Friday, August 27, 2010

On Repeat: Cee Lo Green - Fuck You

You might remember Cee Lo Green as one half of Gnarls Barkley, the collaboration responsible for one of the biggest hits of the decade in "Crazy" (and it's awesome video) in 2006. What you may not know, is that Cee Lo existed as a solo artist and a part of Goodie Mob prior to Gnarls Barkley, and is currently prepping his first record in six years, entitled Cee Lo Green is The Lady Killer for release October 4th. A few days ago, I preferred his Gnarls work to his solo output, but then "Fuck You" had to go and tip the scales.

Making his own foray onto the well-trodden "scorned lover" theme, Cee Lo goes a long way in helping us forget Eamon and his terrible "Fuck It (Don't Want You Back)", the last hit song on this subject matter. Cee Lo has always had a bold and triumphant voice, but it's surprising how well he chameleons into this material, channeling Motown with OOO's and AHH's aplenty, while still reserving ample venom for his Ex. While he is assuredly miffed, he never sounds threatening or unhinged, mostly lambasting the woman for her gold-digging ways "If I was richer, I'd still be with ya" but still wishing her the best with a tidy "Fuck You". Hilarious background vocals add a shine and energy that recall another cultural phenomenon; "Hey Ya". I'm sure it will be censored soundly and stripped of its humor for political correctness (Forget You doesn't have the same ring), but with 3 million Youtube views (and tons of parody videos) in 8 days, maybe it's radio that's a little late to the party?

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I should formally apologize for the gap in entertainment lately. I've spent the bulk of the last week in beautiful Montreal while everyone in the Greater Boston area was thoroughly drenched. I'm not sure what to make of it, especially when the clouds broke so kindly for my return. The best way to describe Montréal is to call it a bizarro-world Boston where the Subways are clean/run on time, the Museums are free, the panhandlers are bilingual, strip clubs are legal, every meal is accompanied by french fries, and bikes get their OWN two lane road on many streets (complete with median). In short, I wish I hadn't just signed a new lease*. Here a few photos complete with requisite snark

* No I do not hate freedom (America). A little culture never hurt anyone.

 Ann and I were moths to the big lines of people. Our first big line brought us into Schwartz's Deli for corned beef. This was "The Usual". It was delicious, although the bread was just as silly as it is at Blue Ribbon. How skimpy can the bread for it to still be called a sandwich? This is close to the line.

We went to the Jean Talon Market where they had out of this world produce. Of course, we were not terribly interested in perishable goods but it was interesting.

Like I said. Wack-ass produce. Even the little baskets! Adorable really. Except for the ground cherries (the things to the left of the cherry tomaters). They tasted like cheese.

Perhaps this is why the streets were so clean. Inspired by elephants and Ghosbusters.

Beneath this mountain of french fries and sprigs of lettuce is the most succulent chicken you will ever taste. I take great pride in not eating chicken skin. I ate the skin. It ruled. Ann and I were very sleepy after this.

Found Boston.

Base of Parc du Mont-Royale.

Nice views up top after a little hike. I can't imagine why people run up the thing though.

Montreal <3 Bixi bikes. These stations were everywhere. Rental bikes for $5/hr. Cool idea.

Ann <3 Hibiscus beer at the Dieu du Ciel bar/microbrewery. I <3'd it too. Tasted like Hawaiian Punch.

Big chess games in a park. Dude just got his knight tore up.

We went to Old Montreal too but it was mostly a tourist trap. The fountains were pretty though. I don't like to use flash. I should have used flash.

Horses idling.

We didn't see this guy. Montreal bagels are crispy and delicious.

 Montreal Olympic Stadium. I lost by a nose.

Botanical Gardens. Insectarium was closed :(

"Freaky-deakies need love too." Tracy Jordan

Appropriate name. 

Ann <3 Bubble tea. I do too.
Nifty oasis of a beer garden from drab and unassuming exterior.

 Ann <3 Boreal beer.

CHILD LABOR LAWS ARE SILLY AND OUTDATED! As long as these kids keep making delicious Dragon Beard candy, I won't tell the authorities.

Another monster line for Poutine!

Poutine with Bacon, Onion and Sausage. No graceful way to eat it. 

Ann <3 Cafe au Lait. Eggceptional breakfast at Eggspectations. Note the requisite fried taters. 

Corrugated chair by Frank Gehry, nifty Picasso, Napoleon's Hat/Gloves/Shirt, Entrance to Miles Davis exhibit I couldn't bring myself to pay $15 for. 

Montreal in a nutshell. Clean, artsy, cultured. Note the violinist. I think I gave him a loonie.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

TBC: Lonesome Dove

Forgive the abridged entry today, but tonight is TBC and I had a cool 50 pages of Lonesome Dove to burn through and not finishing the book for book club is akin to putting your saddle on upside down. Lonesome Dove is an epic Western that grabbed the 1985 Pulitzer Prize and inspired a mini-series and a number of sequels. It is deservedly cherished by fans of the genre and generally regarded as the best Western ever written. This being the only Western I've ever read, I would still be inclined to agree.

At 945 pages, the sheer mass of the book is intimidating enough to give one pause. I have read longer books, but never one this massive in scope and depth. The general plot of the novel centers around two aging Rangers in the sleepy Texas town of Lonesome Dove and their final adventure: stealing and driving a huge cattle herd from Mexico up to uncharted Montana. They recruit a diverse and able crew along their journey, but still manage to find more than their fair share of Indians, surging rivers, savage beasts and murderous thieves.

In McMurtry's hands, the book becomes a vivid and captivating portrayal of life on the range, reveling in minor details and fleshing out character so thoroughly that you nearly count them as family. I can't fathom how he managed to squeeze out details that made the book such an immersive experience, but I suppose that's what good authors do. I would never have expected a tough Western to have such heart and to chew on so much philosophy, but it is in these moments where the story shines the brightest. It is probably my favorite TBC book to date, and ranks highly among my all-time favorites.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Old Song Review: Desmond Dekker - 007 (Shanty Town)

Nearly a decade before Bob Marley's ascent, and long before the precipitious descent to dreadlocked potheads that are associated with Reggae today, Desmond Dekker was the OG "Rude boy". Together with his backing band, The Aces, Dekker released nearly 40 singles over his career, many of whom charted on the US and UK charts and introduced the world to Jamaica and unique sound of reggae. Sadly, like many artists from impoverished countries, Dekker ultimately lost much of the fortune he amassed over his career, declaring bankruptcy in the 80's and dying of a heart attack in 2006.

Dekker's influence and brilliance is woefully unrecognized today, save for small subcultures of reggae aficionados, but his songs are as clean and warm today as they surely were 40 years ago. For instance,"Israelites", his biggest hit outside Jamaica, is still a gut-wrenching portrait of poverty that directly influenced The Beatles "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da". His cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want" was a huge smash around the globe and arguably eclipsed the original. My favorite song is 007 (Shanty Town), his very first hit and what became something of a rudeboy anthem. I've heard it sampled on several dancehall tracks lately, and it still retains its bouncy energy in every application. The staccato horn bursts and swaying vocals should be on heavy rotation at every summer beach barbecue, and if Don Draper was real, featured prominently in every Corona commercial. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Review: The Room

I should first say that I had no intention of reviewing The Room, but sometimes profound moments grow and blossom in your head until you can't recall what things were like before it. Experiencing The Room is one such event.

JL subscribes to the absolute value scale for movies, meaning that absolutely abysmal films are almost as enjoyable and entertaining as watching a true masterpiece. I first encountered this phenomenon while watching The Sound of Thunder (at SS's insistence) in 2005. The pitiful CGI, the massive plot holes and the terrible acting all around (even poor Ben Kingsley) made for a perfect storm of cinematic ineptitude. However, at some point (I think it was the Raptoons) this incompetence flipped from repulsive to endearing. It is a 7 on the absolute value scale of film criticism. It is fitting then, that The Room is revered as the "Citizen Kane of bad movies."

Truly bad movies are bad because they have inexplicably passed through tens (perhaps hundreds) of hands before coming to fruition. Every one of these people could have derailed the entire project and deprived the world of its glory, yet somehow it survived and we are all the better for it. The Room exists solely due to director/writer/producer/actor Tommy Wiseau's deep pockets and sticktoitiveness.

The "plot" of The Room centers around a love triangle between Johnny, his girlfriend Lisa, and his best friend Mark. There are gratuitous sex scenes that last about 5 times longer than they should and feature some early 90's slow jams that are impossible not to snicker at. There is dialogue that sounds plagiarized from a middle-school One Act. There are nonsensical plot diversions and characters that are never mentioned again. There are no less than 15 aimless tracking shots along the Golden Gate bridge or other San Francisco sites. All of this would be excruciating if it weren't for Tommy Wiseau's acting which has best been described as "Borat trying to do an impression of Christopher Walken playing a mental patient."

Every line he delivers is punctuated with a bizarre chuckle, made even worse by the fact that 95% of his dialogue is dubbed over for quality control purposes (seriously). His vocal cadence makes Arnold Schwarzenegger sound like Michael Caine. He can't even make chicken sounds correctly. His complete incompetence manages to sink and salvage the film simultaneously. It is truly a sight to behold, and wholly responsible for raising (lowering?) the film to the Rocky-Horror-level cult status it currently enjoys. If you ever find yourself with 99 minutes to kill and self-esteem that needs a boost, do yourself a favor and get your hands on this film. You will never feel more successful.


(Note: Some saucy language in the video)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

EDU: Pork Fennel Burgers

When KK leaves town, SS is usually inconsolable and makes me go on all kinds of crazy bike rides. Being the good friend that I am, I usually indulge him, but yesterday he was too slow. Instead he invited me over for a romantic evening of Pork Butt/Anise and 'Gansett and a viewing of The Room. Apparently he found the recipe from The Minimalist in the NYT, and had been itching to try it ever since. Since I find the taste of anise/licorice vile, I was skeptical, but SS is a pretty good cook (don't tell him I said that) so I cut him a break.  

Step 1: Open Beer. Inexplicably, the nearest liquor store did not sell PBR 40's OR PBR Cans, so I settled for 'Gansett and hope SS didn't think it too fancy.

Apparently he did, since he insisted on drinking it out of a glass. That, or he was ashamed and wanted to pretend it was a Red Hook.

This is everything that went into the burgers. Actually, don't count that flat loaf of bread in the back or the fennel seed because SS forgot that until he had already made the patties. I wish I could say I hid the fennel from him because it's disgusting, but I did not. Let's take a closer look at the pork, shall we?

FRESH PORK BUTT. The meat industry has thought up all kinds of fancy names for cuts of beef, but poor pork gets slapped with PORK BUTT. Sad. Also, one would think that Boneless Butt would be redundant, but I'm not expert.

Tuber. Sweet Tuber. For fries.

My contribution: Goat Cheese Croissants. These morsels (and the beer) were just enough to keep SS and I from eating the paper towels while we prepared the burgers as it was nearly 8:30 by this point. They were good but a little bland.

Sam "TARE-ING that Anise up". Last anise joke, I promise.

Sam really going to work on that Anise. Ok that's the last one. He also chopped some garlic but he was too fast for my camera.

This is Sam's food processor. I always think I have no use for a food processor and then I see how awesome it is and I realize I could probably keep my fingers in tact a few more years if I bought one.

See? Just obliterated it. In like 5 seconds. It was like an infomercial, but REAL.

This is the Pork Butt once SS removed the twine. I wasn't sure the purpose of the twine, but I was sure it was a stupid question so I didn't ask. He briefly considered trimming the fat, but then remarked that he was in "Negative Calories" for the day after his bike ride and left it.

He did however, cut it into more manageable chunks for the food processor and tell me an anecdote about ground Filet Mignon making delicious burgers, which seemed like a waste, but also delicious.
Into the food processor it went, and was destroyed. It looked and smelled like ground beef, although SS may disagree.

We mixed errthing together in a large bowl before shaping the burgers into patties. Not especially labor intensive, but since SS's hands were already dirty, I let him do it.

This was my assignment. Onion and pepper duty, which would be thrown into the pan with the burgers and caramelized. I also cut up the sweet potato which was a royal pain in the anise.

Here are the patties in the pan. SS made 9 of them. He thought we would each eat 2. He also thought the burgers wouldn't stick to the pan. He was wrong on both counts.

These are the burgers post-flip. The apartment was smelling great at this point and I was trying to figure out how to get the movie to play so I missed the shot when he threw the peppers/onions in. Needless to say, this smelled even better.

This is the burger.

This is the burger immediately before it entered my mouth. The fries took a bit longer to cook, so the plate looks bare, but it was delicious. The pork was juicy and a little spicy, and the bread was soft and crunchy. I didn't even mind/taste the anise! SS and I agreed that it probably could have used some other spices to enhance the flavors, but it was pretty great just as it was. I think cheese would have been tasty too, but SS had no interest in deviating from the recipe, so I held my tongue. Easy (if you have a food processor) and yummy. Would eat again.