July 28, 2009

The Minimally Annotated Judd Apatow iTunes Playlist

iTunes posted a playlist selected by movie director Judd Apatow. If I were really knowledgeable about a wider range of musical genres and if I were motivated enough to write a trenchant analysis of someone else's favorite songs, I'd give you a fabulous, in-depth commentary about all 15 tracks.

Lucky for you, I'm neither of those things, so just two comments:

1, I knew I liked this guy. His favorite band ("in life," he explains): Wilco! And apparently the soundtrack of Apatow's upcoming movie, Funny People, will include my favorite Wilco song, Jesus etc. I am on board, mister director.

2, Does it strike you as funny (or, if you are Tipper Gore, does it strike you as an epic mistake) that the Eminem song, "When I'm Gone" on this list is tagged with an "Explicit" label, but three lines below is a Warren Zevon tune called "My S**t's F****d Up," that doesn't have the warning? I'm pretty sure Zevon actually spelled it without those asterisks, and he certainly sang it without them. These iTunes censors are on the ball, no?

July 23, 2009

Where there's smoke

I woke up this morning with a strange craving for Cool Ranch Doritos and Twinkies, and now I know why: This newsmaking event was taking place just a few minutes from our apartment.

I wonder how many people gathered around to, um, observe.

UPDATE/DEVELOPING STORY:* My observant and gorgeous wife read today's post and informs me that the fire actually occurred earlier this week. It was only "news" in the sense that today was the day that I found a three-day old article about it.

This leaves open the question of why I had a sudden taste for junky snack food earlier today. Suggestions?

* I mean "developing story" in the same, presumably ironic, way that CNN means it when they're covering an event that has already happened but label it on TV and online as "developing." Which is to say, it's not really a developing story.

July 22, 2009

Undiscovered country

I just got a promotional email from the fine people at Yahoo! Travel - their exclamation mark, not mine - that caught my attention.

Here's a lil' piece of it (click to big-ify):

See the right sidebar, billed as "Top All-American Destinations"? It makes me think that this email would be so incredibly helpful to anyone planning a domestic vacation! Imagine: A reminder that among the top American cities for tourism are places like New York, Philly, Boston, San Francisco and D.C.

(Really? Over Detroit, Schenectady, Timonium, Ogden and Akron?)

I don't even want to click that link to "see more travel ideas" because I'm overwhelmed with the amazing concepts Yahoo! Travel has already provided for me. I never would have thought of those five.

July 21, 2009

Nonstop fun

OK, alright, already. I'm back from cruising around the Land of Palin. Great trip, thanks for asking.

I'm pretty sure the funniest thing I saw while we were away was actually in Vancouver, B.C., before we set sail.

While we were on our way from the Vancouver airport* to the Vancouver pier,** we spied outside of the starboard side (I'm all shippy now, but for you non-sailors, that's means "the right side") of our bus a traffic sign that looked a lot like this one:

And I wondered: How strange to cross out a stop sign. Because, wait... remind me, what's the opposite of stop? I mean, couldn't they just do this?***

The hijinks didn't stop there. On board our big huge ship, the main dining room took up parts of the seventh and eighth floors. I assume there are some times at which the stewards have to travel between the two decks, which led me to believe that it's one of the rare times you can see a dumb waiter on an elevator.

(Crickets, right?)

Thank you. I'm here all night.

* Possibly the cleanest airport in the universe.
** Almost certainly the most Vancouverish pier I've ever seen.
*** Before I get all kinds of angry comments from traffic-sign-loving Canadians: Yes, I know the sign actually means that you're not allowed to stop your car by the side of the road in that area. I maintain that when it comes to traffic instructions, there's a subtle difference between "don't stop" and "no stopping," which is why god invented this sign.

July 12, 2009

A, but not WOL

Goin' fishing* for the next few days. Well, not actually fishing - I'm going on a cruise to Alaska. But I thought I'd write "goin' fishing" because it's folksy, and because I didn't want to reveal my exact plans. But now that I mentioned the cruise, so much for that.

This alleged "cruise ship" apparently charges 50 cents a minute for Web access, and while I dearly love all eight of you who read this blog, I don't think we're at that stage in our relationship where I pay 50 cents a minute to inform and enlighten you online.

Still, I do care. I know you'll want to be entertained while I'm gone, so I'm reminding you about a few of my favorite blogs that you should visit while I'm on the high seas:

Daddy Geek Boy: If you're looking for a entertaining blog written by a dude in greater L.A. (also how I describe SFTC), here you go. (That description sells DGB short, but it's midnight, I'm tired, and I have to leave for the airport in 6 hours.)

Color Me Katie: If you like wholesome goodness, sunshine, photos, pets and/or imagination, this is almost guaranteed to make you smile.

Swiss Miss: Satisfy your craving for cool design and neat new products.

Motherhood in NYC: I gather that most of MiNYC readers are moms. As you might know by now, I am not a mom. I do, however, consistently laugh MAO at this amazing blog.

Awkward Family Photos: Sort of self-explanatory, isn't it? Also sort of un-PC. Which is OK with me - I'm just sayin'.

I'm back next week - possibly with vacation stories. That'll get you to come back, right?

*Since I'm writing Goin', I suppose I should just write fishin', too? WWSPD,** right?
** What Would Sarah Palin Do?

July 8, 2009

Oooey gooey diplomacy

Am I seeing things, or did Vlad Putin - Vlad and I are on a first-syllable basis - serve Toaster Strudels when President Obama arrived for breakfast yesterday?

Visual evidence from the New York Times:

Seriously, I think that look on Putin's face pretty much says: You take the strawberry strudel, Mr. Obama, and I'll go nuclear.

Oh, and if you're one of those folks who actually reads the news instead of just scanning the pretty photos, here's the story about their meeting.

One passage about U.S.-Russia diplomacy that I found interesting, if not very surprising:
Mr. Obama and Mr. Medvedev announced an agreement to open a joint early-warning center to share data on missile launchings. But Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris N. Yeltsin announced the same agreement in 1998. Mr. Clinton then announced it again with President Vladimir V. Putin in 2000. Mr. Putin and President George W. Bush recommitted to it as recently as 2007. And none of them ever actually built the center.

Well, good to know we're moving in the right direction on that front.

Occasionally, death is creepy

The phone rings Monday night and it's my mom.

Me: Hi, Mom.
Mom (excitedly, without pausing to say something like "Hello"): You going to the funeral?
Me (trying to remember if a relative or close friend had died in the previous 24 hours): Huh?
Mom: Michael Jackson's!

Oh. That.

Of course, I did think for a few minutes about entering the lottery for the KOP's memorial service, but despite my love for recently deceased individuals who I've never met, large crowds, driving to Dodger Stadium to wait in line for stuff, Los Angeles traffic made worse by widespread street closures, and things that are generally overwrought, I decided against it. Sounds crazy, I know, but I think the right time to get Michael Jackson tickets was actually about 25 years ago.

And so I determined to skip the big to-do at Staples Center yesterday. But like any good child of the 80s, I did tune in for some of the online coverage.

There were plenty of creepy moments, ranging from slightly uncomfortable to cringeworthy - I'm looking at you, singing-to-the-casket-Usher - but I especially liked these two (click to enlarge images):

1) Video Michael reaches out for a low-five from Brooke Shields.

2) City of Los Angeles asks mourners to kick in a little coin to pay for all of the city's hard work in shutting down most of downtown for a day - with the clever spin that it would give Jackson "the world-class memorial he deserves." Right.

July 6, 2009

Wilco (the photos)

If you've been paying attention, you've probably picked up a hint, here or there (or here) that my favorite (currently active*) music group is Wilco.

I have heard them perform live in four states (multiple times in Illinois, once each in Wisconsin and Washington, and now twice in California), which won't sound that impressive if you're into Phish or the Dead, but I can say with certainty that it's a personal best - and, thankfully that's three more than the number of states in which I've seen Huey Lewis and the News perform. (Landover, Md., 1986! Whoooee!)

I'm enough of a fan that I bought their newest album, which is cleverly titled "Wilco (the album)," despite the fact that before purchasing it, I had listened all the way through about four times and don't really like it. But, eh. It's Wilco - I'll like it eventually. Besides, the CD cover is a picture of a camel. That sort of hooked me. And, further evidence of my fan-hood (fan-ness?): In flagrant disregard of my already-overflowing T-shirt drawer, I now own three Wilco t-shirts.

The point is that I was fortunate enough to grab a seat - well, not a seat, actually, but a very small piece of standing room in between the chests, butts and elbows of fellow fans - for one of Wilco's three sold-out concerts at the Wiltern in Los Angeles a few weeks ago.

See, it says Sold Out right there on the marquee.

The performance was just fantastic - among the best shows I've seen them play. (Unless Laura is reading this. In which case: Laura, don't worry, it was terrible.) The songs from the new disc even sounded good - including a surprise Leslie Feist appearance for the duet "You and I" - and the band played several of my favorites, including California Stars, Pot Kettle Black, Passenger Side and A Shot in the Arm.

If I were feeling more enterprising, I'd post a video clip for you (I might add one later), but for now, I thought I'd share one of the only photos I took that actually came out alright. Here are Mikael Jorgensen, Jeff Tweedy, Glenn Kotche and John Stirratt in action. (Not pictured are Nels Cline and Pat Sansone, in case you're keeping track.)

I'm sorry you couldn't catch the concert with me. I'd suggest you make up for it with 3 minutes, 51 seconds of muscial excellence - my favorite Wilco song, Jesus Etc.

* To distinguish them from the Beatles, my favorite group in the half-of-the-band-is-now-dead category.

Half the battle

A few people I know insist that I'd feel healthier and have more energy - and, possibly, my trousers* would fit better - if I incorporated more fruits and veggies in my diet. I'm skeptical, and, frankly it seems a shame to just ignore the Taco Bell/KFC right down the street.

(Just wondering - do any of you ever go to one of those combo places and order "dinner" from Taco Bell and get "dessert" from KFC? I'd be impressed.)

Not only that, but now I'm hearing that the fruits and veggies they sell at my local grocery store probably are all contaminated with god knows what, and that it's almost not worth buying produce unless it's certified organic, free-range, locally grown, tenderly harvested, nuclear-free apples and strawberries and whatever.

Which is great, because if there's anything in this world that gets me pumped up, it's the idea of paying $6 for a multi-adjective apple.

Happily, a few weeks ago, a new farmers market began operating nearby every Saturday. I knew this was my kind of farmers market, because in addition to leafy things I had previously only seen in photographs, this farmers market also has vendors that offer hand-ground chocolate and organic** pork sliders. Seriously, though, most of the stands had signs proclaiming their goodies to be organic and pesticide-free, which I knew would make my health-nut friends happy.

With their advice ringing in my ears, I knew I couldn't go to a farmers market and buy chocolate and pork. Or, I should say, I knew I couldn't only buy chocolate and pork. So I decided to invest in some strawberries, grapefruit, garlic, mint and - because my gorgeous wife loves them - avocados.

Which worked out well, because other than the avocados, which I knew would be eaten, I think I ate everything... well, everything except for the grapefruit, garlic and mint. And most of the strawberries. But let me tell you: The chocolate was truly out of this world. And nearly worth the $30 I paid for all of that other junk.

So now I'm just hoping that purchasing healthful food will help me stay fit and live longer. If so, I'm cruising toward 100!

*I'm going out on a limb and saying this is the first time I've written the word trousers on my blog.
** I have no idea if they're organic, or, indeed, if there is such a thing as an organic slider.

July 2, 2009

... And you can't beat the traffic

If anyone asks, I still tell them that living in L.A. is great. And I believe it. I guess I'm easy, but to me - whatever obstacles your hometown might throw at you - if you can walk out of your home or office and see palm trees, you're pretty damn lucky. And if you can look up and see cerulean blue skies approximately 361 days a year, even better.

The problem is that L.A. is in California, which as of today, is starting to pay people with IOUs. Or, as the New York Times calls them - and I'm just pointing this out because I'm an editorgeek - i.o.u.'s.

I think I might look into doing that for my next major purchases. I never did get that HDTV I kept yammering on about during the 2008 winter holidays. Think Circuit City would take an IOU for one of those? Oh, right, I almost forgot.

California's budget woes also mean that I'm on my way to a salary reduction for the next 12 months, at least. To lower our pay, they're apparently considering using unpaid days, or as they're better known, furloughs. I'm sort of on board with the idea, although every time I hear the word furlough, I think of Michael Dukakis and Willie Horton. So, that's not so great.

Still: Palm trees.