Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Rant about Justin Timberlake as an SNL Host

This was originally posted on a friend's Facebook but I deleted it because who am I to begrudge his sketch interests. There is from some reason a popular belief that Justin Timberlake is a great SNL host, when in actuality he is not only NOT great he is bad, way bad. Now the rant:

"Even if he was at one point funny, which is debatable, the fact that people keep on telling him that he is, has made him incredibly grating to watch. He can't make it through a sketch without smirking to the camera as if to say, "Can you believe all the silly things I'm doing right? Aren't I playing against type?" The fact is he isn't playing against type anymore because he does the exact same thing once a year. This is exactly the type he is and plays into.

This must stop. America needs to demand more from JT at this point. The more we let him believe he is funny, the less likely he will be to sing songs again.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Zooey Deschanel Tries To Act Like A Person: Starring her giant engagement ring

Here is a video...

1. She is so pretty
2. She is completely incapable of acting like a regular casual human being
3. I didn't know Ben Gibbard had giant diamond ring money
4. Her songs don't need to be altered at all to be appropriate for a little kids movie
5. I imagine whimsical animation surrounds her at all times
6. She is so pretty.

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Finale

I have touched on this before but the winner of a reality competition is often a battle of conflicting validities. The winner either confirms that the show is an accurate judge of talent or that the show is an accurate creator of talent.

If Mike won that would mean that Top Chef is valid in its ability to take the person who wasn’t the best and help him grow to be.

If Richard won that would mean Top Chef All-Stars is a valid way of determining whom is the best chef.

Oh, before I forget, Richard won!

Last night, Richard did everything I previously hated about him but I’m still certain he should have won. Naming a restaurant “Tongue & Cheek” is just so obvious it should have been named “Tongue & Cheek & On The Nose”. Add in the fact that he started the meal by stating the obvious pun of his Amuse,“Oyster & Pearls”, which is made worse because its not even his own pun. Thomas Keller has been serving a dish under that name for decades, including the time when Richard worked for him.

Richard’s hokey explanations and somewhat unoriginal originality aside, his food last night was probably the most thoroughly conceptualized in the history of the show. On you can watch the extended judge’s table and it is incredibly revealing:

“This guy’s a star.” And that is really it. As I said a zillion weeks ago, the previous winners (meaning the actual winners save Hosea & Kevin and the chefs that have succeeded in real life) deserved it because of an exceptional focus and a clear perspective, Richard was the only chef this season that had that.

Now the question is where does Richard rank all-time?

Here is a list of everyone else who could be in the running for top 5: Michael V, Brian V, Hung, Stephanie, Harold, Kevin Gillespie, Ilan

Based on how they performed on the show only, I think he ends up 2nd between the brothers. But the real test is to see where they are in five years when everyone’s real restaurants can be looked at.

How was the season overall?

Considering that this was its 8th season, I would say it was fantastic. Last season was such a snooze and this effectively breathed new life into the franchise. Hopefully, they were able to stock pile talent and next season will be as good as Las Vegas. Either way…

BRING ON TOP CHEF MASTERS! Let’s go Floyd Cordoz!

This shot was nice

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hanging By A Firework

I have heard the chorus, just the chorus, of "Firework" three times in the last week because I started listening to Who Charted? where it is often a topic of conversation. As I am wont to do I started singing it in a more understated manner like I was working on an acoustic youtube cover. As a result, I realized the chorus is identical to "Hanging By A Moment" by Lifehouse. Here is a clip...

I don't really think this is fraud, as I've said before, there are only so many notes. I wanted to point this out simply because they sound great together! It's like she is singing the higher harmony. I don't know any mash-uppers but if I did I would ask him or her to mash-up the hell out of that as a birthday gift.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 15

Padma: “Remember this?”

Come on! For a show not necessarily known for it’s subtlety, last night will go down in the on the nose record books. To set up the twist in the first half by saying there is going to be at twist inside this envelope was bad enough but to cut away to commercial with the reveal of the envelope, then spend the DVR-buster on just the reveal of the envelope, and to finally come back from commercial with the reveal of the envelope was unbelievable. It was like an SNL skit making fun of Top Chef's fabricated tension. And all of this for Antonia to read a red letter that said, “There will be one more challenge to determine who claims the last spot in the finale.”

Seriously!?! Tom couldn’t have just said that? Obviously, that is what was happening. That might as well have been written ON the envelope and inside there would be actual instructions. Come on!

“There will be one more challenge to determine who claims the last spot in the finale.”

BUSHLEAGUE! This isn’t the first season of Work of Art, you guys won a damn Emmy!

That being said, what a great idea! A three-person finale never really worked, as only two people would actually perform up to par. So instead of rewarding a person just because they didn’t cook the worst dish, this created as much of a competition for that last spot as there was for the first.

It also was nicely portrayed as a competition for who was going to lose to Richard. Really, this entire season has building up to that fact and everyone is on board: the chefs, the judges, the fans. Richard’s story of redemption is much more compelling than any of these other suckers somehow squeaking out a win.

I will admit I wasn’t a Richard fan in his season - I thought he was overly whimsical and derivative – but my tune has changed to a tuneful tune. Primarily, it is because he has conveyed a real sense of self as an artist unlike he had before and unlike almost any of the chefs on the show ever have. Secondly, like an artist, he has showed he is a real nut-job. And as my zillion posts about Kanye reflect, I love artistic crazy people.

So he better win. If he doesn’t its going to be real weird, like if Sleepless in Seattle ended with Meg Ryan having a sensible wedding with Bill Paxton/Pullman.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 14

Maybe they were trying to send a message to the chefs that if you win then you get to be rich and wear all white on a beach in the Bahamas, get served by the King of Junkanoo and his friends, and meet girls that look like Padma in a bathing suit. Either way, watching a bunch of white folks having a chuckle over the perils of the yacht club Commodore electoral process gave me the creeps.

On the other hand, as Mike learned, it’s lonely on the top. That moment where he realized it’s not fun to win when there is no one to celebrate with was pretty tragic. Mikey is just a simple New Jersey bro who wants to hang out with his friends and have a good time. Either way, he is doing a great job of filling his role as the person who eventually loses to Richard.

Also fitting her role was Tiffany. She lost because she is not as good as the other three; however, at the end it became clear that she wanted to blame her lack of highfalutin kitchen pedigree and the fact that she is from a small town. I call bullshit. She lives in Dallas now, which is a city much larger than both where Blais and Mike live. Not to mention that Beaumont, TX has a population five time larger than that of Uniondale, NY (where Blais is from, STRONG ISLAND REPRESENT). I have no problem with chefs who haven’t worked for Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Ferran Adria (as Blais has) but I do when they continue using it as an excuse.

So now we are down to a final three: Blais is making noodles out of sweet potatoes, Mike is making pineapple that is completely savory, and Antonia is cooking food that would have been interesting in 1985.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Even My Favorite Music is on the NBC Thursday Night Line-up: Childish Gambino EP edition

When I was younger, I listened to a lot of rap music. This was de rigueur for a white fellow from the suburbs but that didn’t make me any less, as have continued to be about anything I have liked since then. Over time my interest waned and I was only listening to some choice backpackers like Mos Def. Since his first single I have loved Kanye but I view him as more of a singer-songwriter of sorts than an MC. As a result, Lupe Fiasco had held the title as my favorite rapper of the modern era. With his new album coming out this month, I expected to be an influx of hip hopping, which has definitely been case. BUT I have barely listened to Lasers partly because it is just not good enough and mostly because of another rap release that I love…

Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover on his current EP has proven he much more than a competent rapper, he is actually quite great. He comes across more genuine than about any rapper I have ever heard, wavering between the necessary bravado and a comic’s proclivity for self-deprecating. His lyrics are packed with punch lines that reflect an exceptional understanding of the rhythms of both music and comedy. Quite possibly, what I like so much about Glover’s music s that his references are references that I completely get. Here are a few:

“I’m the boss, Michael Scott, y’all bitches is just Phyllis”

“Steady movin’, don’t worry about where I’mma be

‘Cause I’mma be on these tracks like indie girls on Amelie

Honesty, I’m rappin’ ’bout everything I go through

Everything I’m sayin’ I’m super sayin’ like Goku

“Even though I was rappin’ back when Lance had chemo, ho

Even flow, Pearl Jammin’ niggas can’t leave me alone”

“Let me poke ya, ma, Raichu

“Hard for a pitchfork, soft for a Rockefeller”

“Yeah, we doin’ stupid shit, have stories when I’m older

But I don’t wanna see pictures of us on Vulture

He reads the same blogs I do!!!! Eminem doesn’t read my blogs. I’m pretty sure 50 Cent just doesn’t read.

The EP is filled some slightly satirical tough talk and bragging but it also features a great deal of an honest vulnerability. Glover doesn’t pretend he is from the streetz like many of his contemporaries, instead it seems like he understands the importance of his truth, as he raps:

“Whiskey-sippin’, wanna drink the whole bottle

But these smart middle-class black kids need a role model”

As is the fundamental conflict of his character on Community, Glover tends to waver between being cool and being a nerd. Take the absurd lyric:

“And my dick is too big, there’s a Big Bang Theory”

Glover effectively uses macho vocabulary of rap music to wink at the popular sitcom that beats his handedly in the rating every week in their shared timeslot.

I think it also important to note that his music also succeeds at being what is expected of hip-hop musically. Previously, he used to rap over indie rock songs – effectively endearing him to some choice bloggers - but now his beats are more what is to be expected from today’s more cerebral rappers. He even dips into the omnipresent dance-rap with “Lights Turned On”. A track I imagine could do really well at LA’s Temporary Spaces both on their more East-side and more Hollywood nights.

Considering his good deal of success at such a young age, it is obvious that Glover is an exceptionally hard worker. This leaves me incredibly excited to see where both his acting and music career goes. Maybe, he is destined to do what the character he used to write for recently accomplished, EGOT.

You can download the aforementioned excellent EP for FREE here

Sunday, March 13, 2011

7 Reasons Why Battle: Los Angeles is Good

Battle: Los Angeles is such an obviously bad movie that spending time mocking it just makes the writer look silly. For example, yy beloved Vulture published a piece entitled "7 Reasons Why Video Games are Better than Battle: Los Angeles" that was equally as hackneyed as it accused the film of being. If anything Battle: Los Angeles came off a film that subvert a paradigm: It was a movie created to launch a series of a video games and not the other way around.

So here is my counter-list:

1. It is not bad

Battle: LA is not some joke like Drive Angry in 3D. Yes, it is unoriginal but that does not necessarily mean it is unwatchable. If anything, Battle: LA is a very watchable 2.25 hours of movie. Yep, it is that long. It is super long but it doesn't really drag because...

2. Things happen

Say what you will but stuff goes down. The movie starts off with a few minutes at the height of the chaos and then jumps back to the day before so it can handle some expository heavy lifting. This is the writer's way of saying we don't trust the patience of the audience so let's rile them up. Once the ten minutes of a character explanation is over it is full speed ahead and tons of things happen. There is like 20 different location set-ups where they fight the aliens: freeways, pools, police station, airports. Say what you will, but five minutes didn't go bye without someone getting exploded to death (the only way people died), you can't say that about a Duplass Brother's movie.

3. It's Pretty Dark

I'll just say that the movie started with a bunch of characters and ended with a lot less. Since all the characters were so poorly fleshed out you had no idea who was going to be exploded to death (the only way people died). Also the movie was so long that I started getting nervous that it would end with the humans losing. Finally, when the movie does end, things didn't necessarily look that great. As cliche as the film was, at least it didn't end with the protagonist/s single-handedly beating an entire race of aliens.

4. It was definitely a satire of LA's car culture, maybe

The real bad guy of the film might have been Los Angeles. The soldiers had to go so far to get to the home base because the city itself is so expansive. This meant they had to try and drive through the streets of non-moving cars. It didn't necessarily feel much different than what living in LA is like anyway. Add the fact that taking the freeway results in disaster and it definitely seems possible that the writer was taking the worst part of LA to task. Or not, but maybe.

5. Confusing, but in a good way

The film is over two hours long and for the most part the audience has no idea what is happening at any point. Easily, this could be chalked up to lazy writing or maybe, just maybe, the hope was to put the audience in the same situation as the soldiers. If aliens really did attack, we would have no idea what the hell to do. We wouldn't be making jokes and saying slick catchphrases ("welcome to urf!"), we would be super frightened and our marines would try to fight them like any other hostile force. The soldiers felt like, well, soldiers in how inarticulate and overwhelmed they were. This was partly do to what I consider excellent direction...

6. Jonathan Liebesman did a good job

The wikipedia page for the film that Liebesman was very deliberate in his execution of the story. Inspired by footage shot by soldiers in Fallujah, Liebesman gave this big-budget action film a very realistic feel. The use of a lot of hand-held cameras resulted in a "Hurt Locker for simple people", of sorts. The script was ultimately awful so Liebesman is owed credit for making it watchable. Also, he also was able to make it for just $70 million, which is incredibly small for a movie like this. Take the fact that movie seems like it is going to be a success and this means....

7. Sequels!

Battle: New York, Battle: Bangkok, Battle: Des Moines... The possibilities are endless. Half-way through, I started rooting for a lack of closure so the series could continue. The worst part of about Battle: Los Angeles was Los Angeles. LA just does not have enough landmarks near each other to make the carnage exciting. So if the series continues, I am hopeful for how much delightful destruction is in store.


Don't get me wrong Battle: Los Angeles is a bad movie but everyone who goes to see it knows that. What really matters is how you go see it. Critics expecting a bad movie will get a bad movie, especially when it is a bad movie, which it is. However, if you go into it without expectations then you can definitely have a blast, not the type of blast that resulted in all the film's deaths, but like a fun blast that results in little bodily harm.

****UPDATE**** An inside source has told me that my suspicions were correct: Sony has already began working on Battle: Tokyo (too soon?)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Jesse, Where did your NBC Thursday Night Recaps Go?

For those who follow my blogging but not by twitterings might not have learned why I stopped writing about the delight that is NBC's Thursday night line-up.

They now appear on check-a-check-a-check it out.

Fox Thursday Line-Up: take 2

If my blog was incredibly SEO friendly for only one thing it would Fox's Thursday Line-Up. I feel bad because I never ever write about it (save this similar post).

Anyway, I want to be friendly to those who stumble upon this so currently Fox's Thursday night looks like this:

American Idol 8:00-9:00

Bones 9:00-10:00

I have not watched Bones yet and I haven't seen the last five seasons or so of AI (Rubban Studdar 4 Lyf ya'll, amiright). Though, I did hear that one of the contestants is cheating this year by getting blood transfusions before episode to boost his energy and soulfulness, dawg (is that guy still a judge?).

Netflixing: Radio Days

As much as I like watching movies, I might like rating them on Netflix better. In this series I will explain why I rate what I rate. This week...

For a while I used to call my Netflix queue the “Woody Allen Film of the Week Club.” After far too long without a subscription and after living a life where I watched far too few movies (Have you seen Jaws or 2001: A Space Odyssey? Because I haven’t but I have seen the Brendan Fraser/Albert Brooks bromance The Scout 12 time), when I finally did bite the bullet, all I wanted to do was watch the entirety of the Woody Allen Catalog.

Beyond the innate Allen appreciation that swims through my bloodstream as a natural born Jews, Woody just makes the movies I like to see: tightly-scripted, heady comedies set in New York. The first film I watched via Netflix was Sweet and Lowdown, which instantly became one of my hands down favorite movies ever. The ending of that film might have been my favorite of any story I have ever experienced, film or otherwise. S&L was considered to be a very good Woody film (and one of his eventual many “comeback films”) but not one of the all-time greats, even though I think the movie is absolutely flawless.

Same goes for Bullets Over Broadway, another late-era film that was very well received but not really thought to be in the same echelon as the films of his late 70’s to late 80’s run. Though it is a high-concept film, BOB really acts as Woody’s meditation on what it means to be a true artist. I was not expecting to like it as much as I did but ultimately it is a must-see film.

It hasn’t been all pleasant surprises. I didn’t love The Purple Rose of Cairo, a film generally considered to be one his all-time best. I got a lot of the meaning of the picture yet it still just didn’t resonate. I am by no means saying it’s not great, it just didn’t work for me.

So where does Radio Days stack up?

In chronicling his childhood growing up in New York, Radio Days comes off as one of Woody’s most wistful and least bitter movies. The story mixes tales of the Golden Age of Radio with trials of his family. I think partly what made the film so enjoyable was realizing that this was also the story of my grandparents New York, where my Bubbe grew up not too far from Woody’s Brooklyn childhood neighborhood. Adding to the overall nostalgic feel was how many of the film’s actors have appeared in other Allen movies: Danny Aiello, Jeff Daniels, Mia Farrow, Julie “Marge Simpson” Kavner, Diane Keaton, Wallace “Inconceivable!” Shawn, Diane Wiest, and a young, barely recognizable Larry David. There was also something nice about having a very young Seth Green play the surrogate young Woody.

The film plays out more as a series of short stories with interconnecting themes than one all-encompassing narrative. With Woody taking the duty of the narrator, the film did have the feeling of an excerpted memoir. It was definitely a nice change of pace from the Woody standard but I did find myself longing for a more realized arc.

Radio Days is a terrific movie and a definite most see for Allen fans and people with New York Jewish grandparents, but it do not place it on the same level as my eight favorites: Crimes & Misdemeanors (my hands-down #1), Sweet & Lowdown, Manhattan, Annie Hall, Vicky Christina Barcelona, Bullets Over Broadway, Hannah & Her Sisters, Husbands & Wives.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 13

There were two quick fires last night on Top Chef (amiright).

What was so fun about the second one (the first was actually quite dull thanks to Hosea’s pointless face) was that it totally ruined the “big twist.” “Cook for Royalty” is not a Top Chef challenge so obviously there was going to be a surprise. We eventually learned it wasn’t a man-servant flanked Duke but just a humble dancing King (I can't decide if I think this felt racist) and everyone shrugged like, “I guess that’s a thing.” The Chefs didn’t even ape shock. That was until they realized besides being run down that kitchen was completely unsafe. And then, BAM!...

All the food is damaged so we get to see what happens when the chefs cook knowing exactly what the classic TC left-turn is going to be. The result was completely revealing about each contestants personalities:

Antonio: Is not necessarily a thoughtful chef so when given time to over-think or second-guess herself it goes poorly.

(black) Tiffany: Has so few tricks in her bag that she is completely incapable to doing anything different the second time.

Carla: She is so absorbed with this concept of “cooking my food” that she fails to adapt to situations even when they are presented plainly in front of her.

Blais: Is an artist and over the course of this season it has been made clear he is crazy like one. Personally, I like Richard a lot more now that I know he is a self-doubting, obsessive lunatic then before when I thought he was a cold, scientific chef. He is incapable of cooking the same thing twice because he thinks everything is awful. He is incredibly knowledgeable and creative but, this being a single elimination competition, he is playing with fire (that's 2!).

Mike: Is a kitchen rat, who has worked for a lot of artistic chefs. This means that he understands how to execute complex seeming food but does not have a huge urge to constantly create. Last night was obviously a dish he knew was going to want to make so he was able to take the redo to just make it better.

Mike deserved to win and Carla deserved to lose. Tiffany also deserved to lose. Antonio also deserved to lose. Blais deserves to beat Mike.

However, Things do not always go as they should just ask Jennifer’s angry face.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 12

Mike: "Who's going?"

Carla & (black) Tiffany: "We're all going AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAACK"

It was a wonderful 30 minutes of Top Chef (after the completely useless quick fire) and I decided to not begrudge the decision to have a final 5. Introducing family members is usually a sure-shot at a bizarrely touching episode and this was not an exception. Mike's in particularly felt especially poetic. To spend 20 years in denial just to go through acceptance on television, woof. For that moment I must have smelled the onions they had been cutting. The rest seemingly nailed it as well - Carla go to cook with her <3, black Tiffany saved Tom from a life sans okra, Antonio made solid Italian food that somehow won her an automobile, Richard had the hardest challenge and did the best job - so let them jump around too. Let everyone jump around.

Except, well, Dale:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Most Depressing Photo of the Day

This was spotted on the corner of 20th & Van Ness and it just floored me. How did this baby lose both their shoe AND sock? It's an absolute tragedy, I say.

Is the foot still in there? I bet it is, eek. Well. Maybe. Though, I feel like if you were going to chop off a baby's foot you would do so to steal the FOOT not that baby. Who would want a one footed baby? You would need to invest at least $5,000 to buy him a prosthetic if you wanted to make him a slave when he grows up. That just seems like a shortsighted financial strategy. Needless to say, I was too scared to look.

My guess is that the baby was a Hispanic (20th & Van Ness, spade a spade, etc.) John Connor of sorts and a cyborg from the future is out to get him. Unlike Terminator this cyborg is able to travel through worm holes. I know, of course, typical. So obviously, this Terminator (played in the film by the Mexican-enough looking Vin Diesel) used a worm hole to pop into this dimension, snatch Juan Connor and pop out. Sadly, the hole closed on Juan's ankle, effectively stripping him of his shoe AND sock. Now he is careening through the Universe with one disproportionately cold foot. It's an absolute tragedy, I say.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Netflixing: Easy A

As much as I like watching movies, I might like rating them on Netflix better. In this series I will explain why I rate what I rate. This week...

Easy A fits nicely with Means Girls in the land of post-modern teen movies. From the first ten minutes it is apparent that it is aware of itself, with Emma Stone effectively winking the necessary knowing wink. Otherwise, it is fairly straight forward, hitting the exact beats at exact time they are supposed to be hit. This is not saying it a generic script, which it is not, but it does definitely play by the rules of the genre. A genre the film celebrates by outwardly acknowledging its forbearers despite the fact that Olive would have been about -10 when many of the alluded to John Hughes movies came out.

To that end the character of Olive seems to have been intentional written to speak like a grown up. A fact the movie acknowledges by 1) having the young Todd character outwardly say it to the young Olive and 2) giving Olive parents that talk to her like an adult.

Her parents might have been my favorite characters, seemingly created with the desire to defy the convention of the traditionally tough and not understanding movie parents. I related to the idea that sometimes teenagers have the most in common and actually enjoy the people that raised them. The success of this was helped by the brilliant performances by Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson.

Though, if I am going to mention casting I should note that first and foremost that Ms. Stone absolutely nailed it. She was apparently born to play Olive, a character that is both wise beyond her years yet still wracked with the lack of world weariness that is expected from a teenager. She is gorgeous but with a weird enough face that it is somewhat understand why she would be unpopular in high school. I imagine even a talented young actress in the same ilk like Emma Roberts would not have been able to do as good a job.

Similarly, much of the casting from necessarily annoying Amanda Bynes to Thomas Haden Church as the archetypal favorite teacher of a cool yet unpopular teen movie protagonist was spot on. The one exception is Penn Badgley who was such a bizarre cast as Todd. It seemed like Todd was supposed to be a dorky yet awkwardly charming romantic counterpart in the vain of her Superbad co-star Michael Cera or Zombieland co-star but Badgley played it in the only way he can as a full-on heart (of gold) throb. This legitimately could be the movies most inexcusable flaw. The first act expository stuff might have been a little too heavy handed and the third act melt down too predictable but both seemed to be the intention of the writer, Ben V. Royal, who did not want divert too far from the format.

Overall, the movie achieves it goal of being a teen movie for teenagers that also works for post-teenagers. It was incredibly smart, using the Scarlet Letter allusion to comment on high school gossip and a generation of oblivious oversharers yet deft enough to not make the film to weighty or didactic, choosing to have these big ideas mentioned in offhand comments. Easy A might be an easy (!) watch but it is by no means simple:


Thursday, February 24, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 11

He was "that" close. As were all the near losers of losers of the last couple of weeks. Leaving us with a sorry excuse for a final 5. Black Tiffany! Antonia! Really? REALLY!?!?

This season has been playing out as Richard and the also rans and if he wins then bully for Top Chef. However, if he stumbles making hot dogs on a boat or whatever the hell they're doing next week, then there is a problem. You cannot bring back a bunch of old losers, call them "All-Stars" and have some one like Carla win. Carla is a fine cook but she was brought on the show because she was one of the show's All-Star personalities not chefs.

Dale and Angelo were not personalities, they were brought on to cook good food. They would be perfect follies for the eventually victorious Richard who is one of the top 5 best chefs who did not win. A case maybe can be made for Angelo but generally that cannot be said for any one else this season. It is a stable of the best or most likable of the middle, most of whom never deserved to win.

But you know who has already one this season, PSYCHO-THERAPY! Every losing chef talks about how much happier they are as people now, it is beautiful.

Oh yeah, also, Paula Deen is the worst.

Though I loved when she was talking there was a bunch of funny cutaways.

"I'm from the south" jumpcut to Black Tiffany
"How we show our love" jumpcut to Carla
"Lasagna" jumpcut to a gleeful Mike

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 9

First, let me apologize, I watched last week’s episode on a plane flying back from NY. I did not have the gustiness to knock out a recap after what ended up being 10 hours of travel. Either way, that was last week, which was a good episode, and this is this week, which also was a good episode.

There was one clear winner this episode; no, not Carla who was so off-the-wall bonkers that I am starting to worry she is actually severely bi-polar. Also, it should be noted that Carla is so good at what she does and nothing else that she should resign from the competition already and just open up a “Contemporary” Soul Food Kitchen in Washington, DC called Hoot that sells $18 Fried Chicken and $20 Shrimp & Grits.

I guess the picture makes it obvious but Jimmy Fallon was the winner! He was just so damn nice and human. All week the blog press was about how Fallon had a hard time filming the judges’ table because he could not keep a straight face. When the winners came in he wanted to scream congrats and when the losers approached he wanted to apologize.

The picture above is from when Fabio was walking out the room, and Jimmy looked physically shaken, especially compared to Padma and her “I think this is how normal people show sadness” face. After 100 or so tables, it has become old hat for Tom, Gail, and Padma so it is nice to have some one on their that can act as a proxy for us common-folk.

And if there is anything Jimmy Fallon shines at it is acting as a proxy for his audience. I was always a defender of Fallon on Late Night; I even went on the limb of Tweeting as much in the first week of the show. Now that the show has really found its voice (largely do to A.D. Miles a.k.a. the fellow with the snarkiest quote of the night, comparing Black Tiffany’s chicken & dumplings to tortilla soup), it is great to see the masses get behind him. He is definitely on a path to be the next Tonight Show host, and after the events of last year, it might be nice to have some in the seat with such a history of politeness not a history of being a pirate who collects classic cars.

I digress, after generally a season of great challenges it seems like next week the show is going to be replaced by a 45 minute commercial for Target.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Pouring Big Nate's Sauce on Stuff Saga

For my last job I created a viral campaign of sorts. It was so huge that it is going to be featured in zillions of future viral video text books; likely in a chapter on cheap imitators of the Old Spice Guy campaign.

Below is the entirety of the series. Enjoy the many faces (there are 0 faces) of my acting...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 7

In the history of Restaurant Wars, I think the Voltaggio Brother’s effort probably put out the best food, but last night the Bodega team offered the most successfully articulated concept in the show’s history.

They might both be molecular gastronomists but it was apparent why Blais is leaps and bounds a better chef than Marcel, vision. Blais uses modern technique to execute his ever-whimsical vision, where Marcel uses it because that is all he knows. Where Bodega was a novel and relevant idea, Etch was completely flaccid; Mediterranean food cooked by four losers of Top Chef is not a concept.

Marcel has been such a tragic figure this season, destined to meet his demise due to his fatal flaw, hubris. At any moment I pictured Antonia or black Tiffany turning to him and saying, “You’re not an asshole, Marcel. You’re just trying so hard to be one.”

Still the episode was about the ingenuity of the winning team, which with a simple name change, I think they would have a hit restaurant on their hands with Bodega.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Favorite Thing: December 2010

The open-faced pig jowl, slow-poached egg, cheddar cheese, radicchio sandwich from Bar Tarine

Who is a more reasonable critic: the involved enthusiast or the unbiased outsider?

I had my favorite breakfast ever on December 19th at San Francisco’s Bar Tartine. It feautred the greatest combination of five ingredients since the 1992 Olympic Dream Team starting line-up: sharp Irish cheddar cheese - pig Jowl (yep, this jowl), an incredibly flavorful and unctuous piece of meat, effectively tasting like pork belly from a pig raised solely eating bacon (in a non-creepy way) – eggs that were soft-poached, which both focused the eggy-ness and created a smooth, custard-like, texture – the radicchio, whose bitterness in harmony with its subtle vinaigrette's acidity somehow cut through the embarrassment of fatty riches – all on top of Tartine’s country bread (a thorough wax-poem can be found here). Despite all the big ingredients, the result was as perfectly balanced as it was laughably unhealthy. It is the bacon, egg, and cheese a lapsed-Kosher Jesus would eat.

This was the best brunch of my life but there is one problem, I DON’T LIKE BRUNCH. I do not like breakfast food in general so the idea of wasting a great meal like lunch on it seems like wasting a monkey paw wish on world peace (or is like wasting a monkey paw by not wishing for world peace?).

What is the value of the opinion of critics who inherently differ from a criticism’s likely reader? Why should the world demand a 11-year-old girl from Pawnee, Indiana care about the thoughts of a 34 year-old, bespectacled, Wilco-loving, Brooklyn-living, rock critic’s opinion on Katy Perry. On the other hand, if certain art is criticized only by those who enjoy it, then there would be no way to determine its comparative worth. Where would the line be drawn?

From what I remember from Philosophy 100, this mirrors the debate over relativism; should a culture of the past be judged by current standards or by the standards of its day? For example, should our forefathers be condemned or exonerated for their questionable pastimes (i.e. slavery and “Indian” diseasing).

I do not remember if my professor picked one but luckily there is a particular recent cultural phenomenon that helps achieve a balance between the two, (today’s go to cure-all) the Internet. The gap between the major critic and the blogged-layman has shrunk enough that both opinions can be heard concurrently. Leaving me free to write about my beloved breakfast sandwich without having to worry about arguing the case for its standing in the annals of brunchery.

Did I mention how utterly yummy the side of rosemary potatoes was?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Skittles, skittles, skittles, skittles, skittles, skittles, skittles

I have not eaten Skittles in awhile. Here is an assortment of thoughts related to eating Skittles

- I assume some candy big wig went into a candy staff meeting and demanded they blend Starburst technology with M&M technology. Considering, Skittles's construction is pretty shoddy; they tend to be overly chewy and gritty.

- Starburst were originally named Opal Fruits in Europe but was given the celestial name upon their American release in 1967, a time when space was the bees knees. Oddly enough, saying bees knees was also the bees knees during this bee kneeing time period.

- A few years later, all Opal Fruits were called Starburst because America is the coolest.

- Here is the ranking of the traditional Skittles flavors:

5) Purple
4) Green
3) Yellow
2) Orange
1) Red

- Before I am chastised for bias, I should tell you that in the age-old Orange v. Red candy debate, I am almost always team Orange (i.e. Tootsie Pops). Sometimes Red just works.

- Green is an unfairly treated flavor. Here are two theories:

1) There was a time when limes were less common than lemons in most of America. The result is lemon became the go to non-orange citrus flavor. So when it came time to design lime flavors they realized they had to push the taste in a certain direction so as to not taste just like lemon.
2) Green previously meant Sour Apple for hard candies. For some reason the idea of an apple flavored chewable candy seemed gross. So when trying to fill their need for a Green flavor, they had to hastily create the lime we have today.

I agree, this intellectual exercise was useless. Blogging!

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 6

For a show rife with product placement, none has ever been as ebulliently sold as last night’s 10 minute commercial for fishing*. Seriously, has anyone ever had as much fun ever as these 12 had on their little boats?

I wrote a few weeks back about how arresting it was to see the overwhelming cordialness of the contests this season. This episode seemed to kick it up a notch (food catchphrases, natch), as they looked like a bunch of idiots on vacation, not reality show competitors cooking for their lives.

Apparently, most of the cheftestants view the season as exactly that, a vacation. Save crazy Jen, if you watch most of the Exit Interviews it is clear that a lot of these chefs came on not to win but to have fun and do the show in the right way. White Tiffani more than anyone else made it known from the get-go that she just wanted to show that she has grown-up**.

I for one am glad that the season was not reduced to a cooking version of the Real Word/Road Rules challenge, packed with attention starved, emotionally stunted, jerkstores clinging to the limelight like flies to a light-light. That being said, next week is Restaurant Wars, so this feeling might all go to hell in a produce basket (sponsored by Whole Foods).

*Though Blais seemed to really enjoy saying “…we jump in our Toyoto Siennas and head out,” as if it is a normal human thing to say the full brand name of one’s vehicle every time you go somewhere.

**There is something to be said about the need to go on TV to show the world how mature you have become instead of just being more mature that is kind of iffy. I think baby steps are still applauded considering how dragon-like she was once.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Hey guys, you know what are great? iPods!

Seriously, how amazing are iPods? For example, my iPod has ALL of my favorite songs on it.

I was “famously” slow to adopt the technology – I resisted until my Sony discman broke 4.5 years ago – but once I received my 30GB with my name and phone number embossed (in the case of a 2nd thought having petty thief), I have never looked back*.

Case in point, this morning I accidently selected “Shuffle Songs” instead of “Now Playing” and boy did the floodgates of awesome open upon me. Here is the playlist that followed:

Broken Social Scene “Lover’s Spit”

A prototypical BSS bizarro-world sex jam ostensibly about blow jobs. Think of it like D’Angelo’s “Untitled” for people who listen to “This American Life”.

John Legend “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”

A super-great live recording of the Nina Simone (The Animals) song, which I thought I removed from my iPod two years ago. Praise the fates that that was not the case.

Annie – “Heartbeat”

The indie-dance classic that I have listened to maybe twice since Christina Kim put it a on a two-disc mix after I told her I might love electronic music. I was wrong. Still, this morning I realized I should really listen to this song way more.

The Beatles “For No One”

I have 146 Beatles songs on my iPod and as a result this song completely fell off my radar. I have listened to it a total of 0 times. The song is near flawless and further proof why Paul was so overrated that he is now the most underrated Beatle.

Newsies Cast – “The World Will Know”

It might not be “King of New York” or “Seize the Day” but any Newsies song is a wonderful song to drive to work to. Especially such a triumphant one with the geniusly old-time New York sung “we got plent of rotten fruit and poifect aim”.

Death Cab for Cutie – “What Sara Said”

Possibly, DCFC’s most kick-to-the stomachly sad song. Highlighted by the “Who’s going to watch you die” refrain. Only my iPod would think to put such a song in the same mix as “Lover’s Spit”. Maybe it is trying to tell me with this mix to live life to the fullest while there is still life to be fully lived. Or maybe it is just a little cube filled with sprockets, wires, and a little hamster on a spinning wheel, either way it was a fantastic start to the morning. Thanks iPods!

You can download this inspiring mix here but sssssshhhhhhhhhh don't tell the infamously bad at sharing Beatles.

*I am aware that my iPod is now a technological relic as well and I should have at least 12 iPads by now. Ever since I learned what an early-adopter was in Markting class my junior year, I knew it was not in my cards.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Surreally Acute Racism of the San Francisco Vintage Paper Fair

Yesterday, I went to the San Francisco Vintage Paper Fair (yep, these things really happen here). More accurately, it should have been titled the San Francisco Fair of Aggressively Forward Racist Imagery of the 20th Century. I guess that was too long of a title.

I do not want to editorialize too much but it was damn astonishing to see these images in these days of Post-Racial America. That first picture is of a postcard. A POSTCARD! I imagine at least fifty birthday celebrating American children received that card and a nickel from their grandparents. 'Tis Amurica!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A One Screenshot Top Chef Recap: Week 5

There is a lot of debate (no there's not) about whether this episode will remembered as the one where Tom actually cooked or the one where a room full of Chinese families made fun of the cheftestants.

Considering that I have eaten and shortly worked at his restaurants, I did not need to see his skills validated, I am aware he is an actual top chef*. Not to mention that he had a huge advantage of having plenty of time beforehand to know what he wanted to cook.

So the episode was more about these idiots inability to make dim sum. Like they did in episode 3, the chefs should have considered the venue and appealed to its standards. Grand Harmony is a cart-based dim sum house, which means more than anything (including flavor) it demands volume. If the customers featured on the show were regulars of Grand Harmony, than I imagine they are used to premade/re-heated fascimiles of the dim sum greatest hits. Thus, the screenshot above is as much mocking the food for being overly fussy as it is implying it is bad.

The idea of chef's gussying up dim sum sounds delicious yet save Asian Dale and hangs-out-with-Asians Angelo's dishes, everything seemed like as Tom put it "a waste of calories." filmed an event for this year's New York Food & Wine Festival called Dim Sum Disco, in which top asian-cooking chefs of New York made their takes on dim sum. This is how it is done.

* I am also aware that "top chef" is not a term that anyone used to talk about anyone before this show.