Real World, Thug Kitchens, Modern-Day Eloise, Jon Hamm in the closet of my dreams, Identity Politics, etc: Links I’ve Loved of Late
Well, this is a long one and one with more commentary than usual. But it counts as a post so I am at least still posting regularly!
- In an obviously linkbait-y post, Vulture ranked all the seasons of Real World (hat tip to Sean C for posting on FB and Jackie for wishing she’d shared it before Sean). While not 100% off, here’s my take on the top 5 seasons in order… I’m also sharing this post with a BREAKING REALITY TV ANNOUNCEMENT — I *will* be watching the Portland season marking the first season I’ve committed to watching since Brooklyn (yawn) in 2009:
- Los Angeles
- San Francisco
- New York
- Kaitlyn introduced me to Thug Kitchen. I am obsessed.
- GigaOm wrote about what Airbnb learned from Jiro Dreams of Sushi. If you haven’t seen the movie, stop what you’re doing — it’s streaming on Netflix and is a must watch. In addition to just being a fantastic movie, it truly makes you rethink what it means to master a craft and what success in a role is. Jiro’s son has held the same title and position for decades, but for that family/culture, true success and professional excellence is ensuring that every single detail of a skill is mastered and done perfectly every day. While I have no desire to learn from Jiro directly and massage octopus for 8 years before being trusted with eggs, I did finish the movie and think that that’s the kind of attitude I’d like to bring to my job. I just love the idea of a business leader bringing it to his team as well.
- Jon Hamm did “7 Minutes in Heaven” putting me just one creepy SNL writer and a camera away from my dream of being trapped in a small space with Jon Hamm.
- Stephen Sondheim turned 83 last month and BuzzFeed provided this list of “15 Unforgettable Sondheim Songs” and because I love Sondheim, I’m sharing with you as well. Personal favorites are: 2, 3, 8, 10, 13, 14, and 15.
- Whether conservative or liberal, if you attended a small liberal arts college, this WSJ article on identity politics at Bowdoin is really interesting.
Published Wednesday, the report demonstrates how Bowdoin has become an intellectual monoculture dedicated above all to identity politics.
The school’s ideological pillars would likely be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to American higher education lately. There’s the obsession with race, class, gender and sexuality as the essential forces of history and markers of political identity. There’s the dedication to “sustainability,” or saving the planet from its imminent destruction by the forces of capitalism. And there are the paeans to “global citizenship,” or loving all countries except one’s own.
The Klingenstein report nicely captures the illiberal or fallacious aspects of this campus doctrine, but the paper’s true contribution is in recording some of its absurd manifestations at Bowdoin. For example, the college has “no curricular requirements that center on the American founding or the history of the nation.” Even history majors aren’t required to take a single course in American history. In the History Department, no course is devoted to American political, military, diplomatic or intellectual history—the only ones available are organized around some aspect of race, class, gender or sexuality.
One of the few requirements is that Bowdoin students take a yearlong freshman seminar. Some of the 37 seminars offered this year: “Affirmative Action and U.S. Society,” “Fictions of Freedom,” “Racism,” “Queer Gardens” (which “examines the work of gay and lesbian gardeners and traces how marginal identities find expression in specific garden spaces”), “Sexual Life of Colonialism” and “Modern Western Prostitutes.”
- DIY ALCOHOLIC DIPPIN’ DOTS!!! (If you have some liquid nitrogen handy…)
- An all-male version of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” and it’s pretty fabulous!
- I’m obsessed with the Lift app for iPhone for tracking daily habits. Since adopting, I’ve gotten better about flossing, drinking 8 glasses of water daily, exercising and more.
I was reminded recently of Adam Richman’s “20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die,” an article from GQ in 2006. You see, despite all my food snobbery, I believe that the cheeseburger is still the perfect sandwich and absolutely nothing tops a really really good one.
At the time, I vowed to eat all 20 in short order, but apparently stopped after making sure I hit all of the NYC locales and, sadly, had to admit to a friend that JG Melon’s was probably the superior NYC burger. (The Peter Luger burger, while delicious, was almost too much to handle).
This week, however, I’ve been in major cheeseburger-craving mode. I thought this would be satisfied with a slider from Green Dot Stables (which is, actually, a surprisingly good burger, but due to its slider size doesn’t really handle my fix). In my cheeseburger daydreaming, I came back to Adam’s list and discovered with great shock that I was a) only at 40% completion and b) one of my bucket list burgers was located just 30 minutes away at Sidetrack in Ypsilanti!
Friends, this is a great pub cheeseburger. Perfectly hand-formed 1/3 lb patty, soft simple sesame seed bun with a great meat to bread ratio, great melt on the cheese and cooked to a perfect medium rare.
And, because I am disappointed in myself for taking way too long with this challenge, I vow to hit the remaining 11 in the next three years. Prepare for trips to Seattle, Newport, New Haven, Miami, New Mexico (x2), Dallas, Napa, Hackensack, San Fran, and Chicago. I am accepting elastic waist-banded volunteers to join me!
This is a long one:
- It was very tough to say goodbye to 30 Rock, but I will save this list of the best 30 jokes forever. I remember when I heard this one for the first time, I realized I’d found a soulmate comedy:
- Nora Ephron’s son wrote this lovely, moving, and (depending on your personal experiences with sick relatives) difficult to read tribute to his mother.
- So… I still love Derek, but I might be transitioning into a Tigers fan. This season is going to be rough for my beloved Yankees.
- I thought this was a great read from Silicon Alley Insider on the importance of working at the office for 20-somethings:
Never underestimate the value there is in showing up.
When starting a job, the best way to prove yourself is to be present and dependable. Working from home on a regular basis sends a message to your boss that your first priority is not always your job. It’s tending to your cold. Or recovering from a big weekend. Or simply taking a morning off from your daily subway commute.
The people who come to work every day at the same time?
They become rocks.
- I’m pretty jazzed by this program we’re doing with Jalopnik. It’s incredible social advertising and I can’t wait to see upcoming videos:
- Based on this aggregated list, I may secretly be Hannah Horvath. In the last two years, I’m positive I’ve said numbers 4, 5, 13, 15, 19, 20, 21, and 22… but especially 10.
- Special thanks to Susannah for sharing this amazing Barbershop performance of “Sexyback” from JT & Jimmy Fallon:
- This is old, but Andy Greenwald’s writing on the state of food television and follow up on the brutal things producers did to the Top Chef finale were both brilliant pieces.
After two people in the last week have reminded me what a terrible blogger I am, I realized it only right to, at the very least, share some things that have been entertaining me recently:
- Les Mean Girls combines images from Les Mis with quotes from Mean Girls and is 100% worth your time.
- With the Super Bowl tomorrow, Susannah reminded me of the greatest halftime show of all time:
- I totally agree with Grantland (what’s new?), you need to binge watch Parenthood stat!
- You should also be watching Nashville for the music, Connie Britton, the delicious soapy plotlines, and the handsome men. Thanks to BuzzFeed for helping us tell them apart. It took three episodes for me to tell Deacon from Gunnar from Teddy.
- Apparently Hanson gets better with age:
- And I adored this accoustic rendition of Ignition… taking me back to freshman year at Williams
- 10 & 2 is so last century, apparently we’re all supposed to switch to 8 & 4:
- I also love this elementary school in Buffalo for using tweets from NFL players to help teach grammar. Brilliant!
Yesterday, I finally had the good fortune to see Les Miserables the movie in theaters. Like many lovers of the musical, I could not possibly have had higher expectations.
You see, Les Mis played a key role in my childhood. I practically wore out the soundtrack (Broadway, not London cast) throughout elementary school. And then my oldest brother (now El Paso Brother) STOLE the soundtrack and took it to college with him. Over various school holidays, we began to steal the set from each other back and forth until Tokyo Brother gifted me my own copy freshman year of college. By that point, I’d seen the show on Broadway (thanks to a generous graduation present from Liz). Since that time, I’ve seen the show live three more times, listen to the soundtrack constantly, and get my fixes from the 25th Anniversary Concert (which has also single-handedly changed my perception of Nick Jonas).
I can hardly believe I waited six days from release to see the movie and offer up my humble opinions below.
- So many of the greatest dramatic moments aren’t able to be as big as they could be on stage: it’s the French Revolution after all! Watching Valjean climb through the gutters, following soldiers through the streets, watching prisoners pull in ships — the big screen brought much larger visual impact.
- Samantha Barks is a brilliant Eponine and brought me to tears during “A Little Fall of Rain.”
- Colm Wilkinson’s cameo as the Bishop.
- Anne Hathaway was as good as everyone said.
- I even loved Sacha Baron Cohen & Helena Bonham Carter as the Thenardiers, but can understand those who thought they overplayed the roles (disagree as they were always meant to be the comedic relief).
- The big screen made a number of the smaller moments so much more powerful. I can’t remember ever being as grossed out by the “Lovely Ladies” or as moved by “A Heart Full of Love.”
- While it made the smaller moments more powerful, I felt like some of the big moments were lacking something. To hear “One Day More” and have the theater not erupt in applause after was heartbreaking.
- Similarly, Hugh Jackman acted Valjean beautifully but wasn’t quite strong enough when singing the part. Although as Rembert Browne of Grantland said: “I didn’t have any problems with his voice, Emily, but maybe that’s because I was just doing the natural thing of comparing him to Javert/Crowe, which, in turn, made Jackman sound like all Three Tenors combined.”
- Oh my, Russell Crowe. You might look like Javert and you might act like Javert, but you do not sing like Javert.
I think it’s a must-see. Although you may leave it wishing there was any single male vocal performance that approached this:
I take TV very seriously and always have — even when my well-meaning parents had their “no TV at all on school nights” policy (which I still equate with child abuse).
Those who know me well know that the Entertainment Weekly Fall TV Preview is the highlight of my September and leads to the annual creation of a color-coded spreadsheet planning my viewing schedule. (Those who know me *really* well are lucky enough to get access to this chart as a Google Doc. I debated posting the link to the spreadsheet, but I don’t think we’re close enough for that yet).
Anyway, we’re well in to the fall season and I figured I’d offer up what I’m watching now (and what you should be too):
Must See TV
- Homeland. I shouldn’t even have to tell you why.
- Nashville. Connie Britton + country music = dedicated viewer. Praying Coach Taylor shows up.
- New Girl. I would dump most of my friends to hang out with Schmidt.
- Happy Endings. Not as good this season as last, but hasn’t moved down a category yet either. Frankly, I’m just hoping for another round of whores’ baths.
- Start Ups: Silicon Valley. The whole cast is full of absolutely awful terrible people and I love it.
- Real World/Road Rules: The Challenge. There was an actual challenge that involved beating someone else with a large fish. Even Japanese game shows wouldn’t stoop that low.
- Parks & Rec. Perfection. Also slowly coming to terms with the fact that Leslie Knope and I have a surprising number of similarities.
- Elementary. I’m biased because I love justifiably arrogant men, but I’ve found this to be one of the most enjoyable crime dramas I’ve seen in ages.
- Blue Bloods. I can’t believe I’m enjoying this more than the Good Wife this season.
- Next Iron Chef. This succeeds where Top Chef: Masters fails – likely because being an Iron Chef means more than a made up Bravo title when you’ve already made it. Also, Alton Brown is like the Jeff Probst of the culinary world and I love Alex Guarnaschelli.
Still Watching but… Meh
- The Good Wife. Not really sure what’s going on here, but I’m with it as long as Josh Charles is.
- Parenthood. Rough this season given how close to home the “mom with cancer” plot plays, but compelling stories and great portrayal of family. Also, same show runner as Friday Night Lights so I’m sticking around.
- The Mindy Project. Overrated but I’ll give Mindy a full half a season.
- 30 Rock. I still laugh, but…
We Broke Up
- How I Met Your Mother. Much as I feel about Facebook friends, babies make everything less interesting.
- Last Resort. Grantland’s Andy Greenwald told me to watch this and I trusted him. Big mistake.
- Real Housewives of Anything. I tried Beverly Hills and Atlanta again. And I stopped watching.
- Made in Jersey. WTF CBS? You canceled after one episode? It wasn’t that bad, I swear!
- Partners. WTF CBS? This is on the air and Made in Jersey isn’t? How low is the bar for comedy?!
I’ll be honest: I had no idea what to expect from Kid Rock’s concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) but I knew the people watching would be fantastic. Fortunately for me and Jeff, we didn’t have to look far to find one of the loudest characters in the joint.
Full thoughts on the concert/experience follow a short detour about a Kid Rock devotee.
I’ll call her Polly Peekaboo. She was about 48, was wearing a silver paisley vest over a black shirt and miniskirt. She was at what must have been her 100th rock concert with her best leather-clad girlfriend. And they were wasted. Like so drunk the usher seating us looked at her, look at us, and said “maybe she’ll pass out.” She greeted us with “Peekaboo kiddos!” in a loud Southern accent and we were off to the races. Actually, the minute she said that, I made Jeff change seats because I can smell crazy and it smells a lot like excessive boxed wine.
Things Polly Peekaboo said to me and/or Jeff in the first few minutes of sitting near each other:
- I’ve gotta go tinkle.
- [To Jeff]: Good that you tricked your high class girl into coming to a Kid Rock show!
- [To Me]: Can I take my shoes off?
- [To Jeff]: Are you wearing heels?
She then asked us if she could get us more wine and upon returning with it, decided that rather than ask us to move again (the first time being “to go tinkle,”) she would crawl over the seat in front of her. With a quick “sorry kiddos,” she lifted her already mini mini skirt and swung her legs around fully exposing herself to all those to her left. I’ll spare you graphic details but let’s just say that “Peekaboo” proved to be a double entendre.
Fortunately for all of us, her alcohol had severely impaired her judgment and in addition to throwing things repeatedly at the head of the man two rows in front of her, she decided to pull out and light up a cigarette. A big enough no no that she and her friend were promptly escorted out. Because even though Kid Rock encourages badassery, he doesn’t condone fires.
The evening overall was incredible. It’s tough to know how to dress for such an affair — given that at the last Kid Rock concert I went to, I saw women in matching rhinestoned tube tops that read “Kid” and “Rock” respectively. I figured best to dress for the DSO and saw a sea of suits to… well, more rhinestoned tube tops. Regardless of attire though, every single person there could feel the energy and spirit for what would be an incredible night.
I’ve documented my surprising love for Kid previously on this blog and extensively on Facebook/in person, but as a little girl who loved classical music, watching the merging of two opposite genres in the name of salvaging a cultural institution in a town known for the hard times it’s faced was pretty special.
I’ve copied the set list from the Detroit news article (which includes more detail and flavor than I provided), but will offer up that once again “Bawitdaba” proved to be a transcendant song so I can’t wait for whatever videos/recordings are made available later.
Set list for Kid Rock with DSO:
— Fanfare for the Common Man (DSO only)
— Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Op. 67 I. Allegro Con Brio (DSO only)
—”Hoe Down” from Rodeo (DSO only)
— Farandole from L’Arlesienne Suite No. 2 (DSO only)
— Finale from Overture to William Tell (DSO only)
— Devil Without a Cause
— You Never Met a… Quite Like Me
— All Summer Long
—Lay It On Me
— Rock On
— Purple Sky
— Times Like These
— Rock N Roll Jesus
— Only God Knows Why
— Born Free
—Son of Detroit (Rock’s band only)
— Wastin’ Time (Rock’s band only)
— God Bless Saturday (Rock’s band only)
So anyway, words can’t describe the sights and sounds (and smells) of such an evening nearly as well as I’d like them to, but kudos to Kid Rock for being so generous with his time, congratulations to the DSO for being willing to try new things and successfully raising $1 million, and apologies to Polly Peekaboo who left her silver paisley vest behind and will never see it again.
Last week, I checked a major Someday/Maybe item off my to do list (also the sole item in the “Fun” section of my task management system… feel free to judge accordingly): an introductory culinary knife skills class.
I’ve always loved cooking, but these days it’s not a practical hobby: I travel a ton, I live alone, and if I were to spend a weekend home cooking, I wouldn’t be able to consume the food before either it went bad or I got sick of it. Also, my kitchen is an ugly, sad, poorly ventilated room with hideous cabinets and thus, I don’t spend much time there.
Anyway, you should run — not walk — to take a knife skills class (and if in DC, I highly recommend the one at CulinAerie with Susan Watterson as the instructor). Here’s why:
- You are probably not holding your knife correctly. I know this because the last four friends I told this story too (who love to cook) were not holding their knife correctly.
- You are probably not be efficient with motions while chopping or slicing.
- Deboning a chicken will be one of the more satisfying experiences of the week.
- You’ll learn a number of ways to be more efficient with your shopping — both of knives and food.
- You will produce a beautifully cut carrot within the first 20 minutes. Please see mine:
That said, I’m a big fan of optimizing experiences. Here’s what I would keep in mind if you are taking an introductory cooking class on a Saturday morning:
- Apparently a lot of people give newlyweds/newly-engaged/cute couples in their lives cooking classes as a present. Here’s the thing: the cute couple in someone else’s life is not a cute couple in my life. I spent three hours behind two hippies making out between cuts. And I had a big knife at my disposal. It was quite an exercise in restraint.
- A lot of people see knife skills as a good intro class and, literally, have never cut anything other than the packaging around a microwave meal. Be prepared for people around you to be confused about pretty much everything. Wait… when you said keep the root on to hold the onion together, did you mean this root that I just cut off? Ooopsies!
- You just might be forced to work next to Mary Jane. Because I did and she was a complete moron who will likely have to repeat the course several more times. Mary Jane was a delightful Southern belle in a relationship with a hairy and verbally abusive man whose name I’ve already forgotten. What’s great about WhatsHisName is he doesn’t let his own lack of knife skills slow down his criticism of everything Mary Jane does. And what’s great about Mary Jane is like a goldfish, by the time she swims around the bowl, she’s forgotten everything he’s said.
Since I’m solutions-oriented, rather than offer a multi-paragraph, detail-studded “Ode to Mary Jane,” I’ll give you this advice: if you take this course, you should call and find out a) if you work in partners and b) if you’re at small tables or in small groups. And then, you should take the class with however many friends you need to use as a buffer from everyone else in the room. Sartre was right: hell is other people, but if you’re going to be stuck there, you don’t want to be while learning how to wield sharp objects.
Today, my beloved MoPo and I are headed to Eisenberg’s Deli for lunch for the greatest egg salad in the world. I get mine on toasted rye with extra crispy bacon (no lettuce/tomato/onion) AND a chocolate egg cream.
If you haven’t been to Eisenberg’s (and if you like egg salad, that’s a travesty), then you should absolutely buckle up and enjoy this adorable mini-doc about the 83-year old diner.
Just last weekend in DC, I went to We The Pizza, and also ordered an egg cream only to have the woman at the counter whisper “are you sure you want this? Do you know that it’s not a cream soda?”
Not that I needed further proof in New York’s supremacy, but that was pretty much the nail in the coffin.
A while back on Unterekless, a popular feature (or maybe just frequently praised by Eric) was Japanarama Mondays. Normally it featured weird vending machines, adults in diapers, or photos of Meat Trucks taken by (then) Unmarried Brother. Which brings me to another update: Unmarried Brother will now be Tokyo Brother and, I suppose, Married Brother will now be El Paso Brother.
I digress, the point is, these photos capture a beauty and exoticism in Japan and I’m obsessed. Watch the entire slideshow here, but know that this one touched me particularly as I remember wandering these alleys while in Japan for Tokyo Brother’s wedding and being completely captivated. It always got me excited for dinner… even though nine times out of ten we were headed for food I didn’t want to eat… but the tenth time, Tokyo Brother found me Yakitori. Mmmmm various fried chicken parts — from wing to heart…