Saturday, December 8, 2007

Let me count the ways...

Since I feel like I'm always going off about really serious stuff here on this blog, this is going to be a bit of a less serious entry for a change.

So...have you guys had these?!





These things are freakin' amazing. If you haven't had the intense pleasure of experiencing these absolutely scrumptious cookies, let me explain them to you. Basically they're Joe-Joe's - Trader Joe's version of the Oreo but significantly better - but hold on! The filling isn't just regular old cookie creme filling. Oh no. The creme has little, heavenly pieces of candy cane all mixed up inside of it. Again, I will say it - holy crap! I'm not even that fond of Oreos, but these things are freakin' insane. Seriously, I brought some to work, and between 5 of us, we ate an entire box in a day. They're just exceedingly delicious.

This all goes toward the larger purpose of this particular entry.

I love Trader Joe's.

Seriously. I remember the moment when I first heard that Trader Joe's was coming to New York City. I was in a deli, about to get money from an ATM, and my friend Krista broke the news.

"You know they're putting a Trader Joe's around Union Square."

I turned to her and screamed, "What?!?!" And then I literally proceeded to jump around in a circle with excitement. Now, that may seem mildly gay to you, but I don't really care. That's how much I truly love TJ's.

Now, I know that it's a bit of a pain in the ass to shop there on the weekends. But is this really Trader Joe's fault? Isn't that just a testament to how absolutely fantastic the store is?

So I have no idea if you're going to be interested in this or not, but I'm just going to list off a few of my favorite things that I tend to purchase from TJ's on a regular basis that make me happy. What can I say? Food makes me happy. It's delicious.

Anyway. Here goes.

This granola over here is absolutely phenomenal. This is seriously what I eat for breakfast every single day:

Nature's Path Organic Hemp Plus Pumpkin Granola w/ Trader Joe's lowfat yogurt and some sort of fruit. At TJ's, they have plain, vanilla, strawberry and vanana (a mix of vanilla and banana) yogurt option, and all are delicious.

I guess this brings me to what I love most about Trader Joe's - although the Candy Cane Joe-Joe's are a bit excepted from this. It's got such incredibly healthy stuff. And I think that in this country of overconsumption and obesity, it's nice to see that a place like Trader Joe's has a line an hour long on Sundays in New York. It's not much, and it's not as though everything sold at TJ's is completely healthy. But at least it's something.

So to conclude, here are a few more of my favorite Trader Joe's and in general:

Mango Salsa
Pineapple Salsa
Any frozen pizzas
Triple Ginger Snaps

Oh the list goes on and on.

So I'm sure most of you have experienced the joy of Trader Joe's, but if you haven't, do yourself a favor and check it out. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas is for Buying!!


We're sellin' some shit! You want some shit?! Well we got all the shit you need right here!

Have you seen this commercial?

I'm seriously thinking of boycotting Best Buy after this whole debacle. I understand that does nothing, really. I buy products from Best Buy about once a year. If I decide not to buy shit from them anymore because of this ad, it will have absolutely zero affect on their business.

But that doesn't stop me from going off on this a little bit in my little corner of the Interweb. (Okay, let me just vehemently stress that I do not actually think it's called the Interweb. It's just my way of making fun of our retarded president. 'Cause I'm sure he's made that mistake at least a few times in his life.)

Anyway. Enough with my digressions. Man, I do love a tangent.

Now, I realize that this isn't an original idea by any means. But what the hell has this season has become all about?! I just think the whole notion of mass consumerism has gotten completely out of control, and I really just think it's getting worse.

You know what I'm excited about? I'm excited about going home to California to see my family who I haven't seen since the summer. And I understand that makes me extremely lucky to have a family that I'm excited to go home to. But the point is, I could honestly care less about the gifts that I get. I really don't need more shit in my life. I get along just fine with the things I have. Now this is not to say that I don't appreciate the gifts that I receive during Christmas. My mom recently asked me if I wanted some guitar or mandolin lessons this year while I'm home. I think that's a fantastic gift. It's thoughtful and actually means something to me.

Now, I'm not saying that I don't get caught up in this bullshit. I have absolutely gotten gifts for people that didn't actually mean anything to them just because I felt that I had to. I'm just saying that I wish that it wasn't this way. I don't know how to change it and I can't imagine that it's ever going to change. I just feel like we've lost our souls a little bit when it comes to all of this. And I wish these things weren't so expected of all of us.

I wish that the people that we love - whether it be family or friends or girlfriends or boyfriends or whomever - would just be thankful to have us around for the holidays.

I'm not even saying I'm against giving gifts, really. I'm always appreciative when someone gives me a gift that I actually feel that he or she put thought into. Basically I'm just pissed that all of these companies have taken these holidays, which should be mostly about spending time with the people we love and not having to stress about work for once, and co-opted it into this time of expressing how much you care by buying shit that people don't need.

Anyway, this is really negative, so I'm gonna stop. I'm now going to think about how in two weeks, I'm going to be sitting in front of a fire at my parents' house, staring at the redwood trees and just being thrilled about the fact that I get to spend time with some of my favorite people in the world. Maybe it sounds completely cheesy, but that's absolutely what's most important to me in all of this. And I think it's important to step back and realize that sometimes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Gladiators...mount up

I was just sitting here watching Heroes, trying to forget that all television as we know it will cease to exist - I am seriously going to miss 30 Rock and The Office. With reports that Lost isn't coming back until 2009, AND The Wire going into its last season, I might just cancel my cable altogether. So here I was, enjoying what I think is a fun but rather fluffy show, I happened to catch the tail end of an ad for a new show on NBC. Or rather a !NEW AND IMPROVED! version of an old show.

You know what that show is, oh blog readers of mine? Think of the five most ridiculous, inane, cheesy shows you've ever seen. Got 'em? Well, I can only imagine that if you took a poll of those who grew up in the 80s, this show would probably appear on at least a few of those "worst shows of all time" lists.

Yes, that's right ladies and gentlemen.

It's American Gladiators. And it's back.

First of all, just looking at this ridiculous photo over to the left here, did you forget how freakin' juiced up these chicks and dudes were?! Isn't it amazing? I mean, come ON! They make Barry Bonds look like he tries to beef up on McDonalds and Bloomin' Onions every day!

And do you remember how ridiculous their names were? Here's some samples - man, I love Wikipedia:
Nitro, Lace, Malibu, Zap, Gold, Laser, Storm, Ice,, the list goes on and on.

And in a truly odd little tidbit of useless pop culture knowledge, Wikipedia also tells me that Joe Theismann hosted the first season of the show?! Damn. Weird. What a career he's had after leaving professional football.

Okay, so enough about the past here. We're talking about the bright future of television here! This particular incarnation of the show here is hosted by none other than Hulk Hogan and Laila Ali. I mean, I know they're paragons of fitness or whatever, but really?! I mean, doesn't that just seem like a disaster to you? Who's the color commentator on that team? Isn't it bound to just turn into Hulk and Laila challenging each other to bigger and bigger duels until one of them kills each other? Maybe I need to pitch THIS show! Can't be worse than the crap that this show is about to rain down on the American public.

Okay, so I'm rambling. The point is, this is the crap that we're just gonna see more and more as the WGA strike goes on. And it makes me angry. Okay, so I've worked on some really crappy reality shows, so maybe I just need to shut the hell up.

But really, my feeling on the whole thing is this - is this all really worth it for the television studios?! I don't claim to know a whole lot about the ins and outs of this strike, but I do know that what the writers are asking for is completely within reason. More and more we're going to see content obtained through the Internet. Hell, we might not even have TV as we know it soon. And it's crazy and incredibly insulting for the studios to expect that the writers are just going to lay down and accept that they just aren't gonna get paid for all the work that they put their lifeblood into.

All that aside though, I just can't imagine that it's even remotely a smart move for the studios not to give the writers what they want on this. Is American Gladiators really going to cut it? Is it a replacement for shows like 30 Rock that have a loyal audience? I don't claim to know much about television ratings either, but I think it's insane to think that a physical challenge show featuring a bunch of jacked up nobodies is going to be a valid replacement for the well-written shows that the studios are tossing aside.

But my biggest problem with the whole thing is this - all of this just shows me that these studios have absolutely no respect for the American viewing audience. They seem to think that if we are presented with the lowest common denominator, we'll watch it just 'cause it's there.

And maybe that's true. And that scares me more than anything.

And honestly - I wish that these studios felt more of a responsibility to present people with intelligent, fulfilling entertainment. But I just can't see that happening.

Someone tell me why I work in television again? Sigh...

Monday, November 19, 2007

It's Just THAT Good

So last night, I watched 2 things - This American Life (the Showtime version of the brilliant radio show) and The Animation Show, a collection of animation put together by Mike Judge and Don Herzfeldt. It showcases some of the more incredible and hysterical animation I've ever had the pleasure to see.

These particular pieces of entertainment are very pure examples of people at the utmost top of their games. This American Life is such an unbelievably produced show. The producers find these stories that might seem completely inane and find the heart and humor in them. They take this heart and this humor and bring it to the surface in this often touch, often hilarious and always beautifully sensitive way. I just marvel at everyone involved in the show and everything involved in making it so outstanding.

And some of the animations in The Animation Show are absolutely too ridiculous to describe. And what range too. Some of my favorite pieces in the entire collection are the extremely simple but absolutely hilarious Don Herzfeldt pieces. They're literally stick figure animations, but the scripts are so damn funny, and the amount of expression and life he is able to put into these frankly stupid drawings is crazy!

And then there's Fallen Art. If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing this completely beautiful, disturbing, deliciously inventive piece of animation, go to YouTube right now and watch it. I promise you won't be disappointed. It never gets old and I'm just in awe every time of how someone came up with this idea and made into something this amazing.

Anyway. I was watching this with my lovely girlfriend Shannon, and we had a little discussion about how truly phenomenal some of the pieces in the animation collection are, and how we wished that we had ever done something that phenomenal with OUR lives. It wasn't much of discussion - just one of those, "Man, I need to create things!" kind of thing. It's a conversation that comes up often enough, considering she's a graphic designer and I'm a (very much aspiring) producer/filmmaker...etc.

But I just started listening to an radio episode of This American Life a minute ago, and the conversation sort came back to me.

And I realized how much I haven't done nearly enough "creating" in my life and that I'd better get on it or I'm gonna miss out. Don't get me wrong - there are people who start new professions and new hobbies and new talent that they never knew they had at the age of 75. And that's fantastic in and of itself, but I certainly don't want to wait until I'm 75 to discover that I'm capable of writing a brilliant detective novel or take prize-winning photographs of objects that might look completely uninteresting otherwise.

So that's it. This post is basically for me, I suppose. I just wanted to tell myself that I shouldn't just keep having these conversations about how I want to create my own work. I should actually freakin' do it. So if you know me and you see me, please feel free to ask me if I've done any creating lately. 'Cause I obviously need a kick in the ass, and maybe if I actually have to tell people that, "No, I've been meaning to do this and this and that, but I haven't yet..." I'll get embarrassed enough to actually do it one day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Debate-tastic!

I'm sitting here right now, watching the Democratic debate and I noticed something quite odd and frankly really disturbing.

So we have these three "front runners," right? Hillary, Barack and John. Let me say this before going any further: I can't tell you how much I want to have a woman or a minority running our country. I think it's absolutely embarrassing that the only people who have held the position of President in this country have been white males. Truly it is.

That being said, I also believe steadfastly that the fact that Hillary Clinton is a woman is no reason to vote for her. The same goes for Barack Obama being African-American. If I end up not voting for either of these candidates in the primary, I will honestly feel a little guilty for not having voted for the woman or the black man. But I can't let that sway my vote away from someone who I believe will best represent my beliefs and who will best serve to reverse the atrocious policies that this current abomination of an administration has set upon the suffering people of this country.

But I digress - see, I do this whole digression thing a lot.

Anyway, so what I find so disturbing about this debate I'm currently watching is that the aforementioned front runners are the ones that don't sound real to me. I'm sitting here listening to Obama - a man I saw be so down to earth on The Daily Show - sound so incredibly like a "politician" that I'm starting not to believe anything he says. I'm listening to Hillary Clinton give extremely robotic, very rehearsed-sounding answers that just don't ring true at all. I'm watching John Edwards push his compassionate Southern persona so hard that I'm really starting to wonder if that persona is actually him.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden is standing on the other side of the stage from Edwards, Obama & Clinton (with Chris Dodd thrown in between Obama and Edwards in an ever-so-thinly-veiled attempt to say, "Hey, we care about these other guys!") sounding LIKE A REAL FUCKING PERSON. Bill Richardson is talking about how we treat teachers like crap and underpay them and he actually sounds passionate about something that he is making me believe that he FUCKING BELIEVES IN. Right now, Chris Dodd is speaking about Musharraf, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and he's almost getting angry, he's raising his voice, and that makes me thrilled because he actually seems like he FUCKING CARES ABOUT SOMETHING.

Now, I know that this isn't all that matters when choosing our President. Dennis Kucinich, as much as I believe in so much of what he believes in, has done very little in his political career to make me confident in his ability to actually get enough done as President.

The point is this - I can't believe that the state of politics in this country is such that the leading Democratic candidates - I'm not even going to broach the subject of republicans, 'cause I could go off about that for hours - are the only ones on this stage right now that I don't think are being straight with me. (I have to say, John Edwards actually showed some life a minute ago, and I have always thought that, of the three front runners, Edwards is definitely the most real.) It just makes very little sense to me, and even more so, it makes me really sad. I want my President to be passionate about issues. I want these candidates to get fired up and pissed about how badly Bush and his cronies have fucked up this country. I want them to make jokes and act like a REAL FUCKING PERSON. Don't we want a real goddamn human being running our country?!?

Ugh. Okay, I'm gonna stop right now, because I'm obviously getting worked up. And I'm not even saying that I'm not going to vote for Obama or Edwards - I'm sorry, I'm not voting for Clinton. I just don't think she's going to do even marginally enough to change this country, and I think she's by far the most vulnerable against republicans. I'm just saying that I wish that the world wasn't this way.

But then again, there are a lot of things in this world that I would change if I could. And maybe this is a minor one. But I just got fired up about it and had to write.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I just hate Dane Cook

Okay, this guy is just awful. Seriously. Have you guys SEEN the god awful World Series commercials that he does?! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! WHY IS THIS GUY FAMOUS?! I guess complete and utter mediocrity sells extremely well in this day and age. Ugh.

Have you seen this?!

Okay, so the video is parodying him, but apparently, as inconceivable as it is, this song is COMPLETELY FOR REAL. Yes, Dane Cook has come out with a song, and it's serious and absolutely craptastic.

I feel like this isn't really going anywhere, so I'm going to stop now. But I'm sitting here watching the first game of the World Series, and Dane Cook is being forced upon me, so I decided to write about how much he pisses me off. I was listening to an episode of This American Life earlier today, and there was a segment in which a bunch of 10 year-olds said that Dane Cook is their favorite comedian.

I don't really think I need to say anymore. Except that some people, and I'm not talking about the 10-year olds, really like him. And I don't even know what to say about that.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday Morning Jesus

As I stepped onto the train this morning, I was immediately bombarded with a girl loudly proclaiming that people needed to find Jesus as their savior. First off, having started this whole blogging nonsense, it made me realize that I need to carry my camera around wherever I go. 'Cause I'd love to have a photo of her up right now. Alas, I was sans camera, so you'll just have to make up what she looks like.

But back to the point. I didn't honestly listen to everything she was saying, as I was trying intently to listen to a thrilling episode of Radiolab. I must digress again for a second here. If you haven't had the pleasure of listening to this incredible radio program yet, you're really missing out. You can download the podcast for free from iTunes - just search for Radiolab or NPR in the podcast directory. I promise you won't regret it.

ANYWHO. So this woman on the train...she was speaking rather loudly, so despite my attempts to block her out and be an NPR dork, I couldn't help but overhearing some of what she was saying. Here's the one that really stuck out in my mind:

"If you see a pregnant woman on the train, don't let her stand. She might say it's okay, she can stand. But don't let her stand. Hold Jesus in your heart and get up for her."

I'm probably paraphrasing that a little, but that was basically the gist of it. Now, I'm all about standing up for pregnant women, elderly people, even just women in general when I'm on the train. I usually feel so bad about sitting down when there's a woman standing up that I'll pretend like I'm getting out at the next station and get up so that whatever woman is standing next to me can sit down. Because while I feel bad about sitting down, I also don't know whether a particular woman is going to find it offensive that I'm offering her my seat. think I overthink things sometimes?! And sometimes it backfires on me when whatever douchebag guy standing there decides HE wants to sit down instead.

Okay, I'm rambling. My real point here I really need Jesus to tell me that I should give my seat to a pregnant woman?! I'm sorry to anyone reading this who is Christian and is offended by this...I'm really not trying to offend. But I just think there is a set of rules that we're all supposed to live by, and while it's true that those values are somewhat based in Christianity, they have completely become their own entity. Basically, I've met Christian assholes and non-Christian assholes, and I don't think their faith or lack thereof has anything to do with whether or not they offer their seat to a pregnant woman.

What's really interesting about this whole incident is that, in this particular instance, and I really don't think I've ever seen this...someone actually talked back to her. This guy got fed up enough with her pronouncements that he began to shoot back.

"See, the problem is, no one can get away from what you're saying here. If you were on the street, I'd be fine with this, but people HAVE to listen to what you're saying, and that's not fair."

I was...well...impressed in a weird way. She was pissing me off too. In this city of every culture and religion you could ever want, she was forcing people to listen to her tell them to accept Jesus as their lord and savior. And he was calling her on it. Sometimes I wish I had more balls and could speak my mind like that. I suppose it didn't do anything or make any real difference in the world, but the guy felt it was wrong and decided to say something about it. And you know what...I know there were 100 other people in that same subway car that wanted to say the same thing and didn't. Just like me. And I guess I just appreciate that he felt strong enough in his convictions to be the one that spoke up.

Oh, and did I mention that I love New York?! Goddamn, I really do.

*P.S. As I was on the train heading home from work, about 2 hours after I had finished writing this, a pregnant woman got on the train and I gave her my seat. can you not just chuckle at life sometimes?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

60 crowns for a new wallet

Sometimes I'm just amazed by how the world works.

In May and June of this year, I took a trip with a friend of mine - the lovely Karina who will be posting on here once in a while - to Europe. She and I flew to London, spent a few days there so she could visit some friends of hers. Then it was off to Amsterdam for a few days that I don't remember so well, and then the Czech Republic. Little side note - if you haven't been to Prague, holy crap, it's beautiful and cheap and you should go immediately! Seriously, I had one of the better meals of my life there for what amounted to about $25 for 2 people combined. Including tip! Ridiculous.

But, as is often the case, I digress. So back to the point at hand. After visiting the Czechs in all their glory, Karina was to head home and I was to continue onto Croatia for two weeks of some intimidating but exciting solo traveling.

Alas, on our last day in Prague, one of those moments you always hear about but never expect to happen to you...well one of those moments actually did happen to me. I lost my wallet. After throwing Karina's water bottle on the ground and breaking it - a point that she continues to not let me live down - I went and made all the necessary phone calls to cancel and order new cards and all that fun crap.

At this point, I was ready to give up. How was I to survive with no access to funds? Karina gave me a bunch of cash, but it definitely wasn't going to get me through another two weeks in a country where I most certainly didn't speak the language. I seriously thought about packing it in, sucking it up, and just heading home.

Perhaps I was being completely irrational, but something made me decide against that whole plan. "No!" I thought. "I must see Croatia. It's what I came for!" So on I went, not knowing how I was going to survive.

Now maybe this sounds completely cliche, but I honestly don't care - turns out losing that wallet was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Bear with me for a second here.

My plan was to fly to Dubrovnik - the Southern-most major city in Croatia - stay there for two days, and then rent a car and drive around Croatia, hitting some national parks and other major cities along the way. Well that plan was out - no driver's license, remember? Plus, I had asked AmEx and Citibank to send my cards to the hostel I was staying at in Dubrovnik, so I had to wait around for those to arrive.

Long story short - although I guess I can't avoid making this kind of long at this point - by staying for 6 days instead of 2 at this particular hostel, I met some of the most amazing people I have ever had the privilege to know. Here's a link to the wonderful hostel I stayed at - PLEASE stay there if you ever happen to be in Dubrovnik:

These new friends I had made and I ended up renting an apartment for 3 days on the island of Hvar. Those 3 days were among the best days of my whole life. (Yes, that's me jumping off of a wall 30 feet high into the ocean - and I didn't even break my legs!!)

Taking it even further, I recently took a trip up to Montreal to visit one of those friends I had made in Croatia. On the train up there, I happened to sit next to a very cute girl. We ended up chatting for 8 hours, I got her number. Now we're dating and it's rather fantastic, I have to say.

The point is, I realized the other day that absolutely none of this would have happened had I not lost my wallet. I would have stayed in Dubrovnik for two days and then gone off, by myself, in a car to whatever national park I felt like exploring that day. I never would've met Monika, my Canadian friend who eventually prompted my trip to Montreal, and thus never would have met a girl on the train who I've become rather fond of.

So - and I hope I don't sound preachy or anything here - sometimes when something seemingly terrible and devastating happens...well, just realize that maybe there's a good reason for it after all. I think life is mischievous like that sometimes.


Okay, let me start off by saying I have no idea what I’m doing with this whole blog thing. In fact, I don’t even think exactly know what I’m going to put up here. But I’ve been meaning to write about well, something…anything…for as long as I can remember. And I’ve never done it. And I think I have some interesting things to say about the world. So I think it’s about damn time I just started.

So here it is, in all its glory. I seriously have NO idea how this is all going to turn out, but I hope that whatever it becomes, you enjoy it, as much as I hope I enjoy writing it.