March 2005 Archives

Clout

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Clearly the producers of Lost read my blog, because on last night’s episode, hunky doctor man was seen shaving with a dispoasable razor.

Er, I guess that I managed to overlook posting the entry for the April title contest. So here it is. Best quote that uses the word “April” gets put up at the top of the title bar. Since there’s ony about 7 hours left in the month of March, I guess I’ll extend the deadline to next Friday…

Sum-Sum-Sum-Sum-Summertime

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So I gotta find a place to stay in Cambridge for roughly 10 weeks this summer. Any leads?

How Not To Plagiarize On The Internet

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The first step, of course, is not to ask a comedy writer to write your paper for you.

Radio Free America

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David Byrne has launched an internet radio station.

Now, if we can only get Peter Gabriel to do the same (though, to be honest, PG would probably get Daniel Lanois to do the actually setlist programming).

(note that I have no idea if this is good or not yet —I’m just assuming that it is, ‘cause it’s David Fucking Byrne—because the sound on my Cube died a horrible death a few days ago and I haven’t bothered to haul out the laptop to check it out yet)

"Soon" Is A Relative Term, Isn't It?

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ParaboardingIn between eating lunch twice at La Super-Rica, I drove down to the beach and went for a lengthy stroll.

It was a clear, sunny day, and a couple of hardy souls were braving the March weather by going parasurfing (or, as the link calls it, "kite-boarding"). Suffice to say, it's a sport that involves hooking up a very large kite to your body and then strapping a board to your feet and letting the wind take you where it will; This is the first time I'd ever seen it, though, in retrospect, it does seem like an obvious thing to do (actually, a computer-generated Pierce Brosnan did it in this film).

The storms that had lashed Southern California (due to el niƱo, or so I'm told) had left their mark on this beach in the form of a few boats that had been washed up and abandoned, not to mention some other bits of flotsam.

One thing that quite visible from the Santa Barbara beach are a number of very large off-shore oil-drilling rigs. While non-Californians tend to associate the Golden State with the entertainment industry (I'm faintly puzzled by how movie-making can be considered an 'industry' (indeed, the phrase 'service industry' is a bit troubling) since everyone involved in the making of entertainment is a craftsman, artisan, or artist of one sort or another) or Silicon Valley, California is a major oil-producing state (according to one source I found, third in the US behind Texas and Alaska). It's also has the largest agricultural sector in the US, and has a large presence in the defense and aerospace industries. It was a bit jarring to see the hulking, shadowy oil rigs off the peaceful and sunny coast, though...

Birds, or Damn! Got my shoes wet.While I was photographing a early 80's rock band those seagulls, I completely misjudged how deep the surf was and managed to get my feet completely soaking wet.

So, wet feet and all, I took a 25-cent shuttle to downtown Santa Barbara. It's full of charming spanish-style buildings and medium-to-high-end chain stores as far as the eye can see. In short, it's an outdoor mall (though, to be fair, I live across the street from a Banana Republic, so stone, meet glass house). It's hard to describe, but the city is utterly charming (I think the fact that it was gloriously sunny helped). It's a very short shuttle ride, and I had been in New York, I probably would have walked, but then again, my shoes were wet.

I found myself up in the clocktower of the Santa Barbara Courthouse, staring out over a vast sea of spanish tile roofs, looking at the office workers playing frisbee in on the lawn, wondering just what exactly the lifestyle of a Santa Barbara lawyer would be like. This line of entirely counter-productive thought was exacerbated by walking past the modest, charming one-story Santa Barbara College of Law. Visions of studying property while lying on the beach danced through my head.

Having successfully fought off that temptation, I took the 25-cent shuttle back to the beach, where I'd parked, and then drove back to La Super-Rica for lunch, again.

After a very satisfying meal (if memory serves, #16 with a Snapple), I headed back out on the road--101 up to San Luis Obispo.

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To Clear Up Any Confusion...

Yes, I’m back in New York, but events (aka law school) are conspiring to prevent me from getting any signficant work done on the completion of my travelogue… More updates soon.

Paxil, Stat!

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In a taxi back from the Lower East Side tonight, Hindi pop songs blaring from the radio, I looked up and caught the name of my cabbie:

SUPERSAD
HARRIRAM

(text approximates the NYC cabbie’s ID card)

And you thought that you had problems.

Going Up Country

SandpiperNote: this is only a partial entry since I’ve managed to not really get much blogging over the past few days. The usual suspects—staying in a place with only dial-up, having my hands full with other stuff whilst on vacation—are to blame. To make up for it, check out all the neato pictures of spring break on my flickr feed (or try the yummy slideshow version).

If memory serves, when I left you last, I was on Highway 1 just outside of Malibu. The road goes through Point Mugu, a state park that looks like it could have been the backdrop for innumberable westerns, up past a Navy airbase (probably a good place for planespotting, if you’re into that sort of thing). The road heads on up into Oxnard, which is mostly notable because it was the cheapest place to buy gas ($2.25 for unleaded) I found until I hit Santa Cruz three days later.

Oxnard is a odd little town that seems part bedroom community, part farm. Coming in to town, you go through dry dusty plains dotted with subdivisions. Because of construction, there’s a slight detour where 1 merges with 101 that takes you through seemingly endless lettuce fields on the way to the ocean and then back to the freeway.

Just north of Oxnard is Ventura, which is mostly famous for giving the former governor of Minnesota his name. Further on up is Carpenteria, which I experienced as a blur of houses and sea from the freeway, and then Santa Barbara. Upon recommendation from just about everyone I spoke to (thanks to Jen, Amy, Abby, and Eldrid), my first stop in Santa Barbara was a taco stand.

This, however, is no ordinary taco stand: this is the legendary La Super-Rica, beloved, by of all people, Julia Child (yeah—St. Julia, in the later years of her life, tired of those bitter Massachusetts winters and headed to the sunny shores of Santa Barbara1). It’s a small shack in quiet working-class residential neighborhood, not far from the beach; there’s no obvious sign, only a line of people out the door. It’s the kind of place you can drive right past if you’ve never been there before. Guess what: I drove right past it the first time.

I’ll admit that I was a bit apprehensive about eating at such a highly-recommended place—how could it possibily live up to the hype? It is, after all, a taco stand.

It is said that deeds speak louder than words, and I guess that all I have to say is that I ate lunch there… and then I ate lunch there again, a few hours later.

1The allure of southern California2 seem to have a special effect on food writers; the insanely great Jeffery Steingarten, a life-long New Yorker, has a house in San Diego.

2Depending on how you define it, Santa Barbara is either the southern edge of the Central Coast or the northern edge of Southern California. I’m not entirely sure why it matters—or why it can’t be both, much the same way that Monterey serves the same function for the nothern edge of the Central Coast/Northern California.

So, on to day two.

After a leisurely breakfast yesterday, I drove down to Santa Monica where I wrote the previous entry while sitting in a very nice chair at the Apple Store with my Dell laptop. I’m kind of surprised that I didn’t get struck down by lightning for such an act of defilement, but maybe my iPod acted like some kind of holy water. Or something.

Bucky and Eldrid, my friends who were kind enough to let me bunk down for a couple of days, live in Topanga, a tiny community buried in the Santa Monica Mountains between Malibu and the San Fernando Valley that is reputed to be populated entirely by ‘hippies’ (to quoth Marli, a native-born Angeleno (shoud it be Angelena for women?) friend and fellow law-school victim). While I don’t know about the hippie aspect of things, I can say that their house is perched by a small stream; last I was there, said stream had been but a narrow twisting trickle of barely moving water. Now, what with the biblical rains that SoCal has suffered of late, it’s grown somewhat and is host to a choir of rather noisy and musical frogs, particularly in the evening, as the frogs wait for their dinner to buzz by (first time I heard the assembled amphibians, I thought that they were birds, they were that vocal). More to the point is the fact that due to said biblical rains, the main road in and out of town is only open a few hours a day, so getting to and from when one is not in the golden hours involves long and tedious journeys through narrow and little-used roads that go up and down and up and down the mountains. Either that or you have to go through the Valley, which is pretty much just as bad.

Having finished blogging and simultaneously IMing with three people at the Apple Store because the battery on my laptop was dying, I wandered down through the Third Street Promenade and thence on to the Santa Monica Pier. On the leisurely stroll back up to my car (it’s a good thing that there are no Hear Music stores in Manhattan ere I’d go broke fast) I stopped at the Apple Store again. Gotta have that email fix.

Once again safely ensconced behind the wheel of my blue Taurus, I did what Angelenos do: drive. Specifically, I drove up Wilshire from Santa Monica to Hollywood, which is a damn long way to go. Once in Hollywood, given no particular inclination to actually get out of the car, I drove around Hollywood boulevard, saw Schwab’s, drove past the Walk of Fame, slowed to an involuntary crawl outside Mann’s Chinese Theater (it seemed there was a premiere that evening), ogled the Capital Records building, and generally acted like a tourist who really didn’t see the need to get out of his car. Incidentally, I think I was stopped behind the red carpet when some of the pictures of some of the stars of the above-mentioned movie were taken, so if you see a blue Taurus in the background of some of those Hollywood red carpet photos… that’s me.

Then, feeling bored, I drove up 101 to the Valley, switched to 405 southbound back into the city because the traffic was so horrific, and, having sufficiently sampled the exotic freeway lifestyle, was on Santa Monica Boulevard headed back to the west side when my cousin Arnold, who recently moved to LA, called. To make a long story short (yeah, get on with it), I ended up driving down to his apartment in Manhattan Beach, parking the car, getting in his car, driving to Koreatown, eating an amazing Korean barbeque meal at a restaurant called Chosun Galbee. Highly recommended. Then we went back to Manhattan Beach where I got in my car and drove all the way back up to Topanga, this time going through the Valley since it was long past the hour that Topanga Canyong Boulevard was closed and I was in no particular condition to venture tiny, narrow, unlit mountain roads in the inky darkess.

The whole driving-half-way-across-town thing was because Arnold knew where the restaurant was and how to get there, but he didn’t know how to get there from where I was, but he knew how to get to where he was from where I was. Does that make sense?

Total driving milage over two days in LA: 196.1 miles.

The next morning after yet another incredibly leisurely breakfast, I bid my fond fairwells to Bucky and Eldrid, the frogs in their stream and their two utterly adorable children and set forth on Highway 1 to Santa Barbara. Blessed with absolutely stunning weather, the drive up the coast was gorgeous. Appropriately enough, the CD player switched two the theme to For A Few Dollars More as I was driving through Point Mugu. Then on through to Oxnard (cheapest gas I’ve seen yet in California), and up to Santa Barbara…

I’m afraid that the rest of the trip will have to wait until later this evening, as the day is advancing and I have to get back on the road. But I have posted some pictures from Santa Barbara over on Flickr. The plan for today (subject to change, of course) is to first hit some wineries in Paso Robles, and then the Hearst Castle, and then up to Monterey…

Oh, and did I mention that I haven’t gotten around to getting a map yet?

California Ho! (aka Day One)

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Disney HallSo I’m here in El Lay.

The flight over was fairly uneventful, other than the fact that it left JFK 90 minutes late, due to

  1. a failed APU on the ground—in short, they had to call AAA and get someone to jumpstart the airplane
  2. having to de-ice the damn thing.

See, when I got up Saturday morning at 5 a.m., I didn’t bother to lookout the window—so when I actually left the building, I swore up a small storm on account of the entirely unexpected snow. Fortunately, my cabbie seem’d experienced in the ways of inclement weather and we got to the former Idlewild International Airport with plenty of time to spare. Thankfully, there were no traffic jams on the Van Wyck at 5:45 in the morning on a Saturday (this time).

As a side note, Jet Blue is perfectly acceptable. The plane went up, it came down, I watched TV. Not sure what all the hoopla is, but I wouldn’t mind flying it again.

So I landed at Long Beach Airport, which is rather amusing. The terminal area is tiny, and one ‘deplanes’ by getting out on those old-fashioned stairways that are trucked up to the plane. The airport itself is the old Douglas Aircraft (later McDonnell Douglas and now Boeing) field, where generations of exotic military aircraft first saw the sky; it’s still used by Boeing and various military planes can be seen parked opposite the passenger terminal (I spotted at least 3 C-17s and a B-1B).

Then I got in my brand-new rental car (Taurus—odometer reading when I got in was 26.3 miles) and drove a gazillion miles to Disney Hall in downtown LA, where I parked at a parking meter, took a chance on there not being any meter-maids in downtown LA on a Saturday afternoon, and bought a ticket for that afternoon’s performance of the LA Philharmonic.

After waiting forever to buy the (very expensive) ticket (something about how the ticketing computer was down so I they were doing everything manually), I went back up the hill to find one of LA’s finest in the process of preparing to issue a ticket to the only car on the block that didn’t have money in the meter.

As a side note, what kind of idiot flies all the way across the country and promptly goes to go see a symphony concert? I mean, 5.5 hours in a small narrow seat clearly wasn’t enough…

After explaining my situation (i.e. I had just flown in had just parked there to buy a ticket and was only in town for a couple of days and yes, the ticket was really really expensive), the officer told me to spend the money that I would have spent on the parking ticket on refreshments and drove away. Score one for common decency!

After that, I drove around downtown LA (yes, I got lost) looking for a place to eat. Clearly the lack of sleep was affecting my judgement.

The hall itself is visually spectacular, as you can probably tell from the photos. The concert was pretty good—the LA Phil ran through Beethoven’s 4th, Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto #2 and excerpts from The Three-Cornered Hat by de Falla with verve and brio. The sound inside the hall is superb—I was sitting right next to a wall and had no issues with it whatsoever. My main complaint was that I had been sold the single narrowest seat in the entire hall…

Then I drove up to Topanga, nearly got lost in the (spectacular) mountains, said hello to the friends I’m staying with and passed out fell asleep.

FYI: you might want to keep an eye on my Flickr stream [xml feed].

The Golden Hills Of

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Anyone who wants a postcard from sunny California, drop me a note.

At least it better damn well be sunny. It’s snowing in New York right now. Bleh.

Death Vandalism From Above!

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Frozen Poultry Projectiles Puzzle Police:

The case ruffled the feathers of senior politicians in New South Wales state, leaving Premier Bob Carr pondering the mysteries of life.

“One of the things that is interesting about our life here on this planet is that sometimes the unexpected happens and chickens smashing tiles, frozen chicken hurtling through the stratosphere, is one of the mysteries of existence,” he told reporters, tongue-in-cheek.

So I’m standing on the subway coming home, trying to warm up from the miniblizzard that plowed through the city today, and I look down, and the guy sitting in front of me is reading this book.

Very Inside Baseball

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Maccers on the subject of former flames and revenge.

Hail Caesar Bush!

Manhattan Transfer on the subject of neoconservatism and imperialism: part one, part two, and part three.

Blog 2.0

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One interesting thing that I’ve been noticing recently is that more and more bloggers are abandoning the traditional blog format (one main column+sidebar(s), like the one that you’re reading) in favor of putting multiple streams of information up on their page.

For example, Choire Sicha’s latest redesign is a three-column format: photographs on the left, links to clips in the middle, and then assorting jottings on the right. Andrew Krucoff’s Other Page is a straighforward two-column design with completely different content in each column (it looks like the traditional blogging material is on the left and more music-oriented stuff is on the right). Heather Champ is primarily a photoblogger, but she breaks up her non-photo content into three sections: conventional slice-of-life blogging, highlights from around the web, and a more-or-less traditional sidebar.

This kind of content segregation is a natural outgrowth of people developing linkblogs in their sidebars (The Food Section has a great linkblog devoted to food-related news). I think that we’ll be seeing more and more of this kind of thing in the future, but I don’t think that it’ll come to be the default setup for blogs. For one thing, you have to know how you want to divide up your content, and you really don’t know how your content is going to break down until you have a lot of content to analyze (obvious exceptions would be multi-author blogs (this one is an obvious candidate, and it looks like they need a redesign anyway) or high-concept blogs).

And then, of course, there’s the problem of generating enough material to keep all your assorted content streams stocked with fresh material…

Words... They Fail Me...

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So someone thought that it would be a good idea to make a movie about roller disco?

Someone explain this to me.

So, in a week and a day, I’m boarding an airplane and voyaging westward. Specifically, I’m flying to Los Angeles, hanging out for a few days, then driving up through the central coast to the Bay area, where I’m meeting up with my brother.

Pretty much the only two definitive stops on my itinerary are this place* and this one (no, I haven’t seen that movie yet). And I’ll probably stop here, too.

But what are the other “can’t-miss” destinations (particularly in the southern half of the journey)? What’s going on in Santa Barbara? Carpenteria? Hidden gems in LA (I’m staying in up in Topanga, so enthusiastic recommendations for “the greatest fish taco place ever” in San Juan Capistrano will be taken under advisement but may not actually followed-up upon)? Any west-coast-based-readers (both NoCal and SoCal) interested in meeting up to raise a glass or two?

*Their 2000 Logan Pinot Noir is truly astonishing; unfortunately, the only place I can find it in NYC only sells half-bottles.

On The Coming Extinction Of Men

Beep Beep Beep Beep Beep

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There is something oddly cinematic about hospitals very late at night and very early in the morning when everyone has gone home for the night; the giant automatic doors, the industrial lighting, the eerie absence of humans, the subaudible whir of ventilation systems combine to produce an effect that seems a cross between the cool sterility of Kubrick, Wim Wenders’ elegant quietude, and post-industrial dystopic techno music videos.

The maze-like institutional corridors, drained of humanity, create the subliminal expectation of something surreal, something fantastic around every corner; the expectation is, of course, perpetually frustrated, but it persists, creating a waking state that is oddly detached from the thrum and buzz of everyday life, as if the registration plates of existence were badly aligned.

The Law Is A Lousy Lover

My friend Shashi tells us why the law is the worst girlfriend he’s ever had:

  • She costs a lot.
  • She’s always needing attention.
  • I’m always trying to make her happy, in fact, I’ve completely conformed my life to her every whim!
  • She says there was no meeting of the minds - I tell her “I subjectively and reasonably feel your love, you need not have realized you’ve given it!”

Spoilers for Episode III

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Revenge this, pal:

  1. Anakin’s gonna turn into Darth Vader.
  2. Colin Firth, trying to set a record for playing the same character in as many different movies as possible, appears as Darth Darcy.
  3. Obi-Wan develops a nasty heroin habit and movies to Scotland where he falls in with Darth Begbie.
  4. In a lengthy subplot, Jean Reno plays Darth Leon, a Sith Lord who crosses over to the light side and saves Queen Amidala from an insane renegade Jedi played by Gary Oldman.
  5. In an attempt to cash in on a record-breaking movie trilogy, Lucas has digitally added computer-generated hobbits to certain scenes.
  6. It’s gonna suck.

Tung Out!

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This past summer, it seem’d to me that the Hong Kong tabloids (Apple Daily in particular, but that should come as no surprise) papers would compete to publish the least flattering picture possible of Tung Chee-hwa, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. Well, it looks like they won’t have Tung to kick around anymore.

This is a great day for Hong Kong; even though his successor (probably Donald “Go Forth and Be Very Fruitful” Tsang) will be hand-picked by the boys in Beijing and report back to them, at least the people of Hong Kong will no longer have to suffer the bumbling incompetence of their previous leader.

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