Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Best It's Tuesday! Go and Get 'Em

This cat and my mom share the same name and the same favorite videogame. Unbelievable.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Best Midtown Dinner Partyin'

Soon there's going to be a post about how there has been so much partying lately and originally this post was going to follow that post but, guess what? Now this post comes first and, with luck, after the partying post will make a little more sense.

Saturday night there was a big awesome party when us five (Brigham, Emily, Eliza, Cristy, Tyson) had a little dinner at Ma Peche.

What's Ma Peche? It's the "new" Momofuku restaurant that opened in the basement of the Chambers hotel on 56th street. Back in December I ate from their limited mezzanine menu (food served in the hotel's lobby) but this was my first visit to the real dining room where Tien Ho, former head chef at the Ssam Bar, does some serious work.

See anything awesome, anything familiar in the background? And did you know that Tyson was my roommate in February of 2009? And that while he was my roommate he lived in the closet of the room I sublet? All true. But hey, look at that painting there in the background.

You will notice no food photos (but, if you're dying to know what anything looked like, I've linked to flickr photos when I could). I was just partying too hard and enjoying my eating too much to take any. But let me tell you: This dinner. Was spectacular. Completely exceded my expecations by many, many levels. Reviews generally have been positive but not impressive and I hadn't seen anything on the menu I was too stoked to try BUT whoah. Dinner came correct, definitely one of my best Momofuku dining experiences.

We Ate:

Heirloom Tomatoes with Watermelon, Yuba, and Basil
Summer Rolls of Pork and Shrimp with Lettuce, Daikon, and Peanut
Pork Ribs with Thai Basil in a Lemongrass Caramel sauce I had heard these were good but there's hearing and then there's tasting and then there's me trying to tell you that these are gooood.
Striped Bass with Shrimp, Sweet Potato, Coconut Good, but the dish least fit for sharing between five.
Steak Frites a beautiful 12oz piece of meat served with 'rice fries', this was a winner. I'd never been head over heels for a Momofuku steak dish (that I didn't cook myself) until this one. This and the ribs are your can't miss must tries.
Corn with Lardo, Scallion, and Chili
Fairytale Eggplant with Chili Vinaigrette, Raisin, Mint Wonderful. My favorite of the vegetables. Never thought I'd say that about Eggplant, but then again, Tien Ho taught me to love Brussels sprouts. He's conquering the world one underappreciated vegetable at a time.

Looking back and thinking it over, what Ma Peche really had going for it was that every dish came served in or with a different magical sauce component of the sort that leaves you wondering what you can sop it up with, if spooning would just be acceptable, and shooing the server away when they try to side a dish that the naked eye would consider "finished."

Also of note? Surprisingly reasonably price, final damage was $30 each with tax and tip (actually less, but who pays $27.85 when you could plop down two twenties and fight over for the one ten on the table?)

Dessert? There's a Milk Bar upstairs and the Marshmallow/Corn Flake/Chocolate Chip cookie is back. At last.

While we dined two different parties enjoyed Ma Peche's Beef 7 Ways meatfeast. Before I was content with the idea of never trying it. Now that I've had people digging into it right beside me, now that I have smelled it, a need has emerged. Learn About It Here. If it seems like the sort of thing you'd be into, holler at me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Best Hey! Have a Great Weekend!

Or should I say, Have a Hoppy Friday?

Your right. I should not say.

I don't understand why the crowds aren't bigger.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Best Have You Seen This?!

Guess what happens:

Don't worry.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Best I Did Not Knock this Door

Welcome back to briggie.blogspot.com. This is a design blog once more and this is the Nautilus House:

The internet says it's in Naucalpan, Edo. de Mexico, just outside Mexico City. "Naucalpan" is another way of saying "my first area on my mission", but I remember the houses looking more like this:

Or, if they were de lujo, like this:

But I digress. Really what you should do is learn more about the amazing Nautilus House.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Best Effort in the Kitchen

Friday night I put in some time trying out a recipe I've been curious about for a long time, the roasted asparagus w/ miso butter from the Momofuku Noodle Bar. Here's the recipe I used, it's also available (in a slightly different form) in the cookbook.

A tray of asparagus about to go into the oven. Drizzled with olive oil and seasoned, perhaps a tad too liberally, with salt and pepper.

Two tbs of butter, two tbs of white miso paste.

The finished product, topped with a totally botched poached egg. I wound up replating a few times and eating the whole bunch of asparagus (I had nearly a pound!) The miso butter is spectacularly delicious, it just treats you so right, but next time I'll go easier on the pre-oven salting of my asparagus. And next time I'll poach my egg right and not have to be so embarrassed by it.

Also, as a side . . . or the main course, maybe? Some ground pork and rice cakes with Chinese broccoli. A very fast approximation (or weak immitation) of my beloved spicy rice cakes. This also was a bit salty. Good job, me.

Roasted corn tossed in miso butter? Your time is at hand.


Mitch has begun a Momofuku experiment, to master the cookbook and then vegetarianize it ALL while living in England! (which, to me, suggests an added degree of difficulty) Check it out!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Best Work of Someone Else

It's hard updating a blog everyday with the content you fine people deserve.

But Hey! Look at this great picture I found:

It could be your next T-shirt!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Best Double Preview in Full Effect

Released really recently: an in-line advertisement for Star Tours II that you'll be watching as you wait to ride Star Tours II.

Do you know what I think it all means, these three different destinations? That the ride will offer different routes, different experiences. Perhaps selected by the riders? Hopefully so, but don't everyone always vote for Bespin, I want to eventually see Alderaan.

Wait, nevermind. Who would vote for Bespin?

Seeing this Star Tours II previewy thing I thought it might be time to share something with those of you who read the blog and don't just glance at the pictures.

When I made my Disneyland post so many months ago I wrote: "If you've seen any of my previous Disney posts, you know they can get verbose. Where are all the words in this post? Trust me . . . some words are coming. Not today, not tomorrow, but someday, there will be words." Anyway, that wasn't a lie. Someday there will be words about that trip, and there will be a lot of them . . . far too many, in fact. I've been working on the post since the middle of June. Presently it is 8000 words long and so, so far from being done.

But today seems like a good day to post an excerpt. Here is the just about finished Star Tours portion of the post:

Aside from jealousy and curiosity, I had one more reason for coming on the Disney trip.

I needed to ride Star Tours.

When Star Tours opened in 1987, it was born into Star Wars-starved world. We were four years (might as well have been forty years) out from Jedi without prequels even whispered of, without Kenner toys on shelves, without new Ewok Adventure films, without anything. Star Tours was the first and only fresh taste or evidence of the viability of Star Wars in the universe and it was welcomed and revered like a gift from Mt. Olympus. From Chicago I fixated on news of the ride’s opening, where the park stayed open for sixty hours straight just to meet demand for this ride and fantasized about what dreams it could hold.

On my first Disneyland visit in the Star Tours era I waited twice in lines of the hour and a half/two hour variety—first with my family, then the second time on my own. I was a ten year old chicken who refused to ride roller coasters and was too shy to buy his own comic books but Star Wars enters the equation and suddenly I’m willing to spend two hours in the company of total strangers for another go at a thrill-ride. My first ride was a revelation . . . the hour and a half wait was just about how much time I needed to take in everything there was to see while in the line: a simulated Star Tours spaceport with C3P0 and R2D2 bickering in the first room and a couple of droids making conversation in the next room; then the ride itself was a transcendental, transporting experience for my dweebish heart. To be placed in the midst of the Star Wars universe, to charge through this galaxy so far, far away . . . it was more than tens of thousands of people just like me could ever ask for.

Nearly as thrilling as the subject of the ride was its nature. It was a simulator ride, and at the end of the 80’s, simulator rides were emerging as the obvious direction for the thrillrides of the future and Star Tours exemplified this new technology at its early height. To think that all our shaking, diving, zooming, halting, twisting and turning was happening with our Star Speeder 3000 remaining in the same place . . . this step towards the future was intrinsically exciting no matter what was on the screen. And with the contemplation of the nature of the simulator ride came the realization: If this ride has no track, if it is just a film plus motion, then . . . couldn’t the film be changed? And the ride reprogrammed? Couldn’t Star Tours be updated to feature new adventures? Like every year or two? It was a topic deserving of the enthusiastic lunchroom conversations dedicated to it.

Time passed, and Star Wars returned to the world. The original trilogy was updated and rereleased in 1997, then the prequels began coming out in 1999. Star Wars novels filled Waldenbooks around the country, disappointing Star Wars videogames began to be released regularly, and toy stores became rotten with more versions of Star Wars toys than I could have ever dreamed of in my prime toy-buying years. And while all this was happening, Star Tours and the simulator ride phenomenon began to feel a little dated and then, not much later, very dated. This attraction that once attracted throngs now sat at the gates of Tomorrowland as unpopular as the Journey Thru Innerspace ride it had replaced. Anyone curious about this pre-Phantom Menace era attraction could walk right on, as I did until I lost interest completely. The last time I rode it, in 2001 or maybe 1998, the ride was definitely looking like Disney hadn’t been keeping up on their famous upkeep with it—video monitors were burnt out, everything looked like it could use a new coat of paint, castmembers seemed especially bored. And the ride itself came across as not particularly thrilling. I just felt like my chair was being leaned forward sometimes and leaned backwards other times . . . as that was what was happening, afterall. It left me with no need to return, no compulsion to run right back in line for a second ride.

But in 2009 the news we were expecting around 1989 but may have given up on around 1999 was finally announced: Star Tours was getting its update. Not just with a new trip, but a trip that would be displayed in high definition 3D along with an overhaul of the speeders and the venue. Star Tours as I had known it would cease to exist on July 27th and I could feel in my guts that I would regret not having at it one more time before then. When I heard of my family’s impending Disney trip, I recognized an opportunity that needed jumping at.

Cory and Blake were the only other members of the group interested in taking a ride (Mom still vulnerable to terrible dizziness from these sorts of things, the rest of the girls apparently not terrible enthused by the notion of a Star Wars ride) and, although I expected a crowd of other sentimental visitors making their farewell visits, we slipped into the near empty ride building with only a handful of other guests. We cruised through the line almost too quickly for me to snap a picture of 3P0 and R2 in the first room and weren't held up until the end of the second room by the simple matter of "the-line-cannot–go-anywhere-if-all-the-speeders-are-in-use." While Blake took it all in with the proper wide-eyedness it deserved but I could no longer give it, Cory remarked to me about how much the talking droids in there looked like Johnny Five from Short Circuit, and I agreed, because they did. The woman in front of us, a member of my age group turned, around and asked, “Oh my gawwd, do you remember this thing when it opened? The lines were soooo long and now there’s nobody in here. This used to be so cool!” I agreed with her and told her I had just been thinking the exact same thing, because I had.

Approaching the ride I had been deeply curious about what the experience would hold but possessed little genuine hope of being entertained or—if it were even possible—impressed. Honestly, I think I expected to feel a little embarrassed by it. The night before, amongst my California friends, we spoke of Star Tours like a worn-out old pet. Not as fun as it used to be and a little depressing to have around, but all those loveable memories of the early years! But when we were brought to stand before the doors that would soon open to our Star Speeder, I realized something was happening. They play this safety video on the monitors above you while you’re waiting to go featuring Star Wars aliens along with normal Disney visitors sitting down on the ride and fastening their seatbelts, being reminded not to take flash photos or smoke—and it was doing it for me. The light Star Wars humor was doing it for me, I was pleasantly tickled by it all. And then I realized something: I was excited. I was so, so excited for Star Tours. When the doors finally swung open, we took seats in the very front of the ride and I couldn't believe it but I caught myself thinking to myself "Sweet! Front row!" I watched Cory make sure Blake was buckled in. He moved his be-spectacled head about, looking at this, looking at that, his mouth a little agape as it ought to be. I took a picture. I took pictures of everything. I focused my camera on where the view screen would be so I could take pictures during the ride. I had leapt into full geek-uncle mode.

The castmember that had boarded us consulted the onboard safety panel to make sure all seatbelts were fastened then shut the doors. On a video screen our robot pilot, Captain Rex (on his first day of duty as it always was these last 23 years) greeted us before lowering the blast shield in front to reveal his physical form and the front viewport (movie screen) through which we would watch our adventure. At the moment the view was of the hangar of wherever it is that Star Tours depart from, and we begin our trip to Endor with a sudden wrong turn that plummets us down a shaftway before straightening out and heading into space and making the jump to hyperspace. Right into a field of comets, as usual. And then we fly right into a Rebel/Imperial entanglement. Which leads to a Death Star trench run. It is a four minute voyage of wrong turns that always lead right into danger. Death Star dispatched (just like that!) we make a final jump to lightspeed and come out just in time to arrive at . . . I cannot say where, actually. It isn’t clear if we actually make it to Endor or return to where we started, because you land in this hanger (nearly crashing into a fuel truck) without getting a glimpse of where you are or without being welcomed to Endor or anything. Rex raises the blast shield, bids us adieu, and the Star Wars end credit theme swells as exit doors swing open.

I cannot account for my bouts of extreme Disney nostalgia, but I rode the whole thing in churchly silence, grinning from mouse ear to mouse ear, and struggling with an asteroid-sized lump in my throat. Was it Star Wars? Or was it that I might as well have been riding beside my ten year old self? The past isn’t so far away, memories of feelings pierced right through the twenty three-year gap, and I accepted the adventure. So much. I do want to go on a trench run, I do want to fight with the Rebel Alliance. I do. I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father. I do. Cory and Blake lead the way out of the ride and down into Tomorrowland’s massive primary gift shop while I dabbed conscientiously at the corners of my eyes. No one, no one could see me choked up over Star Tours. In a post-hyperspace daze I tried to make sense of statuettes of Chewbacca with Goofy’s face, Lego playsets without number, Yoda knapsacks, and make your own Light Saber stations, wondering what sort of Wonderland I had stumbled into.

I'm hoping to have the whole Disneyland post finished by the middle of September. We'll see.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Best the Second Time Was Charming

Friday night I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World again (after having seen a sneak preview a few weeks ago) and this time I managed to just be chill, not compare it to the comics, and enjoy myself. Thoroughly. I don't think it's for everyone, but for those it is for it is a fine, fine piece of entertainment.

Here is an adaptation of a flashback to Scott in High School that occurs in Volume 2 of the comic book series that inspired the film.

Really what would be great is if there was a animated series adaptation of all 6 volumes of the series. Because there's so much good stuff that had to be left out of the movie.

The Awl had this good commentary on the ways the movie comes up short of the comic, but it's not so much about scenes left out, but, like, certain heart and soul, character development stuff:

Scott Pilgrim vs. Itself

And I don't post that link to detract from the film, but to attract attention to the finer points of the series. And because I read it and found it to be true.

Armond White at the NY Press is known for being a tough critic, but to everyone's surprise, he loved Scott Pilgrim (and uses it as an opportunity to further put down Quentin Tarantino).

And lastly, I am surprised to see this news on the internet that the movie isn't doing very well at the box office as 1. Everyone I know has seen it or wants to see it and 2. I got to the movie 40 minutes early (that wasn't exactly the plan, it was just a quicker walk over from dinner than expected) and there were SO many people ahead of us in line, all the good seats were gone before we got in the theater. Oh well, I'll probably see it again. And maybe word of mouth will turn it into the next Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Best New Supplement in Ages

It's been a while, nearly a month, but a new Photo Supplement post is up.

And I updated my dad's birthday post down below, so scroll a little and check it out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Best Memories I Can Remember!

It's my Dad's birthday! I would like to wish him a happy birthday by recalling favorite memories from the 33 years of his life that I've known him.

Here we go!

1977: Yeah . . . memories from this year are a little scarce, but I've seen photos. It looked fun.
1978: I remember Dad was underneath the car (working on it), I wondered what he was doing under there.
1979: Well, I remember Dad was NOT on the trip I took to Texas with Mom, Kristen, and Grandpa . . . absent presence, does that count?
1980: I remember my parents taking me to Empire Strikes Back, that was pretty great.
1981: I believe this was the year Dad took me to see the re-release of Star Wars at the movie theater down the street from our house as a reward for having given a talk in Primary. Don't remember the movie so much as I remember the walk home, talking about our favorite parts.
1982: If I dug deeper, I might be able to remember something besides sitting by my dad during Tron. But that's a good one.
1983: About this time, or maybe the year before, my dad starts taking me outside once a year to see if I'm big enough to start the lawn mower on my own. He was so eager to instill a good work ethic in me!
1984: Olympic Fever! While watching the Opening Ceremonies on TV (even though we could see the balloon launch and fireworks from our backyard . . . is that even possible?) we went out back and the men in attendance had a Long Jump competition. If you weren't in Los Angeles in 1984, you just don't understand Olympic Fever the way we had it.
1985: I was going to Christian School and they were always asking us if we had Asked Jesus into Our Hearts, and if we hadn't, telling us to do it. I didn't understand what this meant, so I didn't do it. I asked my Dad about it, he told me there were religions that thought all you had to do to get to heaven was ask Jesus to come into your heart, that they didn't even think you needed to be baptized. Didn't need to be baptized?! That sounded crazy to me. I was coming up on 8, I knew how important baptism was.
1986: Mom got appendicitis while she was pregnant and was in the hospital for a while, eventually coming home with Owen. It was a scary time, but I remember eventually being more afraid of being drilled on my multiplication tables on the way home from visits to the hospital than worried for my mother's wellbeing. So thanks for getting my mind off that, I suppose.
1987: By 1987 Dad was taking a lot of bike trips with me to the 7/11 or Rick's so I could buy comic books.
1988: When I beat Goonies II, Dad came down from bed to watch the big ending sequence . . . and I definitely beat it after 10 o'clock, so this was a very generous and caring act.
1989: I'm proud that my dad didn't hurl a log and then an axe at two of the scouts when we were at camp that summer. I'm just sayin'.
1990: Around this time I was really, really into Dungeons and Dragons. Once our hometeacher said "Isn't that for devil worshipers?" and my dad laughed at him in a very dismissive way. I really appreciated that.
1991: My Dad stayed home from work for a few days to rest and recover from an operation. It's the only staycation I ever remember him having and he really made the most of it, buying little cheap model airplanes and firing off those water-propelled rockets and stuff. It was great, I hadn't played so much with my dad since 1981.
1992: No one in my family seems to be able to remember exactly what year it was when my dad was a guest on the Jerry Springer show so I'm going to say it was in 1992 until someone remembers better.
1993: Mom makes me and dad come home from our only ever family vacation in Hawaii early . . . well, she doesn't "make" us, it was always the plan. To get everyone back, we drive out to Addison and go to Fuddruckers. I believe a lot of this driving may have been done by me, in his SHO, on the expressway. And epic afternoon.
1994: In, 1994, my dad took me to see Cabin Boy because we both thought it looked funny. How many sons can say that? AND in 1994 Dad plays a huge Christmas trick on me when he gives me my Powerbook after having fooled me into thinking I had just had the worst Christmas possible. I came inside from taking out the trash, about to announce that I was seceeding from the family and there it was, the most wonderful thing I ever would own. He even got a drawing/painting program for it.
1995: I got my dad a gas station worker's shirt with a "Randy" name tag sewn into it, he seemed awful tickled by it and would wear it to my swim meets.
1996: I appreciated dependable weekly letters from my dad while on my mission, this was before email, so a real effort was involved.
1997: My Dad always says he couldn't believe how old his dad looked when he came home from his mission, but I couldn't believe how young mine looked when I got back. It was like everyone was working out and resting up while I was gone!
1998: Dad tells me he thinks I should apply for London study abroad, which I didn't realize was even an option (I do it and it is the best).
1999: We all drove out to Utah that summer for vacation/heading back to school. Dad and I rode out in my car, he tried to teach me about opera by playing me some of his favorites and did a whole lot of the driving.
2000: A day or two after coming leaving school to be sick again Dad took me to see the opera of the Great Gatsby and it was a nice break from some heavy times.
2001: Here's an absolute favorite--I was in the hospital for a long, miserable time and would take really long showers in the evening, I'd just sit on my shower bench and soak and it felt so good but the shower was mechanically prevented from getting too hot so one day Dad snuck in some wrenches and stuff and we tried to "fix" (break) the shower so it could get real hot. Didn't fully succeed, but it was a real great Father/Son activity
2002: I believe it was 2002 that I started getting my Dad James Joyce books for his birthday and he actually read them and had plenty to say about them. I enjoyed my dad's active participation in my English Degree, at times it seemed he was reading more of my syllabus than I was.
2003: Dad gets me my Grumpy Sweatshirt for Christmas. He was so excited, I could hear him showing it off in the kitchen the day before but didn't know what it was.
2004: Dad took me to the Met for the first time on my birthday. Later that year he'd take me to see Tales of Hoffman, the first opera that I definitely liked from start to finish.
2005: This is the year I became so proud of my dad for finally buying himself a real Doctor's car, a car my mom was, in her own words, "hysterically opposed" to him buying.
2006: Now here's a great memory: Our fist dinner at Peter Luger's with Mom and Owen, too.
2007: Dad brings Grandma with him to New York for a visit, one of the most daring things I've ever seen him do. It was a great adventure and we even got to go to the rotating restaurant on top of the Marriott Marquis for ginger ales after we saw the Drowsy Chaperone.
2008: At Grandma's Surprise 80th Birthday Party Dad shows me his trick for remembering which side of the plate your drink goes on and which side the bread plate goes on.
2009: On November 2nd, 2009 I received my first text message from my father, bragging that he had just purchased an iPhone. I was so proud.
2010: I'll tell you next year! I've got high hopes for Columbus Day weekend!

All right, there's the list. Happy Birthday, Dad.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Best And This is All I Have to Show for It

There was a Thai feast at Jeff's last night, a Thai feast where all hands chipped in and worked hard in that kitchen, but this picture from post-dessert is the only one I've got. Because the rest of the time my hands were too busy with the beef waterfall, the panang curry, the pad see yew, the spring rolls, and the mango sticky rice. Basically it was Thanksgiving on a Monday with a whole pack of grandmas working hard in the kitchen.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Best I Read This. It Was About Rock n Roll.

When I learned of the existence of "We Never Learn: The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988 - 2001", I ordered it immediately and started reading Against the Day with extra fervor because I was so excited to get at this thing.

Authored by Eric Davidson, frontman of the New Bomb Turks, it's a history of the low-fi garage rock resurgence of the late-80s to late-mid-90s . . . no, I'm not talking about the Hives, the Strokes, and the White Stripes, I'm talking about their predecessors, bands like the Gories, the Oblivians, the Mummies, the Devil Dogs, the previously-mentioned New Bomb Turks, Thee Headcoats/Thee Mighty Caesars, Teengenerate, Guitar Wolf, etc. etc. etc., bands that never had any fame ever. These were bands I got turned onto at the beginning of college and while they're all now pretty much defunct, I remain loyal to and still-amazed by my favorites of the bunch.

The book was good, Davidson tells the story of just about every band, label, and scene-figure of the era . . . looking back, the book is a lot more like an encyclopedia without headings than a narrative of the era and I read most closely when bands I was interested in came up (I found the section on the Japanese bands [such as Teengenerate and Guitar Wolf] particularly interesting) and sometimes almost skimmed the book when bands and people I had never heard of or didn't care to much about were under examination. I dug all the details but was expecting a little more rock-historian pontificating bringing the whole thing together, I would have liked some thesis statements and stuff. But that wasn't Davidson's game and I'm down with that. It was interesting to read stories that I had heard about these bands via word of mouth back in the day, there was no internet for the spreading of these tales, so they all seemed awful tall but seeing them in black and white, now I guess they're true.

For me the most interesting parts of the book was learning more about how none of these bands made it big/were included in the Hives/Strokes/White Stripes explosion. The Hives are actually given a fair shake in the book and treated like late comers to the scene, I hypothesis I can accept and there's some good dirt on how the White Stripes made famous instead of fading like the rest of these bands (a fate they were good candidates for). Also, any book with a lengthy Billy Childish interview is going to keep my interest in a pretty tight grip.

Footnote: The New Bomb Turks opened for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones at my first-ever concert but the Bosstones (appropriately) weren't mentioned in the book anywhere. My friends and I, we weren't particularly impressed by their set (we didn't know better, I guess . . . but I remember it being kind of lousy) and when I got to college I was surprised to find the New Bomb Turks cool with the people who's taste I trusted (meaning: Shane Holmes, who introduced me to all this stuff) and after getting my hands on their first record, !!Destroy Oh-Boy!!, I wished for a redo on that concert.

And Footnote #2: For a book with a title claiming a time range right on the cover, there sure is a lot of pre-1988 going on here.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Only the Best for Me

When buying pork, always make sure it's Certified Premium Beef.

(Maybe click to see the sticker bigger?)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Best Throwback Saturday

Saturday evening all these old rock bands were playing at Lincoln Center, outside, for free. Pretty hard to pass that up (I didn't pass it up).

The first band was DEATH, a pre-punk trio of African American gentlemen who were active from 1971 to 1976.

This was them back in the day:

This is them at Lincoln Center. Lots of dreads. What you can't see is the drummer was wearing a red bowler and sequin tie. Also what you can't see: Just about anything. I'm sorry.

After Death, the band that got me down to this thing: the Gories, a shakin' and stompin' budget r&b garage band active from the late eighties to mid-nineties that I got into in college.

Back in the day:

And right now:

Remember my problem with kids at the Wavves show? I did not have this problem Saturday night. The bands were pretty good, but nothing got out of hand. Everything stayed age appropriate and kind of goofy? As I said to Jeff and Steven, "This is like the rock concert equivalent of a stake mid-singles activity."

The last band that we saw? "? and the Mysterians" the 1960's garage rockers famous for their hit, "96 Tears."

Back in the day:

Up in Lincoln Center:

The question on our minds: "What will the band with a hit from the 60s everyone wants to hear play besides the hit?" The answer: Covers of other hits. Wise. But the question that should have been on our minds: "What will ? wear?" The answer: More Prince-than-Prince rock n roll ladyclothes. Of course.

(Just how you imagined, Kat? Circle One: Yes/No)

All in all, how to evaluate this night of free influential rock? Steven here embodies the feeling: my heart smiled slightly and stood with its arms folded in approval.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Best Wait, I Forgot . . .

One thing that was great about the Wavves show was during their last song when they just shredded into oblivion and the singer/guitarist bro dove into the audience with his guitar and then all the other bros who had come up onto stage stagedove ontop of him in one big stagediving pile up. When the singer/guitarist bro was back on stage the bassist was lying on his back, holding his flying-v bass up in the air, kicking it, so singer/guitarist bro went over and poured his beer all over him. In these moments the obnoxiousness worked for me. Maybe it was because I had wisely finally retreated to the rear of the club?

Best I am an Old Grouch

Preface: I'm not the #1 Wavves fan in the whole world, they've just been coming up a lot lately, and this is a blog about what comes up a lot in my land.

I had heard/read that Wavves concerts were often disastrous meltdowns, so I avoided them last year. But now that they've put out a focused album of tighter music, I thought perhaps they now maybe their concerts had gotten more serious, too?

Well, this is what I think about the show:

I hate kids.

The music was good, the music was loud (and the show only $13, which I thought was nice of them), but I hate kids.

"Don't you mean you hate hipsters?"

No, what I hate are kids and their texting and their tweeting and their moshpits (seriously?) and their stage diving (no, Seriously?!) and their thinking Wavves are being sued for calling a song Mickey Mouse when they're in trouble for stealing the Da Doo Run Run Sample. They all need haircuts and should be focusing more on their studies and not on being the most obnoxious creatures ever born.

(But I don't hate kids nearly as much as I hate the MTA . . . nearly two hours to get home from the Lower East Side on a Monday night? Are you people serious? How much more money would you like me to pay you just to perform the service for which you were created?)

However, I'd like to commend openers Smith Westerns for being fine young men who could play good songs on their instruments and not act like total jokers.

Good thing we had Popeyes before the show. Love those chickens and biscuits. So much.

I think I'm going to switch to liking No Age more than Wavves because maybe their shows attract an older crowd? OR maybe I just shouldn't go to concerts within walking distance of NYU?

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Best Not Hatin' of the Week PLUS Important Significant Late Breaking News

Listen, we know we can't judge a book by its cover. And we know records aren't books. (and we also know that mp3s aren't records) BUT good news, Best Coast's Crazy for You is as great as its cover.

What a cover.

Just look at that kitty.

Okay, now let's talk about this great record.

Well, first of all this record is great. 16 tracks of melodic female juvenile delinquent low-fi surf rock guitar pop, when looking for contemporaries, it's not too distantly related to the new Wavves record or a good part of Surfer Blood's Astro Coast (a record 80% as great as its album cover, btw) . . . listen, I barely understand what this bro-friendly genre of music called "chillwave" is exactly, but I think Best Coast is the first girl-lead chillwave group? But when looking for influences from the past, well, there are hints of everything good that ever was. Whoah. Wait. Sorry, that sentence was over the top. It's just that I'm listening to the record right now, to this song called The End and I'm suffering from a jangly girlgroup sound overdose. Here, listen. Please, have some sense and listen:

Now imagine 15 more songs like that one, but not exactly like that one, which are usually about sad things (mostly the feeling of missing) but won't make you feel bad because they've got lyrics like: "I lost my job/I miss my mom/I wish my cat could talk" (from Goodbye).

Here are times when it would be good to listen to this record: in the subway, on a walk, perhaps on a jog, definitely during a car ride, when alone, when in a group, while showering, while eating Mexican food (definitely), while eating noodles, oddly . . . right now I can't imagine eating a burger or pizza to it, at the beach (duh), in the evening and also around 9:00 am. These are just suggestions, you are welcome to think of your own times to listen to it.

And here's one more thing, a major thing: listening to this record it sounded so familiar . . . not just because I heard so many great musical influences coming through, there was something about the singer's voice. Something about that voice plus the music. Something that reminded me of driving my mom's minivan in High School. To this one girls' swim meet. And then it struck me: Best Coast sounds SO MUCH like the Muffs! From the 90s? You know. And after that clicked in my brain, holy smokes, I stopped hearing a garage rock record and started hearing a 90s record . . . a 90s garage record, perhaps, but. Whoah. This is like when I realized that Santogold's LES Artistes sounded just like a Tegan and Sara song and now I can only think of Tegan and Sara when I hear Santogold . . . except that's a connection that took me months to make, the Muffsmalarities came to me in under a day. It's almost all in Bethany Cosentino's (see, I just googled the name of the singer/brains of the outfit) voice . . . not as coarse or aggravated as the Muff's lady (oh, that would be Kim Shattuck, thanks wikipedia . . . but probably if I thought hard I'd have remembered her name was Kim) but there is this touch of brattiness there and that's where it all starts coming together and if you think about it long enough, as I did, you may only hear a Muffs record. A really great Muffs record from 2010.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Just found out that the name of the cat on the cover is Snacks AND Snacks was the model cat for King of the Beach. Whoah.


The Suburbs. The new Arcade Fire album. What do I think?

After one listen I remember nothing except there was a song called "Rococo" where they sing "Rococo Rococo" over and over. And that there was a song that sounded like a dance jam (these could have been the same song . . . I remember nothing).

I will return to the Suburbs again, but for now, this thing definitely doesn't grip onto you from the start like their other records (first record especially, duh).

Monday, August 02, 2010

Best Victory at Last, 2010 Edition

Today is Sunday, August 1st--but you'll be reading this on Monday, August 2nd. I just finished reading Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day for the second time. I started reading it on June 10th. I had estimated it was going to take me ten weeks to read it but I finished in just about 7 because I managed to read over 500 pages these last two weeks. The edition I read this time (a lovely softcover my parents picked up for me while in London) was 1220 pages. Let's just acknowledge that that's a lot of book.

When I finished Against the Day the first time in 2008 I liked it, but wondered if the reading had been worthwhile or if I had just invested a lot of time in a book that was just going to be remembered as that one big book Pynchon wrote late in his career while all Pynchon eyes remain still on Gravity's Rainbow, like whatever Tom Woolfe might write next (if he does) being compared to Bonfire of the Vanities.

But here's the thing: after finishing Against the Day the first time, I found myself missing it. I missed the characters, I missed the stories, I missed, of all things, the weight of carrying it around with me everywhere I went. And since then I've read Gravity's Rainbow which, eh, I definitely didn't like nearly as much as Against the Day. It got me to honestly wonder if, had Against the Day come out in 1973 instead, would it be regarded as highly as GR? Perhaps I blaspheme, but I don't see why not.

So wheels were turning in my brain and a spot in my reading itinerary was made and I took to Against the Day again.

Reading this book a second time, I think I felt what people that love Harry Potter feel when they read Harry Potter. Constant fascination with the inventiveness and cleverness on display, total satisfaction with the tale being drawn out before me. It's still hard for me to say what Against the Day is about, but this time I caught the drift of a lot more going on in this book than the first time. There's a primary story being told, a story sort of having to do with the sons of anarchist Webb Traverse as they journey to avenge the death of their father . . . but that, at best, should be considered the tree from which a thousand story branches grow and you find yourself spending a lot of time out on the end of the longest of its limbs as well as deep down in the dirt at the tips of the roots. There is also a lot happening in this book that you're not being told, a lot of mysterious, other-worldly stuff going on between paragraphs that occasionally pokes through here and there into the text.

What in the world am I talking about? First of all, I'm flattered you're still reading.

For example: a lot of the story has to do with this band of young airmen called the Chums of Chance. On this second reading I began to suspect, to believe that the Chums were actually fictional characters within the world of Against the Day and that their adventures, when related, were occurring in a separate reality from the reality of the book. But at times the Chums definitely interracted in the real life of the book with characters from the real life of the book . . . what accounts for this intersection of the fictional and the real in this fictional but real world? That's the mystery I'll apply myself to more closely on the third reading.

Something else I was struck with again by the book is the economy of Pynchon's prose, so much can happen in one page of this book, one paragraph--Pynchon knows how to succinctly and artfully express his ideas in as little space as possible, allowing the reader's imagination to fill in the missing details. And, even with a book full of eccentric characters and details, he knows not to bog the reader down with too much detail that is just going to be ignored or forgotten by the reader and also everything is so adverb free, I always knew the tone of the conversations but never had to be instructed if Webb said something ruefully. The book might be 1220 pages, but if another author tried to tell this tale, it's not hard imagining it being seven times as long. And it's an absolutely unfair comparison but I was listening to, err, Eclipse at work the same time I was reading this book on the subway and the difference in the skill was just mind boggling (duh.) It was just about the best class I could have taken on How to Write/How not to Write. It was also enough to make me wonder what a teenage vampire story by this old fellow would be like. For one, it would be interesting. For two, the characters would have better names.

A final thing, unrelated to everything so far: When I was reading Infinite Jest it inspiring a lot of strangers who had read it to strike up conversations with me, usually people of my age on the subway or at restaurants. Against the Day found me in the occasional similar situation, but with longtime Pynchon fans about my Dad's age.

Additional Reading:
What I wrote the first time I read the book.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Best Wishes for the Happy Couple

(from the same episode that brought you "Dr. and Mrs. Dre Hall")