Friday, December 28, 2007

A Sonny and Cher Christmas

From 1976:
Sonny, Cher, Chastity, Bernadette Peters, Captain Kangaroo.

And Shields and Yarnell for, as they say, the win!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Talkin' 'Bout Mill Valley

Thanks to the record collection of Robert Emmett at KFJC, I knew that in the 1970s, a chorus of kids recorded a song entitled "Mill Valley," which extolled the virutes of living in that Marin County town.

I knew it was a catchy tune. In college, I heard it once, and could not get it out of my head.

What I didn't know (until tonight, thank you former KALX DJ "The In-Crowd") is that:
a) the song, by Miss Abrams and the Strawberry Point 4th Grade Class, charted as a single in 1970;
b) which led to an album;
c) which Varese Sarabande re-released as a CD in 2000 with extra tracks;
d) it's available as MP3 downloads from Amazon, and
e) there's a music video. The video, a lovely time capsule from 1970, was directed by a local filmmaker with experience (he'd just done a musical called Finian's Rainbow). Francis something.

Photo by Annie Leibowitz.
Miss Abrams is still around, and still writing music.


Trailer for Columbia Pictures' Jason and the Argonauts, filmed in the miracle of Dynarama!

Trailer for Hallmark Entertainment's made-for-TV movie Jason and the Argonauts. Despite the presence of Dennis Hopper, Frank Langella, and Derek Jacobi, no one remembers this.

Trailer for Mary Zimmerman's Argonautika, which just closed at The Berkeley Rep. (If link is down, try YouTube link)

Mary Zimmerman on Jason and the Argonauts, courtesy of McCarter Theatre Center and the Shakespeare Theater Company.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spherical Panoramas

Picture 1.png
Photographer Carel Struycken creates beautiful QuicktimeVR panoramic images, mostly from sites around California.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Faces in Places

Picture 1.png
Blog cataloguing favorite images from the "Faces in Places" Flickr group.

Monday, December 17, 2007

We Need A Little Christmas

My office "Hall-iday" party is Thursday, and once again the staff talent show is the main entertainment. This year, I'm flying solo, as my partner-in-crime has moved off to Oregon. (Last year he was newly gone, but I had time to write a five person sketch riffing on his departure).

So, as part of my preparation for said solo act, I was scanning YouTube for ideas for choreography to fill a sixteen second instrumental break in the karaoke track of Jerry Herman's "We Need a Little Christmas."

While watching Angela Lansbury, Lucille Ball, Mitzi Gaynor, the Purdue University Glee Club, various amateur dance and holiday recitals, and even the Sims(!), I discovered that the instrumental break is a feature for radio (and, apparently karaoke). Most of the live shows skip right past it.

Then I found this homemade music video of the song, done by a local teenager, and starring her family.

And while the actors are self-conscious, the whole thing is done with love.

Way more sincere than the Purdue Glee Club.

I'm crossing my fingers that when our boys are teenagers, they have the chutzpah to do this un-ironically.

Note: There are plenty of jaw-droppingly unintentionally hilarious choreographed dances to this song on YouTube, which, out of respect for this family's efforts, I'll leave you to find on your own.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Recipe for Making Deirdre Laugh

Alec Baldwin
Ana Gasteyer
Molly Shannon

Saturday Night Live, from 1998.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

24: The unaired 1994 pilot

Kind of an obscure premise, executed brilliantly (and with terrific production values).

Jack Bauer and CTU reimagined in the not-so-distant past.

via Paul Burd, via Steve Garfield, but also apparently featured in TV guide.

Holiday Guide 2007: Entertaining - Cookies (

I was looking for an Washington Post article covering a White House press briefing which announced that the country's drug interdiction policy for the past 7 years has been a success. I couldn't find it from the front page. But then this caught my eye, and you know me, given a chance to click on something equally interesting, I'll lose all memory of the first thing I was trying to look up.

So. Twenty six different cookies for the holidays. Twenty six more ideas to propose.

Not that I have high hopes.

L wants to make more sugar cookies with sprinkles. R agrees. We suggest other favorites from our childhood (peanut butter cookies with hershey's kisses, green corn flake wreaths), but they're not interested.

A cookie made with crushed candy canes appeals to them.

Whatever. I need to find out really soon if carmel covered chocolate chip dulce de leche oatmeal cookies are all that-- or too much-- and if the vegan Rumnog Pecan Cookies will come out if I sub in real milk and butter, and --only because I live in Berkeley (this cookie sounds a little too snobbish and not all that tasty-- John Scharffenberger's Chocolate shortbread with Cacao Nibs

Hey. Who put the Quinoa Cheese Cracker in the mix? That's clearly an oversized cracker.

Also, on the same page: edible gingerbread Christmas ornaments.

(Note: I had to allow popups to get the recipes to appear)

The traditional phonograph record management pattern

NEWSWEEK CHINA profiles internet troubador Jonathan Coulton. Friend and collaborator John Hodgman wishes to read said article, pastes text into the Altavista internet translation engine, posts resultant text on his blog.

In the (translated into Chinese, and then back to English) words of Coulton himself:
"Now arrived for a crucial time, we all should self-examine really needs the record company. We are glad with the traditional phonograph record management pattern which rottenly deteriorates to say very much goodbye."


How To Hide An Airplane Factory

Think or Thwim posts a collection of WWII-era photos showing how the Army Core of Engineers disguised a Lockheed airplane factory from the air using camouflage netting, fake houses, and trompe l'oeil.

Of course, the Japanese air force never did quite make it to Burbank. But if they HAD, they would so have been fooled.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Endangered Machinery

Missed this when BoingBoing originally posted it in late August.

Photographer Haiko Hebig captures incredible images of industrial decay. Aging equipment, outmoded machinery, abandoned sites.

Take a few minutes with this one. It's a big archive.

No prices, but supposedly prints and posters are available for sale...


Travel with Snoop Dogg in the video time machine

With production values, costumes, hairstyles, and video effects from the days before MTV, Snoop Dogg's latest music video sets a new standard in retro video awesomeness.

VHS tape wobble! Vocoder! Star filter! Diamond wipe! Chromakeyed space bed!

Credit to TSOYA for pointing the way to this, and to this actual 1980 video by The Jacksons (including Michael), in which the brothers band together to form all of creation (voiceover intro by Don LaFontaine FTW!):

Monday, December 10, 2007

Engineers of the future

Christa has spoken often of the aging workforce at Chevron, and the challenge the company has in encouraging and attracting young engineers (especially as science continues to lose traction in the American public school curriculum).

Perhaps Chevron could take a cue from Hydro, a Norwegian oil and gas concern, who is using television advertising to inspire the next generation of engineers.

Apes. In hats. On bikes.

Today's earworm is brought to you via daniel liss at

It's a mashup by go home productions of Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane" with the Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize", here used as the soundtrack to a creepy bicycle safety film from the Prelinger Archives featuring apes in hats.

(Or is it monkeys? They do have tails...)


For the mp3, visit go home productions and find GHP Complete CD8 "The Bootlegs".

"This is Your Story" - Your Show of Shows

My friend Kathy pointed me to this 11 minute sketch, a parody of "This is Your Life" featuring Carl Reiner as the host and Sid Caesar as the reluctant guest. Oh, and Howard Morris, whose emotional "Uncle Goopy" presages the anarchic brilliance of the Tim Kazurinsky "I Married a Monkey" sketches from SNL (which I'd like to link to, but aren't readily available online).
From the treasure trove of classic television moments atLikeTelevision

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Your the Comcast Photo Center Download Order

I do so much love when companies buy other companies, and don't rename the acquired company (because of perceived brand equity, or simply because they don't want to change the URL), but somehow deem it important that the parent company branding gains some visibility.

Tonight I paid a couple of nickels to download some photos from the online photo service Snapfish. Here is the header from the email I received from "Snapfish Service" as confirmation:

I will offer that the mindset that insists that "the Comcast Photo Center" will be an easy swap-out for all instances of the word "Snapfish" is the same mindset that insisted that the U.S. would be greeted liberators in Iraq.

Friday, December 07, 2007

100 Movies, 100 Quotes, 100 Numbers

A ten-minute long lightning round-style montage of movie quotes, each of which mentions a number, edited together in descending order from 100 to 1.

An interesting conceit, a riff on the AFI "Top 100" lists, that becomes astonishing by the time you get to the 70s, numbing by the 50s, then hilarious, then astonishing again. A true obsessive's accomplishment.

The complete list of movies is available here.

Via Laughing Squid, via Ze Frank.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

New Mac/PC ad: "Misprint"

The "Get a Mac" series of ads are also by TBWA\Chiat, aka Media Arts Lab. Per my comments to the previous post, I'm not much a fan of the Chiat style of ads that call attention to themselves, rather than to the product or brand. (I've also referred to this as "mascot advertising", elsewhere).

Partly because of the domineering influence of S. Jobs, and partly dumb luck, Chiat has had some amount of success in its Apple advertising. The iPod silhouettes are of course a mascot, but they are 1) iconic in their non-specificity (note that they change with each refresh of the campaign); and 2) representative of the actual product in relationship to the consumer, i.e. you + iPod = this dancer.

The dumb luck of course was in the original casting of obscure* author John Hodgman in the role of "PC" in the now long-running series of "PC vs. Mac" commercials. (The ads themselves also work both in that the mascots are stand-ins for products, and that they are engaged in an actual discussion about the value proposition for the consumer.)

The series would likely not have continued much past its original run without Hodgman (and, in my opinion, Justin Long, whose straight man has become increasingly understated almost to the point of motionlessness), who has leapt through hoop after comedy hoop without faltering. (The last round did begin to strain the limits--as writers attempted to communicate in 30 seconds the comedic impact of Vista users downgrading to XP.)

In this latest ad (launched last night), Hodgman nails the peeved eyeglass adjustment like a 1950s television comedy veteran.

Nails it.

*Remember that at the time he had contributed perhaps a handful of pieces to "This American Life", had written for McSweeney's and Men's Health magazine, and not a whole heck of a lot else. His casting came on the heels of his insanely successful book tour appearance on The Daily Show--before he was selling many actual books.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cutwater: "Pouring In"

Army/Navy game.
Commerical break.
Jeep commercial. Laugh out loud funny.
Checked YouTube: yup, it's a popular (146,000 views and counting). Getting buzz on AdWeek.

The commercial features Andy Kim's 1973 pop single "Rock Me Gently," a crop of CGI animals, and spot on comic timing.

I laugh every time I see it.

R has asked me not to laugh.

L keeps asking me why it's funny. And thanks to YouTube, I can pause, and go cut by cut to point out the visuals that take what could have been a cheese fest into brilliant comedy.

Spot produced by Cutwater, a brand new boutique creative firm in San Francisco (started by Chuck McBride (former Executive Creative Director at TBWA/Chiat/Day) which, thanks to McBride's credentials, stole the Jeep account away from some Detroit firm).

High res version available at Cutwater's website, if you can navigate through its ubercool interface. (Why do design firms always want to hide their work behind pages of flash animation?)

We now have (to Deirdre's dismay) added "Rock Me Gently" to the iPod to the kids' favorites playlist.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Kasper Hauser brings you "khraigslist",
a parody classifieds site.
Item: Live Bobcat in my Washing Machine
I think. Could be something worse. Need someone to just go in, open the washer and deal with it.
it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

this is in or around My House

Sunday, November 04, 2007

West Berkeley Bowl, still in progress

A proposed larger-sized Berkeley Bowl in West Berkeley raised the ire of the locally-owned Berkeley Daily Planet... but once the zoning variances were approved, the paper dropped all coverage of how the project was going. For a while, we couldn't tell if was moving forward or not.

Now, thanks to Flickr, an enthusiastic photographer, and his kite-flying prowess, I know. Thanks Michael L!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Survey of Elementary Science Classrooms in Bay Area

So Lawrence Hall of Science conducted a survey of Bay Area School Districts to check in on the state of science education at the elementary school level.

The findings: 80% of K-5 teachers reported spending one hour or less each week on science.

Link to the study.

Link to SF Chronicle article.

Link to the YouTube video
(which is an executive summary given by adorable moppets... who, while surrounded by "science-y" gadgets (pretty much NONE of which you'd see in any elementary school classroom whether it was science intensive or not), almost but don't quite match the actual demographics of elementary schoolchildren in the nine Bay Area counties.)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Same As It Ever Was?

Recently I read a profile of David Byrne from 1993 which went into some detail on the televangelists that inspired Byrne to write the song "Once in a Lifetime," which became a hit single for the Talking Heads in 1980. In the article, Byrne also noted how much the gestures of these evangelical preachers informed the choreography he and Toni Basil created for performances of the song in both the original music video and the live concerts of the Talking Heads.

Thanks to YouTube, and especially the Wembley Stadium clip (which intercuts actual footage of these preachers), you can see exactly what Byrne and biographer John Howell are talking about.

Talking Heads: Original Music Video for "Once in a Lifetime," 1981
Talking Heads: Live Performance of "Once in a Lifetime," Wembley Stadium, 1982
Talking Heads: Live Performance of "Once in a Lifetime," from Stop Making Sense, 1984

But I only bring this up because I happened upon a very different YouTube video tonight.
Kermit the Frog:
Covering "Once in a Lifetime," Muppets Tonight, 1996

Now I've always found the Muppet photo parodies (of album covers, of Calvin Klein ads, of famous paintings) spot on... not just clever, but powerful, iconic even. This re-creation of Springsteen's Born in the USA doesn't quite have the power of the original, but substituting Kermit for Bruce comments on the cult of celebrity, the power of image, and the ouroborous-like ability of pop culture to swallow itself.

Sadly, however, this power doesn't translate to video.

This may be a function of the Muppets Tonight writing staff in 1996 inability to see this sketch as anything but a parody of Stop Making Sense. (An odd target in 1996 considering that the Talking Heads had broken up 5 years before... Byrne had 4 solo albums out by this time...) Certainly, the image of Byrne dancing and singing in the oversized suit was an indelible image in the landscape of musical performance.... but as you can see in this clip... NONE of the stage presence that Byrne brings to the song translates to Kermit. This clip apes the form (not the content) of the Stop Making Sense clip, but not very well. There's not even a Muppet take on the song.

Okay, I stacked the deck. Gave you three Byrne clips first. Maybe in 1996, without having seen Byrne recently, the clip would have been hilarious.

But if the first season of The Muppet Show and the first three movies showed us anything, it was that as much as the Muppets depended on an immersion in pop culture, they rarely needed to resort to parody.

Counterexamples welcomed. My memory is selective.

More versions (listed here, to avoid the Michael Bolton and Keith Urban songs with the same name)

1. Mashup of Talking Heads' "Once in a Lifetime" with bizarre conceptual video from The Ernie Kovacs show
2. The Smashing Pumpkins cover, done as a heavy metal dirge/drone
3. Tornoofo17's surprisingly watchable music video of his friends dressing up and lip-synching to this song.
4. Acoustic emo version by Scott Stevens of the Exies
5. Performance in a warehouse by experimental band Invisible, with a conceptual twist: a performer typing out the lyrics on an electric typewriter, not only to provide the lead singer the words, but as the typewriter is hooked to a piano, adding an original countermelody.
6. Music video by Cienfuegos, an Argentinian rock band, doing a cover, c. 1998

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Onion News Network: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex

I love this video from the Onion News Network, a reminder why television news prefers to run wall-to-wall coverage of missing white girls.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

East Bay Monthly: the local storytelling scene

Now appearing on doorsteps in "select neighborhoods in Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Albany, El Cerrito, Kensington, Alameda and Alamo" --not our neighborhood, mind you (not select enough, apparently. We'll have to pick it up at the local coffeehouse)-- is the latest issue of The East Bay Monthly.

This month's feature story is a 4000 word survey of the storytelling scence. Writer Autumn Stevens interviewed a bunch of local storytellers, and put together a nice article on the theme of "not just for kids." The article includes a description of yours truly:
More closely resembling, with his neat button-down shirt and perpetually earnest expression, a middle-school English teacher than a flamboyant performing artist, Ereneta introduces a Louisiana folktale about two sisters.

Middle school teacher, eh? I was hoping for sophisticated yet approachable, with hints of cherry and oak, and a nutty finish.

Maybe I should switch to a dinner jacket and bow tie. Or bring along poor Yorick here more often.

Photo by Lori Eanes.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

BPN: Acting opportunities for parent & child?

Current posting on Berkeley Parents Network:

Acting opportunities for parent & child?
Does anyone know of any Bay Area opportunities for a parent and child to act/perform in an amateur stage production together? We recently visited some relatives in the LA area who are about to perform as a family in ''Annie.'' We'd love to do something along those lines. Any leads would be most helpful. Thank you.

Dear BPN Subscriber: We have had astonishingly good luck being cast as a family in a unique theatrical institution, the McGee Street Players. Just in the past year, we have completed the following run:

Death of a Salesman (family cast as Willy Loman, Linda, Biff and Happy)
Barefoot in the Park (Mom: Corie Bratter, Dad: Paul Bratter, Son #1: Corie's Mother, Son #2: oddball neighbor Victor Velasco.)
I Am My Own Wife (Dad: Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Mom: Understudy. Son #1: House manager. Son #2: Assistant house manager.)
Oliver! (Dad: Bill Sikes/Fagin, Mom: Nancy/Widow Corney, Son #1: The Artful Dodger, Uncle Chris: Mr. Brownlow, Nephew Ben: Oliver Twist, Son #2 and Aunt Christa: Workhouse Boys/Fagin's Gang)
Peter Brooks' translation of The Mahabarata (Son #1: Aswhatthaman, also played Nakula in the touring production. Dad: Ganesha/Krishna. Son #2: the Deathless Boy. Mom: The Second Princess. Nephew: The Sun/Rakshasa/Ghatotkascha. Aunt Christa and Uncle Chris: all other characters.)
Sweeney Todd, revival directed and designed by John Doyle (Currently being cast. Production delays due to contract dispute over which character will be assigned the tuba.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NYT: Goodbye TimesSelect

Two years ago, when I said that the New York Times subscription model wasn't going to work, I thought it might last a year.

Turns out, it lasted two. Apparently the 227,000 subscribers (like Deirdre and I) who paid for full access to the NYT online brought in $10 million a year in revenue. Now the NYT is discontinuing its subscription model, although it said TimesSelect met projected expectations.

Apparently the number crunchers have figured out that opening up the NYT to the 13 million unique users who visit monthly will get them more ad revenue than the TimesSelect model, even after splitting the profits with Google and Yahoo.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Naked Armenian, AKA the Green Grapes

J.P. Manoux, sans pants.

The clip is from an episode of Comedy Central's Reno 911!, a parody of COPS that features mostly improvised dialogue.

I'm pretty sure he was naked before this, on CBS's Nash Bridges, too, back in 2001... he did a piece on All Things Considered about it.

You can catch JP in the upcoming direct to DVD sequel to the new Steve Carell Get Smart movie, an upcoming episode of Monk, some ER, and The Emperor's New School.

Oh, and check him out backing up Vince Gill.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Berkeley encounters: DeCadence

During lunch hour at Cal during the school year, crossing Sather Gate means two things: lots of student organizations handing out leaflets, and, most days, one of the many official or unofficial student a capella groups doing a concert next to the actual gate.

I haven't been on campus at the right hour in 8 years, but today leaving a meeting, I chanced upon DeCadence, a coed group, six men, six women, singing some pop songs. Nice choral blending, a little bit of vocal percussion, and varying qualities of solos (some thin and reedy, some big and brassy (which suited the outdoor location better).

DeCadence takes itself slightly less seriously than other a capella groups on campus, often wearing costumes or accessories to comical effect.

BUT for whatever reason today (I missed any intro or outro... didn't even figure out the name of the group until I played a game of "follow the links" through various Cal student club acapella groups)... they were all wearing business attire and dorky sunglasses*.

But the Business attire, combined with the haircuts of the men, meant that my brain could not avoid comparisons to everyone's favorite alum of Cornell's "Here Comes Treble":

(Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in NBC's "The Office")

So as much as I enjoy the fact that young adults spend hours practicing, performing, and touring songs in which they get to make "neer neer neer" noises to imitate the sound of electric guitars... I couldn't get out of my head today the notion (implanted there by repeated viewings of The Office) that college a capella isn't just populated with music dorks, but raving idiots destined for mid-level careers in sales)

I did enjoy their un-ironical arrangement of King Harvest's 1973 hit, "Dancing in the Moonlight," although they did have quite a bit of ironic choreography. And they had a somewhat clever parody of the Beach Boy's "Kokomo," sung as "Ber-kel-ey."

Like most college acapella groups, mp3s aren't easily available... but...
YouTube link!(KoKoMo)
YouTube link! (Dancin' in the Moonlight)

If you want to see them in focus: Wednesdays, noon, Sather Gate.

*And by dorky, I think I mean "fashionable." They look like they're all vintage 1977, but I think kids today are wearing that style now without irony.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Whistlin' Phil... and the Other one

No more delightful a sound than the sound of two men whistling

The next best thing to being there: having a single Whistleaire in the neighborhood to serenade the birds and lighten the hearts of the residents of our street with a cheerful tune.

Second best: YouTube video!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Porter Airlines

Up and coming Canadian airline featuring teh fnky frsh design. Why don't we have airlines like this? Or rail? Or bus?

Link [Via NOTCOT]

Slick Surge Protectors

Belkin, maker of accessories for iPods and computers, spins a few new twists on the power strip.

Link, via NOTCOT

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oakland Crimespotting

Wow. Information designers create a super-functional interactive map of crime reports in Oakland (a mashup of data from the city of Oakland's nearly useless CrimeWatch map)

This isn't about the market performing better than government, because this isn't for profit. It's about smart people applying technology in smart ways.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Thrillermania: Not "Thriller", but an incredible simulation

Boing Boing and Spectacular Self-Indulgence pointed us to the mass dance phenomenon of the week: hundreds of prisoners in a Philippine prison recreating the dancing from Michael Jackon's "Thriller" music video (as seen in a single wideshot).

Remind me when I'm convicted and sent up the river to find a jail with THAT kind of activities director.

Of course the YouTube "related" list sent me straightway to the Tollywood (sic, see comment below) "Thriller" ripoff, which I'd not previously had the chance to see.

And for those who missed it in 2004, a shot-for-shot Lego stopmotion recreation of the ENTIRE thirteen minute Michael Jackson video.

BONUS: Apparently there is a whole subculture of people dedicated to recreating Ok Go's backyard and treadmill dance videos using lego people and stopmotion animation. How would these people ever connect without YouTube? Link

Friday, July 20, 2007

International VR Photography Association Comes to Berkeley

Remember QTVR? Quick Time Virtual Reality... where you stitch together photos to make not just panoramic photos, but 360 degree photos, plus up and down views.

Well the hotshots of this field of digital photography just held their annual conference in Berkeley. And they took some wild pictures of the Berkeley campus, San Francisco, Yosemite, and of course, the Super Shuttle from the airport and various conference receptions.

Requires QuickTime.

TSA head admits lighter-ban was lame

[via Boing Boing]

Kip Hawley, head of the TSA, has acknowledged that the (now lifted) restrictions against lighters on airplanes was merely "security theater", that "trivializes the security process."

Now maybe he'll start rethinking that whole liquids thing. (Although if they lift that ban it'll be a major financial blow to the makers of contact lens solution. Sales have--pardon the expression--exploded to contact-wearers on trips longer than two days.)


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Best Condi Quote Ever.

Via Daily Kos.

Asked by BusinessWeek about whether life after the Bush administration
might be in business or on Wall Street:

""I don't know what I'll do long-term. I'm a terrible long-term planner."


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Magic toffee

This is one of those recipes that must be tried to be believed.
Thanks to Kathy Molinaro for introducing it to me.
The day she brought this into the office I drove straight home to make it.

Super easy. ASTONISHINGly good.

1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
1/2 cup sugar
12 oz bag semi-sweet Nestle (or other) morsels

Preheat oven to 350°
Line a jellyroll pan with foil, including sides.
Line pan with saltines.
Melt butter on stove, pour in sugar.
Bring to a (rolling) boil and remove from heat.
Drizzle over saltines.
Place pan into 350° oven for 15 minutes,
remove from oven and sprinkle chocolate morsels over saltines.
Return to oven for a few minutes more, until morsels melt.
Remove and spread chocolate across top with knife.
(I used a metal pie server)
Leave in refrigerator overnight.
Break up like peanut brittle.
Freaking enjoy.

1. Best served right out of the refrigerator.
2. Do not leave yourself alone in the house with it.

Vending Machine Red!

Coca-Cola has a Japanese viral video hit on its hands with "Vending Machine Red!", a surrealist pastiche of 1960s giant robot television shows.

Here, in Episode Three, Vending Machine Red takes a break from saving the world.

More episodes available here.

Friday, July 13, 2007


A relatively new blog about Oakland retail, dining, and living, cited a few posts ago for its writeup on Loard's Ice Cream.

If they (or her, or him) can keep this up, it could grow into a terrific placeblog. I've subscribed in bloglines. Here's hoping.


Faded Building Advertisements

A treasure trove of photos cataloguing the ghosts of advertisements past from the sides of buildings in and around New York City.

From Forgotten NY, a site dedicated to the lost and decaying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Request library books from Amazon pages

Via MerlinMann/43Folders, a smart fusion of the newfangled and the oldfangled.

If you can figure out (or ask your librarian) what kind of online database/interface your local library uses, you can configure this bookmarklet for your web browser.

Then from the Amazon page, instead of buying a book unseen for $25 or $30 (plus shipping), you can click the bookmarklet to search your library's database. (And depending on your system, you can have the book sent to your local branch for checkout.)

I need to try this out.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Seeing Al Qaeda Around Every Corner - New York Times

The NYT's new public editor, Clark Hoyt, takes the paper to task for its increasingly sloppy use of the term "Al Qaeda" to describe opposition forces in Iraq, a use that (perhaps not coincidentally) has been on the rise in officialspeak out of the Bush Administration.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Loard's, Loard's, Loard's

Last summer I couldn't find anything online about Loard's, our local ice cream shoppe.

Now it's been blogged, featured in the East Bay Express, and has gotten a slightly more modern makeover.

From the Express:
...Loard's makes relatively small batches of ice creams with relatively high fat content (about 16 percent), and what's known as "low overrun" — a minimal amount of pumped-in air, the notorious filler in big-factory ice cream.
I prefer it to the Fenton's, I gotta say.

This fall we're gonna host an ice cream social and have a Loard's/Fenton's faceoff, so that others will come to understand.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gioia to graduates: 'Trade easy pleasures for more complex and challenging ones'

Poet, NEA Chair, and former VP of General Foods Dana Gioia's commencement speech at Stanford talks about his father, the value of arts education, the dumbing down of culture, and of not being famous enough.
For the last few years you have had the privilege of being at one of the world's greatest universities—not only studying, but being a part of a community that takes arts and ideas seriously. Even if you spent most of your free time watching Grey's Anatomy, playing Guitar Hero, or Facebooking your friends, those important endeavors were balanced by courses and conversations about literature, politics, technology, and ideas.

Distinguished graduates, your support system is about to end. And you now face the choice of whether you want to be a passive consumer or an active citizen. Do you want to watch the world on a screen or live in it so meaningfully that you change it?

Monday, June 18, 2007

L channels Apolo

L skates at Yerba Buena with his pal Alex:

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thanks YouTube: Love is a Battlefield

If you and I were hanging out at a party, or over dinner, and the 80s came up, and you said, "Hey, remember Pat Benatar? Her video to 'Love is a Battlefield' was the worst. video. ever." --if you said that, I'd laugh, and confess I don't remember it, I must have seen it, but it couldn't be the worst, could it, if I have no memory of it. And then we'd go on to dessert and I'd forget all about it by the next day.

But if I read the same discussion on a blog, which handily provided a link to YouTube, well... I'd just have to click. I couldn't stop myself.

And then... and then I'd realize that I actually had seen this video. I probably was there for its premiere on ABC's Friday Night Videos.

And then... oh good Lord.

They're right.

This very well could be the Worst. Video. Ever.

And the worst of it... it was gone from my mind for the past 25 years. Now it's back. AND I CAN'T GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Reforming the Pancake Church

The Onion:

Modern-Day Martin Luther Nails 95 Comment Cards To IHOP Door


Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Here's a stunningly elegant and simple microsite from McCann Erickson for Nikon's new entry-level Single Lens Reflex, the D40.

They gave 200 people in Georgetown, South Carolina, Nikon D40s to play with. It's a picturesque town, to be sure, so there's plenty to shoot. And then they put them all on this web site, portraits, action shots, landscapes, everything. And they let each of the featured photographers tell their story of how much they enjoyed the camera.

And the photos look really, really good.

I know it's a commercial site, but I spent a full hour the other night exploring it.

Here's the twist: it's really hard to find any details about lenses, or what megapixels, or any technical stuff. The pitch is really about: anyone can take a great picture with the camera. About as technical as they get is to say that there's less shutter lag and really good autofocus so "you'll never miss the moment."

Adweek likes it too

I'm almost ready to buy one.

You had me at pelicans.

If you dig around on other photo sites, and look at the reviews, you realize that McCann Erickson probably got thirty thousand photos for the project and could show off the best two hundred or so. And, if you dig around Picturetown, you realize that the flash still does weird things to pictures. And there are tradeoffs involved in buying the low end of the SLR market.

But ooooh. Picturetown.

Friday, June 01, 2007

When Turkeys Attack

"BERKELEY -- Wild turkeys went after Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory technician recently as he rode his Segway to the office."

NBC 11 broke the story... and has photos taken during the attack!!!
I like the response from The Daily Cal's staff blog: "We don't like Segways either."

(photo by jdng)

Monday, May 28, 2007

The fatness formula |

(via The Ethicurean)
The Economist takes aim at high fructose corn syrup, which suggests that fructose, and not fat, is a major contributor to obesity.

It's an op-ed piece, so there's a lack of citations, but if it's true that there are good sugars (glucose) and bad sugars (fructose), there's even more reason for me to spend ten minutes in the bread aisle at Andronico's reading ingredients trying to find a loaf of bread under $4 that doesn't use HFCS.

Just reading about the hormonal effects of HFCS makes my innards hurt.

And in the last paragraph, I like the backhanded swipe at America's plan to produce biofuels from corn. "Misguided government policy" they call it. I'll have to do some more reading, because I'm not sure if they are calling it misguided because this country's agri-corn future will starve more Mexican campesinos, or because it will make corn even more dominant in our economy, or because it's a losing cause next to switchgrass as a biofuel, or because the Economist just assumes that since the US can't find its way out of a paper bag/land war in Asia, that it couldn't possibly execute a sensible energy policy.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Addicted to ladybugs

I can't stop playing this. Especially because of the strange between-game voiceovers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

a gripping read

From a review by Ralph Shorto in the New York Times Book Review:

Not long after the Pilgrims set anchor in the harbor they called Plymouth in 1620, the Wampanoag leader Massasoit paid them a visit near their makeshift settlement and made a wary offer of friendship. It took several months for two of the Pilgrims to venture into the wilderness and return the gesture. When they
did, they noticed circular pits alongside the trails, which, the natives told them, were storytelling devices. Each of these "memory holes" was dug at a place where a remarkable act had occurred; every time Indians passed by these spots, they recounted the deeds. The Pilgrims, Nathaniel Philbrick says in his vivid and remarkably fresh retelling of the story of the earnest band of English men and women who became saddled with the sobriquet of America's founders, "began to see that they were traversing a mythic land, where a sense of community extended far into the distant past."

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Helvetica at 50

BBC News Magazine profile of the Helvetica font on the occasion of its 50th birthday.

Also, birthday cake, courtesy of YouTube.

Ralph's World Rips It Up

(photo by something.from.nancy)
He looks harmless enough.
His first CD, Ralph's World, had melodic covers of the Winnie the Pooh theme, Roger Miller's "You Can't Roller Skate in a Buffalo Her," a toddler friendly version of "Shake Your Booty," and a couple of winning originals. He's ranked up there with Justin Roberts as heir to the King of Preschool Rock and Roll.

So when our neighbor passed on a pair of tickets won on-- of all places, our neighborhood college station KALX-- I said sure, why not go see Ralph's World?

After all, Deirdre was out of town. The boys deserved an adventure, and the Great American Music Hall was promising breakfast with this 9:30 am show! (I checked the web site: Rice Krispies is a co-sponsor of the tour, along with the House of Blues. I correctly guessed that breakfast would be a bowl of rice krispies. Actually, it was a beer cup full of rice krispies. So I had fed the kids beforehand)

So can Ralph Covert and his band pack the GAMH at 10 am on a Sunday morning?

Yes, yes he can.

Is the GAMH bar open at that hour?

Yes, yes it is.

Bloody Marys seemed the parents' drink of choice. And the kids bopped and clapped and hopped and swayed to Ralph's music.

The other kids, I mean.

Our kids?

Our kids stood frozen with their hands over their ears in dismay.

The GAMH sound techs had the sound turned up to eleven. It was louder than any band I've ever heard there, like "All Wrecked Up" (Granted, Ralph's World has a full drum kit, and an electric bass) (hmm. With the possible exception of Vise Grip and the Ambassadors of Swing). Ralph proudly announced to the kids that their parents were sharing with them the joys of a true rock concert, and he was happy to initiate them, presumably with steel-warping volume.

After three songs we ducked to the sides where we grabbed an empty table partly sheltered from the direct blast of the overhead speakers. The waitstaff helpfully offered earplugs, which Liam liked. Ro-Ro tolerated them for two songs, still with his hands over his ears.

If we had known more songs it would have been fun. Instead, it was kind of like being assaulted with sound. And wondering why all the other kids weren't huddling in a fetal position.

We left after 40 minutes, but we did learn one new song: one song, so peppy, so full of zest, we can't help singing it four days later: "We are Ants." (Link to YouTube video concert footage. Imagine this same song, eight times louder, and in the dark)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Needed: New Paris Peace Talks

Advice, Please:

Now that Tim and I are in the harsh new social environment known as the PTA, we're part of an email communication system in which each new posting to the PTA discussion board is also delivered as an email message. I appreciate this immediacy, because it'll remind me constantly of PTA meetings, changes in class schedules, and so on. However, I fear the immediacy as well, because it is an easy way for conversational wildfires to start and rage furiously and unproductively. To be specific: the school is working full-tilt on its upcoming Carnival, which is our only schoolwide fundraiser of the year and very important to our budget. A parent wrote in to say that her 5-year-old felt too pressured to sell $1 raffle tickets for the carnival and this was a problem that the parent community needed to fix. Her post was several paragraphs long, however, and was not as well-worded or well-edited as it could have been. Consequently, several parents who are hard at work on the Carnival (and deeply stressed out about it) felt criticized by other parents just at the time when they needed to feel community support.

Was this tension handled by one parent calling up the other parent and saying, "Gee, we're having some hard feelings about this, how can we work this out and move on?" No. It played itself out in waves of various parents posting from the perspectives of: a) hostile; b) defensive; c) suggesting a big summit to overhaul school fundraising; d) impugning other parents' child-rearing abilities; e) calling for a school-wide party to celebrate the school-wide carnival; d) calling for a special peace summit ..... on and on.

The email tsunami might have seemed pretty funny if I wasn't a member of the fundraising committee.

So here's a question: Plenty of internet sites address email etiquette like, "don't post in all-caps," "be nice to newbies", how to use the little carrot-marks as quotes, and so on. But have you seen anything about how to avoid this type of 'reply to all' Sturm und Drang, or how to reconcile it once it has run its course? I figure plenty of PTAs out there have experienced precisely this situation before.


Warrants Issed for Richard Gere and Shilpa Shetty

via The Associated Press
NEW DELHI -- A court issued arrest warrants for Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on Thursday, saying their kiss at a public function "transgressed all limits of vulgarity," media reports said.

If convicted, Gere and Shetty could be fined, jailed for three months, or both.

Sure, it's news, and they scooped the Bollywood fan sites on this one, but the AP totally missed out on this: Aishwarya Rai will take her husband's surname to be known as Aishwarya Bachchan.

And this: Bollywood is planning to "remake" Charlie's Angels.

Batman: Defenders of the Night

Via Boing Boing, a jaw-dropping six-minute Batman & Robin fan video.

Link is to "Chris' Invincible Super-Blog", where the YouTube video is embedded along with a running text commentary, including the identification of the single greatest line in anything, ever, spoken by "Bruce Wayne" at 1:27:

"I've been looking into something. There's a series of robberies all over... a bunch of technology companies all over. At least seven or nine security guards have been killed already."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Farm Bill: Eaters Come Last

Michael Pollan's lucid explanation of The Farm Bill. As Pollan describes it, it's not the farm bill, it's The Food Bill. You should care because it's only up for reauthorization every five years.

As a rule, processed foods are more “energy dense” than fresh foods: they contain less water and fiber but more added fat and sugar, which makes them both less filling and more fattening. These particular calories also happen to be the least healthful ones in the marketplace, which is why we call the foods that contain them “junk.” Drewnowski concluded that the rules of the food game in America are organized in such a way that if you are eating on a budget, the most rational economic strategy is to eat badly — and get fat.

This perverse state of affairs is not, as you might think, the inevitable result of the free market. Compared with a bunch of carrots, a package of Twinkies, to take one iconic processed foodlike substance as an example, is a highly complicated, high-tech piece of manufacture, involving no fewer than 39 ingredients, many themselves elaborately manufactured, as well as the packaging and a hefty marketing budget. So how can the supermarket possibly sell a pair of these synthetic cream-filled pseudocakes for less than a bunch of roots?

For the answer, you need look no farther than the farm bill. This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation, which comes around roughly every five years and is about to do so again, sets the rules for the American food system — indeed, to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system.

[This is actually being posted by Deirdre, but since Tim's already signed in, I'm not going to bother with my own i.d.]

This American Life Completes Documentation Of Liberal, Upper-Middle-Class Existence


And we also learn that it's much easier to parody Sarah Vowell than we ever suspected.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Catching up on episodes of Ryan is Hungry, a twice-weekly videoblog on the intersection of green and tech cultures by Ryanne Hodson and Jay Dedman.

This episode, from back in February, highlights Longleaf Lumber (mill in Maine, showroom in Massachusetts), a company that reclaims lumber from the past couple of centuries of human construction (barns, factories, etc.), remills it, and resells it as flooring and other products.

Longleaf's Marc Poirier leads a brief tour of the lumber yard, displaying an incredible depth of lumber knowledge. I've never been quite sure whether those experts on Antiques Roadshow know everything they're saying (or if they've looked it all up in reference books off-camera), but Poirier is clearly the real deal.

Click to view

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Gere kiss sparks India protests

Protestors are burning Richard Gere in effigy, after he publicly kissed Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty at an AIDS awareness event, in a recreation of one of his moves from Shall We Dance?

More conservative Indians, no fans of Bollywood to begin with, are burning Shilpa Shetty in effigy.

Shetty, no stranger to contreversy, is not only a Bollywood actress, but the winner of the UK's version of Celebrity Big Brother, as well as an activist for HIV/AIDS awareness and PETA.

Although Ms. Shetty is a fixture in the celebrity "news" each week on "Namaste America" and "India Waves," we've seen none of her movies, including the notable release from 2004, Phir Milenge, a remake of Jonathan Demme's 1993 Philadelphia. The film featured Ms. Shetty in the role originally taken by Tom Hanks and future Mr. Aishwarya Rai, Abishek Bachchan (the Big B's son), in the Denzel Washington role. But with all references to homosexuality removed. And the requisite musical numbers thrown in (more video montages than dance numbers, though).

Gere has apologized profusely for any embarassment he's caused Ms. Shetty, and for his own cultural blunder.

I was going to enter a joke here about waiting for him to apologize for one of his lame movies, but I really haven't seen any of them.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast -

The Washington Post Sunday magazine pranks the commuters of the L'Enfant Metro station in Washington DC. That guy over there playing the violin for change? That's not some guy. That's Joshua Bell. And that violin is an 18th century Stradivarius.

Fascinating experiment on context and perception.

A wee bit smug, taking potshots at the Federal employees rushing to work, who won't even so much glance at the musician. By the same token, though, it's a call to reflect on how many details in the urban sphere we filter

Friday, March 30, 2007

YouTube - Doctor Who and the Beatles

(from Boing Boing)

The Beatles make an appearance on Dr. Who in 1965, during the William Hartnell era (Hartnell was the first of the ten actors in the lead role over the show's three and a half decade run)

In seventh grade, I wouldn't ever have had a chance to see a William Hartnell episode, but if I'd known about the Beatles/Dr. Who crossover, it would have blown my twelve year old mind.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I Can't Think of A Caption For This

White House Senior Advisor Karl Rove (left) performs a rap dance with comedian Colin Mochrie during the entertainment section of the annual Radio and Television Correspondents' Association dinner. Reuters photo by Jason Reed

[Mochrie is a cast regular on "Whose Line Is It.." He also plays one of the Keebler elves.]

Thursday, March 22, 2007

WashPo: Heated Words from Mr. Global Warming

A theatrical summary of Al Gore's latest testimony on Capitol Hill.

(Who's going to play Al Gore in the biopic twenty years from now? Will Alec Baldwin be too old?)

NYT: The Year Without Toilet Paper

Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. ... Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.

[At right: Carbon-free commute on a scooter through the snow.]

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pop Songs and Kyries

The second time I heard Blake Jones play live, I didn't have to listen through the door. I could actually see him play. This was at the 2005 Rogue Festival, where once again he was my venue manager. This time, with his "Ill Advised Solo Show," Blake sang and accompanied himself on acoustic guitar, and playing tunes on the subject of politics and religion. Songs like Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In," and a lot of originals, like "Don't You Be Stealin' My Jesus," a lament from a liberal Christian who finds the political influence of the religious right maddening.

Upbeat songs, mostly. A warm and welcoming stage presence.

But no theremin. None of the toy pianos and lush wall of sound his friends, fellow musicians, and reviewers adore him for. His one gig in San Francisco this year was when I was out of town.

Third time's a charm: Finally, this year in Fresno, Blake was fronting "Send the Trike Shop to Liverpool," a concept concert which was nominally a fundraiser to pay off the Visa card debt that accompanied their recent booking of upcoming gigs in Liverpool. A ha! Now I could hear it! Bookended between pitch perfect covers of "Strawberry Fields" and "I Am the Walrus," the Trike Shop brought Blake's songs to gorgeous life. Now I understood the comparisons to Brian Wilson. This wasn't just infectious nod pop, it was toe-tappingly fun retro DIY avant-goodness. (It was also the loudest thing I've heard in the past decade, but it was my choice to sit in the second row in the nightclub directly in front of the six foot high wall of speakers).

The Trike Shop's Myspace page prominently features their Frank Zappa tribute. If you're like me, and not familiar with the Mothers of Invention and their charms, it's hard to see Blake's pop roots here.

Their Garageband page has just two songs, but they're pop heaven. "Snapshots" calls to mind Nilsson and the Beach Boys. "Clever Things" evokes Ray Davies by way of Jonathan Richman. Both seem like they came out the same era as the Beatles' Rubber Soul and Revolver.

And, if you'd like to hear Blake's theremin, check out his CDBaby page (last track).

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Theremin Killed the Radio Star

The first time I saw a theremin was at a science museum. Can't remember if it was in Boston, or San Francisco, or Chicago. You could play with it, but the sound was annoying, and a visit to a science museum, with its multitudes of attractions, wasn't the best place to focus long enough to coax any music out of it.

The first time I saw a theremin in live performance was at my office Christmas party (which features as a longstanding tradition, a talent show). Dan Bluestein sang "Witchta Lineman," accompanying himself on guitar and theremin (quite a feat, that)-- the theremin he had built himself. I seem to recall it involved a battery and two crescent wrenches, one of which he operated with his foot.

In 2005, at the Rogue Festival in Fresno, my stage manager Blake Jones informed me that he'd miss one of my shows, as his own Big Loud Pop Show he'd organized for the Festival would conflict. By the time I'd finished my show and got to the venue, it had long since started, and sold out, so I stood out on the sidewalk and listened through the door. A local Western Swing band, the They Can't Hardly Playboys, was ripping through "Hot Rod Lincoln," and after that, there was, unexpectedly, a samba, with an otherworldy tone taking the lead, sliding up and down the melody of Ary Barroso/S.K. Russell's "Brazil." I asked a couple of folks also outside the door: "What is that sound?"
"Pedal steel?" one suggested, and this didn't seem too farfetched, given the previous song.
Later, Blake confessed that indeed, it was a theremin, and that he himself had played it.

A year later San Francisco musician pc muñoz, who I went to high school with, would hire Blake to play theremin on his new recording project, and casually mentioned he was seeking a spoken word artist. Blake suggested a storyteller from Berkeley that he'd seen in Fresno recently, namely me... which is how I ended up on a CD with some of the East Bay's best jazz musicians.

This year I finally got to see Blake play the theremin live, as he covered "Harlem Nocturne," with his band, The Trike Shop.

Watching a theremin performance is fascinating, because the performer never touches the instrument. It's also not visually stimulating, because the slightest movement on the part of the performer produces a great variance in tone, so tackling an actual melody involves a limited range of movement.

So here from YouTube is a video introduction to the theremin by Jon Bernhardt, who not only tells what a theremin is, but tackles a pop hit from the 80s. And while this is wrong on so many levels (especially his jacket), I have to say, the novelty of the theremin fits the novelty of the song. Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What is the Rogue?

(via The Fresno Bee)

Multimedia feature on Fresno's Rogue Festival, posted on YouTube, with footage from the first weekend, including a bit of my show (I saw the video camera outside the theatre... didn't know he came inside).

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gummy Bear Chandelier

Artist Ya Ya Chou even says, "remains fresh even after two years after it's made!"

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dylan Hears A Who!

Seven classic Dr. Seuss stories done up as 60s Dylan-gone-rock-and-roll.

"Green Eggs and Ham" as "Bob Dylan's Dream #115"
"Oh, The Thinks You Can Think" a là "Like a Rolling Stone" (wait; that's not what I meant. my brain's seizing up. i'll correct this reference and get back to you)

Complete with faux vintage album art and vinyl surface noise.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Let's Get Ready to Rogue

Heading down to Fresno this weekend for my third Rogue Festival.

Nice to see The Fresno Bee remembers me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

"Dr. Who on Holiday"

(discovered via KFJC's Norman Bates Memorial Soundtrack show)

What's geekier than KLF's 1988 "Doctoring the TARDIS," a novelty mashup of the theme to British Sci-Fi series "Doctor Who" and Gary Glitter's "Rock and Roll (part 2)" that went to #1 on the UK charts?

What about Dean Grey's 2005 mashup of KLF's 1988 hit with Green Day's "Holiday"?

Take one instrumental TV theme, combine one novelty rock anthem primarily used now for NBA team entrances, and Green Day's growly punk pop energy. Might be geekier, but it actually improves upon KLF's version.

Hear the MP3

Watch the YouTube Video

(from Dean Grey's American Edit album featuring mashups of Green Day's entire American Idiot album, which lasted an entire 10 days on the Web before the lawyers from Warner Brothers served up a cease-and-desist order. Boing Boing was all over the American Edit event, but I ignored it, not being a fan of Green Day. So, consider this a late entry.)

The Best Mac and Cheese Ever? Really?

Tom has been blogging for, what, five days?, and already he is presenting what he says is the best mac and cheese recipe ever.

Dried mustard? Hot pepper sauce? Eggs?!?

If he'd gone all nutmeg on me I would have telephoned the Brooklyn Police to have him hauled away, but as it is I'm left thinking there's something funny in that Hudson River water they drink out there.

Because I am that kind of friend I will inform Tom that the best mac and cheese ever can be found in Issue 3 of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine (May/June 2003).

- 1 pound shredded white cheddar cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon melted butter (plus more for greasing baking dishes)
- 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
- 1/4 cup storebought or 3/4 cup homemade bread crumbs
- salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter four 14-ounce ovenproof dishes. In a small bowl, toss 1 tablespoon of melted butter with breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup cheddar.
2. Cook macaroni; drain.
3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring milk to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; add cream cheese, cut into cubes. Stir until melted, 2 minutes. Gradually stir in the remaining cheddar until melted, 5 minutes. Add the cooked pasta, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
4. Divide the mixture among prepared dishes. Bake until bubbling, 10 minutes. Remove from the oven; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture. Bake until golden, 10 minutes more.

Ok, so the recipes do share the preposterous level of cheese (3/4 pound against 1/2 pound macaroni). And here the whole milk and cream cheese take the place of Tom's evaporated milk and extra butter.

I still don't get what's with the eggs. Just make carbonara for crying out loud.

The 2007 Skander Halim Memorial Movie Survey

Mike D'Angelo's 12th annual statistical mind@#$% ranks the best of the year in film, as judged by a hand-picked cadre of internet-enabled cineastes.

Follow the link to the winners, but then head back down the blog for #s 2 through 20, in the categories: Picture, Director, Actress, Actor, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Screenplay (no distinction between original/adapted), Scene, and the best film everyone saw back in 2004 on the festival circuit but has yet to see U.S. theatrical distribution.

This year Mike has YouTube working for him, so most of the year's best clips are available for viewing.

DAve's Street Styles

[via Wooster Collective]

Local street sticker artist DAve launches an after-school arts workshop for middle-school and high school students in San Francisco.

Tax-deductible donations accepted through fiscal sponsor Youth Speaks.

Frameable Fruit Crate Label Art

Box of Apples offers a gazillion high-quality fine art prints of vintage crate labels.

Wow. One more reason to build that addition to the house.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

method: omop

The crazy, cool folks at method have introduced their response to the swiffer: the omop

Ergonomic curved pole, non-toxic floor cleaners, washable microfiber mop pads, and biodegradeable/compostable sweeping cloths. Like all their products, Target-demographicked design.

They know exactly how to get me to want one.*

*Or two, since they sell a different model specifically for wood floors.

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Whatever it takes"

The New Yorker goes behind the scenes at "24". The show's producers were recently visited by the dean of West Point, who argued that the show's morality, particularly in regards to torture, is damaging his ability to teach his students ethics and the law.

The NYT discovers PreFab

weeHouses, Modern Cabana, and more in the NYT real estate section.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Spectacular Self-Indulgence

Tom Carpenter leaps into blogdom with a bang.
Six (6) posts in his first day, including five embedded videos.

And a link to Blognabbit in the sidebar.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Useless Account: SIGN UP NOW!

Useless Account is a shiny Web 2.0 site that allows you to create a username and account.

And to edit that account.

Yup, that's what you can do at

It's awesome.

The Machine is Us/ing Us

Via Boing Boing, a four + minute video by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University, about the ways in which the internet is changing us as we are changing it.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Ethicurean: Chew the Right Thing

New favorite blog, which documents the growing enlightenment of foodies toward food consciousness.

Inspired by Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, Bonnie Azab Powell rounded up some friends also interested in thinking about food, and created a collaborative blog on sustainable, local, organic, and/or ethical food choices.

I like the multiple perspectives from different foodsheds (Berkeley, Austin, Seattle, plus reports from readers) on restaurants, farmer's markets, and farmers. I also like the recipes and the essays grappling with how to make meals more local, or more in line with sustainable agriculture.

But what I really like is the News roundup: several times a week the team posts links to headlines in the media about our food supply chain. You'd think that might be hard to sustain. But these folks comb the news for health stories (trans-fat; E. Coli outbreaks), trade policy (Genetically modified crops, the impact of NAFTA on corn, Japanese bans on American beef), consumer issues (package labelling), agriculture (the Farm bill, the citrus freeze), and intersection of all these issues with big business, Wal Mart, Archer Daniels Midland, and global warming... why some weeks there's more food news than foodie essays.

And on top of that, their tag line cracks me up.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Chuck Hagel has had enough

I don't watch television news. And even if I had, I wouldn't have been able to see Senator Chuck Hagel's blistering, unscripted monologue at last week's Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on the Iraq escalation.

And here's the two minutes that was soundbited most often:

Almost makes me forget he's a rabid right wing Christian conservative who has voted with the Bush Administration more times than any other Senator.


Saturday, January 27, 2007

Haruhi Suzumiya: Dance Craze!

Six videos play in parallel, illuminating the latest (or, who knows, maybe this was yesterday's) craze in Japan.

In the top center: the closing credits to "The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya", an anime feature. As in America's "Down With Love", the credits are juxtaposed with a dance number, in this case over a pop song that is the exact opposite of melancholy.

In the lower center: the dance number, full frame without credits.

To the left and right of each are fan-created versions of the same clips.

We missed the Ok Go backyard dance competition.
We gotta get in on this one.

Below: the full frame dance.

iPhone Phunnies

(via Presentation Zen)
The comedy world reacted to Apple's new iPhone swiftly, and thanks to YouTube, now accessible all in one place.

Saturday Night Live: link

Stephen Colbert: link

MadTV: link

Conan O'Brien: link

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Cure for Health Care

Courtesy of Bill in Portland Maine:

Stephen Colbert: What made [Tuesday's State of the Union speech] so groundbreaking, I think, was all the new stuff we've never heard from the president a domestic agenda. Take his proposal to fix the whole health care mess with the only proven cure-all: tax breaks...

Bush clip: And for the millions of Americans with no health insurance at all, this deduction would help put a basic private health insurance plan within reach.

Colbert: It's so simple. Most people who couldn’t afford health insurance also are too poor to owe taxes. But...if you give them a deduction from their taxes they don’t owe, they can use the money they're not getting back from what they haven't given to buy the health care they can't afford.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Somebody Else's New Years Resolution

JUBILATION ! ! ! ! ! I have broken through the Blogger clog! I can once again post to my heart's delight! I feel like Solzhenitsyn fresh out of the gulag.

So: what have you all been missing out on? For starters, this: my fantasy New Years Resolution, which can never be mine. At least not for the next ten years or so. But check out the glossy surface of somebody else's decluttered dining room table.... ahhhhhh.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Colbert: Bollywood Feud, Part 2

(from The Colbert Report, January 18)
Stephen Colbert follows up on the celebrity feuds from the previous week, including the spat between Shahrukh Khan and Amitabh Baachaan. (Includes a favorite Bollywood clip of Ronan's).

In the interest not getting our news entirely from Comedy Central, I tried to find via Google the actual details of the feud in question. However, though Google sources quite a few Indian media outlets, the fact that Colbert was giving this feud play on American television is bigger news than any actual feud.

In any case, the Bollywood news and gossip cycle has already moved on its next big item, the upcoming marriage of the Big B's son to sometimes co-star and former Miss World Aishwarya Rai.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Stephen Colbert Weighs In: The Big B or SRK?

(YouTube link)
From The Colbert Report, January 7, 2007. Colbert's "We the Mediator" segment weighs in on celebrity feuds: Rosie O'Donnell v. Donald Trump, Angelina Jolie v. Madonna, and of course:

Shahrukh Khan v. Amitabh Baachan

Friday, January 12, 2007

Groove down with Steve Jobs

Ok, so let's say you didn't want to spend two hours in front of your computer watching Steve Jobs introduce the iPhone from the stage at MacWorld.

In just four minutes you can listen to the arguably inevitable, and surprisingly danceable remix of two key moments--when he reveals that the iPod, phone, and internet communicator he's introducing are all in a single device, and when he reveals that the device doesn't require a stylus.

The crowd, you can hear, goes absolutely nuts.

(Of course if you did want to watch the whole speech, it's available as a free podcast download here.)

Dissecting Trends in Package Design

A New York design consulting firm shares its grocery shelf research on patterns found in package design for related products.

Their January report, "Crunch", analyzes color, form, typography, illustration, and visual texturing found on packages for chips, crackers, cereal, and other things that crunch.

You can also check out earlier reports on Energy Drinks, Children's Cold Medicine and Sliced Bread.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

"...the kind of theatre that Mark Twain would have told stories in."

This two-story octagonal chapel was built in the of 1880s for the Lucy Cobb Institute to host not only religious services, but cultural events, lectures, drama productions, and graduations. It later was absorbed into the University of Georgia. Abandoned after WW2, it fill into disrepair until local donors and preservationists restored it in 1997.

The Seney-Stovall Chapel in Athens has a Victorian interior, with a raked stage and 240 seats.

Storyteller Bobby Norfolk, when he stood upon that stage at the Stitching Stars Storytelling Festival in Athens, marveled "This is the kind of theatre that Mark Twain would have told stories in."

Saturday, Donna Washington and Kevin Kling and I will get to see if we can feel the magic that Bobby felt.

I've got two sets, one at 2 pm, for 40 minutes, and one at 7 pm for 45 minutes. And I'll pretty much be fretting over my set list between now at 1:59 pm Saturday.

Blognabbit 2.0

Upgraded to the new Blogger platform today.

Not sure what happened to our profile names in the upper right.
Maybe they'll come back once everyone has logged in
(you have to log in with a GoogleID rather than your Blogger username to post now).

The main change you'll see is the addition of "labels", also known as categories or tags.
I've gone back and begun to tag a few posts, and we can begin to see some trends.

Let me know if you need any help.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Momma's Got a Brand New Blog

Mom has joined the growing ranks of senior bloggers. She set herself up with a Blogger account, and I added a "BlogThis!" bookmark to her browser.

Today I admitted to her (sheepishly) that I'm more likely to read her thoughts, poems, website recommendations, etc., on a blog than in email, since email has become so task-oriented for me (too many of her emails I file quickly into "Read Me Someday", which--good luck with that).

But with my RSS reader I'm sure to read any new post within 24 hours.

I am such a slave to the internet.