Friday, March 31, 2006

Happy Birthday!

After 30 insane years, it's time to take a timeout (from JB's Final Cut Pro system running Tiger on Dual 20" Cinema Displays from a Dual G5 Tower) and bow toward Mecca.

Note: Different haircut, same chutzpah:

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Note to My Readers

Rest assured, I have and will continue to refuse to do either of these things.

(Via the always wonderful Daring Fireball)

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Paper or plastic

A few weeks ago, I swallowed my pride and went into the churning clanging clusterfuck that is the 14th St. Trader Joe's. Being new to whole experience, and a little overwhelmed by the clanging and churning, I managed to get out of there with little more than a burrito and some chocolate pussy.

At the checkout, I was asked a question I don't remember hearing in years -- "Paper or plastic?". I seriously thought that query had gone the way of the dodo (and the macarena and flannel "grunge" shirts and Kato Kaelin) But apparently not according to California-based TJ' was still something worthy of making me expend precious energy to think about and then vocalize a response.

Now, because I haven't actually gotten a paper bag from a grocery store in NYC for about 6 years, I muttered, "Plastic is fine". Which, to me, it was. I then realized everyone else was getting paper. If 98% of your clientele want the same thing, why even ask? And, seriously, I thought this debate had been settled a long time ago. What I recalled (and I believe this is the accepted knowledge) is that paper took more energy to produce -- polluting the air, but plastic took less energy to manufacture, but didn't decompose well -- polluting to ground. Basically, it's a zero sum game -- either way, your fucked. Why even ask?

I bring this up, only because I hope my good friend Ann will explore this in her new earth-mother/Mother Earth blog Eco-Chick. Definitely chick check it out.

(photo shameless stolen from someone's flickr stream.)

Claim to fame

Johnny was the first person to tour this (now famous) Williamsburg brownstone. (Worth a click through, for the great crackpipe graphic alone!)

He's totally ahead of the real estate not buying it. According to JB: The door wasn't locked -- to get inside, he had to crawl in through the first floor window. "It smells like something died in here," the broker(!) said. The roof was falling and being held up by structural supports that look like they came from a ship.

In a word: Ewwwwwwwwwwwww!!

Still waiting for the bubble to burst, so I can buy a place here.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More conspiracy theory

This is the last one, I promise (...for a little while, at least)

This is a whole documentary (81 minutes!) about discrepancies with the accepted 9/11 story. Definitely worth taking with a huge grain of salt -- but if only 10% of the things in here are true, it's still pretty damning. (I caught it on BCAT {!}...which, admittedly, is a little better way to watch 81 minutes than GVideo.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

I heart Podunk Local News

For some reason, this clip reminds me of pre-Jon Daily Show, when the scope wasn't so grand and they were perfectly content to just skewer local news.

Of course, this is real local, local and latebreaking, for sure. (Stay with least until the "amateur sketch," which is the best thing I've seen given an animated graphical treatment in a long time.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006


What keywords in this blog caused Google AdSense to serve up these two ads today?

"Dubai"? "pastry chef"? "Sasha Cohen"?

Thursday, March 23, 2006


Ever since 9/11, I've held onto a low-grade conspiracy theory. Do I feel a little silly about? Of course. But I've seen nothing to prove me wrong, and only more questions seem to arise.

It's this: World Trade Center 7 collapsed on purpose.

I remember watching it fall on TV, late in the day. After the attacks, all day, it had been One Liberty Plaza they were discussing, talking about it's structural soundness. Then, all of a sudden, the narrative changed, and an hour or so later, WTC 7 came down, while the much taller, presumably more damaged One Liberty continued to stand. Since then, experts who've watched he videotape say the collapse looks just like a controlled demolition. Occupying space in 7 were the CIA, the Secret Service, the IRS, the SEC and a whole cache of gold. Strange, n'est pas?

Last week, New York magazine had a pretty interesting article called "The Ground Zero Grassy Knoll" that explores some of these coincidences and the people researching them. Honestly, they seem like well-meaning folks wearing tin-foil beanies. But I highly recommend the read. It brought up new paranoid weirdness I hadn't even considered.

Like I said, I feel pretty silly about conspiracy theories, but can you Spot the Boeing?


Because I am the biggest dork in the world, I got this working.

Now, if Apple could only put a processor in the iPod as powerful as a 1985 NES, I could get a playable framerate on this mofo.

3 year olds at Wal-Mart

Apparently you can determine how kneebiters will vote in the 2024 election.

As Drudge puts it:

STUDY CLAIMS: Confident, resilient, self-reliant kids grow up to be liberals; Whiny children: conservatives...

I'm conflicted because I'm both whiny and resilient. Does my whiny side want isolationism and flat taxes, while my resilient side wants gay marriage and socialized medicine?

Naturally, you'll need to read the whole article.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


It's ridiculous. Five years of Bush II, and we've given up all hope of opposition. Nearly everything the man proposes I find offensive on a basic level. Yet, you couldn't get me to go to an antiwar protest or (much less) an anti-Bush protest now.


I don't think it would do a lick of good. And I think most people of our generation feel the same way. And strangely, it's not that our voice wouldn't be heard -- the array of communication options we now have at our fingertips allow us to get our message out. Remember those quaint "Rock the Vote" days when that was a genuine fear -- "Young people's voices won't be heard!", "Opposition voices won't be heard!", "Non-mainstream voices won't be heard!" -- no longer. I think the voices of dissent are readily available. They're all over all Non-Fox tv. They're a click away on the internet. Yet, those of us who oppose the direction of our country seem to only be preaching to ourselves.

And that, folks, is a lack of traction. Our issues, our concerns, our so-fucking-obvious-it's-painful-sacrificing-of-morals-on-the-alter-of-global-chess callouts seem to fall on deaf ears in the flyover states. And, as we've seen time and time again, that's where policy is truly made. Because if you don't sell those swing voters on your idea, you can't sell anything nationally. And all our (and by "our", I mean all you East coast elitist who are reading this...or even know what a "blog" is, for that matter) protestations haven't gained a modicum of traction with these people.

Until recently, that is.

The Duabi ports deal saw the greatest bipartisan cooperation in recent memory. "Let's get those Arabs outta town!" Congress squealed. "Serious misjudgment by the president!" the up-for-election Congress-members intimated. And I believe people in those flyover states felt the same way...and Congress was probably smart to play into that. Especially with Novemeber right around the corner.

Now, here's the hilarious part:

I think Dubai should get the ports. Why the hell not? (And, ironically, isn't such a free market, capitalist view an inherently conservative viewpoint?) As other's have pointed out, denying Dubai is just old fashioned racism.


...on the flipside, here's the first issue that could have gained serious traction in those flyover states. The president was dug in with his position. Had Dubai not pulled out of the deal, those flyover states would have happily joined the opposition to the president...with a little goading from us. Here it finally was -- the magic bullet issue. What all Bush opponents have been waiting for, an impropriety you could boil down as simple as Watergate ("The president approved a forced break-in!"). Scooter Libby certainly wasn't that simple. WMD certainly wasn't that simple. Even Katrina wasn't proving that simple. But here it was -- "The president approved giving our 'enemies' the keys to our country."

Finally -- an issue with traction. One where disagreed with the premise, but sellable. Should we have tried to sell it? Would it have been worth it?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

I just signed a billion year contract... show you the yanked Scientology South Park episode (just like everyone else on the internets.) Check it out before the link dies for good.

(Really! A billion years!)

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday Food Pt. 2

Today, those sweet face-stuffers over at the James Beard Foundation announced their nominees for the 2006 James Beard Awards. (Essentially, they are the Oscars of the restaurant world. Big black tie awards ceremony with the most amazing catering in the world after.)

Having not eaten at most of the nominees (and, with NYC totally snubbed for the all important "Best Restaurant in the Universe" award [although making a good showing with 2 nominees in the all important "Best Chef in the Universe" category {Portale and Colicchio, if you're wondering, who are probably the Dame Judi Dench and Meryl Streep of the Beards}]), I can't really speak about anything...

...except dessert. having eaten only 2 out of the 5 nominees sweets, I'd like to throw my hat in for Sam Mason of wd-50. (You can see Bri's mega post about our tasting menu extravaganza.) Not only did he manage to match madman Wylie Dufrense's savories in sheer originality, he might have surpassed them in taste. He also probably has the most unnecessarily cool website for a pastry chef.

Hopefully he wins. It'll make me feel better about Wylie losing on Iron Chef.

(Photo: butternut squash sorbet, coffee "soil" and basil. From

Friday Food Pt. 1

Can I be honest about something? Are you sitting down?

Ok. Good. Here it goes:

TV fakes things....alot. Sometimes, however, that fakery becomes part of mythology. And so we've done with Mario Batali's Del Posto. Time has an article on Mario and all his travails with the new place:

Del Posto is both cavernous and opulent; it cost something like $12 million. But since it began serving meals in December, the place has been threatened by jaded Manhattanites skeptical of the valet parking (real New Yorkers walk), by restaurant critics who seem eager to see Batali finally stumble and by its own landlord, who is trying to close the place and evict its owners. I haven’t even gotten to the part where the Hudson River flooded Del Posto....

Batali and the other Del Posto principals....had never attempted something quite so spectacular as Del Posto. They knew they needed media attention, and they allowed a Food Network crew to visit the building site repeatedly. According to the show that resulted—Mario, FULL BOIL which aired February 18—construction was delayed interminably because engineers trying to lay the restaurant’s foundation dug themselves into the Hudson River. Water soaked the site for weeks.

Now, here's the deal: The "river thing" wasn't that bad!

There were about 15 other things that caused the restaurant to fall behind schedule. We (the producer and I) picked one very little, very visual thing (the river) and ran with it. When in the show, you hear Mario's voiceover that he's upset about the flooding and see Mario looking unhappy and complaining to the contractors, he's actually in a meeting about the elevator taking too long to complete. When his business partner is "negotiating for the foundation", he's actually in a totally unrelated meeting about a wine cellar. Oh sure, the river was a problem -- but it was solved in about 3 weeks, not the months it "seems" to take in the show.

This is how non-fiction television is made. You have to take things out of context to tell the story (after all, we were condensing a year into 42 minutes). Is it a little James Frey-like? I suppose. Do I feel we were being dishonest? No. Ultimately, the show has the emotional truth of what they went through opening the resturant. The river had to stand in for all the other little brushfires Mario had to put out, and his reactions to them were genuine. My one motivation when working for Food Network is the old Billy Wilder rule: "Thou shall not bore the audience." (This is Food TV, not PBS, after all!) I guess that makes me sound exactly like James Frey.

But here's where it gets interesting. "The River Thing" no longer just exists as an amusing anecdote in a dark corner of cable television -- it's been Oprah Book Clubbed, so to speak. "Fixing the Hudson" is now the mythologized obstacle Mario and Co. had to overcome to open their pasta palace. It's been referenced in Time, The New York Observer and others. Years down the line, should Del Posto make it twenty years, they'll talk about how the restaurant almost didn't open. It's our low rent version of faking the moon landing.

Still, I'm a little amused -- journalists should know better. Non-fiction, verite-style TV does not equal truth.

But you all knew that already, right?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Really....what's the big deal?

A good post for while the cat's away.

From those brilliant Xeroxers over at the Smoking Gun, a Contract of Wifely Expectations:

Click here for the whole beautiful thing.

Seems pretty reasonable to me. Bonus points for creative font usage! Double bonus points for his Teutonic-like obsession with mixing anal sex, accounting and acronyms!

Post Oscar Doldrums

Last weekend, Tyler Perry's Madea's Family Reunion was the number one movie in America. (If you don't know -- Big Momma's House, but without the fat suit.) Clearly, the studios are dumping all their leftovers, waiting for summer to start.

Should you feel compeled to see some legit theater (and have a 7 year old in tow), check out my friends Dianna and Adam's production of Rudy Rutabaga and the Terrible Dragon of Amsteryork. It's a hoot. Written by Dianna with music by Adam, it's the kind of thing that makes me feel very lazy for not producing more. (More shorts, more docs....more posts......)

It's the most wonderful time of the year

Although, as a kid, I would have told you Cadbury Creme Eggs were my favorite, really, honestly, the red headed stepchild of easter candy, Cadbury Mini Eggs are the ultimate.

Johnny bought me a pack today. Absolutely delicious. The perfect afternoon tranny editing snack. Remind me to thank those pagans who made it cool to somehow celebrate the papist-defined birth of Christ with cocoa beans and sugar processed into the shapes of unfertilized chicken fetuses.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Kids - No longer just Baby Goats!

If you're like me, and you spend most of your day thinking about how you were screwed up as a child, check out my good friend Annie's fascinating nannyblog.

Monday, March 13, 2006

And so it begins...

As my good friend André used to say, "You're burning the candle at both ends." You try to play both sides for too long and eventually you get burned.

It couldn't be "We hate you Muslim haters of freedom" out of one side of our mouths and "We love you Arab credit sugar daddies" out of the other side forever, could it?

I guess I'll have some of that Freedom French toast with some gold leaf and caviar on top.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ride Whore

I haven't been to a Disney property in years, but I used to go all the time. Honestly, I really like theme parks. I really like rides. A media critic (Douglas Rushkoff, maybe?) once said that what makes a theme park successful is the feeling that it's all "for you". Not that it's an idealized version of Main Street, or the Future, or a Frontier town, but instead that a whole world has been created entirely for your enjoyment -- that someone sat down and figured out every little detail of every space to such a degree that a comfortable eogcentric zone emerges, the likes of which you are unlikely to encounter in your everyday life. The "escapism" is fake -- no one believes they are really on a Jungle Cruise. The pleasure derives from the fact that someone created an audio animatronic elephant to amuse you.

Or, at least, that was the concept.

I definitely felt that feeling when I was 7 or 8 and going to Disney World for the first time. The sheer wonderment at the scope of everything. But it's dissipated.

Of course, you're all thinking, "Well, Geoff, you are 20 years older now." But that's not really it -- instead, the quality of American theme park rides has dropped significantly. What makes a theme park special is the little things you don't get at a roller-coaster emporium like Six Flags. The sense of "for you"-ness is missing. Go the MGM Studios and ride the low-rent Rock and Roller Coaster and you'll see what I mean. Clearly, the Accounting department designing that one with an Excel spreadsheet. There's nothing about it that seems ostentatious and over-the-top, which is exactly what you in the middle of a Florida swamp to get. Walk 30 yards over, however, and you get the Tower of Terror. The height of for youness. An attraction that revels in mood, nuance and artistry before you even get on the ride. The first time you ride it, you can't help but be overwhelmed by the sheer audacity of what happens to you (which, I won't spoil for those of you who haven't partaken.) Unfortunately, most rides (Universal, I'm looking at you, too!) fall into the former category.

But...there is sunshine on the horizon:

John Lasseter. Seriously -- if you are unfamiliar with this man, remember his name. He is the Walt Disney of this generation.

He was pretty much employee 001 at Pixar and is their chief creative -- so he directed Toy Story 1 and 2 and A Bug's Life and worked closely on every other films they've made. His storytelling chops are impeccable. It's hard to find an extraneous plot point, a klunky line, or an emotion that doesn't ring true in any film he's worked on. With Disney's aquistion of Pixar, Lasseter is now Disney's "top creative officer". Businessweek recounts the recent Disney meeting where he was introduced:

As he bounded onto the stage in his traditionally downscale attire -- jeans, an untucked Hawaiian shirt, and blue blazer -- he got a rock star reception. "Oh, stop it," he shouted, and then, pointing to his black sneakers, joked that he had dressed up for the occasion.

But when he began talking about animated films, the mood was half comedy show, half revival meeting. "Quality is a great business plan," Lasseter said to more cheering.

Quality is a great business plan, John. I just hope with Disney's acquisition, this notion will go beyond the animated film world. Oh, wait. Someone smart at the Mouse thought of that:

And the applause got louder when the former guide on Disneyland's Jungle Cruise announced that he will also be designing rides for Disney's theme parks. "I will make rides that you will want to get back on as soon as you get off, no matter how long the line," he promised.

Literally, I am giddy at the thought. Could you imagine if a ride makes you feel the way Toy Story 2 did?


Men's Room Wonderment

Last night at Royale, above the toilet:

(in Sharpie)
Q: What has 9 arms and sucks?
A: Def Leopard

(Below, in pencil)
An octopus and your mom.


Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Explanation #2

In lieu of normal content, a post I've been hanging onto for a writer blocked moment like this...(I'm really tired for some reason. Well, actually I know. DC weekend + Oscars + corporate gig + Gender redesigner = "This isn't the slothful March I envisioned!")

Reasons Brianna rocks:

Breakfast I make myself: Burnt eggs, decomposing turkey sausage, salsa from a jar opened in 2005, coffee

Breakfast Brianna made for us: Poached eggs with roasted tomatoes and goat cheese on 7 grain bread, with a side of turkey sausage (somehow cooked correctly), mimosas

Monday, March 06, 2006

Last Night


Edit: Gawker, yet again, says it best -- with pictures.

Edit 2: Kissing cousin Defamer seems to hit the right note:

8:23pm PST:
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! God help us all. The sky has opened, Beezlebub has dumped his infernal payload of obvious evil on an unsuspecting Earth. Life as we know it is over. Drive to the desert and start a new civilization, hoping that our horrible, horrible mistakes will not be repeated. This is the end, friends. See you in Hell.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Only for Mark Burnett...

...and maybe Frontline.

From Gaping Void via Gawker.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Before going into hibernation for 4 years.

A final (and second) Sasha Cohen post.

From this week's Newsweek:

She bravely pulled herself together and somehow resurrected the elegant skater who had started the evening in first place. Still, she left the ice too numb even to cry, convinced her dream of an Olympic medal was over. But Olympic figure skating is a daunting business—"not like getting churros at Disneyland," Cohen said afterward.

Hence, my new response to everything now....

INT. Production Office - Day
Producer: Hey, can you recut Act 3 again?
Me: Hey, this ain't buyin' churros at Disneyland!

Hot Dog Vender: $2, sir
Me: This is so not like getting churros at Disneyland.

INT. Bedroom - Night
Bri: Geoffie....again?
Me: Whaddaya think I am, a churro stand at Disneyland?

INT. Gowanus Apartment - DAY
Me: Fuck, this place is disgusting, you should clean up.
Me: Hey! Lay off, man! Swiffing is not like getting churros at Disneyland.

EXT. Disneyland - Day - 2019
Jefferson: Daddy, can I have a churro?
Me: No.

Mario Update

Oh, nevermind.

Deceptively simple...

This will dovetail nicely with the (much talked about, but never written) "buttons" post (which, when it arrives, will be awesome).

So, back in the Commie country days, while in hateful, hateful Poland, I saw a show on Polish television. I couldn't quite tell what was happening. Lots of people screaming, lots of money amounts flying at the screen, lots of unattractive Polish people holding suitcases. I watched two episodes of it, and couldn't figure out what was happening. One person was picking suitcase numbers, and the people opening the picked suitcases would get ridiculously excited. Who was winning money? Who were all these people?

Once I saw a commercial for "Deal or No Deal", however, I understood. The unattractive Polish people were just props -- so, naturally, for the American version, they'd have models holding the suitcases. (And, look, you can meet them all!). The game is ridiculously simple, and I now doubt my anthropological skills for no being able to figure it out:

There are 26 numbered suitcases, each suitcase containing a dollar amount betwixt $.01 and $2 million. The contestant picks one, and that becomes "their" suitcase, which they can either keep or "sell" later in the game. They start by picking other suitcases to be opened and their dollar amounts revealed. After opening a certain number of suitcases, the "banker" calls the contestant and gives an offer to buy the suitcase for a dollar amount or let the contestant keep opening suitcases. That's it. If the contestant gets all the way to the last suitcase without taking the banker's offer, they get the amount of money in the suitcase.

It's so simple, it's brilliant. Especially since the "banker's offer" seems to be based on casino like-odds. He'll always give you a little less than you're actual odds of winning (ie, you may have a 1 in 4 chance of winning a million dollars, but he'll buy you out for $200,000, for instance.) It's, therefore, a game about playing your sense of luck and karma against your head. Howie Mandel does a great job of emphasizing the math, and people keep flying in the face of it, caught up in the excitement of the ritual. The book I've been (slowly) reading since Vegas, Something for Nothing, talks about modern gambling as an offshoot of ancient divination -- a way to speak to the gods and determine our place in the universe. This show (unlike, say Millionaire, which had a certain skill element to it) seems closest to that notion of giving into your gut and letting the universe talk to you in the only way us modern, secular Americans can discern our karmic value -- oodles and oodles of cash.

"Deal or No Deal" is church, Howie is the Pope, and I guess that makes me the faithful.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Not so Super Mario

Today, The New York Times' Frank Bruni reviewed Mario Batali's Del Posto and gave it three stars. (Mario Batali and Del Posto, as you may recall, feature prominently in my last project for the Food Network)

As interesting as that is, this New York Observer article was on the case, publishing a story today about the New York Times review. Even better, it makes constant mention of the Mario show:

The chef Mario Batali was seated before a small table covered in white linen, speaking face-forward to a television camera, one afternoon this past winter.

“We’re shooting to make Del Posto a four-star restaurant in New York City,” he said in the deliberate, teacherly tone he has perfected as a television chef, preparing the footage that would serve as an introduction to Mario, Full Boil, a documentary special for the Food Network about his latest restaurant venture.

What's fascinating for me is how this now skews the show I just did. Darcy, the producer, all along maintained that the show would be a letdown for the audience if Mario didn't achieve his stated goal and get four stars. I disagree. What I liked about the show (when it aired) was that little bit of open ended doubt it left you with. The last thing audiences saw was "The New York Times restaurant critic has yet to review Del Posto" written in white on a black background. Would Mario get all four stars? Everything they've seen for the past hour seemed to suggest he would. But who knows? Mario himself in the voiceover said four stars would demand "perfection across the board." And (he says as well) the sole arbiter of perfection in New York City restaurants is Frank Bruni.

So, today, the real story of Full Boil came to an end. Mario and his partners spent $12 million trying to impress one man, and failed. I'm sorry, but that's great television.