Sunday, June 29, 2008

hell's cowbells

Feedback in.
I'm a talentless hack.
Commence self-pity in three, two, one...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

maybe it was all a test

Well, what a waste of a weekend. I had plans Thursday night to go see Guillermo del Toro at the Crest. A potential interview and that damn arrest warrant put the skids on that dream. Yesterday, I worked and resolved the warrant thing. Today, I wanted to go see Navarro, but again, there was a chance this interview would take place, and I didn't hear from the guy until later. Basically, I stayed home all day, and still nothing.
In any event I'm nearing completion on another spec script. I was feeling very confident about my spec pilots, but some recent feedback, accompanied by some phone-tag anti-feedback that's ominous in its lack of existence, has got me wigged out. Wigged! Must start something new. I'm so not confident in everything I do, so when there's something I'm sure I'm good at, and there's a possibility I'm wrong on that front too, well, I wanna throw up.

Speaking of which, I tried to make a chocolate yogurt cake... and it was a disaster. Didn't cook long enough, or I used the wrong pan, I'm not sure. But it was a total disaster.

touch it

Home and A-wha?


Friday, June 27, 2008

auto world

It's okay. You can come out now. Wrathful god Kati is gone. Normal Kati is back.

I was driving through Brentwood today and saw two cool car-related things. First, on the back of one car was a Hillary for President sticker. Underneath it? "OK... Obama". Hilarious.
Then on the way back as I got on the 405 ramp, I saw a car with this license plate "DE LA FE". Take a minute.

Get it? Love it!

In other news, whilst the state of California was trying to mess with me, someone backed into my step-dad's car while he was at work and left the scene of the crime. This is about the fifth car in five years that's had something happen to it. The car gods do not look kindly on my step-dad.


I think, when you've been emotionally raped the way I've been over the past 18 hours, it's easy to understand why people become conspiracy theorists. Because, if you grew up believing the law was there to protect you, not extort you, and that this is the greatest country on earth, you have to accept one of two equally distressing premises: either the LA Court system is completely inept and their claim that I didn't send in my trial by written declaration form was legitimate and subsequent discovery of said form this morning a lucky miracle for me, or they are deliberately trying to wear people like me down so that we'll just plead guilty and pay these exorbitant fines out of anxiety. I mean, in one case, the court system is unreliable and poorly-run; in the other, it's extremely well-run and villainous.
All I have to say is, after 90 minutes on the phone this morning and 18 hours worth of anxiety attacks (preceded by 4 months of this madness), this harassment had best be over, and I had better get my goddamn $123 bail back. This is some kind of heinous racket, and I won't be a victim to it anymore.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

ways in which I am like Shia LaBeouf

So funny story.


Several months ago, I paid the wrong fare on the LA subway. I was issued a citation and a court date in Compton. I tried to deal with the ticket before my Compton due date, but it hadn't been processed. When I went to Compton, they had no record of my ticket.

Finally, I get a notice about paying my bail amount ($123 for this $2 mistake) and either going to court or requesting a trial by written declaration. I requested the trial and sent in all my information. ALSO I PAID THE BAIL (I have the goddamn receipt).

I hadn't heard anything back, so I assumed I was just fucked on THIS RIDICULOUS TICKET.

And today, I get a notice saying A WARRANT FOR MY ARREST HAS BEEN ISSUED! And the bail amount is $396!

All for a $2 error thanks to me thinking the LA subway system worked like the NYC one. What the HELL?!

So if I don't blog for awhile, it's probably because I've been wrongly imprisoned.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

ricotta chocolate chip muffins

So I made a variation on this recipe from Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe. I decided not to use cocoa, which she does, and I forgot to melt the butter all the way and then cool it all the way before I dumped it in. I also used the whole bag of chocolate chips plus about a 1/2 an ounce of Scharffen Berger... which was wayyy too much. I also threw in a bit of shredded coconut, but it's barely discernible.
Really, the problem is I was trying to replicate the muffins from Claire's and it didn't work. But they're still pretty good.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Place rack in the middle of the oven. Line 12 muffin pans with paper liners or spray with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk the ricotta cheese and then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the milk, vanilla extract, and cooled and melted butter, mixing well. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour mixture. Stir just until combined and then fold in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix this batter or the muffins will be tough when baked.

Divide the batter amongst muffin cups using two spoons or a ladle.

Place in the oven and bake about 20 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Chocolate-Chip Ricotta Muffins:

1 cup ricotta cheese (I used part-skim milk)
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cup (320 ml) milk (again, I used skim)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (57 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled (used salted, wasn't a problem)
2 1/3 cups (325 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips (use more and face the chocolaty consequences)

top model abroad

One of my shame pleasures is watching Australia's Next Top Model on Youtube. Like other variations of the original, it throws out the fan favorites (Claire on America's Season 10 and Charlotte and Leanne on Britain's Season 4 are about on par with the shocking tossing of Leiden (a ringer for Charlize Theron) and Caris (can't take a bad picture) on this season of Australia's). But what really kills me is that this show, more than any other, drums up drama by saying nasty things to the contestants, encouraging bad behavior (severe bullying ended not in the bullies going home but the much better girl who was being bullied), and keeping around a surgically-altered, completely awful-looking model who tried to make the other girls fat.
Basically, the show is a fraud and the choices are less about finding a great model than the face of whatever brand is sponsoring the show. And that's a shame. Well, at least by watching it on Youtube, I'm not financially supporting its horridness.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

You Know You Wanted

If you've seen Night Watch, maybe you have an idea that director Timur Bekmambetov is to amazing action scenes what Dali is to surrealism. Dali may not have invented surrealism, but hell if he doesn't personify it. And really, the point of Wanted isn't the story or the morality of assassination or if Morgan Freeman can be as bad a motherf&^ker as Shaft (he can). It's about James McAvoy, guns, Angelina Jolie, and cars.
Oh, and trains. One train in particular, actually. Holy hell. It's like The Matrix, but where one tried to figure out what was going on in The Matrix, you feel no need to do so in Wanted. It's not that serious. Actually, it's funny as hell. Gory, funny (and not just because of McAvoy's American accent), and stunningly choreographed, the movie makes you feel cool simply by association. Who cares about story? Who cares about some dumbass Da Vinci Code-esque loom of fate? James McAvoy just shot someone through a sunroof by flipping his own car over it. What? Yes! Yes, he did! We all love James McAvoy.

Also, Konstantin Khabensky, who plays Anton, the central character of the first two Night Watch movies and is acquired taste-hot has a small role in the film. He's entirely a device, actually, but who cares? The movie makes little sense, but it's less confusing than the Russian movies. So.

Also, I'm 98% positive I saw Peter Berg coming out of the Sunset and Vine Borders tonight. Mm.

Monday, June 23, 2008

EW new classics

Well, I'm just gonna keep riding EW's backside on this. Granted, their "new classics" are just opinion, but I have quite a few problems I'd like to share.
First: Movies. Edited entirely by men, they decided Moulin Rouge deserves the Number 10 spot? And Jurassic Park, which apparently is despised over there, and Good Will Hunting are nowhere to be found. I stick my tongue out in your general direction, sirs. Also, Shrek is way over-rated.
TV: not bad.
Stage: I totally agree with Kushner's place on top, but Coast of Utopia over Phantom and The Lion King. I hate musicals, but both of those were excellent and light years more entertaining, accessible, and less ridiculous than Stoppard's nearly unwatchable mutilation of Russian history.
Music: Springsteen so far down? For real?
Books: Pretty good, but is Da Vinci Code on there because it's a great book or because it's wildly popular? In general, that's why these lists are confusing. What do they mean, really, by "new classic"? 'Cause I can't see the DVC living on.



back in the 'Bank

Let's start calling Burbank "the Bank"! Do it! Do it!

Long, TV-less weekend was something of a joy, something of a dream. Thursday was spent having habachi (a little silly for me) and at C.O. Jones in the Have.
Friday, my sister graduamated from high school. Thunderstorm meant indoors, which, in turn, meant I had to watch it on feed from the cafeteria. Then my sister departed for Project Graduation and my sis and I went down to the Have to hang with some of my Yale friends, eat Pepe's pizza (Bar was mad crowded) and cookies/cannolis (chocolate mousse, mm) at Libby's. I'm not much for Italian pastries, but if you're gonna have one, Libby's is it. The hours they post are a total lie, though, and they sometimes close early. Just be aware.
Saturday, ran errands, including getting my awesome new LG Chocolate in red (I know, I know, they came out an epoch ago, but it's new to me, so let me be happy), marveled at the comparably low gas prices, and prepped for my sister's grad party. Fam and friends showed up, lots of picnicky-type food, including some banging lasagnas that went, largely, to waste, and three cakes, including one that I ordered from Claire's THAT THEY DID WRONG! and finally, 12 hours later, a tad bit of sleep.
Sunday, I only had time to eat brunch before grabbing the plane back to Burbank. Or three planes, as the case might be.

Now let's talk about airport madness because, really. My trip home was uneventful, but Wednesday night was ridic.
First, in Phoenix, all the food places were closing/closed as I got there, except for Cali Pizza Kitchen and a TCBY. I didn't feel like spending 10 bucks on a sandwich, so I opted for $4 on a yogurt. At the front of the line, an old couple got into an argument with the TCBY employees. And here's the issue. The women were clearly some form of Muslim, probably East African, and almost fully-covered. The people ordering were old, old, old white people. They may have been around when Africa and South America were one. Apparently, the old people could not read because they ordered a white chocolate swirl, which, if they had read the menu, they would know can only be swirled with strawberry. So an argument ensued about what "white chocolate swirl" meant.
The employee finally capitulated and made them a new ice cream.
And here's where I get pissed. The woman DIRECTLY BEHIND THIS COUPLE DID THE SAME THING.
And this time, she talked to the employee like she couldn't speak English. It was unbelievably rude, and the customer WAS CLEARLY IN THE WRONG. She kept repeating white chocolate swirl, and I wanted to yell at her that a) white isn't a flavor, b) read the friggin' menu, and c) don't be a jerk.
I thought the employee was gonna kill the customer, and honestly, I would have testified in her defense because that was just obnoxious.

THEN in Philadelphia while I was waiting for my connector to Hartford, early Thursday morning, a young man in sunglasses and a baseball cap sits down next to me while I'm dozing. Then he gets up and leaves... without his suitcase. 10 minutes pass. What the hell?
So I follow the line of thinking drummed into me by the NYC MTA system (si ves algo, di algo-- IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING) and bring it to the attention of an employee.
A half hour passes while they try to page the guy and the woman calls her supervisor. At this point, I'm wondering why the suitcase hasn't been removed from the airport and blown up, and I get as far from the gate and the suitcase as possible, while still maintaining the ability to watch what happens (hey, Bravo, I have a new show to pitch to you), when the guy in the shades walks out of the bar, goes to the bathroom for about 5 seconds, then returns to our gate. He gets his suitcase. I didn't see anyone yell at him.
But overall, good weekend. I should have taken a picture of the New Haven food, but I was too busy eating it all. Mmm.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

East Coast

So this is probably the longest I've gone for some time without blogging, but I came home Wednesday night, and I've been busy-busy-busy with my sister's graduation and seeing old friends, so I'll probably do a more comprehensive piece about airport insanity tomorrow.
In the meantime, I have a new cell phone (finally!) and can now be texted! Hoorah! I also can take videos and decent photos now (and my old, crummy ones got transferred, so I may post a few, including my one of Sydney Pollack, in the days to come).
This is gonna be rock star!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Jurassic Park discussion continues

Okay, so back in this post, I found fault with Marc Bernardin's sci-fi misfire list, mostly because he didn't explain, clearly, what his beef was with Jurassic Park or Hitchhiker's Guide. He's entitled to his opinions, and I'm not one to pick a fight. But if he's going to dropkick a movie on an entertainment magazine site, he really should explain what "there's not much movie" there means. Not too much to ask, right?
Here, he explains that his real problem is that Jurassic Park is just too beautiful for him. Too much staring, not enough doing, running, and screaming from the get-go. Personally, I like watching these people, whose lives have been the study of extinct creatures, dealing with their Lazarus-esque return from the dead. Most movies have lots of action, little reaction (re: the latest Indy flick). He wanted more adrenaline from the outset, I suppose, not so much character development, not so much slow build--and that's an aesthetic preference. Fine. I respectfully will agree to disagree.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

the Clinton-Obama transition

Dear Clinton supporters,
Like you, I've felt a bit like I was supporting a punching bag. The more rabid Obama supporters didn't want to hear about Clinton's good qualities, about her appealing long campaign for health care reform, that her passion was great even if her speeches didn't compare to Obama's, that, really, there wouldn't be much difference between them, except that she might actually be less inclined to widen the scale of our war and more likely to think about our long-term good than our short-term desire.

Because if you voted for Hillary, you were voting for an end to this type of an administration and helping McCain get into office is cutting off your nose to spite your stupid face. McCain will be more of the same. He makes speeches about the environment to grab moderates, but those "eco-friendly" speeches are frauds and, when compared to what is necessary, laughable. Nothing will change under McCain. Nada.
If you are a Democrat or an Independent who supported Clinton and are now voting for McCain, it can only be for two reasons, both of which make you look like a jackass.
1) You're racist. How do I know? Because you'd rather vote for someone who has completely different values than someone who has similar values, but is black.
2) You're ridiculously vengeful. You'd rather vote for someone who has completely different values than someone who has similar values because that person ran a better campaign and was more likable and you're sore over it. Grow up.

At the end of the day, those are the biggest differences between Clinton and Obama. Clinton said some stupid crap (it happens in campaigns). Obama said less stupid crap, and he sounded better saying it. Be a good loser. Support Obama. Because really, the only way we REALLY LOSE IS IF MCCAIN WINS. He's not a bad man, but he is far too willing to do what the dominant party tells him to. He is not a leader. He simply bows to the interests of the people with the most power. Obama's a rock star. That's dangerous, but he has a good head on his shoulders and he will do more for this country because he knows how to listen, he respects individual rights over those of corporations, and he has excellent logic. I don't mind an elitist as my leader. You want someone better than you running the country, just so long as he's not a stubborn egomaniac. And heck, a stubborn egomaniac who's smarter than me and a Democrat is STILL BETTER than a stubborn egomaniac who's dumber and a Republican.
And the people who are going to decide this election are the Clinton supporters. Go read his site, go back and watch his speeches on Youtube, act rationally. Please don't vote with your inner toddler and, more importantly, don't be a bigot. Or, for real, I'm getting out of Dodge.

Quick notes: I won my first poker tournament tonight (the first I've ever played). $25 profit. Oh, hecks to the yeah.

I saw Richard Engel on The Daily Show, and when Jon Stewart can't get his silly on in an interview, you know it's serious. I have not even skimmed this book, but if it's written with the same candor and gravitas that Engel showed on the show, War Journal is probably the most important, honest and worthwhile book on Iraq out there--and the first one I feel compelled to read by sheer desire for unbiased knowledge of what's really happened out there.


One of the coolest things (for me) about Yale was that the med school had a film society. Movies were $3, or free with a $10 membership, and were screened in one of two theaters, one of which had a balcony. I saw many movies there: Road to Perdition, Adaptation, Open Water, among others. But the one that really sticks out is the movie I brought my little sister to see.

Mulholland Drive. David Lynch's movie is not a movie for people who like movies. It's a movie for people who don't give a shit about storytelling. It's an experiment, and it's as much of a waste of time as the latest IJ installment for those of us who care about logic and depth of character.

Anyhow, actual Mulholland Drive is a gorgeous, windy, nutty stretch of highway that you have to take very slow in stretches. I've only been on it a few times, and all but one of those times was because I got lost. But today I went to Fryman Canyon to hike, so I took Laurel Canyon (another weird movie) to Mulholland and parked at the truly nice Pohl overlook.
Then I tried hiking the damn thing. If you like your trails narrow, overgrown, and bee-infested, this is your canyon. Yes, there are few people there and it's quite pretty, but it's a scramble and a pain in the ass. Maybe it's better in the fall.
This, of course, makes me wonder if perhaps I misjudged the movie. Maybe it's just a movie for anyone who's driven Mulholland and found it both frustrating and gorgeous, as has been by and large my experience. If that's the case, then his film may be the greatest movie made in the last 25 years, having captured the essence of a place and recreated it in the heart of his bewildered audience. Weird little skittering gnome creatures would not be out of place on Mulholland, though the only weird little skittering creatures I've seen have been lizards.

Reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem. Much better written and wildly more interesting that Magical Thinking. No disrespect to the subject matter, but the latter book was crap.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Basics, LA-style: Milk and Gas

I may or may not be lactose-intolerant. I love dairy, but it tends to make me sick, sort of the opposite of Coldplay.
Anyhow, today, good sense be damned, I decided to go to Milk on Beverly Blvd. for lunch. I was in Century City to meet an awesome fellow writer who gave me very good advice about one of my spec pilots.
But Beverly Hills gets me every time and I was all the way to Pico before I realized I turned down Beverly Drive instead of Beverly Boulevard. Too many Beverlys!

Image courtesy of (I'm not making that up).
On my way back up Robertson, however, I found this mysterious BP gas station called Helios House, I guess, which, I think you'll agree, looks like it belongs in Tomorrowland. However, it boasted cheap ($4.52 a gallon, holla!) oxygenated gas, and appears to have been sponsored by Wall-E. There was a big Wall-E replica in the back and Wall-E postcards, which I took. I was a little worried that it was special gasoline and my car couldn't use it, but my car didn't blow up, so yay!
Anyhow, I finally got to Milk, ordered a kid's grilled cheese (hoping not to repeat the same error as in Pasadena), and it was yummy and panini-ish. Because of the tomato crisis, I didn't have to make sure there'd be no tomato--but for some reason I got lettuce on the side. That was weird. Then I walked down to Susina's 'cause I've heard of it, and I wanted to make an informed decision before I bought dessert. I was not enticed, so I went back to Milk and bought a mint-chocolate chip ice cream sandwich.
Now, holy crap, was this a good ice cream sandwich. Weird, yes. The cookies were chewy in a macaron-style, but I was very much a fan. I also bought a "moonpie" for later (oh, my tummy), which turned out to be not as awesome, mostly because when I think moonpie, I think--

But while the Milk moonpie had the necessary squishy mallow middle, the graham was not cakelike, but quite hard and, well, like a cracker. Moonpies are not s'mores, people.
Still, moonpie identity crisis aside, I heartily endorse Milk for those who'd like to have a nice lunch on Beverly. If you can find it.

My Boys are back, hey now, hey now, My Boys are back

Ah, My Boys. It's been a long time. When we last left you, PJ was getting on the plane to Italy, sans hot male companion. I, personally, was afraid she was gonna pull a Kelly on 90210 (when the choices are Luke Perry and Jason Priestly, what kind of nutcase would go with "I choose me"??).
Luckily, she did what any cool kid would do--she picked Bobby (Kyle Howard)! And he was actually in first class and, hot, sweet, sugar packet that he is, upgraded PJ's ticket as well.

Aw, but our PJ is such a girl, and cute, scruffy hobbits inhibit her natural candor. Oops, did someone forget to tell Bobby the invite was a romantic one?
Meanwhile, back at Crowley's, the boys are freaking out because a) Bobby isn't returning any of the guys' emails (hey, maybe he's just not that into you!), b) Mike, inexplicably, is doing a really awful McConaughey impression to seduce the waitress. All right, all right, and c) Brendan is moping about the possibility of becoming the next John Tesh.
Back in Italy, PJ's ready to start enjoying Bobby one-on-one when the writers toss yet another hurdle in her way: Steph broke up with her boyfriend! Guess who's third-wheeling it! Bobby's oblivious, PJ's melancholy, and the transition from friends to BF/GF just ain't happening.
Back at Crowley's, stupid Mike slept with the waitress and didn't call her back. The boys are banned from Crowley's, Kenny's still freaking out about Bobby's unexplained absence, and Andy's just happy being rich and soulless. With no place to drink, they chill in Andy's new ride, which is like a bar, but without chicks to seduce and destroy. Also, they can listen to Brendan's Teshiness.
PJ, Steph, and Bobby return home. All is sorted out. PJ apologizes to the waitress for Mike (he just can't behave when PJ's not around), Bobby pops back on the radar, and PJ blushes and mumbles obviously when quizzed about her bringing Bobby to Italy.
Oh, and somewhere in all this, Steph had the time to write a book. I'm guessing it's... a short, non-fiction work of staggering consumerism? No? A relationship book, you say, oh, TV Guide synopsis of coming episodes? Well, smack my ass and call me Candace Bushnell.
And then I missed the last minute because of stupid DVR and weird TBS times!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

itsy bitsy rant

To "celebrate" Jumper's hop onto DVD, decided to list 17 sci-fi misfires (including Jumper), including to my shock, Jurassic Park and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. First, Jurassic Park rules. It's just awesome. What's not awesome about it? The EW criticism? "There's not much movie there." Um, what does that mean? Were their chunks of the "reel" missing in Bernardin's version? I mean, what the heck? It stuck pretty well with the book, except where the parts where it was EVEN AWESOMER.
And then The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Bernardin praises it, but then writes it's a misfire because "it's missing some of the somber giddiness of Douglas Adams' prose." Yes, without somber giddiness (which is...?), the film is no longer a deeply enjoyable movie. What the heck?
My theory... Bernardin either hasn't watched that many sci-fi movies that disappointed him or he didn't have expectations for any of the others. If he had, would he not have done a normal number, like 20?
I mean, you want a disappointing sci-fi movie that you expected to be good but sucked? What about The Phantom Menace? You had no high hopes for that? Or did you like it? Or did you not see it? Because, honestly? Honestly. How you can call Jurassic Park and Hitchhiker's Guide misfires and forget about Star Wars I (or, like, a good many other sci-fi pics) is beyond me. In a galaxy far, far away.

Also, since Television Without Pity ain't doing it, I think I might make it my thing to recap My Boys every week this summer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

MacGruber (because MacGyver ain't my time) fro ho cho

So I had some chocolate and I wanted to make frozen hot chocolate, a la Serendipity 3. I found the recipe and proceeded to mangle it and thus make the MOST AWESOME FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE IN HISTORY.

First, you need some chocolate. For mine I used 2 oz. of Cadbury Milk and 1 oz. of the wildly expensive Amedei Porcelana (smart combination). Then I melted them in a faux bain-marie because we don't have one (I stuck a pot on top of another pot), made that water simmer, and melted the chocolate. Then I couldn't find measuring spoons, so I GUESSED how much hot chocolate mix and sugar to put in (like there's a wrong amount). I was afraid of burning everything, so I didn't melt the sugar and cocoa mix right, and then I just slopped the milk in (skim, baby) after taking it off the heat. And THEN I realized I didn't have 3 cups of ice, so I hoped 1/2 cup would suffice and made a mess trying to get all this in the blender. But when I did, I blended that sucker like no tomorrow and got, for my trouble, one coffee mug's worth of splendid, cold creamy chocolatey goodness. Almost a whipped chocolate cream.

They better serve something like this in heaven or decomposition, whichever it is we get when we die.
So, yeah, WAY worth it.
Hopefully, next time (i.e., tomorrow) it won't take 20 minutes.

Monday, June 9, 2008

who AM I?

Bought a piece of Chris' Outrageous Chocolate Cake from Cheesecake Factory on SATURDAY. It's Monday night, and it still hasn't been finished. Sigh. It's just so outrageous!

Boy, is What is the What the kind of depressing that just doth not relent. People sure do suck.

Olafur's waterfalls

Back in the day ('04 to be specific) when I was living in London, I had the good fortune to visit the Tate Modern and see Olafur Eliasson's mad awesome The Weather Project. The photo doesn't really do it justice, but boyo, was that cool. So despite my total lack of love for New York's last installation project (yawn), I'm psyched for The New York City Waterfalls and do hope I get to see them when I go back to the tri-state area (hopefully) in September.
If you live in NYC or happen to go see them, let me know if they're as rock star as I'm hoping they will be.

Oh, saw Baby Mama last night. It was all right. Not $11.50 worth of all right. More like a matinee all right. It did remind me, though, of how much I like Greg Kinnear. How can you not? Sabrina (OK, so I'm the only person who likes that movie... he's still good), As Good as it Gets, the upcoming Ghost Town, Baby Mama, Little Miss Sunshine, The Gift, You've Got Mail, Invincible, The Matador even Fast Food Nation-- he is consistently one of the best, most charming, and somehow most underrated actors around. If you haven't seen all of these movies, I recommend them all.

Friday, June 6, 2008

in the land of awesome

1) Nearly wrecked my car watching a plane skywrite Tori & Dean. Skywriting is awesome, but by the time they finished the E, Tori & D had done wisped out.

2) Premium M&Ms. Poorly marketed (hey, y'all, it ain't even on your Web site), but Target is selling them in the grocery section. Small amount, expensive, but I got the purple triple-chocolate ones. SO GOOD.

3) Me. I am awesome.

Indy, giaduja

Yes! Got some Dobrova giaduja at Bay Cities Italian Deli and Market in Santa Monica. I wanted to get more stuff, but it was closing, I was broke, and I wanted to buy a rice paddle at Sur La Table (I'm buying my dream Panasonic rice cooker at the end of the month). I wanted to buy some chocolate-hazelnut spread for a while now (it's this damn Chocolate & Zucchini blog, I'm telling you), but I don't like Nutella. So I'm trying this stuff. Yay!

Saw Indy last night.
All the previews beforehand looked great, particularly Wall-E. Pixar's storytelling AND artistry is always just one step above.
I'm fairly sick of superhero movies, but The Dark Knight (which I'm not sure I can see just yet) and Hancock look pretty excellent.
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button looks brilliant, though I'm not sure how they're going to make the boy's birth work (details aren't given in the short story either).

Super-excited about Indy because a small chunk of it was shot at Yale (though it's mostly unrecognizable until the motorcycle scene) and my sister's ex-boyfriend was in it. He's one of the people staring at Indy in the library scene. Hooray, Pat!
(Harrison Ford does not look this good in the movie, by the by)

In any event, the movie's more of a ride than a decent story. A good ride, but there wasn't an original, funny moment in the whole thing. The monkey scene, which is CGIed within an inch of its life, is patently awful. Remember those Spider Man scenes with Spidey flying through the city? Remember how awful they looked? These look worse, and kid ain't even got superpowers, so the fact that he can somehow hurl himself Tarzan-like through the jungle is just unbelievable. That, and the waterfalls' inability to completely kill our characters. Heck, none of them even get scratched. No peril at all. The kid's combing habit? Puh-lease. If you want to see the '50s done right, watch Back to the Future (R.I.P. courthouse). If you want to see jungle vine-flying, watch Tarzan (or just the Phil Collins music video from it will do).
Even Cate Blanchett, who I adore, was cartoonish. 'Cause that's what it was. A bad cartoon.

Speaking of cartoons though, I want to see Kung Fu Panda. Just as soon as not-brokeness sets in.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More food and books Pasadena-style

So after a failure to do anything yesterday but waste gas, time, and spot a C-list actor, I decided to once again kill some gas and time and head east to Pasadena for the evening. Afraid of being late and missing David Benioff's reading at Vroman's, I headed over to the area super-early, going to Alhambra's Fosselman's ice cream shop first. Parking was easy, which was great, and there was a Wells Fargo next door for those of us who never have cash (because we buy gas with cash to save money and thus run out), so I got money from the ATM and paid the damn $2 surcharge (damn!).
Then I got a cone of chocolate-chip cookie dough. A lot of flavor options, but nothing particularly exciting. Honestly, where are all the chocolate varieties? Anyhow, the minute I stepped outside my single scoop fell off the cone, so I went back in and got another scoop (free). It's good ice cream, sure, but do I feel the need to EVER go back to Alhambra. The ice cream was a good rich vanilla with a tolerable number of cookie dough chunks. But the cookie dough was not chocolate-chip. The chocolate chips were separate, which is not cool. They were hard and the texture of the ice cream was then difficult.
So then I went to South Pasadena to the Fair Oaks Pharmacy on Route 66 because it was on the Travel Channel special. I'd already had ice cream, so I got a grilled cheese. It's a cute place, and I recommend it for window-shopping, but holy crap was the grilled cheese awful. It tasted like a giant melted Cheezit. Blech.
So after that, I went up to Colorado Boulevard and walked around. Parking was a breeze. That part of Pasadena (hell, all of Colorado from Target to the 134, as far as I'm aware, is awesome. I chilled out in Target, bought a bra that turned out to be a different size from what it said on the damn hanger (damn!), bought the awesome Isabella's Original Chocolate Chip cookies (no walnuts!) at Famima!, and then toured the incroyable Vroman's.
Vroman's rocks.
I wish I could say I bought something at Vroman's, the food and wrong bra cost too much, so I just drooled over the extensive travel section (I meant to go to Distant Lands, but I can only do so much), all the little knick knacks, and just the general awesomeness of the store. Benioff was late (HA! I'm not the only one--and he got a parking ticket), but I stuck around. Good for me because the excerpt he read sounded really interesting, considering it's yet ANOTHER World War II novel. Also, Benioff seems like a super-nice, not-at-all-egocentric kind of guy. Good for him. If I weren't broke to HELL, I would have bought the book.
So go buy it, so I don't feel so bad. And buy it from Vroman's or another independent store. You'll feel the good inside.
So, yeah, Pasadena rocks.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


In reading Chocolate & Zucchini during my non-working work hours, I came across the tartine post, which reminded me of the Croque Monsieur I had at Les Deux Magots in 2003. I do not like ham, and I had had trouble with finding decent sandwiches in Paris. But the Croque Monsieur at Les Deux Magots you could get with poulet--chicken! It was one of the finest sandwiches I've ever had, along with this tuna construction that worked on Saturday and not yesterday.

I wish I had known more about French food prior to going to Paris. I didn't know what Pain Poulaine was, what a tartine was, etc., etc. I had no desire to go back to Paris after that March 2003 trip. Now I think I'd be better equipped, mentally, though I'm sure my grasp of the language is even worse now than it was then.

Monday, June 2, 2008

summer reading list

Only healthy food today. Whole grains, soup, fruit, veggies, and fish. I tried to replicate Saturday's sandwich but to no avail. The spinach was a little tough, the pita not hot enough, and the tuna was obviously a different kind from the one I'd had before. Sigh.

Summer reading lists are silly in essence, but I like a bit of silliness, as well as planning, so let the games begin.

What I read this summer will undoubtedly change greatly from what I list here (I like a bit of suspense), but my very reasonable (I think) list will hopefully include:

Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. It's sitting right there, the thick tan Barnes and Noble edition (the only one I could find that wasn't scuffed), at the edge of my tiny bookshelf. Once I can read the book, I can watch the BBC miniseries, which is always handy at the library.
No Country for Old Men, by Cormac McCarthy. Same shelf, but shinier.
Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell. I started it once and didn't get into it. But I will, darn it, I will. If not, I may actually read The Inheritance of Loss, which I recently bought.
Swann's Way, by Marcel Proust. If I'm going to go Proust, I need to start before my 25th birthday, or I may never get up the courage.
Adventures in the Screen Trade, by William Goldman. It's on the other side of the bookshelf from Bleak House. I clearly do not put my books in any sort of order.
All of these I own and tend not to read in favor of books I borrow on impulse from the library.
Of the books I don't own that I really hope to make myself read tout de suite are Video Night in Kathmandu, by Pico Iyer; A Moveable Feast, Hemingway; and either one of M.F.K. Fisher's books, Oliver Sacks' Oaxaca Journal, or Nicholas Shakespeare's In Tasmania.
There's nothing new coming out that screams READ ME! to me, no matter how charming the covers.
I'll be happy if I read half of the books above. In any given season, not including scripts, I can easily go through 7 or 8 books. So far, this spring, I've read 7. But Bleak House is a behemoth, and I'm quite likely to decide to borrow a few books from the library, particularly travel literature, on impulse. I have Beginner's Greek (the novel) and Chabon's Maps and Legends on hold and am very inclined to read "shame" literature between the heavy-hitters or read a book if I know the movie's coming out (I have Brideshead Revisited, and I think I've heard something about that being movie-ready soon--blast! it's coming out July 25th...).

What are you hoping to read this summer? And what do people think of James Michener? I've never been able to get a handle on what sort of a writer he is. More Grisham or Roth or Bryson or none of the above?

Things to think about.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

chocolate rehashed

And, after typing that title, now I am thinking of chocolat au gratin.
I finished that chocolate tiramisu today, and by finished, I mean, scraped off the entire top layer of whipped cream and ate the remaining cake and cream layers. I am not a great fan of whipped cream (or most frosting for that matter), and so it was far too much for me, but it's probably the best tiramisu experience I've had.

Generally, any hint of coffee is a bad thing, so my tiramisu experiences will never be great.

The Porcelana is going to be baking chocolate I've decided.

I love the idea of desserts more than most desserts. Mostly, when it comes to chocolate/sweets, the things I truly love are ice cream, cookies, and profiteroles (which I suppose could go under ice cream). Everything else is nice, but not essential. Even ice cream I could live without. The chocolate-chip cookie, I know, is a trial to live without. In England I never bought ice cream or chocolate-chip cookies because there wasn't really a lot of safe-looking ice cream, and there were almost no chocolate-chip cookies, certainly no decent ones. One had to survive on digestives (which I have nothing against). I missed the chocolate-chip cookie far more than ice cream.

Cookie recs:
Trader Joe's has bakery cookies with three different kinds of chocolate chunks. Mmm.
Kashi's Dark Chocolate Oatmeal cookies. My grandmother hates them. I think they're lovely.
Rainbow Cafe in New Haven, which is now defunct, used to have MASSIVE cookies along with their signature cakes. My roommate loved the cake. I was down for the $2 greasy giant cookies. Yes, the edges were crunchy, but the centers were always divinely mushy. For my 20th birthday, my roommates bought me, I think, 20 cookies. Of course, this was a mistake because they went stale at the drop of a bucket, but it was so nice. If you're in New Haven now and looking for a chocolate-chip fix, may I suggest Claire's Corner Copia. I don't even know if they have cookies but their chocolate-chip ricotta muffins are the pinnacle of American baking. If they don't have them (they often don't, sadly), their cakes are my kind of cake. Not too rich, almost bready, completely delicious. Anything with chocolate's golden. If they have something with chocolate and vanilla, do that. Also, they have fantastic rolls.
I think those are my three favorite versions of the chocolate-chip cookie. That and my mother's oatmeal chocolate-chip.
So far I have not found a good LA cookie, but I haven't been frequenting that many bakeries that sell cookies (this whole cupcake madness), and I never found one in NYC that bowled me over. I just bowed at the altar of Whole Foods' chocolate chip scones (which LA Whole Foods lacks, along with a lot of other things).
I'm chocolated out now.
In summing up, I wish I had some kind of affirmative message to leave you with. I don't. Would you take two negative messages?
-- Woody Allen