Tom Scocca: When I read it, I was literally ready to punch Dave Eggers in the face, except he was nowhere around. Now that I have simmered down, it remains possible that if I ever do find myself in a room with Dave Eggers, I may throw a drink in his face, probably including the glass or bottle.
The current issue of the New Yorker doesn't have a fiction piece in it. Instead, they chose to place a large ad (about 8 pages long) for Where the Wild Things Are. Tom Scocca and Choire Sicha talk about it at the Awl.


Ok Larry David, you win.

I've missed the last 5 seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. After recommending the show to friends and asking them to watch it with me, I was completely embarrassed and felt really uncomfortable (especially when I asked someone to come over and watch the episode where Larry makes a tasteless affirmative action joke in front of a black dermatologist; Cheryl needs skin cream for a itchy situtation. It makes you want to die.). Adding more awkwardness into your life is really too much when you're 17 years old. So I abandoned it.

Long story short, all is forgiven. I'm totally won over by this promo for season 7.


I am moving at turbo speed, trying to fit in more books, friends, music, fresh air, sunshine, drinks, dancing and all that good stuff as the start of the school year approaches, like a old high school nemesis on a desolate street (You can't avoid them! You must make uncomfortable small talk!). That being the case, I have been negligent of this little blog. To the handful of people who read this regularly, I offer my thanks and sincerest apologies.

Moving on...There are a couple of things I've been reading but few I will highly recommend. In the interest of documenting and sharing, however, here goes:

  • This is David Cross's author bio for his new book, I Drink for a Reason. That's Amber Tamblyn's dad in the author photo.

  • Vanity Fair's September Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett covers advertise juicy insider scoop on TV's best show, Mad Men. While the accompanying Annie Liebovitz photos are quite good (some are better than others), the Bruce Handy article is sloppy and blogger-like (in the worst way possible). I don't get the sense than Handy is a fan of the show, never mind the maniacal obsessive that should be writing about a show of this much complexity and richness. For fans of the show, however, some of the cast and crew share some easter-egg type trivia, like this bit:
    [Handy] asked David Carbonara, the show’s composer, about a lovely piece of music he used to score a small but key scene in the second-season opener (Episode 201, by the production’s accounting), in which Don, intoxicated for once by his wife, watches a mink-clad Betty descend a hotel’s grand staircase as she arrives for a night out in the city. This was Carbonara’s answer, by e-mail: “It’s a piece written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov called ‘Song of India’ from his opera Sadko. Tommy Dorsey had a hit with an up-tempo version in 1937. Matthew Weiner wanted a harp in the hotel lobby to be playing the song, then have the arrangement become larger for scoring Betty’s entrance.… But my favorite use of ‘Song of India,’ and sadly I don’t think anyone noticed, was in episode 211, ‘The Jet Set.’ This time it’s played as a jazz samba in yet another hotel bar as Don thinks he sees Betty! It’s played as source music with a bit of score overlaid on top hopefully calling us back to the previous hotel lobby in episode 201 [which had aired 11 weeks earlier in the series’ initial run], when they were very much in love. I admit it was a bit subtle, but maybe (hopefully!) it had an effect in the viewer’s subconscious.”
    I also appreciated the praise for January Jones's performance as Betty Draper, which is widely underrated.

  • With time to kill, I dropped off some books at a local library branch last week and ended up borrowing Shakespeare Wrote for Money by Nick Hornby and I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron, writer and director of Julie and Julia, When Harry Met Sally and other gems your girlfriend wants you to watch with her. I left the Hornby for a later date but burned my way through the Ephron with so much shame for enjoying some of it. It's a book that's written for mothers who have gone or are going through menopause. This New York Times bestseller is a collection of essays of varied length and style about New York and womanhood. The type was really big so people with poor eyesight can read it with ease, and the book is no thicker than 1 cm. I liked the feeling of rushing through a book. Also, there were a few essays on cooking and eatting. Other than that, there's little appeal for the 20, 30, or 40-something set. That said Ephron is funny and a gifted writer; she's the kind of journalist that's not necessarily erudite or well-read but loves and is skilled at the craft. Buy this book for your mom.

  • Earlier this month, I had trouble sleeping so I took an iPod loaded with podcasts to bed. There are only two I listen to regularly: This American Life and Good Food on KCRW. These are only issued once a week but I was sleepless daily. The iTunes podcast directory was a Godsend. I discovered the Splendid Table, GQ Radio, TedTalks, Stuff You Should Know, and best of all, Slate's Culture Gabfest. I highly recommend a listen. After I had read a million reviews of Julie and Julia, the contributors to Slate actually added something new to the conversation - no small feat. I've since listened to the last four Gabfests and they continue to be funny, insightful, and intrepid.

  • Oh, didn't True Blood get funny and touching again last night? (Ok, so they ployed us with Eric and Sookie again! and the Maryann bit is getting really old, but Jason with a chainsaw! A Lafayette we care about! Tara and Sookie are back together! And a fantastic cliffhanger!)

  • Also on the go:
      Empire Falls by Richard Russo
      The Soul of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman
      The New Kings of Non-Fiction edited by Ira Glass

  • One last thing: In June, the Atlantic asked, "What Makes Us Happy?" Author Joshua Wolf Shenk (what a crazy name!) interviewed George Vaillant, the long-time director of the Grant Study--a longitudinal study of 268 men who entered Harvard in the late 1930s. Shenk also looked into the troves of data at the Harvard Study of Adult Development. The Grant Study men were interviewed regularly throughout their lives for 72 years. Their lives were extremely varied (one even became president - John F. Kennedy); accordingly, patterns were near impossible to identify. In this thorough and intriguing piece, Shenk struggles with making any conclusions. Nonetheless, Valliant comes to a conclusion in this Atlantic video podcast: "Happiness is love, full stop."

    And with that, I am going to go out and see my friends and be happy.


Weekend Megamix

The Pelican Project

Chat up lines for Web Designers
1. I wish I had an Eyedropper to capture the color of your eyes.

2. Has anybody ever told you that your teeth have perfect kerning?

6. Would you like to lorem ipsum dolor sit on my lap?

9. First I think I’ll stroke your curve, then I’d like to fill you.

11. You look perfectly put together. Do you display this well in IE?

16. Let’s “Skip Intro” and just go find a hotel room right now.

17. When I serve you breakfast in bed tomorrow, would you like your coffee with cream and sugar, or do you prefer it #000000?

I've been doing this my whole life

The project began as a response to the shifting landscape in publishing, and the realization that more and more of us are writing in public, as bloggers and tweeters, for instance. Similarly, we sought to broadcast words in public, through the simple act of contemplative reading on a noisy street corner, or as performance, with readers directly engaging onlookers.

Just Because



In September’s Bazaar, eight "supers" (now 35 years or older) go barefaced for Peter Lindbergh.

More at Models.com

Back to the Earth

Toronto street artist PosterChild has an ongoing, extensive project to convert flier and newspaper boxes into guerilla gardening boxes.

via BoingBoing


To Inform and Delight

Here, Milton Glaser-designer of the I ♥ New York logo and co-founder of New York Magazine-speaks at the 1998 TED Conference. This one holds up well.

Further viewing: To Inform and Delight

A Message from the Awl (Someday an actual, shoe-wearing journalist may discover that Mr. Hamm has human flaws.)

Dear Jon Hamm,

I'm glad things are going so well for you! It's terrific that you're super-funny and everyone's new crush and that you do such a great job of playing a bad boy in your show "Mad Men" but then turn out to be a regular nice guy in real life, offering up both the fantasy of a man who will treat you like dirt and the comfort of knowing that you're really kind and gentle. But, seriously, "I used to teach little kids and I loved it so much"? STOP. You are no longer playing fair.

Best, etc.,

5. A Pleasant Impression

I have read something wonderful but have yet to craft a description of it with the beauty and sophistication the novel deserves. So, I'll leave it to Michelle (circa 2008):
"After I’d had a chance to think about it for a while I began to understand why I felt this sudden joy when Kakuro was talking about the birch trees. I get the same feeling when anyone talks about trees, any trees: the linden tree in the farmyard, the oak behind the old barn, the stately elms that have all disappeared now, the pine trees along the wind-swept coasts. There’s so much humanity in a love of trees, so much nostalgia for our first sense of wonder, so much power in just feeling our own insignificance when we are surrounded by nature… yes, that’s it: just thinking about trees and their indifferent majesty and our love for them teaches us how ridiculous we are- vile parasites squirming on the surface of the earth- and at the same time how deserving of life we can be, when we can honour this beauty that owes us nothing."

- Paloma, in The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery. My first Christmas book cracked, and every other page I want to mark something that is so perfectly written it makes my soul expand, like Paloma’s when she sees beyond herself to the beauty of the birch trees.
I also loved this bit:
There is one chocolate Florentine left, which I nibble out of greediness, with my front teeth, like a mouse. If you change the way you crunch into something, it is like trying something new.

-Renée, the concierge in Paloma's building, on triumphing over boredom.


It's Food Week

When people ask me what I've been doing this summer, invariably the answer involves eating or cooking. Food has become something of an obsession. Perhaps you should stop reading this blog for the week as my hunger for food photography, recipes, and cuisine-related articles is at a fever pitch.

Anyhow, after last night's post about fish, Bon Appetit published their own guide to eating well in Vancouver. Describing our city of glass, food writer Alan Richman says,
In addition to a number of thoughtfully revitalized neighborhoods, [Vancouver] has an excess of slender glass high-rises that make it appear as though the city was invaded by aliens who constructed identical breeding towers.
But it's not the architecture that most interests Richman, but our complicated food politics. While the 100-mile diet is gospel for chefs like Robert Clark of C, it's comes off as gwai-lo propaganda in Richmond. Other chefs such as Robert Belcham and Dale MacKay buy what tastes best, whether it's local or not. But the pressure to conform to eco-friendly practices in Vancouver is so deftly conveyed as Richman writes,
A friend of mine who lives near Vancouver tells me, "We're a culturally diverse place, and people want food from where they're from." I am reassured, not because I want the opportunity to buy such products, but simply because I want to find out whether the merchants are comfortably able to sell them. (If you wish to walk around with such items, I suggest purchasing an Organic Acres Market cotton shopping bag: perfect camouflage.)
Thanks for the tip, Andy


Heed Nature

Bizarro. Always spot-on.

via Daily What

For the love of sushi

There was a point last year where I stopped eating sushi. I'd never been one to turn down raw fish before - ceviche, poke, carpaccio, sashimi: yes, please. Still, after chowing down on a rice-less roll at Sushiyama, I felt sort of sick to my stomach. From then on, the thought of uncooked fish summoned the gag reflex. I had reached the mythical sushi-saturation point.

A few months later, I started having sushi again. Dynamite and BC rolls eased me into finally digging into raw fish. And in the past little while, I have been a loud advocate of the saba-bien roll--heavenly salty, fatty mackerel on rice, delicately topped with scallions, which add some mild bite--at Zipang Sushi, definitely the best little Japanese joint in Vancouver.

Still, I think twice every time I take a bite of that delicious concoction. I wonder if I'm threatening the delicate ocean ecosystem. It's no secret that the world's governments have enabled fishermen to overfish the sea's stocks. We may run out of fish in the next 40 years, say the makers of the hot documentary, The End of the Line:
Scientists predict that if we continue fishing as we are now, we will see the end of most seafood by 2048.

The End of the Line chronicles how demand for cod off the coast of Newfoundland in the early 1990s led to the decimation of the most abundant cod population in the world, how hi-tech fishing vessels leave no escape routes for fish populations and how farmed fish as a solution is a myth.

The film lays the responsibility squarely on consumers who innocently buy endangered fish, politicians who ignore the advice and pleas of scientists, fishermen who break quotas and fish illegally, and the global fishing industry that is slow to react to an impending disaster.
The film's trailer says, "Lay off the Filet-o-Fishes," rather well, I think:

Earlier this week New York Magazine published a guide to ethical eating which placed eating seafood at the pinnacle in the hierarchy of earth-ruining foods. I felt so sad reading it, thinking I should just eat flax and spelt for the rest of my life.

But I was liberated from my gastronomic prison when I discovered that Japanese school children were eating dolphin for lunch. HA, suckers! My greedy consumption of super-drugged salmon paled in comparison to these kids who dined on Flipper regularly.

OK, actually it was a free lunch program and the kids had no idea where their school lunches came from or what they were, for that matter. Furthermore, they were forced to clean the mercury-laden meat off of their plates. In Taiji, a sleepy seaside town in Japan, dolphins are captured for export to aquariums around the world. Others are slaughtered for meat.

But no one's blaming the Japanese. Most have had the wool pulled over their eyes regarding what filmmakers of the exposé documentary The Cove call "a systematic cover-up of mercury and dolphin hunting issues in Japan." In a piece by Brian D. Johnson at Macleans, director Louie Psihoyos links the secret industry to government corruption and the yazuka--Japan's mafia.

See the shocking level of secrecy and unscrupulousness in The Cove's harrowing trailer. It chills the blood:

Right now, I'm trying to reconcile my disdain for places like Whole Foods (yoga pants, Jack Johnson soundtracks, and $10 boxes of crackers make me grumpy) with my genuine desire to reform my habits of consumption. But curbing my gluttony is a no-brainer though; now that delicious saba-bien roll comes with a side of Green Movement shame.

For dessert: Food, Inc.

Full disclosure: I had McDonalds last night. Filet-o-fish went down.

United Steak of America

found on Dominic Episcopo Photography via Tastespotting.
A list of fictional books from non-print media


Restaurant Critics are Kooky

UPDATE: Missed this earlier... Bruni's free pass at publicity from the Times's Magazine. A Sunday cover story: "I was a baby bulimic, July 19, 2009"

Also, food critic Frank Bruni of the New York Times has a new book, Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater, detailing his life as a restaurant critic, a former bulimic, compulsive eater, and a lover of food.

New York Magazine's Grub Street blog has all the details (they saw the advance proofs).

Publisher's Weekly published an interview with the soon-to-be Times's Sunday Magazine critic-at-large , including the first official picture of Bruni - ever!

P.S. Has anyone read The Soul of a Chef?