Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Best Reread/Serious Recommandation

Unfortunately neither of these are the cover of my copy of Pnin.

The other week I read Pnin by Vladamir Nabokov, a book I had read before in 2002 or 3.

I remember liking it then but let me tell you now that I think this book is just excellent.

It's a series of stories, (vignettes, practically) about a Russian Professor working at a small university. The Professor (Pnin, duh) is something of a buffoon ignorant of his buffoonishness and nothing just about nothing but bad stuff happens to him. At times the bad stuff is funny and nearly delightful, at other times it is nearly heartbreaking (a scene involving dish washing had me tense on the subway with hopes that things would work out at least once for the Professor . . . read this book and you'll know what I mean.)

Also definitely going for it: Nabokov is just one of the most talented writers I've ever read and I was underlining choice arrangements of words as much as the bounces or crowds of the subway permitted. And while the tale of Pnin's woes is rather straight forward, I was picking up on a number of things bubbling within the tale.


  • Among plenty of other things, Nabokov is known for his lectures on Don Quixote. One of his arguments about the book was that it was a tale of suffering, a catalog of miseries . . . basicaly Cervantes was just torturing the Don the whole time. With Pnin, Nabokov has crafted his own fool to torment and torment him he does.
  • There are so many squirrels in this book! Why so many squirrels? What do the squirrels represent? What role do they each play in the novel? That is the question on your final exam.
  • The Narration! Starting off it just seems a pretty standard third person omniscient situation is going on here but then you/I realize(d): "Wait . . . the narrator is a character. The narrator knows Pnin." But what character is he/she? And what is the nature of their relationship? These questions, for some reason (English major reasons, obviously), kept me oddly enthralled with an already oddly enthralling story.
Consider this not a minor summary or little review but an earnest recommendation of this book. It's less than 200 pages, go look for it at your library. You haven't got much to lose and you don't have to worry about it creeping you out.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Best Two Years?

Remember Ace's birthday party?

Since then, Ace and I have had our ups and downs . . . and by "ups and downs" mostly I mean our downs (and if you haven't heard that story then you've probably never heard any Ace stories) . . . but if any of you see him around, tell him to call me! I want to take him to the Outback for dinner!

Check out the old Ace's birthday party post! (Looking at it you'll probably say: "Wow, so many of those people are gone and/or married now." Going to this post is like looking into the future of the past.)

Best New Expressions!

Consider adding these to your daily use . . .

"Mad as a Panda"

"Happy as a Lamb in a Hallway"

Remember, I don't post videos of animals just to fill up space around here. You really ought to watch these!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Best Maybe I Should Have Seen How to Train Your Dragon?

I saw this movie, Waking Sleeping Beauty. It's a documentary about Disney animation between 1984 and 1994, a period during which it went from an unprofitable "burden" on the company that was nearly eliminated to producing a string of super-successful films (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and the Lion King) and changing the face of modern animation . . . forever!

There are two closely-related stories to tell from that time period, the story of the creative decisions and the story of the business decisions at Disney that time. Unfortunately, I can't say I felt the movie addressed either adequately. The movie was always on the verge of showing or telling something interesting, then jumping on to something else. It sort of was always saying "Believe me, things were crazy! You should have been there!" and leaving me to take it at its word.

Part of the reason for this was the whole movie was made from archival footage with the audio of modern interviews played along with it...there was no talking head footage typical of documentaries. An interesting idea and noble effort for the filmmakers, but I think the sticking to what was already on tape constrained the course of the film. And certain Disney execs (Jeffrey Katzenberg) were portrayed as being so despised by Disney Animation (and everyone else) that I began to like them whereas others (Michael Eisner) were portrayed so generally positively while I know that everyone wound up eventually hating that dude so much.

So, all in all, the movie left me feeling kind of "ehh" about a topic I was prepared to become more interested in. Sitting here, thinking about it, I don't even know if the legacy of those movies is something to be too psyched about . . . Pocahontas, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Brother Bear, Atlantis, Treasure Planet? The demise of hand drawn animation and total dependence of Disney on Pixar for animated features? Was a period of great success at Disney just a swell to a wave destined to return to the ho-hum situation that preceded it?

And also, although the relation of the title of the movie to the content of the movie is explained early on, it just seems weird for a movie called Waking Sleeping Beauty to not have anything to do with Sleeping Beauty.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Best Don't Make Life So Hard for Yourself, Foxy

I read the Fantastic Mr. Fox today and I had a realization (it applies to the movie, too)

When all those animals were starving underground . . . why didn't they just eat Rabbit and his family?

Also, now that this excellent, excellent movie is out on DVD there's no excuse not to get one of my best jokes ever.

Best Movie I Did Not See Last Night

Since when is it impossible to get youtube videos to fit nicely on a blog?

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I had tickets (well, reservations, if you want to get technical) to a test screening last night that started just a little too early for me to comfortably sneak away from work (or, better said, a little too early for me to comfortably walk away from the two hours of pay I'd be missing), but I'm very curious about this movie. It's based on a comic I could barely stand reading one volume of, but the cast seems pretty strong and now there's this trailer. I can't tell if all that comic-booky stuff will drive me nuts or win me over--but I am impressed by how much the actors look like the characters from the comic book without looking too much like characters from a know what I mean?. Another important question: will this be the last movie where we can stand to see Michael Cera play Michael Cera, or was that point passed a while ago? OR can that point never be passed?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Best Movie You Should See that You Probably Can't See

Last week I saw this movie called "White on Rice" here in the city, it was playing for one! week! only! at the BIG Cinemas, a curious Asia-oriented one screen theater in the shadow of the Roosevelt Island Tram (imagine if your Grandma had a big, nice house and that house was a movie theater and you've imagined the NYC Big Cinema quite well). I saw White on Rice because my cousin that I don't know made it and because the trailer was pretty good.

White on Rice tells the tale of a divorced, 40 year old manchild living in the basement of her sister and her husband with his 10 year old nephew. There's a story, mostly about the hero trying to fit in and find love, but it's not as strong as the characters or acting. The film is pretty funny and it's good natured without being completely toothless. Basically it's an hour and a half version of the trailer, and I mean that in a good way. There were some good gags and jokes that I wish I could share with more people...I should have friended the dozen people that were at the screening with me.

I don't know where else White on Rice will be playing or when it will come out on DVD but I give this a hearty endorsement as something deserving a spot in your Netflix queue.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Best Very Brief Trip Home

Hey! Listen, if you live in Chicago and have a new baby I'm really sorry but I was also in Chicago this weekend, but it was a super-fast trip. A super-fast, family-intensive trip. I hope we're all still friends, I hope no babies grow up too fast. I'll be back!

Chicago Photo Supplement Post. Check it out!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Best Help Resolve a Controversy!

Thursday night, a major wager weighs on the question: How many jelly beans, tossed by Aubrey, can be caught by Nate? And from this wager has risen a rift that very well may tear this apartment, and the apartment across the hall from it, in half.

Desperate to restore peace to the 8th floor again, I beg you to watch this video and answer these questions:

1) How many jelly beans does Nate catch in his mouth in this video?
2) Does Aubrey throw the final jelly bean before Spence calls time?

Please comment below, or on the Vimeo page (it's bigger there). A serious prize hangs in the balance.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Best Collin Was in Town

Collin was in town last week. This is pretty much the only picture I have to illustrate that fact, and I didn't even take it (obviously...but it wasn't even with my camera). Why not? Maybe because I took too many pictures when Andrew was here? (here, too) And then slightly fewer, but still too many when Jared was here? Or maybe because most of last week I felt like I had fallen into a swimming pool half-filled with dirty, leaf-covered water? All good reasons! But here we are, enjoying a song a week ago.

Simpler times, people. Simpler times.

Best We Killed a Mouse

Back in December Chad got a Christmas tree. Shortly thereafter, we began seeing a mouse in the house. Did the mouse come to us via tree, like Chip and Dale? That's what I believe.

The mouse, it would appear, it would disappear. We had glue traps for a while, nothing happened. But about two weeks ago the mouse started getting real cocky. One night I was getting a midnight glass of water and it walked out from under our dish rack and stared me I tossed my water at it and knocked it onto the floor.

To deal with new cocky mouse we got some traps and started keeping carving knives in the living room in case it came running through as it sometimes would. Could we have actually killed the mouse by blade if the opportunity presented itself? Hard to say.

But I won't ever have to say because last Thursday afternoon I was in my room when I heard Nate yell "Dude!" (btw, Nate is my new roommate, he replaced Chad, this all happened in January) and I ran to see that, wow. One of our traps did the job.

For a minute we felt victorious, for a minute we boasted to Spence about what he had missed, but soon we started feeling bad about our dead friend. A little.

Anyway, here's a link to a picture of our dead mouse. WARNING: THIS IS A PICTURE OF A MOUSE SLAIN BY MOUSETRAP! Click if you dare! This picture was taken an emailed to Spence before we started feeling bad about what had happened.

Now, if you're actually reading, I have something else to tell you.

There was a second mouse! I wasn't home, but Thursday night my roommates were chilling in the living room when some teeny tiny little mouse (not the start of a family, right?) wandered into the room and just sat chillin' on the floor. Feeling less murderous, Nate ran to the kitchen for a bag to scoop it up with. The mouse began to scurry and Spence put down his foot to block it off but, well, stepped on it instead. My poor, gentlehearted roommate totally killed cute little tiny mouse #2!

And those are my terrible tales this Wednesday. Happy St. Patrick's Day. No parade for me, I'm on assignment (that means working).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Best I Saw a Monkey!

On 78th Street!

And this morning I found him again on Google Street View, but you'll have to rotate so that you face South.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Best I Went to a Concert

Fueled by an enthusiasm for their songs "The Afterlife" and "Psychic City" plus pangs remaining from not having been able to get tickets to the xx/jj show, I impulsively and enthusiastically bought tickets to see YACHT (Yacht?) back in January. The show was last Thursday. It was my first visit to the Bowery Ballroom in nearly three years.

I guess the show was good. Not very beknownst to me, Yacht puts on a, how to explain this? A mildly cultish show? Like, a Scientology spoof? Or something? For me the creepiness of fake New Agery eventually exceeds that of proper New Agery and, in reflection, I'm left feeling unsettled about the experience. But the music was bumpin', that can't be denied.

BUT this can be said to the credit of the show: Openers Bobby Birdman and MNDR were both excellent, I don't think I've ever seen a concert where every act, start to finish, were so consistent if not solid. It was certainly a night for fat beats.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Best Mined from the Depths of the Internet

What's this? A photoblog dedicated to the stray cats of Tokyo? For cat-photo enthusiasts, this is a goldmine (even if the mine isn't very deep, yet).

Here's a tip. To see earlier pages of pictures, you want to click the link at the bottom of that looks like this:

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Best Excellent Mac News

This would have meant a lot more to me a year ago when I was running around, trying to find a copy of Windows for my Mac so I could play Half Life 2 on it (but then I discovered...other means to do this) but today it was announced that Valve will be releasing their library of great games for the Macintosh via Steam, their online gamestore service (also coming to Mac, naturally.)

While Portal was a kick in the pants, Half Life 2 and its two follow up chapters was one of the funnest, most engrossing video game experiences I've ever had. Better said, back in 2008 I thought there were no more engrossing video game experiences left for me (really I don't play them very but these games showed me otherwise. It's just great news for the Mac that finally such good games are going to become available for it--also, Portal 2 (to be released later this year) will be available for Mac from day one. Totally excellent. That's all that can be said about that.

Now: How about some Half Life 2 Episode 3 (or just Half Life 3?) news?

Best I Took a Walk

I've been telling everyone about this and now I'm telling everyone via internet.

Saturday was such a nice and sunny light jacket clear blue sky weather day that I said to myself, "I gotta get out there into that nice weather!" and then I said "Why not walk over to Central Park and walk around a bit?" So I headed out. And started walking. Which lead to more walking. Next thing I knew (more or less) I was at Canal Street and I said to myself, "Well, I've made it this far...better finish this island off." So I did.

My route:

Many have asked, "How long did this 9.7 mile walk take, Brigham?" And the answer is: "Oh, like four and half hours, but I was exploring the whole time.

Here's the bullet point highlights of the highlights of the hike:
  • Tried "All Nighter Cheeseburger" Doritos. These are Cheeseburger flavored Doritos. They taste like ketchup, mustard, pickles and corn chip. The sick sick truth: I'd eat them again.
  • Used the bathroom at two different Apple Stores.
  • Went to that big Japanese bookstore by Bryant Park. It was Ponyo day. They were having a trivia contest.
  • Visited two different J. Crews...listen, this isn't a men's fashion blog (correction: this is the only blog that isn't a men's fashion blog these days) but when did it happen that Banana Republic get so whack and suddenly J Crew is full of so much cool stuff? That's all I'm going to say about that.
  • Explored the Ace Hotel. Whoah. If you're ever exposed to hotel hype, then you've probably heard a bit much hotel hype about the Ace but let me tell you, this is a cool Hotel. An Opening Ceremony for a gift shop, a much larger than expected lobby full of very cool people chilling out on their laptops, a gymnasium with punching bags, and I caught a glimpse of the Breslin, which seemed very ambiancey at the least (and I hear they make a great pig's foot for two). The fact that this place is located in just about the least favorable part of Manhattan (29th and Broadway) just turns everything on its head. I highly recommend a little visit and look around.
  • Bought shampoo
  • Later on I bought soap.
  • Phonecalls with Kat, Collin, Jeff, and Andy.
  • Got street meat from that excellent cart at 6th Ave and 4th street.
  • Noticed a house Mark Twain had lived in.
  • Looked up art shows that weren't happening yet while I was at the Soho Apple Store.
  • Saw Jason Schwartzman at the Acne store (that's jeans, Mom and Dad) in Soho. He told his lady friend she'd look good in a certain sweater and then took a seat on the couch and started reading a photography book.
  • Took approximately 4 pictures.
  • Thought of a great new fry sauce (kewpie mayo + rooster sauce)
  • Watched a homeless looking woman lose $100 on a shell game in Battery Park (that still happens? they still have those games?)
  • Ran into my last downtown bishop on my way to the subway, got a good tip on some job networking I could do.
While I know there are longer walks to take (Patricia did that thing where they walk the whole way around the whole island, for example) this was probably definitely the longest walk I ever took in the city. It left me in quite the good mood. I guess I should take a 10 mile walk every morning to start my days off right.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Best There Was a Party!

It's been so long, hasn't it? Since there was a party? Seems like it, at least.

The party? Carol and Steven's Combined Birthday. The Theme: Throwback Birthday Party! What is a Throwback Birthday Party? I am still not positive...but it seems to mean you dress up as a year from before. Most people came 80's or 70's, I think that was the main idea...I came wearing what I did in 1996. Get it? Get it?

Steven, the birthday boy (the one in the tank top, but you knew that).

And from here on out its amigo after amigo (for example: Chaunte, Chris, Suvi)

And the throwback treats

And the dancing

Coincidental matching outfits.

80s Rock Stars

Dancers dancers dancers

Nothing at all creepy about that mustache, Amber.

80s ladies, I assume

Back in the day I used to hand my camera off to Collin and he'd paparazzi that parties real well. This seems like a great time for me to say that gave Audrey my camera to cover the party, she also did real well.

There's Jeff and his new camera, he's put it to work already on his blog. the's Reyn!

The 6'3"s (and whatever Jared is) raising the roof and running into a ceiling.

And back to the dancing.

And now we got Broek, Monica, and Claire up in this piece.

It's good to have Jared back in town, dancing a little, letting go a tad.

Just keeping it real into the late late dance time hours.

So thank you, Carol. Thank you, Steven. Thank you for having birthdays, thank you for being awesome, and thank you that there was a party.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Best I Saw that Alice Movie. Go See it if you Want.

I just got home from my free! advance screening (by three hours, I suppose) of Alice in Wonderland in IMAX! 3D. Now, it's been a while since I saw the old Alice in Wonderland and I don't think I've ever read the book but, and stop me if I'm wrong, the story of Alice in Wonderland isn't an action-adventure, right? It isn't a Lord of the Rings epic, correct? Because that's the direction Tim Burton takes this movie. Odd, odd, odd.

Anyway, this is definitely a 2 star movie, and only once did it make my skin crawl as much as that horrible Chocolate Factory movie. (the crawling occurred in the very last minutes of the film, it involved dancing, you'll know it when you see it). The movie was pretty much fine, enjoyable at times, confusing at others. Free was definitely a good deal.

Of course, I hated the 3D. Everything was so blurry and out of focus and sometimes I thought I saw them little squares that make up a non-HD tv. Do you know what I mean? At one point I honestly thought what we were seeing was what someone was watching on a video monitor (odd thing to be thinking, I know) but nope, that's just how the movie looked. The whole thing is dreary and the 3D doesn't help.

I did like the animal supported furniture throughout the Red Queen's castle, even if it was nearly too dark to notice the birds (or bats? it was so dark!) keeping up the chandelier.

But the highlight of the night? Probably that we got to see the new Tron movie trailer with it! It was cool, I was surprised that the audience wasn't cheering, I felt like cheering, but I also felt very "Wait, what was that?" Everything was a lot shinier and reflectiver than in the original. That's the main thing I took away. That and the Tron people, you could see their hair. The IMAX screen was too big and the 3D (again) too blurry for my brain to take it all in. I look forward to it popping up at apple soon.

Best Why So Quiet?

I just don't have much to blog about right now.

The only interesting thing to happen lately was this sandwich I made yesterday.

Homemade bulgogi, homemade pickles, leftover ginger scallion sauce on a baguette with plenty of kewpie mayonnaise mixed with rooster sauce.


I have tickets to an Advanced!(barely) screening of Alice in Wonderland tonight. Ehhh. I don't know if I even want to see it for free (which is the case here). Will they be playing the new Tron trailer with it? That'd get me to the IMAX theater.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Two Best Things to Do With So Much Beautiful Leftover Chicken

1) Step up your instant ramen game 200%

2) Give it to a deserving wayfaring man

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Best How Embarrassing!

Oh man, I put my white shirt in the wash with my jacket and look what happened!