Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
This weekend Lynette and I decided it was time for change in the kitchen. We bought a new set of pots and pans! We were going to buy stainless until the salesguy talked us into Calphalon One Infused Anodized pots and pans. They were more expensive, but they're the same kind used on Hell's Kitchen, so...
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Duran Duran head into studio with Mark Ronson
Simon Le Bon and his crew enlist the man with the Midas touch to produce their forthcoming album – with a little help from a Kaiser Chief
Writing on the band's official blog, Simon Le Bon laid the group's US hip-hop crush to bed. "OK you've guessed it, we're moving in a different direction with these guys than with Timbaland and Justin T," he wrote. "It feels very good I have to say. MODERN ENGLISH ROCK is what it's all about for us."
"We have had such an inspired session so far," Le Bon wrote on Tuesday. "In the five days we've worked there, we have seen the nuts of eight new songs starting to grow on our tree. It's daunting enough for me to know where to start if I'm honest."
Even if things were going well, more is always better for Mark Ronson. When he isn't getting Amy Winehouse to sing on the Zutons' Valerie, he's doing a jazzy Radiohead cover with members of Phantom Planet. And for Duran Duran he has enlisted the songwriting skills of Kaiser Chiefs drummer Nick Hodgson.
"I called Nick a week ago and asked if he'd be interested in coming to work with Duran Duran and write a song," Ronson told NME. "He's never done that before, because he only writes with Ricky [Wilson] and his own band, but I thought it made a lot of sense because there's a lot of Kaiser Chiefs songs I could imagine being on a Duran Duran record 25 years ago."
Hodgson worked with Duran Duran for "five or six hours", writing three songs together. "One is quite rocky, one is more Italo disco," Ronson said. "Two of them I would definitely say are making the record."
Two songs down – only five more collaborations to go!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
2. Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee.
3. My dog eating ice cream.
5. flower on PS3.
6. 30 Rock on my 360.
7. West Virginia.
8. Jason Segal writing the next Muppet movie.
9. Photoshop actions.
10. Chicken salad with grapes.
11. Secretly watching Kings on Hulu at work (Shh).
12. Charm's Blowpops.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Mardi Gras from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.
Photographer Keith Loutit has mastered the art of tilt-shift photography– that is, a technique requiring a special camera lens to impart the illusion that what you’re looking at are miniatures, not life-sized human beings. When he locks the camera down and shoots hundreds of successive pics, it becomes a movie. He recently took his camera down to Sydney’s Mardi Gras celebration to capture the doll-sized fun.
Over 300,000 people lined the route of this years Mardi Gras parade, which marched up Oxford and Flinders streets in Sydney’s inner-city Darlinghurst this Saturday.
If you were there on the night: I tried to capture as much as the event as possible.
Just think: once, filmmakers used models and stop-motion effects to try and make scenes look like they were real. Now filmmakers are taking actual footage and using effects to make it look like a stop-motion claymation project! Link
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Television, these last few years, has moved light years beyond movies in terms of characterization, narrative, and audacity. Maybe it's the rise of iTunes and the DVD boxed set, where you can experience the creator's complete vision in terms of a story arc. Maybe it's cable television allowing writers and directors to experiment and take risks. But television, since THE SOPRANOS, has become the Hollywood of the early 70's.
Here's what you might want to check out:
It's pointless of me to push shows like BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and BURN NOTICE 'cause, if you're reading this, you're probably watching them already.
But this past season of BURN NOTICE was amazing, and not on a weekly, hot babes and action kind of way. The show has become an ongoing pulp epic, with new, stinging layers peeled back at the end of every season, and the darkness deepening around a hero who's determined to use the darkness to preserve the light. Plus, every episode you can learn, through Jeffrey Donavan's laconic, winking voice-over (and some pretty nifty montages) how you can use non-dairy creamer and Christmas lights to destroy a city block. There's even a growing YouTube cult of weirdos who test out every homemade death-device...and so far, they've all worked! And there's new episodes coming in June! And Bruce Campbell! BRUCE Campbell! That's all you need to know. Again, television shows have turned into bombastic cinema, doled out in hour-long doses every week.
BATTLESTAR, which is winding down to a how-do-they-write themselves-out-the-bleakness finale, is social commentary smuggled inside the most elegant sci fi/noir vessel since ALPHAVILLE. If you've never seen a single episode of the show you need to break your femur, get laid up in a hospital for eight weeks, and watch the entire run on either iTunes or DVD. I'd love to see creator Ronald D. Moore take on Gene Wolf's BOOKS OF THE NEW SUN, Warren Ellis' PLANETARY, or Bester's THE STARS MY DESTINATION. Wow!
And that's just cable. On network TV, the best hour-long drama, hands down, is FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Rehearsed but not blocked. That's how they do the camerawork on the show, and it's like watching a weekly documentary about a small town facing compromise and obsolescence. And the two leads -- Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton (who's a MILF the way Jimi Hendrix is a guitarist) -- are the new Gandolfini and Falco, as far as I'm concerned. If they're not nominated for Emmys, for this last season, I quit. PLEASE watch this show -- NBC had to go halfsies with DIRECT TV to finance these latest episodes. It's hanging on by its fingernails, and NBC honcho Ben Silverman has been very public and very vocal about his indifference to the show's fate. When you see how this third season ends, you'll want a fourth. And I DON'T want it to end the way it does. Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!
Speaking of the Nerd Mafia, where the fuck were you when Joss Whedon's terrific new series DOLLHOUSE premiered on, of course, Friday, February 13th? It's the THIRD time he's come up with a brilliant, kick-ass concept, broke his back bringing it to light, and then had a network a) put it in the death slot and b) shuffle the episode order. GET HIS BACK, people. Besides, I'm on it in two weeks. Do you really want to let the show get canceled, and miss Tahmoh Penikett kick the living crap out of me? The fuck else are you doing on a Friday night?
Or Sunday night, for that matter? This Sunday is the Season 2 premiere of BREAKING BAD, the best show you weren't watching last year. Bryan Cranston won a much-deserved Emmy, and that was for a truncated, 7-episode first season. How did you guys miss a show about a trampled, neglected genius, who turns his skill at chemistry into a fledgling meth empire, all the while battling cancer -- a cancer which, when undergoing chemotherapy, turns Cranston into a bald, black-clad arch-villain? And, of course, he's forced into an alliance with (as his dopey, meth-head partner puts it) "a psychotic clown" drug dealer named Tuco. Lex Luthor and The Joker, roaming the New Mexico desert, with no World's FInest in sight. The 6th episode of Season One -- "Crazy Handful of Nothin'", is one of the best hours of TV I've ever seen -- up there with "Every Mother's Son" and "The Subway" from HOMICIDE, "Old Cases" from THE WIRE, and "The Pine Barrens" from The Sopranos. BREAKING BAD is compromised villains who create their own false good, played out in a forest of food clubs, strip malls and bland, sinister architecture. A must-see.
And you MUST see DELOCATED, every Thursday night on Adult Swim. I was reluctant to recommend this, because I think its creator and star, Jon Glaser, is the funniest man on television right now. Everything he's ever done has cracked me up, so much so that he's entered that category of people like Brian Stack, Maria Bamford, James Adomian and Eddie Pepitone -- people who I can't offer an honest opinion of, since they're so purely talented and funny that it doesn't matter to me what they do.
But I've seen the entire season of DELOCATED and holy shit, it's brilliant. Jon Glaser, who's got one of the warmest, most expressive faces and voices in comedy, makes the bold move of playing a character in a black ski mask with his vocal cords permanently altered. The conceit of the show -- a family in the witness protection program who sign on to be in their own reality show -- seems so limited that it's amazing, in the later episodes, when you realize how rich and subversive the world they inhabit is. And, like BATTLESTAR, it uses its far-out concept to make some pretty harsh points about the world -- in DELOCATED's case, how "reality" TV is warping, consuming and, ultimately, destroying reality. Only it's NOT harsh -- you'll be laughing your ass off. Trust me. Ska-mitzvah!
Finally, you've got to start watching EASTBOUND AND DOWN on HBO. I know the early episodes were dark and brutal, but that's the point. Jody Hill, Danny McBride and Ben Best -- the brains behind THE FOOTFIST WAY, have created a comedic, low-rent version of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. Stay with me on this.
Remember how, in NO COUNTRY, you've got the Anton Chigurh character, a force of pure, un-compromised evil, plowing through the world, and we see how every other character stands or falls before him? Some saved by fate and luck, others destroyed by integrity and conviction?
Well, Danny McBride's washed-up ballplayer, Kenny Powers ("a bullet-proof tiger") is a force of pure, unapologetic delusion and narcissism. How will his sister-in-law's Christian faith, his ex-girlfriend's love for her fiancee, or a high school music teacher's man-crush stand up against the poisonous stink of Kenny's essence? This has got to be the first 1/2 hour weekly comedy which is unabashedly going to be a 3 hour movie, with each episode's opening scene being THE EXACT NEXT SCENE from the previous episode's last shot. Plus, you've got David Gordon Green directing episodes, Andrew Daly as a clueless romantic rival, and the blitzkrieg comedic assault of a mulleted Danny McBride. You do nothing but win when you watch EASTBOUND AND DOWN.
Okay, enough reading. It's time to switch off your computer, embrace life, sit down, and watch a lot of TV.
TORONTO (AFP) — Stunning Netherlands pulled one of the great shockers in baseball history on Tuesday, advancing to the second round of the World Baseball Classic by eliminating a Dominican Republic all-star squad.
The 11-inning thriller was not decided until Dominican first baseman Willy Aybar dropped a hard-hit ball from Yurendell de Caster and Gene Kingsale - a goat turned hero in a flash - scored for a 2-1 Dutch victory in Puerto Rico.
"It's a miracle. That's all I can tell you," Dutch manager Rod Delmonico said. "It's not because we're better than they are. They're one of the best teams in the world. We just played hard and it happened."
A Caribbean team of elite Major League Baseball millionaires fell victim to a fairy tale side, half from Dutch Antilles, for the second time in as many tries. The Dutch beat the Dominicans 3-2 in their opener.
"When you think you've seen it all, you find out you're wrong. We've seen something that we never imagined," Dominican manager Felipe Alou said.
"We are a baseball power. We did not prove it. The effort was there. The results didn't occur. Stuff happens."
Netherlands joined United States, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Japan, South Korea and Cuba in the second round. The Dominicans, semi-finalists in 2006, are done.
"This is not the end," Alou said. "The Republic of Baseball will avenge some of the stuff that happened. I believe after this loss, Dominican players are going to think deeply and say, 'We have to win the Classic.' That's my hope."
A fielding error by Kingsale gave the Dominicans a 1-0 lead in the 11th but the Dutch batted last and Sidney de Jong doubled, moved up on a ground out and equalized when Kingsale hit a redeeming single.
Kingsale moved to third on a throwing error by Dominican pitcher Carlos Marmol and scored off the de Caster grounder botched by Aybar, who played for World Series loser Tampa Bay last year.
"It was the biggest at-bat in my career," de Caster said. "I had to make a good contact and I did."
The Dutch will join Puerto Rico, Venezuela and the US stars at Miami in a second-round group starting Saturday. Pairings will be decided Wednesday by seeding games US-Venezuela at Toronto and Dutch-Puerto Rico at San Juan.
Defending champion Japan, 2008 Olympic champion South Korea and dynasty Cuba will be joined in a round-two group starting Sunday in San Diego by the winner Wednesday between Australia and host Mexico in a rematch of a 17-7 Aussie win.
"If we keep playing the way we have, everything will be fine," Australia manager Jon Deeble said.
"We've proven we can match baseball with anybody in the world. We knew that before. Our country has great players. We don't get respect from everybody. It's about time that changed."
The Aussies were only four outs from advancement before Cuban pinch-hitter Yosbany Peraza belted a two-run homer for a 5-4 Cuba victory as the Communist island's squad bids for a 39th consecutive international tournament final.
"This team is ready to take on whoever," Cuba manager Higinio Velez said. "The team spirit never fell. They had certainty in their heart. Moments like those, we've lived them before."
Venezuela routed Italy 10-1 at Toronto to advance in the only game where form held.
Alou's squad lost third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a hip injury just before the start but warned future Dutch foes about overconfidence.
"We had a couple of plays in the last inning that were not 'big league' but they played baseball that was practically perfect against us," Alou said. "It should serve well for future teams to play better and maybe get prepared better mentally.
"They are the underdog. They have no pressure. They're not going to have it either. They are going to keep on playing loose baseball. I don't know what they are going to do in Miami but I'm going to be pulling for them."Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
The alarm went off at 4:30 AM and we made our way to the gym by 5:00 AM. This is the same routine where I lost 45 pounds about two years ago. I've gained about 10 of it back and some of my t-shirts aren't fitting the way I'd like them to fit.
Refreshingly, it wasn't too difficult. The gym was nice and empty. The people in the gym at dawn are true exercisers, not the trendy, short-lived, gym-goers you find at the gym in the evening.
Of course, I start work at 7:15 AM, so I had to keep my eye on the clock. As a perk, Lynette made me a kick ass breakfast sandwich with egg and sausage and cheese and toast. It hit the spot.
So let's see where I'm at fitness/weight wise by time the swimming pool opens. By the way, I feel great. I'm the first one to work this morning and I'm kicking ass. If I'm not careful I'll have my daily allowance of work done by 8:00 AM. and the union frowns upon that type of behavior.
UPDATE: Not all people who use the gym in the evening are "trendy, short-lived gym-goers." I recognize the dedicated PM fitnessers.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
And yes, I have sustained my fair share of abuse for this love. To the people who have ridiculed me for loving this movie, I pity your dark, empty souls.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Here’s a "man fights City Hall" story, with a twist: when Old Town Alexandria’s architectural review committee forbid Michael Zarlenga from altering historic property and renovating his store, he decided to exact a little revenge:
To many in Old Town Alexandria, the sex shop that opened recently on King Street is nothing short of scandalous, a historical desecration just blocks from the boyhood home of Robert E. Lee.
But to Michael Zarlenga, it’s justice.
Zarlenga spent $350,000 on plans to expand his hunting and fishing store, the Trophy Room. He worked with city officials for almost two years and thought he had their support — until the architectural review board told him he couldn’t alter the historic property.
Furious and out of money, Zarlenga rented the space to its newest occupant, Le Tache.
"I can’t say I didn’t know it would ruffle feathers," said Zarlenga, 41. "Actually, I was hoping for a fast-food chain because I thought that would be more annoying to the city."
Allison Klein of the Washington Post has more on the story: Link (Photo: Tracy A. Woodward)