blogs t r e t c h

between a roux and a bechamel

Friday, May 23, 2008

I'm going to the beach!

And I'm taking all the area's bloggers with me. We'll return your internets to you in June.

Or, in all likelihood, much sooner. You know bloggers can't resist wifi!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Top Chef! Don't read if you haven't watched last night's yet

Can we all recognize that despite being a little more boring than previous seasons at times, the Richard/Antonia/Stephanie trifecta are some of the strongest, classiest competitors the show's ever had? When has Restaurant Wars ever gone well? The judges had only one minor complaint while eating at their restaurant, and it was about dessert. No menu gaffes, no front of the house debacles, no ill-fated decor choices, no in-fighting. They did it right. And Dale continued to prove that he's Not Hung. He may have an attitude, but one that makes his performance crumble. And he's just not as good as Hung was. When he and Stephanie (and by Stephanie, I of course meant Lisa) work together (which KEPT HAPPENING), it was an uncontrollable explosion of bitchiness and distraction. Despite his "hustle" (which he liked to talk about a lot), Dale couldn't take the heat. And now he's out of the kitchen.

I hope Ezra writes today about how Richard Blaze is the Barack Obama of Top Chef. We chatted about it last night and the theory's got legs.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

This is the SNL character that reminds me of mr crazy yglesias question asker from P&P this weekend

Happy Birthday Jezebel!

The Best Blog on the Internet turned 1 today! My dear DCeiver reminded me to blog them some birthday wishes, let me first start with a most heartfelt sentiment: I am so glad you were born! News, gossip, bonnerkiller feminist issues, getting people from the inside lines of crazy worlds like sephora and modeling to give the real scoop, truly insane relationship stories, refreshing media coverage... you do it all! And you do it really, really well. So good on ya, jezebel. I hope the next year of your existence brings you more insiders who want to squeal, more snappy and smart writers, more good news to report on, and more brilliance when you report the bad. Happy birthday!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Soapy clean incest

The NY Mag Gossip Girl girls posted a chat about whether it'd be incest -- and whether it'd be gross -- if Rufus & Lilly got married and Dan & Serena stayed together. Their verdict: no, not so much. It's an interesting topic, but let's not forget: coupling that's a little close for comfort is a time honored tradition in soap opera land. I can't even count how many questionable relationships have happened in Springfield or Oakdale in my lifelong enjoyment of the shows (countless people wedding fathers and sons, distant cousin relationships a-go-go, and of course plenty of "we fell in love, and then found out we're siblings!" story lines). The greatest/grosses, however, obviously being Jonathan & Tammy on Guidling Light. These two were actual first cousins (well maybe half first cousins somehow, but, their mothers are sisters. it was gross.), and the issue was never even ADDRESSED on the show. Well, it may have been -- this happened mostly after I got a Grown Up Job so I wasn't watching the daytime soaps like I used to. But in what I did see, all sorts of family members took all sorts of issues to their coupling -- but not once did I see an argument hinged around their familial closeness. And they were a central couple on the show for a few years! Anyway, I really just wanted to write this post to make use of one of my favorite quotes from The O.C., as Julie Cooper and Caleb Nichol prepare to wed:

Seth: Yeah, yeah. Me and Marissa? We could be related. I don’t know. I can’t even do the math. But the real kicker is … Julie Cooper: My Grandma. My Grandma wears Uggs. Think about it.

Update: By the end of the show, I think nearly every single character was related in some way (mostly by marriage). Awesome visual to come as soon as I scan it.

OC Family Tree

Totes awes

Liz directed my attention to this Stone Harbor tote now being sold by Urban Outfitters. That's very exciting to me! That's because I've spent a large chunk of my life in Stone Harbor. My great grandfather bought our little house there in the 1910's. So much of my quality growing up time was spent stomping around the marshes and crabbing and swimming and walking into town to get italian water ice. I love that place. It is my happy place. I'm glad it's inspired someone to design a... tote bag on its behalf. Sure, why not. Although, I don't really think it evokes Stone Harbor to me very much. I get the rough, potato sack type fabric -- beachy, unfussy. But it's dark. And it's tall and narrow -- which for a purse, means "makes finding things difficult." And those short straps also mean lugging it around in your hand rather than over your shoulder. I don't associate any burdens with SH, so I think something a little more accommodating would be better. And now I really, really want to get in my car and drive to south Jersey.

Fallin too fast

This Crap Email from a Dude (and more importantly, the behavior described in the introduction) is terribly and completely creepy. The whole story made me shudder, so I felt compelled to share it/rant on it. This is the kind of guy that liked me in high school, and the kind of guy that a couple of my girlfriends attract en masse still. Commenter kansasgirl sums up exactly why this isn't ok (and why it's not just a girl's inability to take a compliment, as other commenters have suggested):

I mean, I'm pretty great, but I know it takes a while to see just how great I am. If you think I'm that great after a few hours with me, you're either projecting your ideal woman onto me or you're just desperate, neither of which is very attractive.

The Michael Scott comparisons are dead on. Jim had to talk him back from the ledge in the finale -- to keep him from professing his love for the new HR manager right away. That needy desperation is what Makes Michael's character so sad and eccentric. It's that kind of crazy all-in behavior that doesn't say a damn thing about the woman -- it just says that the man is grasping for a connection and will imagine its already there with anyone who gives him some positive attention. A lot of 80s movies -- Say Anything, St Elmo's Fire -- were based on characters that fell madly, obsessively in love with people they barely knew, which always made those stories deeply disturbing to me.

I'm sure this goes both ways, with women clinging on for dear life with little to no encouragement. I just haven't seen it happen first hand as much as I've seen it happen this way. (Which is ironic considering how women are so often stereotyped as clingy relationship-hunters.) Bring on the texts and emails and gifts, but not all at once and not when you barely know somebody. Ick.


These don't necessarily have anything in common other than the fact that they're all videos I wanted to post.

Here is the coolest trailer I saw before Prince Caspian — City of Ember:

Here's is one that made me momentarily give up on humanity:

This digital short was the highlight of this weekend's SNL season finale:

And my god this looks just awful:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Halp again: Verizon FiOS

I am a bad daughter and forgot to post about this sooner, but better late than never. My mom's neighborhood is all fitted and ready to roll for FiOS, and she's trying to decide whether or not to go for it. It seems awesome -- but it means switching over phone, cable and internet all to one service, so if there are bugs to be aware of, she'd like to be in the know. What is the common wisdom on FiOS, internets? Good? Bad? Good for certain services but not others? Any advice is welcome. Thanks!

Halp plz

A friend of mine started a book club. I said, hey sure, that sounds fun. I missed the first meeting (I was in Costa Rica, and had already read the book). The second is fast approaching (June 2), but I've got a week at the beach coming up that would be a perfect time to read up! Only problem: I can't find the book! Amazon doesn't have it. Fairfax County Public Libraries don't have it. What's a girl to do? Ask the internets, of course. So, anybody out there have a copy of Nervous Conditions by Tsitsi Dangarembga I could borrow? ASAP?

How was my weekend? Great, thanks for asking!

Ya know what? I have a really fun life. It was another delightful weekend in the District. Friday night I finally tried Thai Xing, which I've heard so very much about but never had (they're famous for amazing food prepared by literally one guy in a tiny kitchen; you order about an hour before you'll be ready to pick it up and take it home). I brought it over to Kate & Kay's and we enjoyed shrimp green curry (my pick, and it was excellent), shrimp fried rice (really good -- included pineapples!) and chicken pad thai (I usually prefer pad thai to be a little sweeter than this, but it was still excellent). So the verdict: believe the hype. Thai Xing is the shit.

After that, I went over to Jenna's for a eurotrash party. Oh, did I mention that when I went to pick up the Thai food, I was wearing aqua tights, red shoes, a tight, short white dress with a face painted on it, and had hair that was defying gravity paired with enormous red hoop earrings and turquoise and purple eyeshadow that was probably visible from the space station? Cause I was. The party was full of crazy Europeans and ridiculous dance music, and it was a freakin' blast. I got a compliment of the highest order: being told by a bunch of gay men that my outfit was the best, and then being asked if they could feel my ass because it just looked so perfect. YES! The best part of the party was the sign David hung up that said: Eurotrash. From now on I plan to put up signs indicating what kind of party I'm throwing. "Pizza." "Tea." "Costume."

I spent most of Saturday sleeping off Friday night, and eating my favorite hangover food (2 piece meal from Popeyes -- dark meat, spicy, with red beans and rice and an extra biscuit). Then it was time for Saturday's main event: the Savor craft beer & food festival. It was all about raising the stature of beer -- specifically where pairing it with food is concerned. I learned a lot and had some truly amazing beer and food. The best pairing was the Brooklyn Brewery's Local 1 beer paired with an insane cheese whose name I can't remember, but was a sort of combo of brie and blue cheese -- like Saga Bleu but more delicious. The brewer at BB is world renowned for pairing beer and cheese. I also had a lot of beers that I wouldn't normally like on their own, but when paired with the right food were amazing (for example, a strong, smoky stout isn't my cup of... beer, but with spicy salsa it was out of this world). And I went with the famous Mitchell West and Co., so of course it was a good time.

Sunday I went to Brooklyn Bagels with Stace Dawg and her roomies (Brookly B____ being the apparent theme of my weekend), went to see Prince Caspian (fun and good, but not great), and went to hear Matt's wonderful book talk at Politics & Prose. That's one impressive young man! Who's now a bit older, which we were also celebrating last night with pizza at Comet Pizza & Ping Pong. Apparently, Sunday evening = bajillions of children at Comet, so none of us actually got to play any ping pong. But the pizza and the company were tremendous.

And today I started off what will be a somewhat ridiculous work week. Things might be pretty quiet around here, so try and have fun without me and enjoy what's looking like it'll be a pretty beautiful week.

Consolers of the Lonely

That's the name of the new album from The Raconteurs. Aside from the news about its early release and the band's decision not to release any preview copies, I haven't heard a single thing about it since it came out. No reviews, no MP3s floating around. Nothin. I meant to pick it up right away -- given how much I adore their first album and the individual work of all of the band's members. But since record stores don't exist around me anymore, it took a while.

So today I finally put it in for a spin. Remember how the first album was a wonderfully lo-fi approach to 70's-inspired rock and blues? Well this is just like that! Except, minus the wonderful or lo-fi parts. Basically, The Raconteurs have released an Aerosmith album. It's overdone, it's unoriginal, and I honestly can't figure out what the hell these guys were thinking. Maybe I should have listened to it more than once before writing about it, but lordy. This album is a real disappointment.

Friday, May 16, 2008

all yr mp3s are belong to us

In my ongoing effort to be better about actually listening to the music that gets sent to me, I've been dutifully clicking through more mp3 links than usual of late. So here are my immediate reactions to a handful of tracks:

"London Bridges" by This Is Ivy League
: I passed this on to Tom recently, as he's been searching for good summer tunes. This completely fits the bill. It makes me want to eat ice cream and ride a bike and ride in a car with the windows down.

"Dance Dance Dance" by Lykke Li: Just purely and totally delightful. A little less dance-inducing than some of her other songs, but still great.

"Mostly A Friend" by Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez: Belongs in a Wes Anderson movie. My shoulders were shimmying before the end of the first bar.

"Brainless" by Sunny Day Sets Fire: The subject line of this press release broke my brain ("Multinational, multi-instrumental, multi-faceted surrealist pop group Sunny Day Sets Fire primes summertime launch of debut album reminiscent of Blonde Redhead, Flaming Lips and Architecture In Helsinki"). I don't think the horn actually adds anything to this track. Now there's a sentence I never thought I'd write! It's bright and sunny and kind of enjoyable otherwise, though.

"Fantasy Guy" by El Madmo: Sounds like something you'd hear at an open mic night in a small town. That is, well intentioned and nice enough, but not terribly well done or original.

"Sun Down" by Nik Freitas: Charming in a Sha Sha -era Ben Kweller, "Hummingbird"-style Wilco kind of way. Could easily find its way into a road trip scene of a tv drama starring lots of young pretty people.

"Cacophony" by Tilly and the Wall: Not any kind of departure from the band's sound on previous albums, but I happen to like that sound. Tense and happy, energetic and a little bit uneasy. Layered vocals, unexpected turns of percussion and instrumentation. I like it.

"Javelin" by Simon Joyner
: Reminds me precisely of some song I can't put my finger on. But it's somebody else that does this exact same single guitar, pained vocals thing and has a song very, very similar to this. Capps says it sounds like Neutral Milk Hotel playing Bob Dylan. If you can think of who this sounds just like, please tell me. It's kind of like a male Mouldy Peaches? But that's not what I'm thinking of.

"Mirror" by The Pharmacy: I'll try and lighten up on the reviews by comparison, but this is what would happen if Weird War and Wolf Parade became one band maybe. I kind of hate parts of it and kind of really dig others.

"John The Barber" by Biography of Ferns: It's got a lackadaisical 90s thing happening on the vocals. It makes me think of holding hands with somebody you have a big crush on. Maybe that's because it's these kinds of songs that were prevalent when I was doing that in the 90s. I think I like this.

"Hawaii" by Unicycle Loves You: I prefer Jukebox The Ghost's take on this style.

"Nothin 2 Hide" by Joseph Arthur
: OK I lied. I am not going to ease up on the comparison reviews at all. This song is Sneaker Pimps meet Prince.

"Naked and Red" by Colour Revolt: Coldplay meets Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.

"Pirates" by Mr Gnome: The whole breathy and bothered thing is tiresome to me at this point. However, when the song gets going it's got some rockin shades of Karen O.

"On The Beat" by the Electrocutes: I think this song will make Pipettes-loving Tom & Yglz very happy.

That's enough for one day, I think! Do you like this? If so I'll try and do it more often.


Hi! When I woke up this morning, I thought it was Monday for some reason. So when Matt Lauer & Co. told me that it was exactly the work-week opposite of that, I couldn't have been happier. OR COULD I? This morning's Today Show featured the reunion of New Kids On The Block. I actually wasn't too excited leading up to their performance -- I haven't actually pined for them much since the height of their popularity (though I was a rabid fan at the time). But color me surprised as I proceeded to giggle and tear up a little bit throughout their opening medley of hits. They even did their old dance moves! I'm kind of embarrassed by how much I enjoyed it. Not much has changed -- people still squeal the most for Joey's solos, Donnie's still got mad charisma, and Jonathan still looks like he doesn't want to be there. And Jordan's voice is still a little shaky despite being the lead singer, and Danny is still... there.

In other news from my teevee box:

DCeiver was totally cited on The Daily Show!

The Office Season finale totally brought it back. Last week's episode, largely reviled across 'da tubes as the series' worst episode ever, can now be forgotten. The hour-long (usually a sign of a terrible episode to come) finale started off with a classic Jim prank on Dwight, and continued to roll in good form throughout. It's still a little too over-the-top (the beauty of the first two seasons being in the banality of it all), but the character story lines in this episode were classic. Especially KEVIN. Oh. My. God. That was the most brilliant bit of writing I've seen in a long, long time. I also loved the emerging war between Phyllis and Angela, all of the relationship story lines, the new HR lady, and a classic Kelly Kapur interview segment. This is why I like The Office.

Lost was also sort of off the rails last night (in a good way). This season has completely reignited my Lost devotion too. I wasn't that fond of the past couple, but I am completely into it once again. I can't for the life of me figure out how we get to the six survivors getting off the island from where the story is right now. Holy crap.

Non-tv-related: here are two links from Feministing that sent my jaw straight to the floor. How is this stuff still possible? And in the U.S.?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My, how the mighty have fallen

Last year on Mother's Day, mom and I had one of the best meal's either of us can remember at Indigo Landing. Hoping for a repeat performance, we made plans to go there again this year. What we found when we arrived was... disappointing to say the least.

Before I made the reservation on Open Table, I checked things out to make sure they were all still kosher. The restaurant's website still had the same menu we enjoyed last year posted, and everything still described it as "low country cuisine." No mentions of mother's day brunch or any sort of prix fix, so we were in the clear. I could practically taste the fried okra as I booked a table for 2 for a late afternoon lunch.

When we walked in, the first thing we saw was a buffet, full of very standard and unexciting things like danishes, mellon, salad. I eyed the hostess stand and she grabbed some menus as she sat us, so I thought, "phew. dodged that bullet. we can still order lunch."

No such luck.

We sit down and see that rather than lunch, they're serving brunch today (it's mother's day, afterall). Nothing on the menu was under $25, and all but 2 things included eggs. This is not what we had in mind. And upon closer inspection, we saw that not only was it only breakfasty items, none of it had even the slightest hint of low country cuisine. When our waiter came over (who I should note, was sweet as pie despite having a very fussy couple of patrons), we asked if it was possible to order lunch instead of brunch? No, sorry. "We were really hoping for some fried okra." "Oh, you must be thinking of our old menu. We don't do low country anymore -- we're a chop house now."


Right. So without changing their website, their Open Table listing or anything, they not only completely change their menu, but abandon the entire premise of the restaurant. I suppose I could have avoided this by calling the restaurant ahead of time, but I had no reason to believe anything had changed. Judging by the clientelle and the looks on their faces, we weren't the only ones experiencing an unpleasant surprise.

Not wanting to pay thirty bucks for eggs benedict, we opted to find somewhere else to eat. A couple of false starts later, we ended up noshing on mussels and pizza at Faccia Luna in Clarendon (which was pleasant enough, but certainly not as good as all the praise people I know have heaped on it). At one point of our journey, the sky opened up for what would become the great Sunday Monsoon, and I turned to mom and said, "well, at least it's raining!" Disappointing as it was, we still managed to have a nice time. I am just really bummed that the wonder that was Indigo Landing has lost absolutely all of its lustre (well, except for the setting. it's still got the nicest dock and view of anywhere in the area.).

Moral of the story: ignore what I wrote a year ago, and do not go to Indigo Landing, unless you just want to enjoy a drink on their dock on the river surrounded by sailboats and with great city views. But do not go expecting fine southern cuisine. You will be sorely disappointed.

Kanye to the

Saturday evening, my fearless leader Sommer was kind enough to bring me along with her to the Kanye West show at Nissan. (It goes without saying that, despite the hour of ridiculous and unnecessary traffic we waded through thanks to that venue, I'm very glad I was there Saturday and not Sunday. *) One of Sommer's good friends is the official documentarian on this tour (and then some), so he got us great seats for the show. Thanks to the aforementioned traffic, we didn't get to see any of the 3 openers -- all of whom I'd like to have (Lupe Fiasco, N.E.R.D. and Rihanna). But Kanye's show was amazing enough to make the drive out to the boonies worth it.

Kanye's show was just that -- a show. It was closer to a broadway production than a concert. Saying that makes it sound less awesome than it was, but it's the best description I can think of. There was a whole conceit about how Kanye was a space traveler crashed on a planet, trying to get home. There were no backup dancers or any other players on the stage -- it was a one man show. All of the songs were ordered and set up to fit in with his story line. The set was kind of incredible, as was the light show. But more impressive than all of that was the fact that Kanye was out there the entire time, by himself, absolutely killing it. He is a true performer. And the songs all sounded great! He covered material from his entire body of work (I'd forgotten how many hits he's had). "Through The Wire" was introduced hilariously with a segue from his space ship's computer (Jane): "Don't forget -- this isn't your first crash." And there was even an odd but appropriate Journey song brought into the mix. I was blown away. There were a couple of wonderfully egotistical moments that fit in perfectly with Kanye's persona and the show as a whole. If the Glow In The Dark Tour is coming to your town, I highly recommend it. Jacarl's got a more in depth review of the show up on DCist, so go take a look. I hear from Sommer's friend that there are a few elements of the show we didn't get to see -- like the animatronic robot that's in the shop right now. So if you catch the tour at a later date, you might even get to see more of a spectacle than we did.

*Although, thanks to Kriston, I'm finally getting a Radiohead education. So far we've covered The Bends, which I now love. Next up on the curriculum: Ok Computer.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I want to believe

Trailer for the new X Files movie! As I discussed with Emily last night at the Ezracue, old episodes of The X Files (as can be enjoyed on several networks in syndication) are still completely awesome and creepy and, did I mention awesome? I cannot wait for this movie. And, did you spy Xzibit and Leoben in the trailer? Hott.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Charlottesville is a food town

This is all true. I haven't even eaten at half of those places, but when I think back to living in cville, the first thing I think of is the food. Anybody want to go on an eating tour with me sometime this summer?

Music Promotion Gets Wise

As I've mentioned before, I get a lot of promo cd's in the mail. I mean, a lot. A really lot. So many more than a person could ever actually listen to, that I seldom if ever even actually listen at all (unless I was scheduled to review the album or am excited to hear it). I know, I know -- pooooor amanda and all her free music, wah wah wah. But really, they clog up my post box, they take up space in my apartment, and they make me feel guilty for not listening to each and every one. And I've been wondering lately about the wisdom -- both from economic and ecological standpoints -- of individually packaging and sending out copies of albums to each reviewer. In the digital age, it's just unnecessary.

Now, lots of labels and bands have been sending their review material digitally for a while. Rather than mail you a copy, they'll send you tracks over email or send you to a file storage site. It works. But until now, I haven't seen that process brought under one umbrella. RED Artist Development has started using a program called Play MPE. You sign in, and any albums they would have previously sent you in the mail are, instead, all there available for download. The only thing it's missing is the ability to stream before downloading. But anyhow, I applaud the effort to stop filling my inbox and landfills with so many jiffy envelopes. So, thanks RED!

Monday, May 05, 2008


After spending the morning painting an elementary school, I can had cheezburgers with a bunch of other volunteers at Nellie's (the line for the official after party was just too long). Nellie's was not expecting the throng of paint-covered patrons it received on Saturday morning, so the wait there was pretty big too. So two beers on an empty stomach went directly to my head and Kyle caught me showing off my imaginary DJ skills.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

My "one pot wonder"

Inspired by Nikky's roasted chicken and vegetables dish on this week's Top Chef (and by my own boredom, hunger and desire for something simple and delicious), I took a stab at my own version tonight. Protein, starch and vegetables all in one roasting pan.

I lined a pan with aluminum foil and put a couple glugs of olive oil in there. Then I surrounded the edge of the pan with new potatoes, sweet potatoes, white onion, squash, carrots, tomatoes, green beans, carrots and mushrooms (stems off). Spiced with some more olive oil, salt, pepper. I also put about six cloves of garlic (whole, peeled) in the center (underneath where the chicken was about to go).

For the chicken, I did a pretty standard roasting set up -- olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder all over. Stuffed it with lemon slices (keeps it really moist), garlic cloves, a few bits of shallot, and a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme. I also put a bit of rosemary and thyme leaves all over the whole operation (along with a bit of sea salt and a couple pepper corns), as well as a couple pads of butter under the chicken's skin. The chicken plopped right in the center, surrounded by the veg, folded the tin foil over the veggies, and into a 400 degree oven it went.

When the chicken was done cooking, I put it to rest on a separate plate. In the roasting pan, I squeezed the lemon wedges that cooked inside the chicken, and smashed the garlic cloves up. It made a sauce to stir the veggies all around in. All that went on the carved pieces of chicken. And it was faaaantastic. One dish, super easy, and completely satisfying and delicious. I'd show pictures, but my camera battery was dead and I was too hungry to let the pretty food wait for a charge.