28 February 2008

stellastarr* at the Troubadour






So, the wife totally surprised me by taking me to see stellastarr* last night at the Troubadour (my pick for the best place to see live music in Los Angeles).

Now, to set this up correctly, since it was a bit of a surprise I totally had my usual brain-freeze and forgot my sharpie and my camera. This bone-headed decision would come back to haunt me later.

The surprised was revealed when we pulled up to the Troubadour and I finally saw the marquee. I went to check on the t-shirts and conversed with a very friendly, thin young man.

The opening act was The Oohlas, who was very energetic but hampered by mixing issues (the mics were too low). I liked that song "Tryin' " but haven't managed to track it down online.

My colleague Bartley Edmund Jenniches IV was the one who had first turned me on to this fantastic foursome called stellastarr*, and they totally rocked the house! The played some new stuff from the upcoming album (coming this Fall); the new tracks were awesome (how's that for some fine criticism?).

The band was nice enough to stay back and talk to their fans afterwards (again, this sorta thing only happens at the Troubadour) and my wife had to tell the lead singer Shawn Christensen that she knew the words to "Lost in Time" because I sing it in the shower all the time (thanks a lot dude!). Shawn was totally nice and talked to us (and everyone else for a while).

Now, let's see we had three of the four band members (their world-class bassist, and amazing back-up harmonizer, Amanda Tannen decided she didn't want to be mobbed by the drooling fanboys and only made a cursory appearance) hanging out with us, just chillin', signing autographs, taking pictures, shooting the breeze, being completely down-to-Earth.

So, there I was, in the midst of the band, who were as approachable as they come, right up front during the entire show, and I didn't have either a camera to capture the moment or a sharpie to memorialize it for posterity!

Just my luck - the one time I would be this up close and personal with a band I really, really liked, and I had forgotten the most important tools every fan should I have. And I always bring them with me, always.

Except for this once!

So sad.

And that friendly, young man sell t-shirts before the show? Why that was the drummer Arthur Kremer!

Good times!

stellastarr* - "Lost in Time"





stellastarr* - "My Coco"






stellastarr* - "Somewhere Across Forever"






LINKS

stellastarr* Official Site
My Dinner with Bartley

My wife and I walked along the side of the road nervous in our anticipation for what lay ahead.

What lay ahead? Well, immediately it was the sound of angels playing harpsichords (or the sound a Mac makes when you turn it on) and unicorns frolicking in those forests you see on the covers of Fantasy novels. Apparently, we had reached the castle of Bartley Edmund Jenniches IV and the Gods themselves rejoiced in the bountiful feast that lay ahead.


Angels with Harpsichords


We rang the doorbell and our world was filled with the sounds of birds singing and a regal glissando preceded the opening of the Royal Door. We were ushered into the Royal Chamber and a hushed reverence was in order so we hushed, in reverence.


Hushed Reverence

Presently the King entered the chamber and greeted us with his usual mix of warmth and subtle disdain. I suspected my wife was feeling ill because a flush came over her and she began to feel a bit weak in the knees.


The King


Pleasantries were exchanged with the sophistication we had come to expect from King Midas (aka Kid Courageous, aka The Golden Child of the Prophesy aka The Chosen One). Amusing anecdotes were flung around with gay abandon. Our laughter rang through the mighty halls. We were raconteur-ing with the best of them.


Raconteur-ing

Then, the moment we had all been waiting for, the horn sounded...the feast had begun.

I swear I heard rain outside even though the skies were clear; the Gods were weeping with envy at the culinary gifts that were placed before us.


Gods Weeping

The wine flowed freely, the taste buds burst with sensuous delight, our stomachs cried for mercy. We were dining warriors - mercy was denied!



Warriors Denying Mercy


Post-feast we were showered with all the sweetness the world had to offer. Our desserts were sweeter than any baby, puppy, or kitten you see in those annoying email forwards. A honey glaze covered the world, the birds no longer sang because they, like us, were too satiated for ambulation.


Feast!

The King stood up signaling that our time with him was sadly at an end. The Royal Goodbye's were made with heavy hearts and it was that point that I noticed something in my wife's eyes as they were beginning to water somewhat mysteriously.

It was with heavy hearts that we stepped outside and felt the melancholy of the Royal Doors slamming shut behind us.


Melancholy

This time there were no angels, harpsichords, or Mac start-up sounds. The streets were jammed with the shattered dreams of broken heroes on their last chance power drive. The wind was cold and chilling and my wife and I huddled together.

What sustained us were the warm memories of a magical evening spent in a magical place that only a few lucky souls would ever experience, magically.

And that, for the time being, was enough to last us a lifetime.

The End













Trends in YouTube: Evil Videos


Ultra-cool video called A History of Evil sent to me by my colleague John Andrunas.

Check it out!

22 February 2008

Matt Harry's Annual Movie Report

My friend and fellow USC alum Matt Harry puts together a stellar end-of-the-season report on Hollywood.

Note: The number within each parenthesis is Matt's grade of that movie on a scale from 1 to 10.

Enjoy!






2007 BEST & WORST MOVIES


NUMBER OF FILMS WATCHED: 145


NUMBER OF FILMS WATCHED RELEASED IN 2007: 72


BEST OLD MOVIE WATCHED: GANDHI (10)


WORST OLD MOVIE: THE COMPUTER WORE TENNIS SHOES (2)


“IMPORTANT” FILMS I DIDN’T SEE: Atonement, Ma Vie En Rose, Away From Her, I'm Not There


THE BEST:

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN (9): The Coen Brothers are always worthwhile, but this movie was really a return to form for them: suspenseful, dark, and featuring one of the best screen villains EVAH. And yes, I LOVED the ending.


KNOCKED UP (9): There were some funny movies last year, but this one had me laughing the most. It’s more mature than 40 year-Old Virgin, Seth Rogen can actually carry a film, and the scene with him and Paul Rudd on mushrooms – “there are five different kinds of chairs in this room!” – is one for the DVD case.


THE LIVES OF OTHERS (9): A complex, deeply movie film with a surprisingly love story – it’s between the two guys. It takes a while to get going, but man, by the end, you are hooked. Bonus points for how freaking young the director is.


HOT FUZZ (9): This was the second-funniest movie of 2007, and after this and Shaun of the Dead, it seems like the team of Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg can do no wrong. I’m on board for whatever they come up with for the third film in their rumored “trilogy.”


ONCE (8): This is sweet, small film is technically a musical, but it’s unlike any musical you’ve ever seen. The songs are so good, I downloaded them all the next day.


RATATOUILLE (8): Brad Bird. Pixar. You’d think some kind of sophomore slump would be in the wings, but not so far. This is another movie that grows on you as it progresses, until that amazing third-act flashback of the critic that says more without words in ONE SHOT than other films say in their entirety. Amazing.


THERE WILL BE BLOOD (8): I go back and forth on Paul Thomas Anderson, but this film was unquestionably a big step forward for him. Daniel Day-Lewis is awesome, the cinematography’s great, the music is amazing, and even if you think the final scene is bizarre (“I drink your milkshake!!”) you have to admit it’s memorable.


MICHAEL CLAYTON (8): A movie for adults, with great performances from George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, and Tom Wilkinson. Sometimes it’s nice just to see a well-made, regular film without a bunch of special effects and merchandising tie-ins. And yes, I am officially an old fart for saying that.


THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM (8): While most “franchises” seem to get more overblown and ridiculous with each entry, this one just gets better. The action’s great, the shooting is energetic, and Paul Greengrass somehow manages to make all those shaky-ass shots make sense.


THE ANIMATION SHOW, VOLUME 3 (9): Okay, this is kind of a cheat, since it’s a collection of short animated films rather than a feature, but it’s honestly one of the better times I had in a theater this year. Several of the directors here – Shane Acker is one – will be names to watch in the coming years.


HONORABLE MENTIONS (8): Superbad, 3:10 to Yuma, The Kingdom, American Gangster, Juno, The Darjeeling Limited, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, The Diving Bell & The Butterfly


THE WORST:

SOUTHLAND TALES (3): Richard Kelly follows up Donnie Darko with an egotistical, misguided, bloated, and plain confusing sci-fi-comedy-what-the-hell mismash. It’s disappointing, and really, really dumb. And not even in a midnight movie way.


GHOST RIDER (3): Mark Steven Johnson is officially one of the worst directors working today, and Nicholas Cage has gone off the rails. This movie captures both of those ideas perfectly/horribly.


I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK & LARRY (4): Unfunny, boring, and offensively stereotypical, this comedy is all the more inexplicable because it was co-written by Alexander Payne. Yes, Jessica Biel has an amazing body, but I could have seen that by standing in the check-out line at a grocery store.


THE LAST MIMZY (4): A former studio chief tries to imitate Steven Spielberg, and fails incredibly. The plot is absurd, the kids are bad, and watching a weird collection of actors (Rainn Wilson?!) trying to play “awe-inspired whimsy” is like watching grandma do a striptease – it don’t work.


VACANCY/PREMONITION (4): Two very stupid, boring genre entries that hopefully signal the end of torture porn and supernatural mumbo-jumbo thillers. What’s that? They’re already making Vacancy: the prequel? God DAMN it.


BIGGEST LET-DOWN: THE GOLDEN COMPASS (6) Chris Weitz had the source material, the cast, and a great production designer, but somehow he still managed to fuck this movie up. It feels rushed and dead, and when the best sequence is a CG bear fight, you know you’re in trouble.


BIGGEST SURPRISE: THE KINGDOM (8) Yes, it’s basically a bigger budget episode of “The Unit,” but it’s a really good episode. Peter Berg is really increasing his chops as a director, and Jason Bateman’s range is a nice surprise.


MOST UNFAIR BACKLASH: ROCKET SCIENCE (7), JUNO (8), BEOWULF (7)


MOST OVERRATED: 300 (6), WAITRESS (6), SPIDER-MAN 3 (5)


KNEW IT’D BE BAD, PAID TO SEE IT ANYWAY: TRANSFORMERS (5)


BEST ORGY: PERFUME (7)


MOST UNEXPECTED ROLE: Kevin Costner as a really evil serial killer in MR. BROOKS (7).


BEST MOVIE SOMEONE I KNOW WORKED ON: My wife Juliane, for THE YEAR OF THE DOG (7)

20 February 2008

I Made Step Up 2 the Streets!


This is courtesy of my friend Manuel "BatManuel" Bermudez (with apologies to Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart, and Conan O'Brien):


"You made Alice Brooks. She made Jon Chu. Jon Chu made Step Up 2 the Streets. Therefore, you made Step Up 2 the Streets!

"Congratulations on your $28 million opening weekend!"

Ah, you gotta love BatManuel!

19 February 2008

PTI on the Classless Bill Belichick

Okay, so this is a few weeks late, but I love the take both Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon had on the complete lack of class displayed by Bill Belichick when he walked off the field at the Super Bowl even though there was time left on the clock.

No class, no class at all. I hope they nail ol' Billy on all those new Spygate allegations.

Rose Meets Cash

So, Chhoto and Mathieu got little Johnny Cash inoculated and he met Rose for the first time in person, um in dog.

Looks like this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!


18 February 2008

The Dunk Contest is Back?!

Credit Dwight Howard and his "Superman Dunk" for bringing some much-needed buzz back to the Dunk Contest at the NBA All Star Game (though, truthfully, his behind-the-backboard dunk was probably better).

I do have a soft spot for Gerald Green and his "Birthday Dunk" (with the lit candle in the cupcake).

Either way, for once the NBA got it right.

17 February 2008

Russell Peters at the NOKIA Theatre


I don't believe it.

Not too many people in the US have heard of Russell Peters, but he actually managed to sell out the 7,100 seat NOKIA Theatre in the new L.A. LIVE complex next to the Staples Center.

Two DJs - Starting from Scratch (who was from Canada) and Revolution (who was from LA) - played while the crowd filtered in. The opening act was Angelo Tsarouchas. He was pretty good, but the made the usual fat-guy jokes given his own enormous girth.

Russell showed up eventually, and did a solid almost-two-hour set. The crowd was diverse, very diverse, and Russell managed to offend not only every ethnic group in attendance, but he also went after people with handicaps and every other group out there in the world. How did I know he was funny? Even Rosanne, as empathetic a soul as there is, laughed out loud (she did well to get us such great seats).

It wasn't quite as razor-sharp as the earlier material I had seen on YouTube, but still good. I was especially impressed by the improvisational bits that come from his interaction with the crowd.

There were a couple of celebrities in attendance. Tony Kanal was there. There was also this other bald, goateed guy that I had seen on Comedy Central. If I remember his name I'll add it, but a girl got mad at her mother because she didn't save the picture taken of the two of them with her cell phone camera (the mother panicked with the security guards started hassling her).

Not bad at all. Let's see if this helps jumpstart Russell's career in the US. And no, a sitcom development deal with FOX is not a step in the right direction.
Cricket at Kharagpur

Who knew, brilliant engineers actually played cricket, seriously (not any more though. When I visited the IIT Kanpur campus all the wonderful sports facilities looked as new as the day they were built).



That's Macky Uncle with the cricket bat. And the boy standing right behind him with the oh-so-fashionable upturned collar? That's Baba.

13 February 2008

Happy Second First Anniversary

We recently celebrated the second of our first anniversaries (this was the Indian wedding). Ma and Baba sent us a lovely gift (cat not included). Of course, if they had sent roses to me before marriage they would've been dead in seconds.

I guess even they realized that married life has changed me for the better.



And It All Ends on the Perfect Note

We had watched Bonnie and Clyde because Rosanne had wanted to see the infamous car, the actual car, from that last scene which was on display at the Primm Valley Resort & Casino.

So we kind-of partied all week, got in our car, headed back to Los Angeles, stopped at Primm and...



...the car was on tour!

After looking forward to this for the whole week, it was gone!

Poof!

On tour!

Just like that!



But just when you thought it was all over, I looked to my right and...

Bang!

Fashion Outlets Las Vegas!



An outlet mall!

Just like that!

And we shopped happily into the sunset.



What a trip!
My First Twinkie!

No really, this is my first ever Twinkie, in my whole life!

Now my life is complete.


Is rumjungle Really Closed?

Or are they just pretending so they won't have to let us in?!


12 February 2008

Panorama: View From Mix Lounge

Mix Lounge

One of the last stops was a visit to Mix Lounge at the oh-so imaginatively titled THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.

It probably wasn't quite as nice as ghostbar, but you really can't beat the view.

There it was, Sin City, laid bare before us, beckoning us with her trumped-charms...

...And that's about as literary as I can get. Hey I was a Film Production major, not a Writing major!





Worst...Club...Ever!

Whatever you do in Vegas, please don't make the awful mistake I made: actually pay cover to get into Jet.

I thought I had left behind crowds like this after they closed down Dublin's back on Sunset.





The Strip




Tryst...Really?

After all that, this was Tryst?

The music, eh.

The crowd, eh.

The drinks, eh.

But the club itself...pretty da*n nice.

Can't say I'll be hurrying back - I think I can safely say that I'm just too da*n old for Vegas.

And somehow, that doesn't seem too bad...





Daniel Boulud Brasserie

So, while waiting to get into the legendary Tryst, we decided to grab so fine French food at the uber-fancy Daniel Boulud Brasserie (my mother would have been oh-so proud).

For the first time ever I actually wanted to eat a lettuce-based salad, the Caesar Salad was to die for (too bad the wife wouldn't let me finish it for her)! My own Tuna Tartare was the best I had had for a long, long time.

The waitress told us that it actually was not as busy as usual, especially given that it was the weekend, and especially given that it was the Chinese New Year. Apparently there had been a heavy snowstorm in China which prevented a lot of the high rollers from making it out to Sin City. She was more worried about the Venetian and Wynn clones that had sprouted up in Macao (apparently they were replicating the rest of Las Vegas there - the scientists behind Dolly would have been proud) which would slow down the Asian traffic considerably in the years to come.

Great food and useful information - man the French just know how to do it!



The Wynn

We were alerted to the fact that a Saudi Arabian prince was in the vicinity so we needed to hurry along so his Bentley could drive up to the entrance.

I wasn't that impressed by The Wynn the last time I was there (which could have been due to the many, many elderly we saw lounging around the very impressive pool wearing way too little), but I was a bit taken aback by how nice it all looked this time around.




Wastin' Away in Margaritaville

First of all, I was surprised that they actually had a place as corny as a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in Sin City.

Second of all, I was surprised that it was so well recommended by many people.

Third of all, I was surprised by how much fun was had by all, especially by Rosanne, the birthday girl!

Finally, check out drunk guy enjoying himself a bit too much. Imagine, a white, drunk, frat boy making an a** of himself. Now, that's the Margaritaville I had expected all along!