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:

Tuesday, September 11

Developing: Meg White in trouble?

Stereogum reports that the White Stripes have cancelled a scheduled gig at the Austic City Limits Fesitval this weekend, citing a Meg White nervous breakdown. Details are sketchy.

Pitchfork, picking up on an Austin 360 report that the cancellation was due to "medical reasons," snarks that "we like to call this medical ailment, for which there is no known cure, Playing Against the Arcade Fire Syndrome." (Arcade Fire is also playing the festival.) They're going to feel preeeeeetty bad about themselves if this turns out to be something serious...

UPDATE - The entire tour has been cancelled due to medical reasons. Meg is described as suffering from "acute anxiety."

The iPod of my dreams

Two weeks ago, in a haze of post-back surgery pain pills, I managed to lose my iPod. It wasn't that surprising given that I seem to live in a strange, extra-geographical Bermuda Triangle where iPods go to die. Over four years, here's the tally:

Third generation iPod -- Defective out of the box
3G iPod (replaced by Apple) -- Hard drive failure
1G iPod shuffle -- Lost
2G iPod shuffle -- Stolen from my office
1G iPod nano -- M.I.A.

Now, if insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a new result each time, I am clearly certifiable when it comes to Steve Jobs' magical little devices. Because of course the latest iPod mishap coincided with the announcement of a new batch of drool-worthy iPods -- specifically the new iPod Touch, which is basically an iPhone without the phone.

Lose an iPod, buy a more expensive one -- it makes no sense, right? Except that's exactly what I was prepared to do.

Then, last night, I had a dream in which I found my iPod nano. I was filled with a deep feeling of happiness and tranquility, only to wake up in a cruel iPod-less world.

Walking to work in the rain this morning, I felt a strange bulge in my jacket -- my beloved blue Nano. But did I feel happy? Not for long. Because now I had no reason to buy the new Touch....

Damn you, Jobs!!

Are you ready for some Meatballs?!

It's been a long time since I've been able to watch football -- at least the American kind -- after a few years in the UK. So when Ms. "My Husband Hates Veggies" and said husband came by last night to watch the season opening Monday Night Football on the big screen, I whipped up some celebratory meatball sliders.

Wowzers, they were good!

Following a recipe from Little Owl Chef Joey Campanaro, I bought some mixed ground pork and beef from my favorite local butcher (they were out of veal), added panko breadcrumbs, egg and cheese, and rolled up about 30 of the tasty little spheroids.

It was messy, squishy work, and I could have used one of those surgical hands-free sinks to clean the gunk off my hands, but it was still sort of fun.

After about a minute in the frying pan, they were simmered for 30 in a simple tomato sauce (except for a batch I finished in the oven for my wife, who is a meatball purist) and served up on rolls with extra sauce and some arugula.

We all scarfed them down while watching the stupidly entertaining Bengals - Ravens game. And all of a sudden I'm a football fan again!

Monday, September 10

An Ear Grows in Brooklyn -- sort of

It's harvesting time in Park Slope and the corn is 25 high!

The Times reports on the 25 square foot corn patch in the middle of the sidewalk at 6th Ave near President St, planted by a neighborhood resident who wanted to "subvert expectations."
As people pass on the street, grocery bags in hand, cellphones pressed to their ears, they crane their necks to look up at the stalks, as if Shoeless Joe Jackson might come swaggering out. The cornfield has also become a point of orientation. “We’re a block down from the corn,” a resident will say. “You can’t miss it.”

The corn is actually a variant that does not produce ears of corn, but I suppose they could always make some ethanol...

The Monday Mix

Sometimes I wish I had never moved back to the States -- these awesome Lego ice cubes are only available in Europe.

Who says the mixtape is dead? From an exhibit at the International Museum of Surgical Science in Chicago, skulls and skeletons made of melted cassettes -- mostly Motley Crue and Judas Priest, from the look of it.

Parenting 101: Your kid should probably not be playing Grand Theft Auto at age 4, although this GTA birthday cake is undeniably awesome.

Parenting 102: Your kid should probably not be learning about responsible firearm usage with a toy gun that requires the user to insert the barrel into his/her mouth.

Wednesday, September 5

Only in New York, Kids

Sometimes I just love this city. It's the little moments. On my way back from a delicious lamb kebab pita, I was walking west on 45th St. toward Times Square.

Headed toward me:

1) A tall, stunning woman with translucent skin, in a slinky dress, entirely bald, texting madly on her Blackberry, presumably headed toward Fashion Week at Bryant Park.

Walking directly alongside:

2) A short Hasidic Jewish man, dressed like someone striaght out of an 18th-century Polish shetl, also text away madly on his own, identical Blackberry, presumably headed toward the Diamond District.

Neither man nor woman seemed to have any idea that they were walking alongside each other.

Pandering to the Yoots of America

An increasingly ancient-looking John McCain was doing a town hall with the "yoots" of America, and one kid asked if he was worried about being the oldest president, dying in office, getting Alzheimers, etc.

McCain gave his prepared answer, and then said: "Thanks for the question, you little jerk -- you're drafted."

Hey, whatever you say about McCain's faltering campaign, at least he can still draw a decent crowd every now and then. Unlike, say, Sam Brownback (below).

Playground Hijinks

When you were a kid on the swing sets, didn't you always wish this could happen?

Food Section Wednesday

Every week since I began to seriously cook for myself in my early 20s, the existential pain of Hump Day has been lessened by my anticipation of the New York Times food section, published every Wednesday.

This week's section has a few particularly interesting tidbits:

-- My beloved Cambodian Cuisine, formerly located across the street from my apartment in Brooklyn (right), is facing some serious headaches as the owner tries to reopen on the Upper East Side.
On Thursday, Jerry Ley did what he has done on most days for more than two years: he watched his dream of transplanting his Cambodian restaurant to East 93rd Street in Manhattan move a little further out of reach. He then did what he has had to do a lot lately: he hit up a friend, this time a Wall Street accountant, for a $5,000 loan.

Mr. Ley, 54, admittedly is a broken man. He is heavy-hearted as he ticks off his debts in a defeated voice. He owes $866,000 to various banks, $144,000 to a friend and co-worker who took out a second mortgage on her home, and more than $200,000 to friends and relatives who contributed smaller sums at zero interest.
-- I should probably prepare for some long lines when I make my daily pilgramage to GoGo Curry. The secret is out about this quirky Japanese joint in the garment district, which serves up delicious fried pork and chicken cutlets, rice, and a mysterious brown sauce that bears little to no resemblence to Indian curry but is strangely delcious. The Times tries to describe it:
The sauce is the one constant ingredient in Japanese curry (often rendered as kare). At Go! Go!, it is thicker than gloop and too loose to be called sludge, but both of those terms came to mind when I was considering its texture.

There’s a meaty, beany quality to its flavor, and sweetness around the periphery of it. It tastes much more like something that is reconstituted than something that is cooked. Beguiling might be the way to describe it: it bewitches with its inscrutable foreignness, its unapologetic Japanese-ness, its “I guess fried food does taste good covered in this sticky stuff”-ness.

-- On the subway to work this morning, I was practically drooling when I read this recipe for tomato paella. And, since I naturally have saffron, arborio rice and Spanish paprika on hand at all times, I'm fixing to make this bad boy the minute I get home tonight. The only problem? My wife doesn't like cooked tomatos. So if anyone's hungry, come on over. Dinner is 8-ish.

Monday, September 3

This one's for all the moms...

Weeds is falling off this year without a doubt, despite the presence of Mary Louise, but this freestyle from Romany "Conrad" Falco is hilarious.

UPDATE -- I had to take this down since, annoyingly, it automatically starts playing whenever you load the page, potentially resulting in some workplace embarrasment. Click here to view the video.