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.