Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Round-Up: Wednesday, Dec. 30

Listen:
[mp3] : jj – 5 minuter med jj

[mp3] : jj – baby


List: USA Today has some interesting tidbits about US cities
Top Ten Literate Cities
1.
Seattle
2. Washington
3. Minneapolis
4. Pittsburgh
5. Atlanta
6. Portland, Ore.
7. St. Paul
8. Boston
9. Cincinnati
10. Denver
62. Los Angeles

"Cities where lots of people read also tend to feature a vibrant singles' scene, a study suggests. It finds that Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta boast high rankings both as "literate cities" and as places for single people to live."

Tend to offer the most active singles' scenes: Boston, Seattle, Washington, and Atlanta

Are safer: Minneapolis, Boston, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Cincinnati

Are more walkable: Seattle, Washington, D.C., Portland, Boston and Denver

Are healthier: Washington, D.C., and Denver


News: Statewide Trans Fat Ban Starts Friday (CA is the first state to do so)

Get High and Lucky: Join the Mile High Club in a Hot Air Balloon in Temecula

Learn: I'm starting to listen to university lectures as I do mindless projects courtesy of itunesU. Currently listening to UCLA's Psych 176 on intimate relationships. Tidbits: year #2 of marriage is the most common year to get divorced, divorce rate is even higher w/ remarriages,
and of course, the younger you are the more likely you are to get divorced

Eat
: Top New Restaurants of 2009 compiled by Eater LA

Q: Who are the top newcomers of 2009?

Jonathan Gold, LA Weekly: Tasting Kitchen, Mo-Chica, Bistro LQ, Mozza 2 Go, Church + State 2.0.

Lesley Bargar Suter, Los Angeles Magazine: Drago Centro, Mo Chica, Tavern, Bottega Louie, Wurstkuche...dare I say, the Lazy Ox?

Eric Alperin, mixologist, The Varnish: Duh, The Varnish (Totally kidding)... Copa D'Oro, Roger Room, Tarpit.

Jeff Miller, Thrillist: I think for all the excitement of Bouchon, I don't know anyone who's had a legendary meal there yet (and I was only there for the press opening night, when I was more floored by watching Larry King and Ludacris shake hands than any of the food.) The place I keep sending people back to is Mexico in West Hollywood -- I was shocked by how good and fresh the food there was, and there's no better place for some outdoor margarita drinking in LA. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention The Golden State: not only are Jason and Jim good friends, but their burger is second to none.

Cedd Moses, restaurant/bar owner: Rivera (food and cocktails) and Mo-Chica Peruvian.

Mark Peel, chef and restaurant owner, The Tar Pit: The Tar Pit, of course. Mozza to Go. Bouchon. Church & State.

Odell: Bouchon because it's Thomas Keller, The Varnish, The Tasting Kitchen, Umami, Ado, JTYH.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Round-Up: Thursday, Dec. 31

Watch: Great Mash-up of 2009 in Pop




Dine Out: Top 10 New Restaurants of the Decade in LA (Zagat)

Read: One of my favorite former professors, Amy Zegart, listing 5 observations about the Undie Bomber and the intelligence failure.

Anticipate: Weekly Entertainment Round-Up (My favorite feature on Absolutepunk.net)

List:
TOP SELLING ALBUMS OF THE DECADE IN THE U.S.:
1. The Beatles, 1 (11,499,000 copies sold)
2. *NSYNC, No Strings Attached (11,112,000)
3. Norah Jones, Come Away With Me (10,546,000)
4. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP (10,204,000)
5. Eminem, The Eminem Show (9,799,000)
6. Usher, Confessions (9,712,000)
7. Linkin Park, Hybrid Theory (9,663,000)
8. Creed, Human Clay (9,491,000)
9. Britney Spears, Oops! … I Did It Again (9,185,000)
10. Nelly, Country Grammar (8,461,000)

TOP SELLING SINGLES OF THE DECADE IN THE U.S.:
1. Flo Rida feat. T-Pain - “Low” (5,214,000)
2. Lady Gaga feat. Colby O’Donis - “Just Dance” (4,690,000)
3. Jason Mraz - “I’m Yours” (4,619,000)
4. Timbaland feat. OneRepublic - “Apologize” (4,439,000)
5. The Black Eyed Peas - “Boom Boom Pow” (4,349,000)
6. Soulja Boy Tell’em - “Crank That” (4,315,000)
7. Lady Gaga - “Poker Face” (4,200,000)
8. Coldplay - “Viva la Vida” (4,140,000)
9. Taylor Swift - “Love Story” (4,005,000)
10. Katy Perry - “Hot N Cold” (3,945,000)


Listen: Rufus Wainright - "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?"



Happy New Year and stay safe! Hope everyone gets a kiss at midnight.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Round-Up: Tuesday, Dec. 29

Read: Anthony Bourdain writes about "Foodie Nation" in NYT

Reminisce: The Decade in Music Genre Hype (Spoiler alert: the current trend is glo-fi)

Chart: Compare listening habits of New Yorkers vs. rest of world

Predict: 10 music-tech trends that will shape the next decade. I discussed most of these in the class I taught about the future of the music industry, and I think this list is pretty well done.

Listen:

Brendan Benson-A Whole Lot Better


Round-Up: Monday, Dec. 28

Listen: KiD CuDi rapping over Vampire Weekend's "Ottoman."









Vote: See picks for the best cup of coffee in Los Angeles, and vote for your favorite.

Read: First hand account of California medical marijuana dispensaries.

List: Best (and Worst) Movies of the Decade according to Metacritic

Laugh: Cosmetic surgery and Guide to Gift Givers and Carbon Credits webcomics

Watch: My favorite comedian Patton Oswalt


Watch: A full-set of The Mountain Goats, who in the past year has quickly made its way up my list of favorite musicians.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Round-Up: Thursday, Dec. 24

Drink: Free Coffee and Tea at Peet's Today!

Listen: Great list of the best cover songs of the decade. You will probably see a few of these resurface on my Best of 2009 music list in January. Includes youtube videos.

Watch: Top Music Videos of 2009

Read: Wondering What Festivus is all about?

Good memories watching Matt & Kim play at the Cooperage (like a coffee-shop) at UCLA a couple of years ago. They seemed like the happiest husband and wife in the world when they played.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Round-Up: Wednesday, Dec. 23

Listen: Bombadil - "Otto the Bear"


Read: NYT article on the psychology behind menus
They discuss the cons of putting dollar signs on menus, putting expensive decoy items near the top of menus to make other items seem more reasonable,and how to highlight more profitable dishes.
Most interesting part to me was the description of 4 types of diners: "The customers he calls “Entrees” do not want a lot of description, just the bottom line on what the dish is and how much it is going to cost. “Recipes,” on the other hand, ask many questions and want to know as much as they can about the ingredients. “Barbecues” share food and like chatty servers who wear name tags. “Desserts” are trendy people who want to order trendy things." - What type of diner are you? (I'm more of a "Recipes" diner these days)

Badass of the Week: "A 52-year old man walked into a Detroit diner with a five-inch knife stuck in his chest, ordered coffee and waited for the ambulance. [MSNBC]" (H/T Grub Street LA)

Laugh: Santa webcomic

Drink: Wine enthusiast lists 2006 Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir from Santa Maria's Cambria as #1 Wine of 2009. It's only $21 a bottle.

Watch: Everything is better with bacon on it. Knives up!

Political Science: 538 identifies the most valuable Democrat Congressman (warning, it's pretty wonky)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Round-Up: Tuesday, Dec. 22

Deal of the Day: Get $15 worth of food and drinks at Flake in Venice for $7. Yelp it. Buy it before midnight 12/22, use it by 3/23.

Eat: According to Bon Appetit, one of the 10 best dishes in the country under $10 is the Filipino Maharlika pork sausage with caramelized onions; $6.75; Wurstkuche, Los Angeles.

Read: The Economist takes a stand against Direct Democracy and ballot initiatives.

Cook: Black Bean Chili with Eggplant recipe

Listen: Telekinesis- "Coast of Carolina" - Saw them in D.C. last April when I was visiting my buddy Andrey.


Watch: Cheap but creative music video. "Dublin’s tallest building was turned into a giant light canvas during 24TH SEPT – 11TH OCT by Daft.ie. Video director Fionn Kidney encouraged enthusiasts to use their DV cameras to capture footage of the animating building from multiple angles throughout Dublin."

Monday, December 21, 2009

Round-Up: Monday, Dec. 21

Remember: Top One-Liners of the Decade

Read: What's in the health care bill?

Listen: Jarvis Cocker - "Leftovers." I just started listening to Jarvis, and I'm really digging the sound. I chose this song because many of the lyrics resonate with me (sadly).

Watch:

Laugh: Green Eggs and Ham webcomic

Chart: This chart is a depiction of the different factions of the American right. Courtesy of 538.com.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Round-Up: Friday, Dec. 18 Pt. 2

Play: Portraits of world leaders (most of them taken at UN General Assembly). Play with the interactive portfolio at the New Yorker.

Rumor: Google to buy Yelp?

Cook: Broccoli Quiche with Gruyère and Cheddar recipe

Laugh: Karma webcomic

Listen: Los Campesinos! - "These Are Listed Buildings" (from upcoming album Romance is Boring


Watch: Sweet video from a great band (mildly NSFW). Get the Yeasayer single from the band for here.

Round-Up: Friday, Dec. 18

Listen:


Download: Top free iPhone apps (I just downloaded a majority of these and have been testing them the past couple of days)

Read: Quick and dirty summary of arguments around the health care bill. 538 really is "politics done right." Not a bad primer if you haven't been following it too closely.

Relax: ABC7 News Story on Leisure World (OC, near my hometown) that are using the medical marijuana laws the way they were intended.

Laugh: 4 webcomics - Mexico, Tiger Woods, Slinky, Facebook Reconnect

Watch:

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Random Web Offerings

Eat: A $750 cupcake you can buy in Las Vegas.

Improve Your Computer Performance: Top 10 Tiny and Awesome Windows Utilities

Switch to Google Chrome: I've been using Google Chrome since it was first released and I still think its by far the best web browser. Google Chrome now supports extensions, see check out a list of the top 10 Google Chrome extensions.

Listen: NPR's The Year in Music, 2009

Exercise: Read about why you may be more likely to get sick when you are relaxing during the holidays and why exercise might be the key to not getting sick again this holiday.

Watch:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Evolution of the Hipster

Paste (one of my favorite publications) has a quick history of the evolution of the "hipster" during the 2000s. It's funny, but also a little scary because of how accurate it is. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Must Read on Health Care

I consider this article from the Economist's Democracy in America blog on our health care system required reading among my friends.

It is easy to get caught up in the politics and horse-trading of the current health care debate. Sometimes I force myself to take a step back and look at the big picture. The inclusion of the public option, covering the uninsured, federal funding of abortions... these are all important topics. But the most important issue in reforming our health care system is slowing the growth of health care expenditures. We spend too much in this country on health care (and the military). The public option and requiring or providing health insurance to all may be useful tools in reducing costs, but it is going to be necessary for our country to hold an honest and painful debate on end-of-life-care and our priorities. The current system is unsustainable.

"For one thing, it means that Medicare spent $50 billion last year to care for patients in the last two months of their lives. As "60 Minutes" pointed out on Sunday, "that's more than the budget of the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education." It means we give liver transplants to the terminally ill, defibrillators to those with untreatable cancer. It means we use lots of money and resources, as if we have an endless supply of both, in order to briefly delay the reaper, or avoid looking him in the eye."

"...We condemn 'rationing' as if we don't already do it."

"For example, instead of buying some of those defibrillators and paying for some of those transplants, we could computerise America's medical records. At this time, someone holding up a placard might accuse me of "killing grandma". In reality, though, my decision would save many more grandmas—a study found that between 2002 and 2004 nearly a quarter of Medicaid beneficiaries died due to safety incidents, many of which were likely preventable with better record keeping. But improving record keeping doesn't quite have the emotional appeal of caring for the elderly. So we give grandma her procedure, whatever it may be, while ignoring the fact that more money spent in one place means less money spent in another. Ignoring that every excessive procedure comes with a cost, in terms of the nation's overall health."


Bonus reading: Ebert's funny review of Twilight: New Moon

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Guiness in Orange County

Another reason to be proud of Orange County.
On Saturday afternoon, the Auld Dubliner in Tustin poured the world's tallest glass of Guinness. The stats: eight feet tall, 400 gallons (and 588,000 calories).



Source: OCW

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pop-Punk Week: The Dangerous Summer

"I'm an optimist but only in a perfect world."

Maryland-based The Dangerous Summer has been dominating more and more of my listening time at the gym. While Set Your Goals is still number one while I run, The Dangerous Summer has easily replaced Four Year Strong and Fireworks as my warm-up band.

While I find the compelling melodies and great drumming irresistable, this band makes the list of artists that have given me new hope into what pop-punk can achieve because of its lyrics. The lyrics are universal but at the same time feel so specific and personal. A couple people I've played Reach for the Sun have asked me, "Are you trying to tell me something?" It is one of those albums that feels like it was written just for me, but I know a lot of people feel exactly the same way.





"I spent my weekdays in my car and the weekends drinking hard enough for two.
I think I'll settle down one of these days, till I catch my breath.
I feel the weight of the world on my back but I'm not feeling sick to death.
Because I laid awake in bed and thought of better times.
I wrote down words inside my arm that say "I'll never walk alone" 'cause I get tired.
I know I'll have my friends in every way, so I caught my breath, and for the first time I found what I'm looking for.
I finally found out what I wanted to be so I picked up where I left" - Settle Down



"I'm an optimist but only in a perfect world.I think I'm too stained with all the negativity from all the people in my way. I took a trip down south;
I felt the sun on my face, and it made things ok for a second. I drew a picture of my problems when I was going insane, and I focused on the currents" - Weathered

Coffee, Jason Segel and the Swell Season

Came across this great comic explaining 15 things worth knowing about coffee.


A video combining my love for indie rock with Jason Segel. Segel came out to do an original song at the Swell Season show last night at the Wiltern. I wish I had gone. You may know Jason Segel from How I Met Your Mother, Freaks and Geeks, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. You may know the Swell Season from the musical Once.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pop-Punk Week: Set Your Goals

The second pop-punk band I'd like to feature is San Francisco's Set Your Goals. This band mixes equal parts pop-punk and hardcore, which is why this is the #1 band I listen to at the gym. Their sub-genre of pop-punk is sometimes labeled "happy hardcore" for its refreshing use of positive perspectives in its lyrics.

Set Your Goals showed lots of promise with their first Reset EP, blew me away with 2006's Mutiny!, and did not disappoint with this year's This Will Be the Death of Us. If you need something to get you pumped, throw on some Set Your Goals and you won't be disappointed. Two of my favorite songs that don't have videos: "The Fallen" and "The Few That Remain" (Hayley of Paramore rocks the guest vocals).

I have a shirt with the lyrics to this song. One of my favorite designs I own:







Set Your Goals - "Summer Jam"

SET YOUR GOALS | MySpace Video


Old school:


"I often wonder if I'll ever finish all I've started, and the answer i have found is NO.
No, I will never finish all that I have started because life is about doing, the process and not the result. Life is about doing whether you want to or not.
My life: a constant work in progress and I wouldn't have it any other way."

Captain EO!

I've never been a big Michael Jackson fan. I respect him as an artist, but I wasn't exactly caught up in the hysteria around his death (I guess I mean emotionally, since I was physically caught up in it since I was in Westwood during the commotion).

But, as one to always see the silver lining, I am excited that his death might bring one good thing: rumor has it that Captain EO might return to Disneyland. It was always my favorite attraction at Disneyland, and I was sad when it left. It was Michael doing what he does best, and with the help of George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, it was quite the accomplishment for something that was released the year I was born (1986).



Monday, November 16, 2009

Comedy Death-Ray Xmas Nativity Choir

Pop-Punk Week: You, Me, and Everyone We Know

Last month's Hip-Hop Week saw me highlight a handful of my favorite rappers and hip-hop artists. This week, I'd like to highlight another genre that I don't listen to frequently, but every once in awhile a band is so good that I just want to share.

Although pop-punk doesn't have a large presence in my daily listening habits, it used to dominate. I remember being in middle school and high school and blasting nothing but stuff like Blink-182, New Found Glory, Something Corporate, The Startling Line (note: the last 4 bands were all on Drive-thru records. So sad how far Drive-thru's star has fallen). Most pop-punk these days I just can't relate to and it sounds like it has all been done before. However, this week I'll explore some bands that just capture my ears and heart.

First-up: You, Me, and Everyone We Know. This unsigned band has self-released two EPs for free (legally download their latest uploaded by the band themselves here). They put on an amazing live show and the lead singer sounds great live.

The band has been compared to Say Anything, so it is only fitting that Max Bemis of Say Anything fell in love with the band and provided guest vocals at the end of "I Can Get Back Up."



Friday, November 13, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mental Health Break

Must watch video:



Also, I'd suggest checking out Weezer's AOL sessions. While Weezer hasn't really impressed me since Pinkerton (except for their live shows), these 5 videos are pretty fun:

1. "I'm Your Daddy" featuring Kenny G
2. "Can't Stop Partying" featuring Chamillionaire
3. "If You're Wondering If I Want You To (I Want You To)" featuring Sara Bareilles
4. "Brain Stew" Green Day cover with some mean piano-playing
5. "Butterfly" featuring a harp.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Improv Everywhere: Musicals



Where Do You Belong?

Instead of my normal routine of listening to NPR on my commute to work, I decided to pop in Cassadaga by Bright Eyes to relive the Monsters of Folk show last Sunday.

The second to last track, "I Must Belong Somewhere," was never a stand-out favorite of mine on the record. However, this morning, I found it really thought-provoking and moving. Since high school, I've gone back and forth between wanting to move [current candidates: Boston, Washington (D.C.) New York, Portland (OR), Seattle, San Francisco, Austin, Boulder/Denver (CO)] and stay in California where I have a good network of friends. After I graduated and was thinking of doing fellowships across the country, I struggled with this same question.

This song today brought up a lot of emotion and I'm afraid that it may just be me and may have just been a temporary affinity for this song, but I just had to share it and ask:

Do you think you'll eventually stay fairly near to where your family is and/or where you grew up. or do you feel you belong somewhere else?


Weekend of Concerts

I had a great weekend for music. Besides the Bon Iver cemetery concert a couple of weeks back, I haven't been going to concerts much lately. This weekend, I had two in a row. On Saturday, I saw Manchester Orchestra and Brand New at the Hollywood Palladium.

Half way through Manchester Orchestra's set, in addition to reconfirming my belief that they are my favorite band currently by putting on another amazing live show, I actually had the urge to drop everything in my life and get involved in the music industry. The impulse to follow the band around and dedicate my career to music eventually faded, but I was left with some great memories of a terrific show. Brand New's new and raw material also translated quite well live. Much better live than on record. I prefer Brand New's slower songs, but I did enjoy the effort they put in with crazy videos going on during the new songs like "Vices" below.



One of my favorite new Manchester Orchestra songs:

The River - Manchester Orchestra

It wasn't the best Brand New show I've been to (the crowd was pretty bad) and I much prefer seeing MO headline, but I thought it was an awesome night. However, Sunday proved even better. The Monsters of Folk at the Greek Theatre was one of my favorite concerts in recent memory. 2 1/2 hours of Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes), M.Ward (of She & Him fame), and Jim James (My Morning Jacket) playing Monsters of Folk songs as well as playing songs by each other's bands. What a great weekend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hip-Hop Week: M.I.A. and Diplo

In the same vein as my Wale recommendation, today I also want to talk about a mixtape. Everyone knows the name M.I.A. now because of "Paper Planes." Before a fully-pregnant M.I.A. swaggered at the Grammy's with Kanye and Lil Wayne, there was Piracy Funds Terrorism Volume 1. This mixtape by British rapper M.I.A. and American producer Diplo is one of my favorite CDs to listen to while driving.

On this mixtape, Diplo takes M.I.A.'s vocal tracks from her yet-to-be-released debut album Arular and mixes it with just about everything: The Bangles, Jay-Z, Ciara, Brazilian baile funk, reggaeton, etc... You can stream the whole thing on youtube or a quick internet search will help you find a place to download it.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hip-Hop Week: The Streets

Today I want to plug Mike Skinner, better known as The Streets. The British rapper has used the moniker since 2000 and has released 4 albums, with one more to go.

The Streets debut album, Original Pirate Material was released in 2002 with the standout track "Let's Push Things Forward:"


In 2004, the Streets released one of my favorite recrods, hip-hop or otherwise. A Grand Don't Come for Free is a concept record that focuses equally on the big events and the mundane thoughts of an everyman in England.

From the Pitchfork review: "On A Grand Don't Come for Free...Mike Skinner audaciously weaves an 11-track narrative over an often bare and inert musical backdrop, one that acts more like a film score than the foundation of a pop record. The plot is pretty bare-bones: boy loses money, boy meets girl, boy loses girl. But by focusing as much on the minutiae of life as on its grand gestures, the impact of Skinner's album-- essentially a musical update of 'The Parable of the Lost Coin' peppered with Seinfeld's quotidian anxiety and, eventually, a philosophical examination of Skinner's lifestyle and personal relationships-- transcends its seemingly simple tale."


A Grand is by far my favorite The Streets album. His third album, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, focused more on his thoughts on fame, and while solid (and giving us a fun first single about celebrity dating with "When You Wasn't Famous"), it didn't resonate as much. Same story with his fourth album Everything Is Borrowed. Skinner has announced that the next The Streets album, 2010's Computers and Blues, will also be the last under the Streets moniker. He has been tweeting tracks that may or may not be on the album since April.

Stream: A Grand Don't Come for Free

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hip-Hop Week: Wale

It appears that unintentionally, each day my pick is someone progressively more widely-known. Today is Maryland-based (and son of Nigerian parents) Wale, but he's associated with Washington, D.C. He's been steadily building up a fan base by releasing 5 mixtapes for free since 2006. His first album is supposed to come out next month.

My favorite mixtape by Wale is Mixtape About Nothing. You can download it for free on his myspace. As the title indicates, it is inspired by Seinfeld, a show that Wale says he has seen every episode of 30 times. Wale tackles big issues while peppering the mixtape with clever references and even an appearance by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. One of the stand-out tracks is "The Kramer," where he addresses Michael Richards racist tirade at the Laugh Factory.
Another personal favorite track is "The Perfect Plan" (noticing a pattern with the track titles? Seinfeld fans will). I even included this song on a mixtape I made for my students about the music industry.
Since embedding for this video is disabled, go here to check out the music video of Wale's "Chillin" featuring Lady GaGa.

Rain

I didn't go to Spring Sing last year for the first time after going 4 years in a row. Unfortunately, that meant that I missed this video until Aubrey was kind enough to bring it to my attention. With the first rain of the season hitting yesterday and today, a lot of conversations have revolved around the weather, particularly how no one in this city knows how to change lanes or approach a yellow light in the rain.


Update: One blog I always follow is the LAist. Just noticed that they also showed the above clip, by prefacing it with the fact that there were 186 accidents between midnight and earlier this morning.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hip-Hop Week: Astronautalis

The second hip-hop artist I'd like to feature is Astronautalis. This Jacksonville-born, Seattle-based rapper blew me away with his third record, Pomegranate. Produced by John Congleton (Modest Mouse, Explosions in the Sky, Mountain Goats, Polyphonic Spree), it blends hip-hop with folk sensibilities and great storytelling.

Pomegranate has been described as historical fiction, "taking us from the life of a desperate conman, to a pre-Ian Fleming tale of an espionage during the Opium Wars, then to the heresy trial of William Robertson Smith, to Washington on the Delaware." I highly recommend this album if you want to try something in the hip-hop world but with a style all its own.

Stream Astronautalis's Pomegranate here.


To connect yesterday and today: The last track on Pomegranate features P.O.S.:


State Fair Food

I remember reading about Meat Lovers' Ice Cream Cone being sold recently at the Los Angeles County Fair. Needless to say, I found the name alone pretty disgusting.

But then in my The Economist issue this week, there was an article discussing deep fried balls of butter. I am not sure if this should even count as food. A little searching and I quickly found that Paul Deen had a recipe for this scary conconction. If anyone is brave (and self-loathing) enough to try it, here is the recipe:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • Peanut oil, for frying
"Cream the butter, cream cheese, salt and pepper together with an electric mixer until smooth. Using a very small ice cream scoop, or melon baller, form 1-inch balls of butter mixture and arrange them on a parchment or waxed paper lined sheet pan. Freeze until solid. Coat the frozen balls in flour, egg, and then bread crumbs and freeze again until solid.

When ready to fry, preheat oil in a deep-fryer to 350 degrees F.

Fry balls for 10 to 15 seconds until just light golden. Drain on paper towels before serving."

Food Receipts with Nutritional Info


I weighed in on a debate a couple of months back (on Facebook of all places) with a friend about the new California law that requires chain restaurants to make available the nutritional information of their food. She was against the idea (staunch Libertarian), and I was a big fan of the idea of providing more information to consumers to allow them to make informed choices.

I just came across the Nutricate System that actually prints on your receipt the exact nutritional information of what you ordered, including order customizations. What would you think of this being included on all receipts vs. an option?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Hip-Hop Week: P.O.S.

For the past couple of years, my musical tastes have been changing at an accelerated pace. While my listening habits are becoming more deeply entrenched in the indie rock world, it's worth noting that I do still listen to types of music all over the spectrum.

I just finished reading Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs: A Low Culture Manifesto by Chuck Klosterman and he had a great quote about music: "Do you know people who insist they like 'all kinds of music'? That actually means they like no kinds of music." I agree with this to a certain extent and whenever people ask me what kind of music I listen to, it's hard to answer but I just say some variation of indie/alternative rock (not a very helpful answer though). Although there are a handful of artists in almost every genre that I enjoy, most of my new favorites are in the indie rock scene. However, every day this week I will be discussing a hip-hop artist that I love and think should be given a chance by everyone.

Today I recommend P.O.S. Maybe I am drawn to P.O.S.'s rhymes because he actually started as a punk rocker in high school. Of course I didn't know this when I first started listening to P.O.S., but this influence is evident in songs like "Safety in Speed," which features one of my favorite poet-singers Craig Finn of The Hold Steady.

When I am driving late and need a pick me up, I reach for P.O.S.'s Audition.

Stream P.O.S.'s second album, Audition, here.

From P.O.S's latest album Never Better:

Food Rules

I recently got a Santa Monica Public Library card since the main library is only a few blocks from my work. The past couple of times I've gone, I've sort of just browsed and picked up books at random. However, there are huge opportunity costs when it comes to reading books. I've decided to plan ahead and I've put half a dozen books on hold for me at the library so I can be sure to have something I'm excited about when they become available. A couple of the books I added today were about food. While I had to throw on Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, I'm more excited about reading books about food politics such as Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.

In the recent New York Times Magazine issue dedicated entirely to food, Pollan discussed Food Rules: Your Dietary Do's and Dont's. Here are some of his favorites that have been submitted to him. There are some good ones in there. If you don't feel like reading a book about food politics, maybe you should think about renting Food, Inc. when it is released next month.

Tomorrow, in a Year

Anyone want to go to Copenhagen to see the "Charles Darwin-inspired opera called Tomorrow, in a Year featuring new music from Swedish innovators the Knife?"


H/T Pitchfork

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bon Iver at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Every once in awhile I need to do something different that just mixes up the routine and renews my spirit. One of the more memorable experiences of this since I last blogged was going to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to see Bon Iver perform. I drove to Hollywood, parked near the transvestite hookers, and walked through the cemetery at 1:15 am on Sep. 27. After a few minutes, I got to where the concert was being held, put down my blanket, enjoyed the movies they were projecting on the screen, took an hour nap around 4 am, grabbed some free coffee, and got excited when the show got officially under way around 5 am with Buddhist monks coming out to do a blessing and light some candles.

After some candles were lit and a lot of chanting, Justin Vernon and the rest of Bon Iver came out and played pretty much every song he has written under that moniker.

It was fairly dark when he started playing, and although you couldn't quite see the sun rise because it was so foggy, it was amazing just being able to lay down and stair at the palm trees and the sky get lighter while listening to Bon Iver's hauntingly beautiful music. Here are a few videos, including one of Justin playing with his old bandmates in Megafaun.




Let's Try This Again

I haven't blogged in over a month since I've been losing motivation to turn on my computer when I get home from work after staring at a computer screen all day. However, I'm going to try to start this back up again.

Work has been going well. When I get stuck with a relatively boring project, I try to rush to get it done so I can move onto something more interesting. However, in this job, when you turn something in, chances are you aren't done with it. For example, I had to go back to the drawing board several times for one project. I've been spending a ton of time reading medical journals about medical marijuana, and am excited to move onto working on the death penalty site soon.

I've been trying to read more (I highly recommend Chuck Klosterman's work as well as the classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) but its hard balancing reading all the blogs I follow plus the weekly print version of The Economist, plus books. Having a job really cuts into doing a lot of the important things in life! I've also been going to the gym just about everyday, cooking a lot, listening to a lot of NPR, and trying to stay in touch with people in the area by doing dinner and/or drinks.

Speaking of blogs, I saw this on a design blog & felt like sharing: One of the best designed sites I've seen in awhile.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Why AT&T Killed Google Voice


Great article in the Wall Street Journal on telecommunications and proposals for a national communications policy.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

El Bulli

This has to be my favorite article I've ever seen on a food web site. After 5 years of trying to get reservations at what is billed "The Greatest Restaurant in the World," Adam Roberts documents his experience at El Bulli in Spain with a comic book format and short videos. I spent a good amount of time at work reading about each of the 30 COURSES and salivating over the pictures. I recommend that you do the same.

Dessert

Watch-out Diddy Riese. Your ice cream cookie sandwiches may be the cool thing in Westwood, but New York just one-upped you with an ice cream sandwich flanked by doughnut-halves.






















h/t Serious Eats NY

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Disappointing News

I haven't blogged in awhile, but I really have no excuse now that I am working 12-hour shifts in the computer labs. In addition to spending lots of time looking for jobs, cars, and apartments, I've been making my way through my ever-expanding Google Reader. Two pieces of news that have kind of bummed me out this week:

1. Westwood's cinema culture is dying. The Mann National has already been demolished and the Mann Westwood 4 and Mann Plaza theaters are long gone. This week it was announced that the Mann Festival is closing. This wasn't too disappointing since I wasn't a big fan of the Festival, but what did devastate me is the news that Mann won't be renewing its leases of the Village and Bruin.

The Village is one of my absolute favorite movie theaters and my favorite landmark in Westwood. Additionally, the Majestic Crest on Westwood Boulevard is also for sale. I can't imagine Westwood without the premieres and wonderful single-screen theaters. I refuse to go to the terrible AMC 4 and go out of my way to avoid the Landmark Regent. I hope another operator takes over the Village and Bruin because Westwood just won't ever be the same without them.

2. The story is still developing but LAPD Chief Bratton is stepping down today. While studying crime policy at UCLA, I came to really admire Bratton's intelligent and innovative approaches to law enforcement. His introduction of the Compstat system in New York to better track crimes and holding precinct commanders accountable as well as his willingness to act on the Broken Windows Theory are both important moments in modern policing. He is moving on to the private sector in October and will be missed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Graduation Speeches

James Franco's Rejected UCLA Commencement Speech


After Franco dropped out less than a week before commencement, we were lucky to have Brad Delson of Linkin Park give a surprisingly great commencement address that I am sure was better than anything Franco could have delivered.

Brad Delson of Linkin Park's Commencement Speech Part 1


Brad Delson of Linkin Park's Commencement Speech Part 2


And a modern classic: David Foster Wallace's Extraordinary Commencement Speech from 2005 at Kenyon College

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Warped Tour Must Die

I wish I knew about the Warped Tour earlier in my adolescence. I didn't go to many concerts until maybe my senior year of high school. By the time I realized that going to a concert was one of the better ways to spend my nights, the Warped Tour was already past its prime. However, for the few years that I was into a lot of the bands in the scene, I really looked forward to the Warped Tour.
  • It was cheap (around $20 for 12 hours of music)
  • Saw a ton of bands that I loved & there was always someone worthwhile playing
  • Checked out new bands that I started to hear buzz about
  • Bought a lot of cheap merch
  • Had the opportunity to meet a lot of great bands
Being in Los Angeles, I was also spoiled because the tour would start in Pomona in June and end in August in Los Angeles. I would go once in the beginning of the summer and once at the end, normally with some different bands playing since most artists could no longer afford to dedicate the whole summer to the relatively low paying tour.

However, starting last summer, I couldn't justify going to Warped Tour. There were a few bands that I would have loved to see (Say Anything, Against Me!, Motion City Soundtrack, Rise Against, Set Your Goals), but it wasn't worth dealing with the annoying crowd that Warped now attracts just to wait around all day to see a few great bands play 30 minute sets.

I was hoping that Warped would get back on track this year and I could enjoy another day of sun and music. When the line-up was announced, I realized that I would never go to Warped again.

While there are a few good bands playing again this summer, I would find sitting through sets of 90% of the bands on the bill torturous. Just one glance at my iPod will show you that my tastes have changed somewhat drastically over the past year or two. Since my iPod can only hold 80 gbs, I am constantly taking off punk/scene music and replacing it with "indie"/Stereogum/Pitchfork music (it pains me to use labels).

While I admit that I've just been outgrowing a lot of the music, I believe that there still some bands making great music that belong to that scene. Thrice, Brand New, Moneen, The Gaslight Anthem, Weatherbox, Lydia, and Straylight Run all come to mind.

The scene, however, I believe is pretty poisoned at the moment and only getting worse. Instead of going on a rant, I will just mention a few bands that are on this year's Warped Tour, the famed "punk rock" traveling festival.

1. Millionaires


This band was actually featured and recommended by Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman in May. Three dumb, talentless girls from Huntington Beach released their EP "Just Got Paid, Let's Get Laid" after Gabe Saporta of Cobra Starship (more on him later) recommended them to Pete Wentz. They have no musical talent, terrible lyrics, an atrocious message, and I for one do not find anything entertaining about two underage sisters (yes, they are sisters) humping each other (about a minute into this video

Lyrics from "I like Money:"
"Cigarettes, 80 proof
Take my picture, I'm so damn cute!
Fake ID's, lots of cash
Race that Benz, we go real fast
2 a.m. and I'm still goin'
Pour my drink, it's overflowin'!
Take me home, rough me up
No one's here so lets just fuck!"

See them scramble as their CD skips while they lipsync on Warped.

2. BrokeNCYDE
Screamo Crunk - Enough said


The members and their official musical duties:
Se7en (scream vocals, rap vocals)
Mikl (clean vocals, autotune vocals)
Phat J (synths, backup vocals, backup screams and growls)
Antz (fog machine and lights)

3. Jeffree Star
Video at the Pomona stop of Warped Tour last week:


4. 3OH!3


I first heard 3OH!3's hit single "Don't Trust Me" when I accidently didn't put in a CD fast enough when I got into the car and heard this song playing on KROQ. When I heard the following lyrics, I thought it just had to be a terrible song made by jokester KROQ DJs Kevin and Bean.

"Don't trust a ho.
never trust a ho.
won't trust a ho.
cause the ho won't trust me.

Shush girl, shut your lips,
do the helen keller and talk with your hips.
i said shush girl, shut your lips."

When I was at a party and this song played back to back with the equally horrible Metro Station's "Shake It," a little part of me died inside and I knew I was at the wrong party.

5. Aiden

I had to sit through this band opening at a show a few years ago. Now I do my research and make sure that the opening bands are not going to sound like Aiden. And yes, that is Jeffree Star in the video.

I could go on, but just finding videos for these songs are making me a little depressed. When even talented musicians like Gabe Saporta, who created the amazing album Forget What You Know with the band Midtown, release songs liks this under the name Cobra Starship and they become more popular than anything he's done before, it makes me glad that I've been moving away from this scene and discovering great new bands. At least I can rest assured knowing that The National or Bon Iver won't ever be playing Warped, therefore making me choose between sitting through terrible bands to see them or missing the only opportunity of the summer to see them. Thankfully there are still bands (and fans) out there that care more about the music than the image.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

When Political Aides Attack!

The fall of John Edwards has been an interesting story to follow. I tend to be quite disinterested when it comes to news of political infidelities. If there is hypocrisy involved, I pay a little more attention but still don't really care that much. However, the John Edwards story just keeps getting more interesting.

The part I find most interesting is that John Edwards still ran for the Democratic nomination in 2008 despite knowing that if he got the nomination and news of his affair with Rielle Hunter became public, it would do long-term damage to the Democratic party. If I was an Edwards donor, I would have been so pissed. I've also been curious about the strange book tour Elizabeth Edwards went on, but that's another story.

As much as I like to think that I'm above following stories that sound like they are straight out of a tabloid, sometimes I succumb. Guilty pleasure of the week: reading about Former Edwards Aide Andrew Young allegations in a proposal for a rare tell-all book.

Highlights:
  • Edwards made a sex tape with Hunter
  • "Hunter and Edwards talked of marriage should Elizabeth, who suffers from incurable cancer, die and that the former North Carolina senator was promised by Barack Obama the Attorney General's office"
  • Elizabeth Edwards accuses Young of stealing her late son's baseball card collection
  • Edwards convinced Young to claim responsibility for being the father of Edwards illegitimate son with Hunter
  • Obama promised to make Edwards Attorney General if he wasn't picked as his running mate

Monday, June 29, 2009

Energy & Health Care: Use Less

One thing I've been working on lately is trying to figure out which public policy issues I am most passionate about. It's impossible to be an expert on all issues, and it would be easier for me to have a successful career if I dive into only one or two issues (and leave the rest for extra-curricular enjoyment).

Crime, international relations, national security, and transportation are just some of the issues that I've been passionate about at one time (not sure if I've actually stopped with any of them actually). Two more recent issues I've been researching are environmental policy and health care reform. I just came across an article by TIME attempting to link the two. It's so simple, but I just really liked the headline: "The Key to Fixing Health Care and Energy: Use Less"

A key passage:

"In medicine, the idea would be to reward quality rather than quantity, to give providers incentives to keep us healthy and reduce unnecessary treatments, to encourage doctors and hospitals to promote a culture of low-cost, high-quality care. One reason the Mayo Clinic already provides low-cost, high-quality care is that it keeps its doctors on salary, insulating them from fee-for-service inducements to overserve; unfortunately, Mayo is hemorrhaging cash on its Medicare patients, because the current system penalizes responsibly conservative care.

Doctors don't get paid for thinking about a case or returning a phone call or explaining why an MRI isn't necessary; hospitals don't get paid when their discharged patients don't have to go back to the hospital. Our goal for our health-care system is not more tests or more doctor's visits or longer stays in the hospital — it's better health. But that's not what gets paid for, so that's not what we get."