Archive for the 'Blabber' Category

02
Apr
11

Food and Wine pairing.

Just read an interesting blog post by Jason Wilson from the Washington Post discussing whether pairing wine and food is really something we need to be doing, or if it’s just a bunch of baloney. It’s a good read no matter what side of the gastro-vineyard fence you are on.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/all-we-can-eat/post/the-lies-lies-lies-of-food-and-wine-pairings/2011/03/31/AF3MITCC_blog.html

(Apologies for not putting hyperlinks, I’m doing this from Blackberry, so I’ll fix it when I’m next to a proper werkstätion.)

As I am unable to comment on the blog from a mobile browser, I’d like to offer my two cents to Mr. Wilson.

Dear Sir,

Let me first say I enjoyed reading your post, and it inspired me enough to type all of this on a BlackBerry, risking catastrophic carpal tunnel collapse.

First off, I’m no wine snob. I’ll drink from a bottle of Penfold’s Bin 2 just as readily as an Opus One (though I would try not to spill my wine dancing around, happy to be drinking this bad-ass booze). I don’t follow any dogmas about what meats pair with what wine, e.g. said Opus One was happily consumed with a dinner of (really good) fish and chips. But I appreciate people (and Pixarian rodents)with advanced palates who can break down why they love the flavors of fine foods so much. If they say a certain wine has characteristics that complement a certain type of cuisine, then I’ll listen. I think the bold red wine/grilled red meat thing has merit, and certain cheeses do seem to fare better (or worse) with my favorite Sauvignon Blanc (St. Clair, NZ, FTW). Dismissing the logic of some foods go better with some wines than others and vice versa (if that’s a suggestion I’m picking up from your post) feels to me a bit, well, wrong. IMHO.

The statistic indicating most frequent wine drinkers aren’t consuming with meals may be true, but doesn’t 60% mean roughly 1 in 3 partakings is with a meal? The other two maybe to unwind at home, meeting for a second date, out of a paper bag on the street corner, etc., but perhaps not as forlorn a habit as Mr. Yarrow suggested (1:8, or something like how many people use hotmail vs gmail, or maybe read vs only watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy). Or maybe there is a reasoning behind the adjusted ratio I am not aware of that you could help explain.

All that said, I largely agree with Yarrow on the fundamental falsehoods of wine and food pairings, though think Lie #2 has a shade of truth. Perhaps it would be better to say that “There are certain foods you probably shouldn’t pair with certain wines, and there are also some pairings that seem to work well for a lot of people. It’s up to you how passionately you want to feel either way about it.”

Of course, I may have just revealed myself a complete neophyte when it comes to wine. At least I will have made a fool of myself on my own blog instead of yours. (Though I do wish I could read the other responses.)

Okay, hand starting to cramp. Hope to hear something back from you.

Thanks,
Jack

PS: Please forgive my formality in the salutation if it seemed like I was going to elegantly troll you. I am always uncertain how to address it. Let me assure you I’ve never been accused of being a troll (or elegant for that matter).

24
Nov
10

My 10 Favorite TV Series

Just listing them for now, I’ll fill in the why at another time.

Only criteria is that they are available on DVD.

1. The Wire

2. Mad Men

3. The Simpsons

4. The Sopranos

5. The Office

6. Battlestar Galactica

7. Ugly Betty

8. Californication

9. Lost

10. Chuck

Also Receiving Votes: Extras, Fringe, Weeds, Black Adder, Batman the Animated Series, Entourage, Scrubs

Incomplete Data for Analysis: Arrested Development, Breaking Bad, Family Guy, Slings and Arrows, Friday Night Lights, Band of Brothers, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Boardwalk Empire

Dishonorable Mentions: Heroes, 24, CSI, Las Vegas, Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Sex in the City

17
Nov
10

Reply to Sender

Please read this first, it will only take 90 seconds and you won’t regret it:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/susanorlean/2010/11/dear-reader.html

Then see my follow-up. I don’t usually like to leave comments, but I read this and it opened up a whole line of thought that I used to think about quite a bit, but just took a prodding from a Greatest Living American Writer contender (now wouldn’t that make a fun reality show competition? Fox: add boobs?) to inspire me to add to my Blackberry Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Relief Fund. I could have gone on, but then it would be a superlong comment. And no one likes that.

(Except me, though. I actually love them. I read them all, and the more new thoughts and interaction I can get out of them, the more alive I feel. I even read the spam ones, like the one about “Exciting New Oppurtunities in Sub-Prime Mortgage Funds!!!! And a longer, thicker cock to boot!!!” So don’t hold back. I mean it. I’m a sucker for repartee.)

I am posting this for two reasons: 1. I am not sure if it will show up on her blog (I picture some beatnik NewYorker.com web admin takes one look at my IP address, assumes I am trying to promote cheap airfare to Phuket, and presses delete so they can continue illegally downloading the new Girl Talk album). 2. So you know where to find Susan’s blog on your own next time (follow her on Twitter at @susanorlean). Anyone who is an aspiring writer or derives real pleasure from artful, string-bead arrangements of 52 different letters (UPPER & lower) should check her out. Fo sho.

Cheers,
Jack

Dammit, I meant to write this first. Though not as brilliantly or milk-out-the-nostrils funny. (My audience thinks Jersey Shore is a documentary. (Kidding, audience.))

For business letters, I see the standard practice is Best Regards. But what is that really? To have or show the utmost respect or concern for someone? That would be nice if it were true, though I would be disingenuous to use it for a virtual stranger on an email.

Can we use Bestest Regards? What if they abbreviate it to Regards? Or even BR? Should I believe you are sending me your “best regards” if you can’t even bother to spell out the herculean number of letters in both words? (Though it seems HBD seems to suffice for telling someone Happy Birthday in this day and age. (Did the use of that phrase reveal my syntactic fogeyness?))

I’m sorry, I lost my train of thought. Too many paragraph symbols without an According to Hoyle emoticon, I guess.

Peace Out Yo,
Jack

16
Nov
10

Recently Lost Arts

While recording a ridiculous radio spot at Radio Thailand, ran into my colleague Junior, and caught up with some new faces in the news room. While I admiring his To The Five Boroughs CD, I spotted a Beastie Boys disc I had never heard of (true fan I am) but had to see what it was like. Some Old Bullshit is probably the most honestly, succinctly named album of all time. Not very good for the music, but as a history lesson it is great. The back cover of the sleeve includes a reproduction of probably the most earnestly written piece of hate mail you’ve ever seen. Denouncing, outrageous, rather witty, and yet somehow a bit sweet and actually not very caustic. So well done, Phoebe and Simon Stringer.

It made me feel like there’s some other stuff out there that a lot of people used to be very good at, but for various reasons not very many people see the art in them anymore. What do you think qualifies? Please add them to the comments below!

-A well-worded hate letter written on a manual typewriter.

-Remembering over ten phone numbers. In my head! (We only needed to know 7 numbers, of course).

-Drawing a cursive I (that’s a capital I, which if done right, looks like a toilet).

-Driving a stick shift. I know a lot of people still prefer it (and vinyl records and Betamax video) but there’s not the need anymore. In fact, a few decades from now, grandkids will ask us what it was like having to use a steering hoop.

-Setting the time on a VCR. Kids these days don’t know the Zen-existential frustration of seeing the “time as flashing 00:00.”

-Untangling a telephone cord. Clockwise? Counterclockwise? So many choices we had!

-Love letter. In an envelope. With tears and perfume. And a stamp.

-Repairing game cartridges by blowing on them. It’s like we were little magicians.

-Programming in FORTRAN or COBOL.

-And the most regrettable one of all, patience.

13
Aug
10

The Death of Surprises

We’ve all seen it in the movies. A castle under siege, the invading forces erecting ladders to breach the walls, as the first wave scrambles up the rungs, knives between their teeth, facing certain death by sword, arrow, or boiling oil. The brave doomed, destined for nameless immortality. I pat them on the back and say, “Go get ’em!”

Me, I’m not a first adopter. And I’m pretty okay with that.

You won’t catch me lining up at the cinema on the first weekend, fighting the crowd and settling for crap seats, even to see a “Wild Things” remake starring Gemma Arterton and Marion Cottilard. I would wait a week until the theater was half-empty (and eventually buy the Blu-Ray).

When it comes to television serials, part of the reason I don’t download them (besides being illegal) is I like the option of watching a complete season at anytime I want. Also, I like to have a notion whether it is worth investing the time I could be productive (which is why I don’t own a PS3) and time has become even more precious now that we have three young boys to take care of.

Mad Men is one series that has garnered rave reviews from reliable sources. Now that Ugly Betty was cancelled after season 4 (unjustly, it was a great show that didn’t find enough of its audience) and Chuck season 3 is still on hold, we had room for another series in the coveted “before bed DVD” time slot.

I’ve only watched two episodes so far, but the hype is completely justified. I love watching a series with well-realized characters that feels like an epic unfolding before your eyes (like The Wire or Lost) rather than bite-sized drivel bloated with time-filling contrivances (i.e. Heroes, 24, every Thai soap opera), and I am sure I will be using this space for future gushing about the genius of Mad Men and its instantly iconic anti-hero Don Draper.

I bring up Mad Men because it illustrates a conflict between the first-adopters and the wait-and-seers. The fourth season has just started in the USA, and because of all the buzz online, I already knew an important plot point before I even started season 1. You could argue “It’s your own fault for not keeping up” or “Maybe you should spend less time online” and I would have to agree with you to some extent, but it doesn’t dismiss what I believe: that our society is becoming less able to keep secrets from itself.

Think about this. Have you seen The Sixth Sense? No? Are you planning on it? Yes? Then skip the next paragraph. It’s a spoiler.

This movie came out in 1999 when the internet was still in its comic sans adolescence. How much of the success of this movie do you think would have been dampened by our TMI society if it had been released today? “Bruce Willis is a ghost” probably would have been a trending topic on Twitter, and you would see parody mash-up videos on YouTube (such as Hitler yelling at his lackeys how angry he was someone already told him “Bruce Willis died in the first scene”).

(If you’ve skipped this paragraph, spoiler ends here. I congratulate you on your restraint and implore you, go see the movie already, will ya?)

In the end, a quality movie or series is entertaining on first sight or after repeat viewings. Shakespeare’s audiences then and now thrive without the element of surprise. I went to see the Matrix in the theater with very low expectations (thanks, Johnny Mnemonic) and was blown away by the reveal at the end of the first act. I doubt I would be able to avoid knowing it now, but it doesn’t hamper my ability to enjoy rewatching it (or The Big Lebowski or Pulp Fiction) dozens of times.

What’s my point? That I like surprises but don’t prefer being the first in line to get them? Look, I don’t call it blabber for nothing. Complaints accepted below in the comments section.

28
Jul
10

Recycled? It was barely consumed!

I hope this images is not copyrighted

Yes, I took this photo. From the sample pictures folder on my computer. Why so judgemental. It's a nice sunrise.

Is it plagiarism if you borrow from yourself?  If you are not John Fogerty, I think not.  This is a little something I posted on Facebook a while back when people actually logged onto Facebook from desktops computers and did more than say Happy Birthday, updated statuses, look at photos, and grow virtual rutabaga.  Since only one person read it, I think it is fair for me to post it again here.  I can’t very well sue myself;  I can’t afford to win or lose.

This post on the now-untrendy Facebook Notes was inspired by this blog post Here.  Perhaps I should have tagged more people than just my wife.  She didn’t read it, understandably she was very busy carrying My Three Spawn inside her distended belly.  The guy who read it was a guy (and clicked Like) worked for me at the time and I was grateful for the lonesome brown-nose.

So here it is, updated with links! And formatting!  Otherwise, it is basically the same thing I wrote many (well, 13 or 14) moons ago*.

Please, feel free to come up with your own, just replace the non-bold parts and let me know in the comment section below.  As The Wolf once said, Pretty please. With sugar on top.

A 40 Questions Meme- Where I Bare My Soul (and Bottom) to You

1. My uncle once: killed vampires for a living. Now he owns a comic book shop and doesn’t tolerate loitering.

2. Never in my life: have I knowingly sold crack cocaine to an undercover cop.

3.When I was five: I told the undercover cop I swore thought it was rock sugar.

4. High School was: not like in the movies. No unstoppable mask-wearing killer, no webcam broadcasts of a boy violating pastry, and no werewolves on the basketball team.

5. I will never forget: that time I made out with one of the Olsen twins. I can’t recall which one, though.

6. I once met: this ten year old kid last year claiming to be my son. Embarrassingly, I told him that was just impossible.

7. There’s this girl I know who: has X-ray vision. I always tell her how cold it is when she starts snickering.

8. Once, at a bar: I beat Stephen Hawking at darts. What a sore loser.

9. By noon, I’m usually: in the gym, finishing up a punishing seven-hour workout with 1,000 reverse gravity sit ups before heading to McDonald’s for a double Big Mac, supersize french fries, chocolate milkshake, and a large Coke Zero.

10. Last night: I faced down yet another pretender to my breakdancing crown at the Electric Boogaloo.

11. If only I had: one arm, I would still be the best banjo player in Southeast Asia.

12. Next time I go to church: I will save some communion wine for others, even though they were rude to me for not being a Christian and for not putting my cell phone on Silent.

13. Terry Schiavo: rest in peace.

14. What worries me most: is that my children will someday find out I’m not the strongest, smartest, most handsome man in the universe, and that I’ve never actually been off Earth technically. Those tales of intergalactic space travel? Daddy made it all up.

15. When I turn my head left, I see: my lovely wife, sleeping peacefully next to me.

16. When I turn my head right, I see: Megan Fox, hunched over the table, doing another line of coke. Geez girl, put some clothes on!!!

17. You know I’m lying when: I tell you those pleated acid wash jeans look fucking awesome on you.

18. What I miss most about the eighties: is driving around town drunk, yelling profanities at the elderly and little children, while blasting Hall and Oates on the radio.

19. If I was a character in Shakespeare, I’d be: Jason Bourne in drag.

20. By this time next year: my penis will be longer and thicker than ever, according to this very promising email.

21. A better name for me would be: Rock Harder. That way people could call me Rock, Rockman Lover, Rockity-Rock, Rocknrolla, or just Mr. Harder.

22. I have a hard time understanding: people from England, with their “jolly good” this and “bully for you” that. Learn to sprechen ze American, will ya?

23. If I ever go back to school, I’ll: run for class president, buy votes, then rob the school blind.

24. You know I like you if: I build a shrine to you in my bedroom, filled with pictures taken when you weren’t looking, your name scrawled everywhere in my blood, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police playing on constant repeat.

25. If I ever won an award, the first person I’d thank would be: Ed McMahon, for reminding me that I could already be a millionaire.

26. Darwin, Mozart, Slim Pickens & Geraldine Ferraro: a bunch of egotistical blowhards who would make for quite a poker game.

27. Take my advice, never: run from your problems. It looks suspicious, so just walk away casually.

28. My ideal breakfast is: a bottle of 1995 Dom Perignon mixed with Minute Maid Orange Juice, served with organic eggs benedict made with real English muffin, served on the naked body of a mute Japanese schoolgirl with attractive teeth.

29. A song I love, but do not own is: Happy Birthday to You. I sing it every time we have a dinner out. Everyone knows the words, and sometimes you get free dinner!

30. If you visit my hometown, I suggest: you wear Kevlar. It’s a tough neighborhood, but it made me the classy warrior I am today.

31. Tulips, character flaws, microchips, & track stars: are, coincidentally, the four main exports of my hometown.

32. Why won’t people: stop screaming when they wake up handcuffed to the bed? They are padded cuffs.

33. If you spend the night at my house: don’t ask me what the big feather hanging over my bed is for.

34. I’d stop my wedding for: a Klondike bar. I did, actually.  Almost got divorced on the spot.  Until she had a taste, then she understood.

35. The world could do without: all that carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Factories, stop your burning! People, less breathing! Cows, quit all that farting!!!

36. I’d rather lick the belly of a cockroach than: lick its butthole. That’s just gross. And way too kinky.

37. My favorite blonde is: my Mom.

38: Paper clips are more useful than: paper itself, according to FDR’s inaugural speech.

39. If I do anything well, it’s: fill out surveys, standardized tests, and these Apple Bottom jeans.

40. And by the way: if you read this entire list, that’s 15 minutes you aren’t getting back, you slow-ass reader you.

*When I read this again for the first time in ages, I actually laughed myself.  Not to pat myself on the back, but I just forgot it.  It might be the funniest thing I ever wrote (except for this of course) and I wonder if it was a high water mark that I will never approach.  And if that is true, then…geez, I must really suck.

26
Jul
10

Mr. 5000

Facebook is for friends that are now strangers. Twitter is for strangers that should be
your friends.

-Unknown Tweeter

Try as I may, I don’t think I could manage to mark my 5000th post on Twitter in less than 140 characters. So thank you Twitter for compelling me to break my personal blogging inertia and compose a post looking back at how I ended up at 5000 tweets.

I can still recall how I scoffed at Twitter, how inane it seemed to follow Britney’s breakfast musings or the mangling of the English language in text-ese (Wot r u tlkn bout? S’gr8! FML! LMAO) I vowed that I would rather carry a pager that use Twitter.

(Actually, a big reason I didn’t want to start was because I was sort of afraid I would like it too much. I didn’t need anymore addictions competing with McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish, Criterion edition DVDs, and black tar heroin)

But, @gnarlykitty, you were right and I was wrong. Eventually I caved in, and Twitter quickly became part of my daily routine.

(I confess to following some celebrities in the beginning out of curiosity, but the sheer banality and egotism of some of their posts left me disappointed and I soon shed most of them. Sorry, famous-Thai-singer-who-RT’s-every-single-mention, it is nothing personal.)

I became hooked on the endless trickle of links to interesting articles from the likes of TIME, The Guardian, New York Times, and Rolling Stone, as Twitter helped filled a sort of intellectual void that has existed as a dull background ache ever since I moved to Thailand: it was a real joy was discovering everyday people like me–friends and strangers–free to be themselves, enjoying healthy debates, childhood reminiscences, and crafting awkwardly amusing puns in bite-size portions.

Calling for recommendations and suggestions in the Twitter ether revealed the hidden genius of crowdsourcing, and I got a charge helping others in turn. But my appreciation of the power of this new medium crystallized with the crackdown in Iran, and in living color with our own Bangkok protests earlier this year. Instead of being an observer, I became a part of the action, posting live accounts of what I saw and what was hearing, cross-referencing and adding the voices of other concerned citizen-journalists to my timeline. I took what I was posting very seriously, trying hard to differentiate probable facts from speculation and rumor–even though I would occasionally stray into moments of gallows humor. The silver lining of that dark time was to chance to discover and make acquaintance with so many illuminating people here in Thailand and around the world.

You may have noticed I am a little hesitant to refer to people who do me the honor of adding me on Twitter as “followers.” To me, it just seems like a special word that should be reserved for Jesus, Allah, or the Buddha. (Perhaps Chairman Mao or Jim Jones or Magellan as well.) I’d prefer the term “companions” more, if we didn’t have to worry about the economy of 140 characters, but all things considered, I like “readers” as well.

Now the sting of being unfollowed by someone you think of as a friend is tempered by the fact that if someone doesn’t get or like what you have to say, it is better to part ways, and far, far outweighed by the thrilling shiver to learn people whose work you admire and respect immensely choose to follow you back.

Finally, I want to thank my wife and sons for allowing me to indulge in something that is not (just) an instrument of procrastination but an amazing conduit to a larger world with kindred souls.

Sawasdee,
Jack