emery, who is also editor of Cannabis Culture magazine and fighting extradition to the United States.

Practice Safe Wii

I'm just going to skip over all the obvious double entendres and lay this out in a straightahead, innuendo-free manner:

After several high profile incidents involving sweaty-handed video gamers who got their flat screen TVs pregnant, Nintendo is handing out free jimmy hats -- I'm sorry, "Remote Jackets" -- for Wii controllers.

Ribbed for your pleasure.

A to the B to the C to the D

Run-DMC on 'Reading Rainbow' y'all.

Pork cooked in "Dork"

I cooked up some food this Sunday that was, frankly, outrageous. Also easy. But time-consuming, and definitely, definitely not recommended by the American Heart Association.

I found it while browsing some YouTube'd episodes of Mark Bittman's public TV show "How to Cook Everything," based on his massive cookbook (which, by the way, I would recommend for anyone who wants to learn how to cook).

The recipe is "Grilled Pork Confit":
  • Take a pork shoulder, one of those cuts that is cheap but needs to cook a long time.
  • Brine it in salty, sugary, spicy liquid for a day or two.
  • Confit it, which means to cook it at a very low temperature in fat for a looooong time.
  • Grill it, so that the outsides get ultra crispy and golden.
I did almost everything I could to screw up this recipe and it still came out unbelievably delicious.

After a Jamie Oliver-esque shopping expedition around Brooklyn on my bike, I had my ingredients. The two most important were a beautiful pork shoulder from my favorite butchers, and some duck and pork fat (aka lard) from the farmers market.

As Bittman explains on the video, below, duck fat + pork fat = dork fat. You could cook almost anything in this stuff and it would be delicious.

As a side note, my mom made an apple pie last weekend using duck fat for the crust, and it was light, flaky and delicious, tasting not at all of water fowl. As another side note, this restaurant seems worth a visit.

Back to the pork: So, I screwed up the brine -- 12 hours instead of 48 hours, a cup of cloves instead of 4 cloves (!), and a bunch of cilantro instead of parsley. Know what? I probably could have stuck to salt, pepper and sugar.

You'll see in the video, when they take the pork out of the confit it is effortlessly cut into pretty little slices. Yeah, uh, bullshit. I ended up with about 10 misshapen portions. Because I was afraid they'd fall apart, I seared them on the stove instead of on the grill.

And my brilliant idea for spaetzle, which are little pasta-like dumplings, totally failed. Channeling Dale from Top Chef, I went with Plan B: roasted potatoes, cooked with -- you guessed it -- Dork fat.

In the end, it all came out beautifully. The pork was tender and moist inside a crispy golden crust. Ditto the potatoes. My friend Bernhard from Rome, who was the guest of honor for lunch on his way to a flight out of JFK, along Bill, Victoria, Scott and Kelly all gave it a resounding ovation.

The pork and potatoes had center stage, but the savior of the day? Dork Fat.

Part 1 of the Mark Bittman Video

Part 2

Thursday, September 27

I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski

Back cover:

I heart Top Chef

I'm a longtime reality show hater but I can't help but love the foie gras out of Top Chef, which I now yearn for the way a dim sum addict pines for Saturday mornings.

In case you missed last night's episode (peace out Brian, you talent-less huckster), Anthony Bourdain and head honcho Tom Colicchio both have blogs up this morning.

A few excerpts follow.

Tony: "Casey won the Quickfire. And for those commentators here who wonder what "heart" or "soul" means -- in relation to food (The judges frequently reward Casey with the remark that her food is somehow more "soulful" than others. That she has "heart") -- let me make it simple for you. They mean her food has a pleasing FLAVOR. Got it now, conspiracy theorists? "Heart" does not mean "nice rack". "Soul" does not mean "looks like Jennifer Anniston". The woman is GOOD. How many times does she have to prove it? Give her the respect she deserves.

Tom: "I felt a bit bad for the chefs -- scaling and filleting a fish while hunched over a sawed-off stump is bad enough. Cooking said fish for Eric Ripert, chef of perhaps this country’s most revered seafood restaurant … yeah, that was kind of messed up."

Tony: "Back at the ranch -- with the country's premier seafood chef in attendance -- it was time to cook up a whole mess a' elk for some rodeo dudes. Why, exactly? I don't know. Is the rodeo a major sponsor? I doubt it. While former rodeo clowns constitute a major part of MY show's demographic (they like to watch on satellite from their meth labs), I don't really know what they were doing in the semi-finals of a cooking competition."

Is there any way tonight's episode won't weed out Dale, setting up a Hung-on-Casey battle royale in the final? Not that I can see...

Invincible -- Shapeshifters

In my trip to Ann Arbor over the weekend (RIP Shaky Jake), my brother and a few friends and I went to see The Teacha, KRS-One, at a little club called the Blind Pig.

Who should we see as the opening act but Invincible, a friend of ours who's from Ann Arbor and used to live in my neighborhood in Brooklyn. She's been living in southwest Detroit since 2002.

Invincible has been fending off record label deals from the majors for years -- one hip hop magazine called her “Every A&R’s worst nightmare” -- but her debut album is finally close to getting released. "Shapeshifters" is due out on the indy label Bling47 this spring.

Check out video of Invincible along with Detroit emcee Finale by clicking here.

A couple of songs from Shapeshifters are available on her MySpace page.

Wednesday, September 26

My Jedi Journal

I was home in Michigan this weekend and I somehow ended up digging through a box in the basement that my mom has used as a repository of school papers and old letters that will benefit future scholars and/or form the 'early years' exhibit in my presidential library.

And this:

"My Jedi Journal: A special diary for Jedi Knights-In-Training"

I had no recollection of the Jedi Journal, but leafing through the pages -- each one featuring a cool little drawing of Yoda in the corner -- I saw that my dad gave it to me for Christmas, 1983 (age: 7), and we traded it back and forth, writing entries and questions for each other.

Seems I was an enthusiastic little blogger even then, although I could have used spellcheck.

A few selected entries:

Dear Adam:
If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go? Who would you take with you and why did you choose this place?

Dear Dad:
I would like to go to Disany land with you.

Dear Dad
for my reqist is to ask you to decein a oringenl star fighter and write on the next page.

(My dad's starfighter's was solar powered with a "cable TV hookup with choice of 2,000 movies")

Adam: write a poem, 10 lines, each starting with "I know"

Dad --

I know Math
I know reading
I know spelling [or so I thought!]
I know friendship
I know self-control
I know Games
I know Mom and Dad
I know Daniel [my brother]
I know Donald [my best friend]
I know a lot!

Tuesday, September 25

GEICO does not cover Autobot Matrix(es) of Leaderships.

Don't you just hate it when your insurance company won't cover your claims?
Dear Mr. Prime,

We have received your accident-claim reports for the month of June—they total 27. I regret to inform you that GEICO will not be able to reimburse you for any of those repairs.

Since becoming a GEICO customer in January of this year, you have reported 131 accidents, requesting reimbursement for repairs necessitated by each one. You have claimed not to be responsible in any of them, usually listing the cause of the accident as either "Sneak attack by Decepticons" or "Unavoidable damage caused by protecting freedom for all sentient beings."

Wednesday, September 19

Shakey Jake, on the move to the great beyond

RIP Shakey Jake, the patron saint of Ann Arbor, known for his friendly visage, outrageous outfits (full-length, year-round fur coats, floppy brimmed hat) and eclectic guitar playing -- his instrument rarely had more than a few out-of-tune strings, and in his latter years he dispensed with strings all together.

He was still a pretty kick-ass blues player though -- click here to check out his tune 'Fat Bacon,' part of a record he made back in the '70s.

Ask any Ann Arborite if they "Brake for Jake" and you'll get a knowing smile. He was a fixture in downtown for decades. Despite the (sub)urban myth that he was a secret millionaire, in fact he lived off of Social Security, a support system of friendly local shopkeepers who kept him fed and housed, and -- in the form of the "I Brake For Jake" bumper stickers and T-Shirts which he sold -- the kindness of strangers.

Of course, no one was ever really a stranger to Shakey Jake, just as he was known and loved by the entire town. Lots of good obits and writes here, here, here, and here, and I heartily endorse the commenters who say that Jake deserves a New Orleans style wake through the streets of Ace Deuce. I'll be in town this weekend, so I hope it happens!

Keep on trucking, Jake.


Talk Like a Pirate Joke of the Day

Q: Who is my wife's favorite pirate R&B singer?

A: Arrrrrrrrrrrr Kelly

Tuesday, September 18

Monday, September 17

Bob Dylan warns of Cylon Invasion

This one won't make much sense if you haven't seen Battlestar Galactica, but if that's the case you have much bigger problems!

Friday, September 14

The Friday Fry-Up

Banky meets Lego? (via Jake Dobkin's awesome grafitti photos)

Parents are up in arms (pun intended) about new Wii accessories that convert the wireless controller into a pretty bad-ass looking gun (see example below). Chill, parental units -- if you deny them toy guns they'll just make them out of toast.

Thursday, September 13

Monkey vs. Pigeon

In a world where love between primates and birds was forbidden by the laws of nature, two star-crossed animals found romance in another phylum.

Rated NC-17. Cause that shit just ain't right.

Wednesday, September 12

Inside the Sept. 11 'Tribute of Light'

I had an amazing and unexpectedly moving experience last night, thanks to a friend who is working on the annual "Tribute in Light" memorial that takes place every September 11 near Ground Zero.

"Tribute in Light," sometimes called "Towers of Light," projects 88 high-intensity spotlights (Space Cannon searchlights, each four feet tall with a 7,000-watt xenon bulb) from near the former site of the World Trade Center, creating a ghostly echo of the towers that once dominated the New York skyline.

Gustavo Bonevardi, one of the architects who conceived the project in the hours after the towers fell, described it like this:
We set out to "repair" and "rebuild" the skyline—but not in a way that would attempt to undo or disguise the damage. Those buildings are gone now, and they will never be rebuilt. Instead we would create a link between ourselves and what was lost. In so doing, we believed, we could also repair, in part, our city's identity and ourselves.
The lights can be seen from towns and cities as much as 60 miles away. In fact, airplane pilots report seeing them from when flying over the Midwest. Where they intersect with the clouds, they create a huge glow. The lights are turned on at about 5 pm so that they slowly become visable as the sky darkens. In the morning, they are turned off only after the morning sun makes the sky too bright for them to be seen.

The project is housed on the roof of a parking garage on Greenwich St in lower Manhattan. We rode an elevator up with people picking up their cars, getting off on the 7th floor, and were immediately awestruck.

From inside each circle of 44 spotlights, it's like there are dozens of massive light sabers reaching up into the sky, intersecting hundreds of feet in the air. It was wonderful and sobering and sad, all at once.

Thanks to Scott for a night to remember!

Read more about the project: