Daily Archives: March 27, 2011

7 posts

Netflix Sunday: Party Down edition

Hey all, sorry for last week’s hiatus.  It happens.  Here’s what should have been last week’s installment:

Not a fan of sci-fi (for shame)?  Not in the mood for heavy coming-of-age dramas from the 90s?  Ready for 30 minutes of awesome at a time?  Well, Party Downis the show for you.

There are several valuable lessons to be learned here.  For one, unicorns and wizards are NOT hard sci-fi, lemons are known as “sun eggs”, and if you’re going to have an orgy party, your invitations should probably indicate as such.

Aired on Encore from 2009-2010, this show is about a group of Hollywood hopefuls working at Party Down, a second-rate catering company that while they suck, I’d love to have cater one of my events (if I was cool enough to have events, that is), where bad service, and hilarity, ensue.

Being that I’m unqualified to convey the humor of the show, I’ve decided to include a few clips for your entertainment.

Here is an apt description of the catering capabilities of the crew: Smackdown

Constance (Jane Lynch) arguing semantics: Hooker?

Fearless leader Ron Donald, calmly and rationally handling a crisis: Crisis handling

Lizzy Caplan handling a dog crap crisis; Oops

The crew has to cater a variety of parties, and is pretty much known to be the cheap alternative to good catering companies.  Their catering style normally includes someone getting high, having sex in inappropriate places and/or with costumes.  There’s also always multiple bullshit sessions and arguments with or near Henry (Adam Scott) at the bar, and inappropriate inter-employee sex between Henry and Casey (Lizzy Caplan), and a good bit of Megan Mullaley playing the anti-Karen in the second season.

The show primarily focuses on six characters, but has a constant barrage of guest stars contributing to the hilarity.  If you enjoy humor and deadpan, as well as inappropriate language and behavior, with some occasional grossness mixed in.

Until next time – enjoy your TV.

Recipe Sunday: Prosciutto, Dill and Cheddar Popovers

When we first started our cooking blog, one of the first posts was about popovers. At the time I was convinced that cold-oven popovers were the best choice over popovers made in a preheated oven. The science made sense (cold batter brought slowly to a very hot temperature would create steam to make them pop) and to be honest, I had only eaten/made cold-oven popovers. And my husband and I loved them, and the cats vied for scraps.

But, with the new year, a sad thing has recently happened to our oven; It takes forever to heat up now and recent attempts at making popovers have been a gooey mess without a crisp crust, or any height.

So, I decided to make popovers in a hot oven and … wow.

What a difference starting off at 400 degrees can make.

Here is the photo that accompanied the cold oven method. They had popped, but they weren’t killing themselves being overly ambitious.

And here is a close-up photo of a popovers using the hot oven method.

All six of them  looked like Tomoyuki Tanaka movie monsters.

And their height and airiness was even more surprising considering the fact that they had prosciutto, dill and cheddar in the batter.

Prosciutto, Dill and Cheddar Popovers (Hot Oven Method)

  • 1 cup of milk (warmed in the microwave for 45 seconds)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped dill
  • ¾ cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 slices of finely diced prosciutto
  • 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Pan fry the prosciutto in olive or grapeseed oil until brown and crisp.

With a pastry brush use the melted butter to grease the muffin tin cups, and place the pan in the oven for a couple of minutes until the butter is sizzling.

Add salt, pepper, cheese, prosciutto, flour and eggs to the warmed milk.

Take the pan out of the oven and drizzle the rest of the melted butter into the bottom of the tins. Pour the popover batter into the tins until they are approximately 1/2 to 3/4 full.

Place the muffin tin into the hot oven and tiptoe away from the stove for 35-40 minutes. (Even if they aren’t done at 35 minutes, they won’t collapse if you take a peek and decide they need to brown a little bit more.)


Happy Recipe Sunday. Let’s talk about food.

How to Not Be a Menace to Minorities While Drinking Your “Juice” in the Hood (or Anywhere Else)

It has happened to all of us.

You and your friend of another race/ethnicity/nationality etc. are having a good time then all of a sudden you say something, your friend looks at you like you are crazy and immediately excuses themselves and you don’t hear from them for a couple weeks. You’d apologize, except you have no idea what to apologize for and your friend would call you but every time they think of that last conversation they get so pissed off smoke literally rises from their scalp.

So would he.

Well, I’d like to help put out the fires of discord.

Here is my attempt to address some commonly made mistakes that, let’s face it, predominantly white, straight, male people make, that make minorities of all colors, shapes and sexual orientations (critical race theory has some close cousins in queer theory) want to unleash the Kraken.*

  • Assume all members of a minority of a group share the exact same experience. This is called “the danger of the single story.” There is just as much diversity in the Mexican, Black, Vietnamese, Iranian and Nigerian (STOP using the term “African” unless you are referring to the elephant) experience as there is in the White experience. Sure there are some safe assumptions. A Mexican person probably enjoys salsa and knows 39 different ways to eat a tortilla but just to be on the safe side, let each individual person tell you who they are, where they are from and if they in fact enjoy hip hop music. You wouldn’t assume that all white people like, oh say, tuna casserole would you?
  • Don’t talk or behave like the unique physical traits of certain races are the last, recently discovered dodo bird. There are more people with so-called African hair than blond hair in this world and yet, most people don’t walk up to blonds and stick their grubby hands in their hair and say, “OH! I’ve never touched this before! How INTERESTING!” Furthermore, a lot of non-white girls have prominent asses. Some of us enjoy our asses, some of us wish they would go away forever. A lot of us hate the bitchy intro to “I like big butts.”
    Hands. Off.

    A lot of us hate the entire song. It doesn’t make us want to dance, it makes us feel exposed and sexualized in a completely non-sexy way.  So, stop talking about our asses unless you are trying to get us into bed and then only do if the individual girl gives you the green light. In regards to black men, a lot of them, at least in the United States, are big, strapping guys. Why? It is not an accident of genetics. It is because when black people were imported to the Americas and bred as work animals, like most breeds of work animals, the smaller individuals tend not survive the harsh conditions and are actively bred out of existence. It’s not a coincidence and it’s not really funny to joke about while watching football with your token black friend.

  • Learn your history. Ignorance is not a defense. My senior year two fucking idiots showed up at a frat party painted black from head to to with orange markings and called themselves “savages.” Their defense was that they had never heard of “blackface.” We live in the 21st century. Get your ass on the internet learn about the racial/cultural taboos in your country/community and then don’t fucking do them.
  • Do not ever, Ever, EVER tell someone that they aren’t really or don’t act like <insert minority group here>. This sort of relates to the first point, but this particular tendency requires special attention. Do not ever claim to be the voice of legitimacy on what is and what is not “proper” behavior/dress/etc. of a particular group if you are not a member of that group (it is also problematic for members within that group to set legitimacy requirements, but that debate is for another day). It doesn’t matter how many <insert minority group here> friends you have, you do not have authority in this arena. Keep your mouth shut.
  • Scarlett is your Goofus. Don't be a Scarlett.

    Know your own privilege(s). Are you educated? Rich? Male? Straight? White? One or all of the above? Well there are some handy things called “privileges” that go along with those characteristics. Pay attention to your life and figure out what they are. If you haven’t read this piece by Peggy McIntosh it is a great primer. Becoming knowledgeable about your particular set of privileges will help you understand the structural deficits that others operate under. So, when your friend says that they’d like to leave a place that is making them feel uncomfortable or when your girlfriend says someone said something disrespectful to them, that may have sounded completely innocuous to you instead of possibly discounting their assertions or feelings by brushing them off or asking them to “ignore” it (as if that were possible) you can help make constructive steps to remedy the situation.

  • Keeping those privileges in mind, affirmative action is not reverse discrimination. Reverse discrimination, as it is used by reactionary, angry white people, doesn’t actually exist. What affirmative actions aim to do is even out the levels of privilege experienced by advantaged groups (think white, straight, male, financially solvent, educated) and disadvantaged groups (everyone else). Similarly, when disadvantaged groups make criticize or makes jokes about the advantaged group, while it may be inappropriate, in poor taste and offensive, it does not operate the same way as when the advantaged group makes fun of the disadvantaged group. Advantaged groups typically have the power or the state and media behind them, they can set the narrative for disadvantaged groups that can cause substantial penalties for those groups. Disadvantaged groups do not have the same power to shape the message surrounding the dominant group and almost certainly do not have the power or opportunities to enact wide-spread penalties as a result of that, possibly erroneous, message.
  • Do not make the mistake of asserting that because members within a minority group make certain jokes, use certain words or wear certain things that it is then ok for you to do, say, wear those things. It is not and it is an easy and fast way to end a friendship. Also, do not claim that when members of a specific group do, say wear those things, even if it’s intent is mockery, it is a hate crime/discriminatory. It is not. People within a group are allowed to poke fun at themselves/their group, sometimes it is the only way that they can hang on to even a semblance of sanity. See: Brian Moylan’s Dustin and Jayden.

Whew! After all that, we need some Aretha to play us out.

As always, I look forward to any additional suggestions to the list or critiques.

*I realize that I am largely speaking to the choir here at one of the last bastions of internet sanity and intelligence.

Stray Tracks of the Week (3/21-3/25/11)

*This is also posted on my personal blog, which is pretty quiet lately due to school obligations.*

I listen to music constantly, and I’m constantly acquiring new things. So much, in fact, that serious evaluation on an album-by-album basis is impossible. To ensure my musical hoarding doesn’t amount to too much waste, I’ve elected to begin picking out choice tracks from my catch and reviewing them, here. I’m hoping to make this a weekly thing, every Saturday night, mods willin’.

*** I had to take a week off for school stuff (which is also the culprit behind the dearth of proper album reviews around my blog for the last month or so) but I’m back. This week, acid technopop from EOD, a Daedelus remix from UK House guy Floating Points, and acoustic folk from RM Hubbert. ***

EOD – questionmark 2 (from Questionmarks, self-released via Bandcamp)

Perhaps due to his high profile in the 90’s, or the vacuum left by his long, languid release schedule, a lot of people have taken cracks at cribbing the Aphex Twin’s myriad styles. Most of these artists tend to go straight for an AFX-style hard acid sound centered almost entirely around Roland TB-303 arpeggios, and while that’s all well and good, oftentimes the music feels more like faithful genre exercise than anything else. I would be a lot less enthused with Rephlex-style IDM were it not for EOD, a Norwegian producer who captures the uniquely skewed electropop sensibility that Richard D. James brought to IDM as very few do. Following the pretty amazing Ultrecht EP for the acid-centric 03030 imprint, he has released a new EP on short notice to raise funds to  repair his Roland TR-909 drum machine, which suffered damage from a power surge.

Ultrecht was pretty evenly divided between airier Selected Ambient Works Vol. I compositions and analog acid techno, but Questionmarks is pretty much entirely in the latter mode, sounding throughout like two or three Analord singles that were never released. “questionmark 2” is akin to some of the outliers in that massive 42-track series, a rushing 4/4 acid-electro instrumental that never really flags in pace. The multiple synth melodies, which by this point are a sort of EOD signature as much as an IDM touchstone, surge and twist in emotive and spectacular ways, and the rubbery 303 bass arpeggios, which admittedly aren’t as acrobatic as they are in some of EOD’s other efforts, provide a more dynamic rhythmic underpinning to the track than the fairly standard 4/4 drum pattern (which still pulls off a satisfying break every once in awhile, and manages to get more interesting towards the end of the track). The only real downside is that it ends out of nowhere, but in a song with this sort of momentum, satisfactory stopping points are hard to come by.

Stream “questionmark 2” on Soundcloud.
EOD – questionmark 2 by Dicccccccce

(“Questionmarks” is a digital only album sold through EOD’s Bandcamp page.)


Daedelus – Tailor-Made [Floating Points Remix] (from Tailor-Made Remixes on Ninja Tune)

Daedelus has been credited with sowing the seeds of the current Low End Theory-centric “Beat” scene in Los Angeles (notable home to Flying Lotus, among many many others), releasing music since 2001 and cultivating an air of eccentricity in concert (mainly due to his Victorian gentleman dress and fairly spectacular use of a Monome) that hasn’t always paid off on his recordings, primarily due to the fact that he’s so prolific, and thus often inconsistent. Thankfully, the first single off of his new album for Ninja Tune is one of his best in awhile, staking out territory between Bonobo and Joy Orbison with a sultry female vocal (courtesy of Milosh) over a track that quietly builds forwards and up before ratcheting back down again.

For the prospective single / remix EP, Daedelus (Ninja Tune?) picked out a pretty strong pair of artists to retool the track, but the strongest of the two (to my mind at least) is Floating Points, who’s quietly built up a reputation in certain circles over the last few years as a UK House wunderkind. More recently he’s been exploring more jazz-influenced sounds (primarily though his live ensemble, also on Ninja Tune) and his edit for Daedelus follows in this vein. Floating Points takes a bit of a risk in essentially removing the track’s forward momentum, but he compensates by leaning a lot harder on Milosh’s vocal and teasing out its latent lounge potential through tasteful use of a Rhodes (always a good choice) before inserting softly squeezed organ synths and a shuffling rhythm that I would call “dubstep” if the term wasn’t so meaningless these days. Overall, FP pretty much steals the song from Daedelus (it’s more of a deconstruction than a remix) but in so doing he makes a better case for himself as a certain sort of jazz composer than he did with his ensemble group. It’s sort of a shame that Daedelus is probably best known at this point for being Flylo’s LA-based mentor and Floating Points is now known as the guy who talked over the radio debut of the recent Four Tet / Burial / Thom Yorke collab, but if this song (and its remix) are any indication, they certainly have the chops to gain greater recognition for their own work.

Daedelus – “Tailor-Made (Floating Points Remix)” on youtube.

(You can purchase the digital version of the “Tailor-Made” Remix EP, also including a Tokimonsta remix, over at Bleep)


RM Hubbert – Hey There Mr. Bone (from First & Last on Chemikal Underground Records)

There was a time, not too long ago, when I considered myself an electronica partisan. Tired of the skepticism of people I knew over electronic music in general, I started to articulate a distinctly anti-rockist stance, arguing against the musical primacy of the album format and, more importantly, the emotional primacy of the guitar as a musical instrument. Mostly, this was in reaction to the continued vexation of Radiohead fans who felt as though everything the band made post-OK Computer was “not real music”, and the rise of Chillwave and Witch Hosue, which I considered (and still consider) to be illegitimate, historically ignorant sham genres (I was great fun in conversation, as you can probably imagine).

Over the past year, however, as my music-buying habit has expanded and I noticed that I’m not as drawn to UK Bass music as I used to be, I’ve begun to revisit guitar music. I still find myself largely bored by most permutations of rock and blues (exceptions being shoegaze and certain types of metal) but through my recent induction to the Swans fan cult I’ve delved into the Young God Records back catalog and discovered that I have a greater affinity for folk music (the darker and drone-ier the better) than I thought I did. This impulse took me from Gary Higgins to Angels of Light to James Blackshaw to Mountains and finally to the wider world of fringe folk, at least, that which I can find through Boomkat (always the closest resource at hand for a musically cloistered soul such as myself). A few weeks ago I was sifting through their new releases and came upon a Scottish guitarist named RM Hubbert and his First & Last album, which I had never heard of, but when I played the sound clips I knew I had to have.

Hubbert’s music plays sort of like a less studio-bound James Blackshaw, which is to say this is unaccompanied acoustic virtuosity par excellence. This particular track (the first on the album, dedicated to Hubbert’s dog) is marked by its distinctive use of on-instrument percussion, which meshes seamlessly with Hubbert’s flamenco-indebted playing, which slides and flares with natural finesse. On record I figured must have been multitracked or performed by someone else, but live footage seems to indicate this is all Hubbert, which is certainly impressive. My vocabulary for this sort of music is lacking (well, more lacking than usual) so as with any music I’m naturally intoxicated by, I can only really speak of the feelings it elicits. I could probably break out any number of hoary scenarios such music would be perfect for (bike ride through an orchard with your sweetheart in the Summer, I’d say) but suffice to say this is the sort of music that a particularly lucky person might walk in on at a cafe somewhere – unpretentious, supremely competent, and personal.

RM Hubbert – “Hey There Mr. Bone” live. The actual song starts up around 1:05.


(Boomkat has “First & Last” region-locked outside of the US [props to Rob for the assist there] but it looks like the digital version, as well as other formats, may be available direct from the label)


Start Me Up: Formula 1 Roundup

By badhatharry and Daisy Walker

Another F1 season is upon us. If you are one of like three people here who watch it, then you already know this stuff.  If you want to learn a bit about the pinnacle in racing, then come on in. I was hoping to get this up before this weekend, but I’m a lazy bastard, so suck it.

The Formula 1 track contains 24 driver, the most of which you don’t really need to know about.  The ones who you do, are listed below.

Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)

The first multiracial F1 driver, Hamilton was signed to the McLaren youth development program at the age of 13. He made his debut in 2007, finishing second in the World Championship by one point. The following year, he won the title by the same margin in what many claim as the most exciting season finish ever. Has a major rivalry with Alonso, who accused McLaren of favoritism towards then-teammate Hamilton during the 2007 season.



Jenson Button (McLaren)

The 2009 World Champion, Button has been a bit of a F1 journeyman until partnering with Ross Brawn at the old Honda team and caught lightning in a bottle. An expert at conserving his tires, Button’s smooth style is a sharp contrast to Hamilton’s aggressive approach, but new teammates’ appear to have a good relationship. Button was the victim of an attempted carjacking/kidnapping/robbery at last season’s Brazilian GP weekend.



Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)

Two-time World Champion, Alonso’s aggressive driving style has won him plenty of fans and also many detractors. Controversy has followed him throughout his F1 career, including conflicts with Hamilton, Schumacher and his current teammate Massa. He is often referred to as “the most complete driver on the grid,” but also a driver who will win by any means necessary.


Felipe Massa (Ferrari)

Rebounding strongly from a life-threatening injury at the 2009 Hungarian GP, Massa has finished as high as second in the World Championship (2008). At the 2010 German GP, Massa was involved in the “team orders” controversy at Ferrari when he received instructions from a team engineer that implied he should allow Alonso (ranked higher in points) to pass him. Ferrari were subsequently fined for not following sporting regulations.


Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)

Defending World Champion, and at 23, the youngest ever to win the title. Hailed as the “Next Schumacher,” Vettel is now firmly established as the lead driver for his team after some mid-season tension with Webber in 2010.




Mark Webber (Red Bull)

After 6 years with uncompetitive teams, Webber won his first F1 race in 2009 after joining Red Bull Racing. After leading the Championship for a long period in 2010, he eventually finished the season in third place. Webber crashed spectacularly at the 2010 European GP, flipping his car end over end. He also revealed after the season that he had competed in the final four races with a small fracture in his right shoulder.



Michael Schumacher (Mercedes)

Seven time world champion (five of those with Ferrari), the German returned to F1 last year after a three year retirement to join former Ferrari team manager Ross Brawn at the new Mercedes team. Results have been less than stellar, and he’s frequently been outclassed by his younger and less experienced teammate, Nico Rosberg.


Robert Kubica (Renault)

In February 2011, Kubica was severely injured in a rally race event, almost losing part of his right arm and hand and requiring four surgeries. His F1 future is uncertain, and Nick Heidfeld will replace him  at Renault during Kubica’s recovery.



(everyone give a shout-out to Daisy Walker for writing those driver bios)

The season opener this year is in Australia.  It was going to be held in Bahrain, but pick up a paper, and you’ll find out why that didn’t happen.  Bernie Ecclestone, the rich Englishman with the mop haircut who owns the commercial rights to the sport, is trying to figure out a way to shove that race in later in the schedule.  Bernie is also toying with the ridiculous idea of installing sprinklers on the tracks so if the race is boring, they can turn it into a wet one.  The drivers, and everyone else with an IQ above 80, are against this.  The tire supplier for this year, Pirelli, supports this idea, because I think they feel it will take focus away from the fact that their tires don’t last very long.

There are two drivers to a team.  The drivers race and accumulate points based on what place they take.  The points are tallied at the end of the season, and the driver with the most wins the driver’s championship.  The points of each driver on a team are tallied, and whichever team has the most between their two drivers wins the constructor’s championship.  Last season was Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, respectively.

That’s it for the overview.  We don’t want to hit you with too many facts all at once.  This column will either continue throughout the season, or until they stop posting it due to lack of interest.  In the next installment, we will discuss the outcome of the Australian GP, and what KERS is and what moveable wings are.

Recipe Sunday: Sour Cream Pancakes

While staying at the Peabody Hotel recently, I was introduced to the best pancakes ever (sorry Alton Brown): sour cream pancakes. The consistency is hard to explain, they are dense and fluffy at the same time. I have been thinking about these pancakes for a long time, and decided to look up a recipe. The always awesome Ina Garten had a great Banana Sour Cream Pancakes recipe that I decided to tool around with. I am including my version in case you are feeling adventurous this weekend.


  • 3/4 cup unbleached flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup plus a tablespoon vanilla almond milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • a splash of lemon juice
  • stick of butter for the griddle

Preheat the electric griddle to 350F. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients thoroughly. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until the dry ingredients are incorporated, but don’t over-beat the mixture. Once the griddle is hot, coat with butter and use a paper towel to wipe the griddle down. Scoop a large spoonful of the mixture (which will be considerably thicker than regular pancake batter) onto the griddle. Turn the pancakes when bubbles form on the top surface and the edges set. Cook pancakes until bottom side is light golden brown. Serve with real maple syrup.

Tips: you can substitute regular milk for vanilla almond milk. Also, if you like your pancakes thinner you can add more milk. If you want to add chocolate chips (a staple in our house), add them to the batter right before you pour it onto the griddle.