Friday, January 28, 2005

More Ben Folds

Previously: New Ben Folds LP dropping in April

In today's Ben Folds newsletter, beneath the news about the upcoming release of Songs for Silverman (4/26) and the single, "Landed" (2/1), there was this little item:
* We are remastering Whatever And Ever Amen and adding 7 lost classic bonus tracks...out March 22!!

I already own Whatever and love it, but I am quite curious about what those 7 bonus tracks are. My guess is that they're bonus tracks on Japanese and European releases, but we shall see. It is one of the better albums of the 90s, definitely one I would put on my iPod if I ever decided to get stranded on a desert island. As always, I am cautiously excited.

And did you catch the Ben Folds poster on Seth's bedroom wall in this week's The OC? I did. [click for pictures]

The OC Season 2 Episode 10: Matchstick Lesbian

Previously: Season 2 Episode 9

So to recap... [click here to continue]
  • Alex shoots down Seth, either because she doesn't enjoy playing Surrogate Summer or Seth doesn't have a vagina. Or both. Seth becomes a recluse and starts drawing, Zach thinks the drawings are totally awesome and they should write a comic book together. Summer isn't happy that Seth is taking Zach away from her and into comic book nerdhood.

    She accidentally finds Seth's doodlings from the previous summer, or Summer of Summer, as Seth calls it, and realizes they still have feelings for each other. So yeah, they're on their way back together, and Zach is going to drink Yoohoo and go apeshit.

    For some crazy reason, Lindsay wishes Caleb would reach out to her, and Ryan goes to his office behind her back and tries to talk him into calling her. Caleb is reluctant, but at Kirsten's urging, he invites Lindsay to dinner. Lindsay doesn't want to go alone and gets Ryan to come with her, but when Caleb sees Ryan, he thinks it's an extorsion attempt, and walks off.

    Marissa and Alex bond. They go over to Alex's ex-girlfriend's place to retrieve some her stuff, and they make googly eyes at each other. Things culminate when Marissa gets one of those slutty lower back tattoos which my friend Tate has an interesting theory on. The previews implied that Caleb would catch the two pre-coital. No such luck. Alex was just checking out the tat.

    New storyline alert! Sandy apparently had a love of his life, Rebecca, who was all commie hippie pinko and shit and her father also happens to be Sandy's law school professor. The old prof is dying and wants to find Rebecca before he dies. Kirsten isn't happy about this, but is relieved when Sandy calls around and confirms that she's dead. He calls prof into his office to drop the bad news and in comes prof and... Rebecca. The end.

  • Very satisfying episode. Seth and Summer still have the best chemistry together of any heterosexual coupling on the OC, and it showed tonight. As one dimensional as Caleb is and as wussy as Ryan has become, the two have a nice rivalry. Marissa is at her best (least worst?) doing low-key emoting, and yay, a new storyline!

  • Elliott Smith's "Pretty (Ugly Before)" requires its own bullet point. What a great, great song to do all the emotional tie up at the episode's end.

  • You know, I probably found the episode satisfying because of the Elliott Smith song. I'm such a sucker for his stuff, I was even willing to let go the letdown after the lesbian tease and the awkward introduction of the new storyline.

    I bet I would let you get away with anything as long as you play Elliott Smith in the background. I'd probably say some stupid shit like "I find this beatdown very satisfying. I love how the night sky contrasts with the fiery blaze coming from my house, and the way you kick my dog is just so rhythmical. Oh, and the Roman Candle-era Elliott Smith is just awesome."

  • Yeah, Caleb's a jerk but at least he walked off before ordering. If he really wanted to be evil, he'd let the kids order and then storm off after the food arrived. I'm still not getting what Caleb has against Ryan though, other than Caleb being one-dimensionally evil and Ryan burning down that house in Season One.

  • Lindsay's dropping fast in my Giveafuck Ratings. I really don't know how they can end the Ryan-Lindsay thing cleanly.

  • Another The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay parallel. Do I smell a spinoff, a la Michael Chabon's "The Escapist"? Nah, one spinoff is enough.

  • I was thinking, what other characters could Seth come up with? Caleb would be a Darth-like villan/father figure. Julie would be... Julie Cooper. Marissa, I'm thinking Matchstick? Vodkagirl? Lumber (you know, like flat and wooden)?

  • Summer did have the best line of the night though: "What are you guys, like Kavalier and Gay?"

  • Next week: Cardiac Caleb!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Running With Scissors: The Movie

So I'm a huge fan of Augusten Burroughs, and it was with mixed feelings that I read about the film version of Burroughs' first memoir, Running With Scissors.
[Annette Bening] will make another movie, starting in March. It's called "Running With Scissors," based on the book by Augusten Burroughs. Her co-stars are Gwyneth Paltrow, Jill Clayburgh and Brian Cox. "I'm very happy to be doing this film, it is an amazing and harrowing story!" she said. "A really worthwhile project and such wonderful actors."

Any film adaptation runs the risk of ruining the source material, but I like the actors involved, and I can't imagine anyone picking this book without wanting to do justice to it. We shall see. I'm cautiously excited.

IMDb: Running With Scissors (2006)
Booksense: Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

"A" is for "Accountable", "C" is for "Credible", and how Harold & Kumar keep you safe

Previously: MTA: "Okay, so we're only semi-fucked. Yay."

I'll try not to dwell on the Chambers Street fire too much, especially since much worse things can happen on public transport, and no inconvenience compares to the loss of 11 lives.

If you're wondering like I am, how in this age of heightened security, a mystery homeless guy managed to get a shopping cart full of wood into such a sensitive, critical area of the subway system, well, so is the MTA. A day after greatly scaling back on the "3 to 5 years" prognosis, they're backing off again, this time, the totally believable Lone Homeless Man Theory. Lest you think they pulled that homeless guy thing out of their ass, they want you to know that they're still preeeetty sure it's arson.

But fear not, to make sure this doesn't happen again, MTA is banning photography, asking us to say something if we see something, and of course, installing the latest in cutting edge surveillance technology.

Do you know the way to Trondheim?

So you want to get from Haugesund to Trondheim in Norway, do you? Let's ask MSN Maps & Directions.

Total Distance: 1685.9 Miles
Estimated Total Time: 47 hours, 31 minutes

I blame the fjords.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

New Ben Folds LP dropping in April

Rolling Stones reports, "Piano man Ben Folds will release his second solo album, Songs for Silverman, on April 26th."

Awesome, but I don't think Ben Folds Five co-founders Robert Sledge and Darren Jessee will be too happy to learn that "The self-produced follow-up to 2001's Rockin' the Suburbs features a reunion with former Ben Folds Five bassist Jared Reynolds and drummer Lindsay Jamieson."

Still, I'm excited about it and hoping he does a US tour not too far in the future. Chapel Hill represent. And stuff.

MTA: "Okay, so we're only semi-fucked. Yay."

Previously on the subway fiasco: Perfect Storm of Suckasstitude

MTA says A and C lines will be back up and running in months, not years. Is it just me or did the MTA just give a "Holy fucking shit, we're doomed! Doomed!" initial estimate so any revised estimate would sound like great news?

The article is a good read though. It talks about how, because the MTA's signal system "remains a 19th-century technology operating in a 21st-century environment", even when the subway isn't totally fucked, it's still somewhat fucked. [click here for excerpts]

The agency estimates that it has made more than $40 billion worth of capital improvements since 1982, when the system began to reverse a decades-long decline. Many New Yorkers remember graffiti-scarred subway cars, decrepit stations, brittle track and frequent derailments that were emblematic of the subways at their nadir.

Most of the capital spending on the signaling system has gone toward equipment replacements rather than upgrades. Immediate safety needs like faulty tracks, and higher-profile projects like station rehabilitation took priority.

"Everything had been underinvested in, literally everything: the stations, the platforms, the track, the signals, the right-of-way and the tunnels and bridge structure, the rolling stock," Mr. Plavin recalled.

Reassuring right? Wait, there's more.
The computerization of the L line's signals will be only the start of a process that is expected to take decades.

"I can't resignal the system in a few years," Nabil N. Ghaly, the transit agency's chief signal engineer, said in an interview last year. "It's going to take a lifetime." David L. Gunn, who was the president of New York City Transit from 1984 to 1990, said that few advancements were made in signaling over the years compared with other areas.

"We were basically trying to bring all the systems to a state of good repair as quickly as possible," said Mr. Gunn, now the president of Amtrak. "But there was no great leap forward on signals. We weren't trying to revolutionize the system. We were trying to get reliability and modern equipment so we could get replacement parts easily."
Fantastic. Yet Gov Pataki continues to shaft us.

And as I said before, one good thing to come out of this is the extended V-train. It helps me because I have an extra train I can take to East Broadway when I come home from work, but it also relieves congestion along the 6th Ave line since all the Lower East Side and Brooklyn riders aren't packing the F-train while empty V-trains pass.

Maybe in the future, they can permanently extend the V. I wonder if they can use the unused platforms at Hoyt-Schermerhorn, fix up the destroyed lower level at Bergen, or share Smith-9th with the G. It would do a lot of good for F-train, which always seems to be packed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

This makes me happy

Scrubs Season One DVD (thanks to Pete for the heads up)

Monday, January 24, 2005

Great week for Asians in America

This weekend, we learned that Hot 97 thinks Asian folks dying in the Tsunamis is really, really funny and that tip about Chinese immigrants being smuggled in to plant dirty bombs is most likely a hoax. You people really don't like our kind, do you? I suppose it doesn't help when William Hung is still our race's representative to America.

We give you so much yet ask for so little in return. I know you love us, you really do. You're just afraid to show it.

Re: Hot 97, Miss Jones and the We Are the World spoof
Personally, I'm almost as offended by their reference to residents of South East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent as "chinamen" and "ch*nk". Dude, get a fucking map. Plus, I hate them for contributing to the bastardization of hip hop. If I could shake both my fists at Hot 97 and type at the same time, I would. But really, what can you do? Dumbfuck is as dumbfuck does.

Perfect storm of suckasstitude

Previous F-train adventure: The F-train Saga Continues

If I manage to stay alive until midnight, I will have survived the worst day of the year, at least according to a bunch of British shrinks. Yay me.

However, those British shrinks neglected to tell us that the biggest snowstorm of the winter would descend on the Northeast and totally screw up the subway. And just to fuck things up more, a homeless dude started a fire that totally destroyed the signal switchy thingy on the 8th Av line at Chambers St.

So here's what happened to me... [click here to continue]I was over at Maureen's in Brooklyn all weekend and I headed back to the city late Sunday afternoon. The news ticker said the F-line had "limited service" between Church Ave (Maureen's stop) and Jay St-Borough Hall, so cool, it'll take me some time but I can get home fine. Of course, by "limited service", they meant, "Get your ass upstairs, wait 20 minutes, then catch an SRO bus and stand inside for an hour as it snakes through Brooklyn, until it gets to the Jay St". So I got a nice tour of Park Slope, albeit in the dark through fogged up window. Gotta make the best of a bad situation, I guess.

But I can't complain, as Maureen had it way worse. She had to do the same trip during the morning rush, then again on her way back. As of this typing, F is back to normal but the A and the C could be fucked for 3-to-5 years. The only silver lining from the fire at Chambers St is that the V replaces C in Brooklyn and relieves a lot of the crowding on the F in Manhattan.

And for all the problems they caused and the crappiness of walking through snow, it sure is purdy. Still, whoever is in charge of shoveling the snow on the sidewalk by Seward Park, please note that I am shaking my fist in your general direction.

Travis Bickle rides again, maybe

Apparently, Bobby De Niro and Uncle Marty are planning a "Taxi Driver" sequel.
The 61-year-old actor, who played deranged Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle in the 1976 classic, has been talking to director Martin Scorsese about a follow up, the Sun reports.

"We're planning a sequel built around the character when he is older," De Niro said.
No word on whether Harvey Keitel would play the ghost of the dead pimp.

Now, I would usually be against a remake of a classic and I'm not completely sold on this, but if nothing else, it might be a good study of how the dark, dirty side of New York has been cleaned up, along with some of the character that made the city unique. But we'll see.

Then again, maybe Bobby needs to sell his TriBeCa pad and move somewhere cheaper before, say, Bed-Stuy gets too expensive. Personally, I'm still waiting for a Warriors remake and the Vega Brothers prequel.

'OC' spinoff in 2006

Do you stay awake and wonder what the hell is up with Marissa's virtually forgotten sister is up to on The OC? Well, me neither, and you don't have to start wondering any time soon.

Thanks to Glasper for digging this up - The Schwartz confirms 'OC' spinoff around Marissa's little sister Kaitlin Cooper. (Digital Spy)

So the show will based on Kaitlin (What does she look like? I don't remember. Does she chug vodka too?) at boarding school. Going by what I know about boarding schools, mostly through movies, I expect quite a bit of booze, drugs, lesbian sex, poetry recitation and very short skirts.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Netflix update: 1/21/05

In the past week, I watched Fever Pitch and Seven Samurai. I gave up on Rashomon - I just didn't have the patience for it.

  • Fever Pitch was disappointing, and not just because the memoir that the film is based is fantastic. Colin Firth wasn't convincing as the prototypical Nick Hornby hero, and it was hard for me to gather any sympathy for the characters. Plus, having to watch the end of that awful, awful final match of the 1989 season was agonizing. Not terrible, but not recommended either.

  • The problem with Seven Samurai, like a lot of "groundbreaking" films is that it was so revolutionary at the time, techniques and elements have been copied and developed so many times over by future directors, so there's no novelty or discovery. And I was quite ashamed to concede that I couldn't follow the Japanese dialog without the subtitles. I couldn't deal with the pacing or the overacting, but I was still entertained.

  • Previous update: January 3, 2005

    How to lose weight in 2005: move to NYC

    Why? It's expensive as hell to stay nourished here.
    Food Prices in New York in Biggest Leap in 14 Years (NY Times)
    Since December 2003, the price for food in grocery stores in the New York metropolitan region rose 5.5 percent compared with 2.5 percent nationally. Total food costs, which includes restaurant meals, rose only 2.7 nationally but went up 4.4 percent in New York...

    The rise in the region's food prices is particularly striking compared with Los Angeles, where the increase was 0.5 percent, and Chicago, where the increase was 1.6 percent.
    Ouch. The Great Tomato Famine of 2004 didn't help matters much of course, and supermarkets around here have horrible produce selections.

    Thank god for Chinatown grocery stores and their oversized produce.

    Fox News gets served...

    ... by a Conde Nasty of all people. Dubya and Ol' Fair & Balanced get schooled by Vanity Fair contributing editor Judy Bachrach for, wait for it, having too fabulous an inauguration: Fox News Reporter gets 0wn3d (the adventures of a boy and his computer) [click here to continue]

    Juicy goodness:
    [Fox News reporter Brigitte] Quinn: -- well, no, I, but look, the president has addressed this, hasn't he? He said that this is a, I believe a quote, was that we're celebrating, we're celebrating democracy, we're celebrating a peaceful transfer of democracy, what's wrong with doing that?

    Bachrach: Um, have you noticed any peace or any transfer of democracy in Iraq? If you have, you're the first person to have seen it...

    Wait, there's more:
    Bachrach: How about a modest party, just like FDR. I'm sure you'll agree he was a pretty good president, with a fine sense of what's appropriate and what's not. And during a time of war, ten parties are not appropriate. When your own soldiers are sitting ducks, in very, very bad vehicles.

    Quinn: Don't you think that the president has given his proper respect to our troops? I mean, yesterday, as far as I can tell --

    Bachrach: Respect means keeping them secure.

    Quinn: -- the festivities opened with a military gala, they ended with a prayer service, there just seem to have, certainly been a tremendous effort over the past couple of days, and more than that, to honor our troops.

    Bachrach: Well, gee, that prayer service should sure keep them safe and warm in their flimsy vehicles in Iraq.

    I do believe you got served, Ms. Quinn.

    The O.C. Season 2 Episode 9: A Blip on the Gaydar

    Previously: Season 2 Episode 8

  • If you don't want a spoiler, don't look at the above screen shot. [click here to continue]

  • Actually, nothing happens between Alex and Vodka Breath. Yet. Hands stayed above the blanket, thank you very much.

  • Chill episode overall, but I liked it. Much, much better than the last.

  • So I was wrong. Lindsay doesn't drown to death - she didn't even get in the water. Wishful thinking on my part. Glad no one took me up on the bet except Maureen. I have to buy her a drink now. Damn you, Josh Schwartz, damn you.

  • So Lindsay's like, totally intimidated by Vodka Breath cuz she's all like vamp and Lindsay so not. So Lindsay's like, "Everyday, she looks like she could be on the cover of a fashion magazine," and Ryan's all, "Um she actually is on magazine covers, pretty much constantly. Haven't you seen her in that Neutrogena commercial they play during The O.C.?" And Lindsay, like, calls Marissa "Cosmo Girl". Like, OMG.

  • Now, I'm all about self-referential humor. But really, isn't it getting a wee bit out of hand?

  • I was actually okay with the Great Mischa Barton Acting Experiment. She didn't do anything over the top, yet she was quite watchable despite being the center of the story. I'm sorry Mischa, I'm taking back everything some of the things I said about you.

  • Marissa does need to learn the art of the insincere compliment though. Nice backpack? Mischa please!

  • Hasn't Marissa been drinking vodka long enough to know that you need a chaser, especially newbies? Or is she past that stage now? And do they not card at the Bait Shop?

  • I like that they actually put unattractive people (or more likely, attractive people dressed up to be unattractive) in the Comic Book Club. It's kinda funny to see the juxtaposition between Adam Brody, a pretty boy playing a TV-land nerd and actors who look like real life nerds.

  • Good lord, are they pushing the homoerotica angle. Zach actually comes out and suggests that Seth hook up with a dude. And let's face it, Seth and Ryan have more sexual chemistry between them than all the other teenage couplings on the show combined (well, except for Seth and Summer and/or Anna). Did you see the two leaving Alex's apartment? Sparks, I tell you, sparks!

  • It's good to see the aggro Ryan come out though. I was getting a little tired of this season's nice, gentle Ryan.
  • Thursday, January 20, 2005

    adidas Superstar: Expression series

    So adidas is celebrating the 35th Anniversary of the Superstar, its classic, but not terribly comfortable shell-toed low-top basketball shoes by releasing special editions. They came out with the City Series and the Consortium Series (notable shops in NY, Tokyo, etc) earlier, and they're releasing the Expression series. The models are Andy Warhol, Captain Tsubasa, Lee Quinones, Project Playground, Disney and Upper Playground. [click here to continue]

    adidas Originals (follow the 35th Anniversary link on the left, then click on "The Collection" on the bottom right)

    The Consortium models are all pretty dope (Tate and Upper Playground especially), but some are perplexing - Roc-a-fella and Bad Boy are both getting their own models in the Music Series. Though I can't get over how fun the Captain Tsubasa edition is:

    If you didn't grow up watching Captain Tsubasa, well, you probably didn't grow up in Japan. Whatever, you're missing out if you've never watched it.
    Thanks to Iason for the heads up.

    Is it just me or...

    ...does anyone else think Mike Piazza taking this whole "I'm not gay, really" thing a little too far? Marriage (to a former Playboy centerfold no less) smacks a little of despearation, especially when an internet sex tape leak could have done the job at the fraction of the cost.

    Well, good luck to Mike, I guess.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2005

    The Donald planning highest rated musical in Broadway history

    Aw lawdy. As if Broadway wasn't all Disneyfied to shit already.
    Trump, Burnett Weigh 'Apprentice' Musical (Yahoo News)
    Trump said he and fellow executive producer Mark Burnett are weighing a stage musical based on the NBC reality series about competition among corporate jobseekers.

    "We are really looking at it and we've had a lot of interest from Broadway," Trump said Tuesday.

    Del @ BB King's: Why don't people ever tell me when stuff like this is coming up?

    My favorite emcee from the Bay Area (if not the entire US west of the Hudson River), Del Tha Funkee Homosapien at B.B. King's on Wednesday.

    Seriously, this is important stuff. It's your job to keep me up to date. Now, I'd be all over this if I hadn't already dropped $7+2 beers last night. Hmm.

    Movably Hyped 1.5

    Short post for Monday Tuesday morning after MLKJr Day.

    So yes, I did get out to Pianos last night, for Gothamist's Movable Hype 1.5. Though I wasn't there long, I did enjoy Dear Leader (above) quite a bit (brooklynvegan seems to agree). Good old fashioned rocking with driving guitar. Love it.
    Even that unknown sitar-driven band who were apparently double booked was ok, even if they did confuse the hell out of me and forced me to miss Fort Ancient. On second thought, I'm not happy about them at all. Damn you, unknown sitar-driven band! Damn you Pianos!

    Of course, I had to miss 24, but that's what TwoP is for.

    Oh, and Movable Hype 2.0 @ the Knitting Factory on Wed 2/16 featuring Elkland, The Information, Other Passengers and The Cloud Room.

    Monday, January 17, 2005

    Movable Hype 1.5 tonight


    I think I'll be there. $7, proceeds going to charity - I'm okay with that.

    5:46 am, January 17, 1995

    That is the time and date that no Kobekko will ever forget, when the biggest earthquake in post-WWII Japan, the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of 1995, hit my hometown of Kobe and surrounding cities. Today, Jan 16 at 4:46 pm in New York time would mark exactly 10 years since the earthquake that measured 7.2 on the richter scale, killed over 5,000 people, displaced over 300,000 residents from their homes and otherwise laid a path of devastation. [click here to continue]

    I remember feeling so helpless - being a continent away, not being able to get in touch with relatives, hearing reports that emergency vehicles couldn't get into the city. The Osaka-Kobe metropolis, despite being the second biggest population center in Japan, was woefully unprepared for large-scale quakes because something like this was only supposed to happen in the more earthquake-prone areas around Tokyo.

    But we were also fortunate. Our relatives all survived unharmed, though they were forced out of their homes. The quake came very early in the morning, long before commuters were out on the road and homes were using gas fire to cook. The damage could have been much, much worse.

    It feels like such a long time ago - I still remember coming back from school, seeing the fallen elevated expressway on the news and thinking "Shit, that's like 10 minutes from where I grew up." Yet, if you to Kobe, there are very few signs that it ever happened, except in downtown areas of Nagata that were worst hit by the quake and the subsequent fires.

    Even if there aren't any apparent signs of the tragedy though, the city has changed forever. In the short term, the rebuilding took a huge economic toll, and getting all the displaced families back into permanent homes was a process that took years.

    But over the long haul, Kobe changed for the good. At the risk of being cliche, the city came together and forged an identity. People helped each other, and took pride as citizens like I had never seen before. It's not that Kobe lacked an identity before - it was a port city that was known for being cosmopolitan and fashionable - but as a relatively new city, not that many citizens thought of themselves as Kobekko. Kobe never had the strong emotional roots that nearby Osaka or Kobe had.

    That's different now. The people of Kobe had a common goal, and now take pride as Kobe citizens. As corny as it may sound, they rose from the ashes and the identity of the city is stronger than ever. And I'm happy to see the city taking intiative in helping the areas hit by the recent Tsunamis. I don't want cheap sentimentality to trivialize the lives that were lost, the people who were left homeless and everyone else who experienced the hardship firsthand. But I hope they understand that their struggles are appreciated and that they didn't suffer in vain.

    Kobe marks 10 years since quake (CNN)
    10 Years After the Quake - Kobe: picturesque city by the sea (Japan Times)

    Saturday, January 15, 2005

    The OC Season 2 Episode 8: Not Asobi Seksu

    Previously: Season 2 Episode 7

    I can tell you that this is the shortest OC episode recap I've done ever. The episode was a little disappointing, certainly the weakest since The Killers ep. The worst part was, I only watched it because I couldn't get into the Asobi Seksu show at The Bowery (it was sold out, but the Bowery usually has extra tickets at the door. Not Thursday night. I gave up before 8 pm and judging by the post in Central Village, it appears I made the right choice. Our friend at extrawack! did get in though. Bastard!). Oh well, let's hope next week's better. [click here to continue]
    • I actually enjoyed the first half a lot. Started to go downhill towards the end, hit rock bottom when Sandy took the stage.

    • No, don't get me wrong, Peter Gallagher has a nice voice and all, but not for the songs he sang

    • Isn't a character singing on stage some sort of minor shark jumping? TV experts can weigh in here

    • I'm a little bothered by the wussification of Ryan. They joke about it on the show, so the writers are clearly aware. What happened to the weekly sucker punch?

    • That DJ gave the $5,000 check to the rich girl only confirms my suspicion that he is indeed the richest landscaper in all the land. I would've at least split the five grand with Vodka Breath.

    • Really, who doesn't know that Kuala Lumpur is the capital of Malaysia?

    • "We can't fight a war on multiple fronts. Have we learned nothing from the Nazis?"
    • Going by the preview for next week's ep, I'm going to bet a glass of Stella that Lindsay will drown to death. I can't imagine how else they would get rid of her, and I don't think she's on for the long haul

    Recaps by licenced recappists:
    When Mom and Dad are Away (TVgasm)
    The Power of Love (Television Without Pity)

    On tagging, bombing, etc

    I'm personally divided on spraycan art. On the one hand, I appreciate the aesthetics and anarchic bent of graffiti. Graffiti is great because of the restraint placed by the medium, and that uses the city as a canvas and isn't hidden behind gallery doors. At the same time, I understand that it does deface public and private property, and let's face it, for every great work, you get a dozen ugly scrawls.

    No, I'm not against going after writers per se - the art thrives partly because of the cat-and-mouse game - but I do have an issue with thinking of graf as invitation to crime or social disorder, and that stopping writers will somehow get rid of whatever motivated them to start writing in the first place.

    I simply bring this up because, for whatever reason, there's quite a bit on street art in the old internets, from Mayor Bloomy's crackdown on graf (Gothamist), a piece in my favorite Canadian culture mag, Maisonneauve, The City as Canvas: Graffiti and Stencil Art from New York to Montreal, and some cool tags on Cityrag.

    Also check out @149st and the wonderful 1983 documentary Style Wars.

    Friday, January 14, 2005

    Wal-Mart buys ad space to defend self, expects us to keep straight face

    Wal-Mart Turns to Ads to Address Its Critics (NY Times):
    "Wal-Mart is working for everyone," read the headline on the ad from the world's largest retailer, quoting Lee Scott, Wal-Mart's president and chief executive. "Some of our critics are working only for themselves." The ad then went on to defend its treatment of its 1.2 million employees in the United States, saying it provided 'excellent advancement opportunities' and good pay and benefits.

    Kill Bill Kicks

    The black Onitsuka Tigers, the same model as worn by The Bride in Kill Bill Vol 1 - well, except with the yellow and the black reversed - available for pre-order at Classic Sport Shoes for $75 (via Josh Rubin: Cool Hunting. Perfect for knocking one off your "To kill" list and leaving a pool of blood behind.

    Personally, I prefer Onitsuka Tiger Ultimate 81:

    Thursday, January 13, 2005

    Borat+rodeo = hilarity

    It's been a slow week, and I'm too busy to troll for material at work, so I'm ripping this off from BigSoccer. Sorry.

    Our favorite roving journalist from Kazakhstan visits a rodeo in Roanoke, VA, hilarity ensues. [click here to continue]
    Speaking in broken English, the mysterious man first told the decidedly pro-American crowd - it was a rodeo, of all things, in Salem, of all places - that he supported the war on terrorism.

    "I hope you kill every man, woman and child in Iraq, down to the lizards," he said...

    An uneasy murmur ran through the crowd.

    "And may George W. Bush drink the blood of every man, woman and child in Iraq," he continued, according to Robynn Jaymes...

    Then the man took off his hat and sang what he said was his native national anthem. He then told the crowd to be seated, put his hat back on, and launched into a butchered version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" that ended with the words "your home in the grave".

    ... By then, a restless crowd had turned downright nasty.

    "If he had been out there a minute longer, I think somebody would have shot him," Jaymes said. "People were booing him, flipping him off."

    Then, Roanoke, VA discovers the internet but misplaces sense of humor. More hilarity ensues.

    Ed. I have actually visited the Roanoke Valley, Blacksburg to be exact, a few times, and it's actually a nice place. A little too quiet for my taste, but people are nice and the Blue Ridge Mountains are absolutely gorgeous. Still, you gotta love that after 2 seasons on HBO, Ali, Borat and Bruno can still punk a whole crowd of people. But rodeo in Virginia? Seriously?

    My sneaker addiction is acting up again

    I'm looking at these:

    [click here for full sized pics]


    Indoor Super

    Decade Low

    Wednesday, January 12, 2005

    Can you hear the drums, Fernando?

    There was something in the air that night
    The stars were bright, Fernando
    They were shining there for you and me
    For liberty, Fernando
    Though I never thought that we could lose
    There’s no regret
    If I had to do the same again
    I would, my friend, Fernando

    I'm certain I am not the only Liverpool supporter to break out the ABBA classic to celebrate the arrival of Fernando Morientes at Anfield. But originality is overrated, and I'm going to take advantage of any opportunity to quote the great Swedish songbirds. Good lord, did LFC need this.

    Do you still recall the frightful night we crossed the River Mersey? I can see it in your eyes, how proud you were to fight for the Premiership title.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2005

    The iMac loses its head

    Previously on MacWorld Expo SF: Countdown to Keynote

    So the big news today, as widely predicted, was iPod Shuffle (first impressions at Playlist). But the other big release, Mac mini is not just Apple's first foray into low-priced computers. It's an all-in-one home theater device. [click here to continue]

    On the surface, with its $499 starting price and stripped-down package, Mac mini is an entry-level machine for PC users who have been thinking about switching, but afraid to because of the price and the need to commit to a new monitor and keyboard with an iMac. And I'm sure the fact that you can just replace your old PC hard drive with this will be quite appealing. But its size and features give it many possibilities.

    Let me show you how.
    • The S-video adapter lets you connect to your TV.

    • Its 40/80 GB hard drive lets you record off your TV, a la TIVO.

    • It doubles as a DVD player/recorder, and you can make it region-free with a hack like Region X.

    • You can also hook it up to your stereo system and play your mp3s, and with a wireless connection, play music saved on your other computers

    • And with Bluetooth, you can control it with a wireless keyboard or remote.
    Really, if you think about the cost of buying a DVD player/recorder, DVR and a CD player, the $599 pricetag isn't bad at all.

    Asobi Update

    So the Razorlight show with Asobi Seksu opening at Bowery on Thursday is sold out. I'll still try to walk up though, I think.

    Though there's still Tegan and Sara at the same venue on the previous night. And next Monday night, there's a Tribe Called Quest tribute at Joe's Pub and Gothamist's Movable Hype 1.5. The first Movable Hype featured our newest favoritest, Asobi Seksu. How's that for reincorporation? My comedy instructor would be proud.
  • Asobi Seksu (official site)
  • Monday, January 10, 2005

    From Russia with love/Georgia on his mind

    One of my favorite basketball players from my time at the University of North Carolina was Shammond Williams. He was fun to watch, and by all accounts, a great guy off the court. Since graduating from Carolina, Shammond bounced around the NBA until last year, when he became a member of Georgia's national basketball team.

    Shammond then signed with a Russian Superleague side, UNICS in the Russian Republic of Tatarstan and gave an interview that appeared on the UNICS official website. Now, any time an interviewer describes her subject as "dark-haired person with a white-toothed smile and black, hot eyes" and questions include "Thus far did you see any bears on the streets?", you can't not read it. You just can not.
    Shammond Williams: Basketball Player - Thinker (

    This is a fun read, if only for the English-to-Russian-back-to-English translation.
    *** Shammond, how did you begin into basketball?
    S.W.: "Somewhere around six I began to throw the ball into the basket. A good backboard was in the park, not far from our house. I liked the game from childhood. Probably the reason I became a basketball player. Although, in my time I tried a lot of other sports."

    The OC Season 2 Episode 7 - I'll keep this one short, I swear

    Previously: Season 2 Episode 6

    I know, I'm a little later than usual, but I'm actually doing work at work these days. You will have to forgive me. Anyway welcome back to the OC, bitches. Let's go. [click here to continue]
    • They're dragging out the Ryan-Lindsay it's-not-incest-but-it-sure-feels-like-it thing a little bit, but I suppose it had to be done. Anyway, it should be fun when Kirsten finds out.

    • I like Seth's alter ego, Stealth and his friend John, or was it Jim? I smell a spinoff comic book.
    • But that's not what Summer smells on Cohen. "Your breth smells like Marissa." Good one, Roberts.

    • Speaking of Vodka Breath, I have grown to love the Mischa Barton Acting Showcase. This week was no scream-and-throw-the-pool-chair, but we got to see a double dosage of Marissa as she created a drunk scene at Jimmy's going away party (why do the Cohens throw parties any more? don't they know by now that parties always end up in trouble?) and the lifeguard shack tearfest with Jimmy.
      Two months ago, I would've cringed seeing Marissa dragging DJ into the party. 7 episodes in, I'm salivating as the cars pile up. on the interstate.

    • God, I keep forgetting Jimmy and Julie had another daughter. It looks like they have the same problem too.

    • Will DJ ever develop a personality? The Magic 8-ball says "Highly Doubtful".

    • Oh yeah, Jimmy leaving Newport Beach. I liked Jimmy but I suppose his character's all arced out. Still, it was nice of the writers to list out his Newport Beach exploits in a single soliloquiy.

    • Whoever is in charge of shooting the concert footage at the Bait Shack needs to be shot. With a firearm. Seriously, could the scenes be more amateurish, what with the awkward zooms, angles that went with 80s videos and uninspiring shots of the uninspired audience. I hope Modest Mouse got paid nicely for the cable access treatment.

    • Though it was nice to hear MM's "The World At Large" at the end of the episode. Very nice track. Also good to hear Elliott Smith get some love.

    • Pete mentioned this and I agree - it's great how Caleb calls Sandy "Sandford" (Sanford?). I'm not up on my Hebrew names, but Sandford wasn't listed the last time I checked my Book of Names for Jewish Boys. So either Sandy is hiding his WASP heritage or Caleb loves giving pet names to people who despise him.

    • So a blah episode overall, but I was reminded of a big reason why I like the show - the Cohens. Yes, we all love The OC's cheekiness and overthetopness, but there's something about Sandy and Kirstend, and how they keep their front door open. I think we all would like to know a family like the Cohens, or we do know one, and we wish we could just hang in their kitchen, spreading schmear.

    An episode recap that's actually informative and entertaining: The OC: Her Father's a Thief, Her Mom is a Slut (TVgasm)

    Countdown to Keynote

    I'm not going to do much techie stuff since I'm not all that knowledgeable and there are sites that do it much much better than I could ever hope, but a few links on the upcoming MacWorld Expo. A low-cost iPod, a "headless" iMac, a Motorola iPhone and an iWork office software suite are set to be released, and Apple has sued rumor site ThinkSecret in the build up to the big keynote speech on Tuesday.

    I thought the lawsuit was a smokescreen by Apple, who enjoy the buzz that all the rumormongering builds, but at least one person disagrees: The Rumor Game (Daring Fireball)
    The rumor sites don’t build excitement for Macworld Expo, they take advantage of it. The excitement surrounding Macworld Expo in the Jobs 2.0 era is because of Apple’s — and Jobs’s — track record of debuting exciting new products at the show.

    MacWorld SF 2005 Rumor Roundup (Mac Rumors)
    Instant Expert: Apple/Motorola iTunes Phone (iPodlounge)

    Finally, I was watching one of those Access Hollywood-type shows and Lindsay Lohan's younger sister (yes, they made more) mentioned that she filmed a commercial for a "radio iPod thing". I wonder what this could be? I'm sure Steve Jobs isn't happy about the leak though. Snort.

    I'm pretty proud of my homeland...

    ...on the $500 million pledge for the Tsunami relief efforts. Now, I realize that intentions aren't all pure - the Japanese government wants a permanent seat in the UN Security Council, and wants more flexible use of the Self Defense Forces. But I am glad to see Japan taking an initiative on such an important issue.

    I just hope all this hasn't been forgotten come 12 months from now, because rebuilding the Tsunami-stricken areas will take much, much longer than the lifespan of an average news story.

    Another story I hope people don't forget: Did Al Gonzales say the president can authorize torture? (Slate)
    Early in the day, Gonzales professed the requisite faith that America was 'a nation of laws and not of men,' but his opinion of the president's ability—however limited—to authorize individuals to engage in criminal acts suggests the opposite. This is a government of good men, Gonzales implicitly assured the senators, so there's no need to worry about legal hypotheticals like whether torture is always verboten. Don't worry, because we don't do it. It's a strange argument from a conservative: We're the government. Trust us.

    Friday, January 07, 2005

    If I weren't at work, I'd be reading this 6 page article on Ikea

    In light of the current Ikea-Red Hook controversey, I'm reposting this entry, originally posted November 18, 2004. It gives a fairly good background on the Ikea corporate culture.

    For the Love of PoÄng (maisonneuve)

    They have free half year (3 issues) subscription if you prefer to read off paper rather than LCD. I think I'll just wait for the hard copy to arrive as well.

    Tourists: can't live with 'em, would love to live without 'em

    I feel silly linking to a Gawker story, but I had to, as this was an idea whose time had come a loooooong time ago, and made its way on to Creggers: MC with New York for New Yorkers? (via Gawker)
    It's basically a system of fines for doing stupid touristy stuff like spending money at WTC, at chain restaurants like Olive Garden and Applebees, but it's for a good cause.
    Some of the funds raised by this program will be earmarked for educational initiatives, such as a mandatory 20-minute walking class given to all disembarking passengers who fail to show a NY State ID card at JFK, LaGuardia or Newark (if the state of New Jersey agrees) - covering proper pace and group arrangement on sidewalks, clearing doorways and subway turnstiles to let people through, et cetera.


    Not sure what to make of this - photograph of every damn Starbucks in New York City (via EverythingNY). And yes, that's all five boroughs, not just the Island.

    What makes it even weirder is that in the brief descriptions that accompany many of the locations, the word "cool" is used unironically. Now, I do go to Sbk from time to time, but I swear, I totally feel guilty every time. And I figure I could wear the smell of burned coffee that lingers on my clothes as a vente half skim half soy peppermint scarlet A of sorts.

    In any case, I'm not sure what purpose this site serves. I mean, what's there to know about a Starbucks? A tall cup of coffee (and by tall, I mean grande) starts at $2 and use of the restroom requires waiting in an endless line like so many Gorbachev-era Muscovites.

    Thursday, January 06, 2005

    Victory for Jon Stewart, humanity

    So it's not exactly defeating Bush, but Jon Stewart's appearance on CNN's Crossfire shows its results, albeit belatedly.

    Tucker Carlson takes his bow tie over to NBC and Crossfire is no more (WaPo), and the best part is, both Carlson and the network acknowledge the role Stewart's smackdown played in the decisions. [click here to continue]
    CNN/U.S. President Jonathan Klein sided yesterday with comedian Jon Stewart, who used a "Crossfire" appearance last fall to rip the program as partisan hackery. "I think he made a good point about the noise level of these types of shows, which does nothing to illuminate the issues of the day," Klein said in an interview. Viewers need "useful" information in a dangerous world, he said, "and a bunch of guys screaming at each other simply doesn't accomplish that."

    And Carlson expressed his own reservation about the spitbath format:
    ...he said that he felt constrained by its left-right format and that "when my opinions diverged from those of the White House it was difficult" to conduct the expected debate, particularly when he opposed the Iraq war.

    Of course, I'm too cynical to believe that either side has seen the errors of its ways and working for the good guys. Crossfire was losing to similar shows on other networks in the ratings, and as David Bohrman, CNN's Washington bureau chief says, "Tucker was done with 'Crossfire' in any event and there was no place for him." And he's going to do something similar on MSNBC anyway.

    Plus, it was always unfair to target Tucker Carlson for the sins of 24 hour news networks, as he was simply playing an act. And Paul Begala got off lightly considering he is no better than Carlson - he was simply unburdened by either a bow tie or a personality. Still, Carlson and Begala voluntarily defended the format and willingly played CNN's monkeyboys, and were deservedly ripped.

    Stewart's candidate may have lost on November 2, but I dare say this might be a bigger victory, because this may signal a change in the corporate culture. While 24-hour cable news networks still remain an unsightly sore on the buttcheek of political discourse, at least CNN seems to realize it can't compete with Fox News by simply imitating their format. That's good for everyone.

    But we shall see. Talk is cheap and ratings ain't.

    Would it be weird...

    ...if I saw the same band within a 14 day period?

    So I already caught Asobi Seksu on New Year's eve, but I do like this band and they're playing in my neck of the wood again, opening for Razorlight next Thursday at the Bowery Ballroom.

    See, part of my motivation is to buy their CD, which I failed to do on 12/31, and I realize that the best way to support an indie band is to buy their music at the show. Then again, as I said, it will have only been a fortnight since the last show. I wouldn't want to be an Asobihead or anything.

    We shall see. I have a week to decide. But if you missed their NYE performance, TIVO that episode of The OC and catch them live before they go on tour.

    Slater in search of further obscurity, to star in a soccer movie

    Bayside High graduate Slater is tipped to star in an imaginatively titled soccer film.

    More about the film, co-executive produced by Spike Lee:
    The Goal follows the heart-wrenching journey of Topone, a young man who rises from the infamous favelas (ghettos) of Rio de Janeiro to become the number one soccer player in the world. During the Brazilian championship, tragedy strikes and Topone is in danger of losing his soccer career forever, when he is traded to the United States.
    I am amused by this description, not only as a soccer fan, but also as someone of better than average intelligence.

    The film, The Goal is not to be confused with Goal!, a trilogy of films starring Diego Luna as an American soccer trying to make it in the big bad world of European soccer. This, I can see being decent.

    Wednesday, January 05, 2005

    Ashlee Simpson: Must See Trainwreck

    Even by the low standards set by the uninspiring football in the Orange Bowl, the half time entertainment sounded especially uninspiring - Kelly Clarkson! Trace Adkins! (who?) Ashlee Simpson! But there was hope. I distinctly heard a few, but certainly audible, boos from the crowd. I sensed magic. And magic came long before Ashlee took stage. [click here to continue]

    Update: video link available at Lipsync.US (via Gawker). A word of warning though. This clip is not for the faint of heart, and certainly not recommended for pregnant women, small animals or pregnant small animals. Listen out for the guy screaming "You suuuuck."

    Update again: another video link (via stereogum)

    I figure most of this will be available on video soon enough, but what the hell. Magic came almost immediately, as the music started and Kelly sat on the edge of the stage mouthing the words but Kelly's American Idol-winning voice failed to materialize. It's like... the Ashlee incident... but the other way around!

    Before Kelly could start her own version of the hoe down, a PA came on stage, did the "check check" and handed her a replacement mic. The sound was still sketchy, but worked well enough to allow Kelly to do her best Avril imitation and do her faux-hard rock pop thing that's so popular with the girls these days.

    Then, Grace Adkins - there's not much to be said about him, except to say that he mumbled through his song and showed about as much charisma as the end of my nostril hair. Well, until he flashed the creepiest of creepy smiles.

    Then, the main event - Ashlee Simpson is your headliner? What kind of dumbfuckery is this? Bowling For Soup not available? No, no Ashleegate this time, but she did have trouble staying in sync with the backing vocal and sounded super hoarse as she tried to hit the high notes for the big finish. She could've used an extra vocal track or two there, and an acid reflux excuse would have been perfectly acceptable. The football player-dancers doing push-ups on stage simply added to the unintentionall comedy.

    And the boos that rained on her as she left the stage was absolutely stunning. Southern Cal fans and Oklahoma fans, putting their differences aside to mock Ashlee Simpson. Beautiful.

    Previous Ashlee obsessions:
  • Ashlee Simpson is my schadenfreude
  • Joe Simpson: happily oblivious. Or is he?
  • Piling on - additional ado about Ashlee
  • Okay I lied, I'm mentioning Ashlee again

  • Tuesday, January 04, 2005

    My New Year's Resolution

    In 2005, I resolve to do the following:
    • To stop using the words snarky, schadenfreude, traveshamockery and all forms thereof so much

    • To use the word dumbfuckery as much as possible.
      Example: The decidedly anticlimactic climax to White Chicks 2: The Prequel was the ultimate excercise in dumbfuckery

    That is all.

    Coming in 2005

    Strangers With Candy (Release date TBD): Amy Sedaris plays an ex-junkie, ex-con who goes back to high school, only to have to deal with the most devious gang of cutthroats she has ever confronted: the cool kids. This is a prequel to a Comedy Central series and it comes with the pedigree of good supporting players -- Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Allison Janney."

    From Guardian:
    In his fourth novel, Nick Hornby turns away from football and music, and takes on the big questions. What is life all about? Why do we bother? And what happens when we've had enough? On New Year's Eve, four characters meet on the top of a tower block in north London. As the end of the year approaches, all four are intending to plunge themselves towards the ground. Instead they avoid death, become friends, and take turns to narrate the novel. Hornby has said that A Long Way Down (Viking) draws on his own experiences of depression, therapy and the thoughts of suicide that have regularly flickered throughout his life. Perfect summer reading?"

    Also excited about the new Ben Folds LP set to drop in February, his first full length studio release since 2001 (though he has put out a live CD and three EPs and produced William Shatner's album). And finally, Ol' Dirty Bastard's first of two posthumous releases this year, Osirus: The Official Mix Tape. Holla and whatnot.

    iTunes is doomed! Doomed!

    Or not.

    So iTunes Music Store rivals - MSN, Yahoo, Napster et al - think iTunes' dominance of the market and its 99 cents/song model will lose to the rivals' subscription model (
    With the top-of-the-line iPod, "You can fit 10,000 songs on it," (Napster chief Chris) Gorog says. But "to do that would cost you $10,000 if you bought the songs from Apple. With our plan, customers can get 10,000 songs on their device for $180 a year. It's an enormous value."
    That's great, but it is a bit misleading. [click here to continue]
    1. The average iPod owner isn't going to fill up the entire 40GB, and would probably use a bulk of the disk space for non-music stuff.
    2. Most people have existing music collection and aren't looking to fill up their iPods with all new material.
    3. A single is 99 cents, but most albums cost $9.90, so consumers are spending less than 99 cents are song.
    4. With iTunes, once you buy your music, you keep it for ever. With a subscription service, you pay an additional $1 if you want to burn your songs onto a CD or copy to an MP3 player, and you lose access to your music once you end your subscription.

    That said, I can see how a subcription service can be more cost effective than pay-as-you-go. If you do download more than $15 (including $5 for Microsoft's DRM) worth of songs a month, I'm better off with a subscription service - as long as I don't mind losing access to stuff I downloaded once I end my subscription. But I don't buy $180 worth of music - at least I don't try to.
    "Selling 99-cent singles isn't working as a business model for us or for consumers," says Dave Goldberg, who runs Yahoo's music division. It includes Musicmatch ( "We sell hundreds of downloads," Goldberg says. "But we don't make money on them. Subscriptions is a much better business for us."
    Well, it does seem to be working out for consumers, what with 200 million songs downloaded, and here's the thing - it doesn't have to work for Apple. They can just cover their costs and keep the profit margin low because they're not trying to make money through downloads. They're trying to sell iPods.

    Monday, January 03, 2005

    Netflix update: 1/3/04

    So the slowdown in my Netflix rotation has continued. I still haven't watched Rashomon and I've had it for a month now. But I need to watch it soon, as Seven Samurai is on its way, and I can't have two Kurosawa flick in my possession at the same time. It's like a rule or something.

    Anyway, since my last posting about a couple of weeks ago, I've watched Collateral brilliantly acted and paced film... until Michael Mann decided to make it Die Hard at the end. I don't know, maybe it was inevitable, but the ending came off corny and contrived.

    The Bourne Supremacy was fun. Not something I'll watch again, but it's one of the few action flicks I can watch with a straight face. Napoleon Dynamite - I'd heard so much about it and it was a bit of let down, but I still enjoy the occasional quirkiness. 1.5 thumbs up. Oh, and make sure you watch past the credits.

    I also got off the Netflix circuit this weekend and rented Pieces of April and Capturing the Friedmans from Two Boots Video.

    I enjoyed Pieces a lot. Wonderful acting from Patricia Clarkson in particular. But I have one gripe: I wasn't all that interested in the movie after watching the trailer, which presents the film as a more-or-less straight comedy. It's not. This is one of my pet peeves, when studios and record labels don't have faith in a work and misrepresent what it is. This doesn't help anyone - people who want to see the film for what it is end up passing over it and it ends up reachign the wrong targets.

    Capturing was just disturbing. You know the old cliche about how some things leave you with more questions than answers? It's true here. And the bonus material with the Q&A clips from the premiers are must-see. Not something I want to watch again, but I'm glad I did rent it.

    Previous update: December 20, 2004

    My Big Fat Japanese New Year

    Personally, it hasn't quite sunk in that it's 2005 already and it'll take me a while before I stop miswriting the year on checks and having to rip them up. So the full weight of the new year should hit me by April.

    Still, I had an excellent New Year, which basically had me rediscovering my Japanese roots. What follows is the more or less condensed version of our New Year's festivities. [click here to continue]

    The night of Dec 31, we start off with a few glasses of warm sake. Nicely buzzing, we're off to see Asobi Seksu. If you have not yet heard my new favorite band, you must visit the official Asobi site and check them out. If you don't trust me, perhaps you trust our friend at extrawack?

    I've had the song "I'm Happy But You Don't Like Me" stuck in my head for the last week, though that might be because Maureen's been singing it after I burned the song onto a CD for her.

    Well, like I said, we were off to Mercury Lounge. Of course, we got there a couple of hours before they were to take stage, after midnight. Still, it's been a while since I caught a live show and there were bands to be checked out. We liked Stylofone, the other two bands, um, I was pretty drunk.

    Asobi Seksu was as good as I expected. They play a dreamy brand of pop rock - if you can imagine the Cardigans meeting the Sonic Youth on an NYC street and Nina Persson as a tiny Japanese girl named Yuki who sings and plays keyboard (and she is really, really tiny), that's what they sound like. Dreamy, bittersweet pop with heavy guitar action at its best. I didn't matter that half the audience didn't know what half the songs were about (songs are in Japanese and English) - the energy was great and Yuki commanded the stage nicely.

    I liked everything I heard, and I shall be purchasing their album (link opens in iTunes).

    Fast forward to the morning of January 1. This was my first attempt at making ozoni, soup traditionally served on New Year's Day in Japan. The recipe differs from region to region, even family to family. Based on the recipe my mom sent me, I used chicken thighs, radish, carrot, some random greens and white miso paste, a variation on the common western recipe. In eastern Japan, they use fish stock instead of white miso. Those wacky easterners. But the common ingredient anywhere in Japan is mochi, a sticky rice cake.

    Despite my fears, my first attempt at I think my first attempt at ozoni came out rather nicely, thanks to help a little help from Maureen and mom (via email). Sure, it's not exactly New Year's back in Kobe, but it will do for this year. For now, a somewhat close approximation of home is enough and it's just not New Year's without mochi.

    Happy 2005 y'all. Or as we say back home, akemashite omedeto.

    Sunday, January 02, 2005


    Saturday, January 01, 2005

    Let us now praise the cheap eateries of Lower East Side

    One of the bigger downsides to living in NYC is that everything is so damn expensive, particularly food.

    Luckily, you can eat for dirt cheap in my 'hood. I love the little dumpling shops that serve five dumplings for a dollar - there's one around the corner from me on Essex between Canal and Hester, Fried Dumplings on Allen near Delancey, but my favorite is Dumpling House on Eldridge between Grand and Broome, with the huge ass pots right in front of the counter.

    The other night, I got basically a full meal - soup and dumplings - for $2.

    Then there's Tiny's Giant Sandwich Shop on Rivington between Essex and Norfolk. At around $4 or less, the "small" sandwiches are generous enough, and pretty much everything I've had from Tiny's has been killer.

    And I would be amiss if I did not mention Proton Saga (Allen at Canal), Congee Village and the really greasy cabbie joint on Hester at Allen.

    I seriously feel stupid when I go above 14th St and pay more than $5 a meal.

    2004 is, like, so last year

    2004, you ain't gotta go home but you can't stay here, 'cause I'm with 2005 now.

    Seriously, I'm glad to be done with 2004, what with the economy staying in the tank, the continuing crappification of political discourse and LiLo's multimedia assault on decency. If that wasn't enough, 2004 left us with that massively messy Tsunami.

    The year had its moments, but I'm happy to move on. Here's to a happy and prosperous 2005 everyone.