I know its 08 already so give me a late pass on this one - [jpop best of 07] soundtrack for my wife's daily commute (2 part DL & unzip):
1. Utada Hikaru > Flavor of Life (Antidote Mix) || 2. Ayaka > Why || 3. Koda Kumi > Ai No Uta (Urban Kiss Version) || 4. Ayumi Hamasaki > Glitter || 5. Namie Amuro > Baby Don't Cry || 6. Angela Aki > Moral no Soushiki || 7. m-flo (loves namie amuro) > Luvotomy || 8. Utada Hikaru > Kiss & Cry
9. Ayumi Hamasaki > Fated || 10. Koda Kumi > Futari de...(Whoosh Mix) || 11. Namie Amuro > Full Moon || 12. m-flo (loves koda kumi) > Simple & Lovely || 13. Angela Aki > Kodoku no Kakera || 14. Utada Hikaru > Beautiful World || 15. Ayumi Hamasaki > Together When...
I know its 08 already so give me a late pass on this one - [jpop best of 07] soundtrack for my wife's daily commute (2 part DL & unzip):
The only way to truly appreciate The Roots is at a live show. Even live recordings can't capture the almost spiritual energy felt while witnessing their jam sessions and improvs in person. The crowd was an interesting mix as expected. Lots of raggedy white college kids and well dressed 30-ish black people. House of Blues is a nice intimate venue and we sat upstairs in the balcony with the grown folk.
While Black Thought showcased his virtuoso MC skills to jumpstart the evening, much of the concert showcased the musicality of the band. Highlights included Questlove, guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas and sousaphonist Damon "Tuba Gooding Jr." Bryson performing an amped up version of Bob Dylan's anti-war song "Masters of War". Quest intro'd the song by crying out "We got one more year of gotdamned Bush!" Kirk's got a dope voice, Damon adds a lot of energy and personality to the group and of course Quest killed it with the drum solo. The Roots then delighted the crowd with some classic cuts - especially the jazzy renditions of "Mellow My Man" and the rocked out "Star" and "The Seed". My only complaint is that they didn't play many cuts from their upcoming album. But ultimately the cohesion and improvised give-and-take between each group member made this performance memorable.
Couldn't get any photos in but here's some great pics from their nyc show a few days ago courtesy of Mel.
There's nothing like walking through NYC on a crisp wintry day. I don't mind a nippy nose or frosty earlobes as my body stays fairly warm from walking hard. Good exercise, shopping and eating all at once. Our feet chewed up 60 blocks of Manhattan pavement between soho & the village to midtown. Note to self: avoid walking through Times Square on new year's eve weekend. We celebrated new year's eve in Times Square years ago and it was a fun experience. Today was just claustrophobic. The ball aint droppin' today. Dick Clark or Ryan Seacrest aint out till Monday night. And for some reason all the tourists kept asking me for directions. I guess I look reliable. But I was really feeling aggravated as people kept stopping directly in front of me. I cut through a couple family photoshoots to escape the madness. Once we sat down at one of our favorite Japanese restaurants, I couldn't resist quoting Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon 1,2,3&4: "I'm getting too old for this!"
Angela Aki seems to have real musical talent - she actually plays an instrument (piano) and possesses a strong voice. Her image doesn't seem to manufactured either.
angela aki | moral no soushiki
angela aki | kodoku no Kakera
ayaka made a splash with her debut album in '06. This is her recent single. Got a little more soul in her voice compared to other j-pop singers.
ayaka | why
props to hikki for landing this remix promoting her upcoming english album on def jam.
ne-yo feat. utada hikaru | do you (remix)
Travelpod's Traveler IQ Challenge is a cool game to test your geography skills. I couldn't get past level 9 and traveler's IQ is 105. Africa and Australia destroyed me!
One of my favorite xmas gifts was a poster sized print (with accompanying book) of Christopher David Ryan's "Sleepyheads". These black& white hand-drawn illustrations were inspired by sleepyheads on NYC's L train. The renderings are strikingly simple yet capture the unique personality of each sleeper.
I spent my entire college career commuting through Philly on the Broad Street Orange line or the C bus. It was easy to spot me or my classmates lugging our big art portfolios or projects through overcrowded buses or trains. Still I managed to catch some z's. And usually I had the internal alarm clock to wake myself up before my stop.
One day, the internal alarm clock was put on snooze and I overslept my stop. I only had two afternoon classes that day - meaning I slept in all morning. I'm the type of person that gets drowsy all day after sleeping in. The night before, I was locked out of my dorm room coming home from my friend's party. So I had to go back to this party and slept in a strange bed in the middle of the living room with drunk and high people stumbling around me. So on the following day, I fell asleep on the bus and woke up 30 minutes north of my school in the boonies. The bus was nearly empty and I was rubbing my eyes for 15 minutes trying to figure out where I was. I missed a good chunk of my American Ethnicity class. But it was an academic class at an art school - meaning it was a class routinely cut by self-absorbed art students.
On another occasion, I began nodding off at the back of a crowded C bus. The air was muggy with all sorts of body odors. I was clutching my backpack on my lap - squeezed between a fat guy and an elderly lady. I fall asleep and my head begins bobbing in all sorts of directions. Finally, my head rests on the shoulder of the old lady. I wake up momentarily during bumps and stops and catch myself sleeping on her. I pick up my head in embarrassment but then quickly fall asleep returning my head to her comfy shoulder. I repeat this for most of the ride until I finally get to my stop. I get up and sleepily apologize. She smiles and says, "Nevermind. Just get some rest tonight!" She chuckles and I mumbled, "I'll try..." and shuffle my way off the bus into a blinding sunlight.
Christmas in Japan is more of a romantic night out. Dinner and maybe a reservation at a hotel. Even otaku get into it in their own way:
Here's the Japanese Tradition's instructions on Dating
Aig - the kind with a yoke
Arn - what you do on the arnin board
Authoritis - arthritis
Baffroom - see "rostrum"
Balamer - our hometown
Blow - opposite of "above"
Calf Lick - or protestant, jewish...
Fate - meet you at the corner of Fayette & Calvert Streets
hey hon, there's more here
When I was growing up, Hampden was known as an area of racist white people. This area began gentrifying in the 90s with an influx of artists. While the residential neigborhoods still seem to be largely white working class, I noticed more minorities while walking down West 36th st aka "The Avenue". Picked up some postcards featuring Greg Otto's renderings of my hometown of Baltimore.
This is a recipe for Mochiko - a sort of yellow cakey brownie type of dessert. There are many ways to make this filipino dessert. I began making it as a kid and it became my specialty within the family. I'll be making it on xmas eve!
1 box of Mochiko
1 cup of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
1 can of evaporated milk
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1 stick of butter
Place in rectangular baking pan and bake in oven 350 degrees for 40 minutes.
Cool typographic calendars for the new year from Noa Bembibre.
Monster tokyo poster by eBoy.
I love sports announcer Gus Johnson for his enthusiastic play calls. He's perfect for March Madness and I wish he'd get a chance to call the more important NFL games. His website is now allowing fans to download Gus Tones - featuing Gus' play-by-play call of your favorite team winning the 'chip (even if your team sucks). Great for fans of teams - or cities (i.e. Philly) that never win. Some great Gus Johnson calls:
Snoop Dogg | Sensual Seduction
This video is hilarious. Looks like its done straight from 1982 with all the cheesy effects.
The Golden Compass was my wife's choice for a movie. I went in blindly - not knowing anything about the story or that it was based on a popular children's book. It wasn't great but it was surprisingly entertaining.
I love how within this alternate world, people's inner soul is manifested into physical form as an animal (daemon) that follows the person everywhere. A powerful figure is followed regally by an eagle, tiger or lion. A servant's daemons were meek rabbits or lap dogs. Most interestingly, children's daemons can speak and change form because their soul hasn't settled yet. Butterflies and birds morphed into kittens, mice, puppies and squirrels depending on the children's emotional states.
Even days after watching the movie, I found myself imagining my cat as my daemon - as he has a habit of following me around the house when hungry. But I see my daemon as more of a dog. I'm not sure which dog - since I'm not an expert on breeds. But a friendly, laidback and loyal dog with a preferrably attractive coat. My wife envisions my daemon as a mole - only because she says I look like a mole. She insists this isn't an insult - as moles are unique and powerful in their own right - but I'm not seeing it that way. As for herself, she loves to identify herself with a tiger. The tiger is her zodiac sign and by far her favorite wild animal. While my wife can show flashes of a tiger's aggression and boldness, she can also be reserved and demure. Definitely finnicky and feline - I see her daemon as a cat. So I imagine us walking down the street with my daemon dog and her daemon cat following us, nuzzling and being playful with one another.
Teppei Maki animated this cool video for DJ Kentaro.
Great photoblog from Manila based photographer Señor Enrique. Not only does it provide beautiful visuals, but its educational too.
I'm a bit of a germaphobe, so I avoid public bathrooms at all costs. Sometimes its unavoidable. In these cases, I expedite the process and map out a path of not touching any surface with bare hands after washing my hands at the sink. The bathrooms at work aren't so bad, but there's a need for some standard etiquette.
If there's 3 empty urinals, do not use the middle one.
Don't use the urinal next to me in any situation.
Don't start up a conversation at the urinals.
Don't shake my hand till we're far away from the bathroom area.
Stop leaving souvenirs at the urinal and don't piss on the floor.
Don't litter your reading material on the floor.
Courtesy flushes are a must.
There's always some guy that operates against these unwritten rules. One of my work bathrooms only has 2 urinals that are fairly close to each other. Nothing worse than rubbing shoulders with a heavy-set dude while pissing. Then trying to squash any conversation that he starts up. And piss with blinder on buddy - keep your eyes straight ahead or straight down. Oh, and I keep mental notes of dudes that don't wash their hands. Work people, gym people - I see y'all.
Headed out for a work outing in the newly gentrified end of Northern Liberties in Philly. The artists and musicians that have flooded the area in recent years have been joined by trendy hipsters. You'll still find the occasional vacant lot, but many are being converted into the flavor-of-the-month hot spot - much to the property valued delight of nearby homeowners.
I joined my coworkers for some tapas at Bar Ferdinand. The rustic Spanish-inspired interior warmly welcomed me from the bitter cold as I settled in with a tall glass of Alhambra beer. Its loud, dimly lit yet visually vibrant with rich splashes of gold, red and wood. Lots of arches, and tiled frescoes of bulls and bullfighters. Sounds predictable but its effective - and it doesn't go overboard into theme park territory. Our group of 20 dominate the long table at the center of the room. The dining area is cozy but the loungy couches at the corners and an expansive bar creates a spacious feeling.
Started off with a watercress and goat cheese salad with a splash of citrus dressing. Nice and light...but I'm here for the tapas. Bar Ferdinand's offerings were tiny but delicious. The eggplant empanadas were a definite highlight. The tender egglplant, lentils and sauce just melted wonderfully within the light pastry exterior. Calamari - didn't blow me away but was decent. The simple yet creamy filled ham croquettes worked well in bite-size. I saved the best for last with small cuts of seared lamb with citrus yogurt and Moroccan relish. I finished wanting more...but the cheesecake finished me off in the end. All in all, a rewarding dining experience - good food, beautiful setting and a sociable ambience. The tapas menu is pretty extensive, so I'm sure I'll make a return visit - without the drunk coworkers!
Interesting read from Newsweek on why the iPod wasn't invented by Japan. Much of it is a comment on how insularity and rigid corporate hierarchies stunt creative innovation on a global level. I think there is a lot of cool technology in Japan but its culturally specific. Here is one professor/former business consultant's blames Japan's inwardness.
I knew this game was either going to be a complete blowout or a good one. It was a great one. Unfortunately the end was bitter. 50 seconds away from ruining history for the Pats. 2 4th down stands on the final drive slipping from the Ravens claws. This had all the makings of a monumental upset - except for 2 things - untimely miscues by the Ravens and the refs.
The Ravens can only blame themselves: the Boller interception, Ed Reed's fumble after his interception before halftime, the timeout called right as the defense stuffed Brady on a 4th and 1 to end the game and the idiotic penalties. I have a problem with Billick getting too conservative at the end of the game. Yes, McGahee was slicing up the Pats D on the ground for most of the game. But you knew the Pats were going to put 8 in the box at the end of the game. To pull an upset, you have to think outside the box and pull off some extraordinary plays from unexpected individuals (i.e. Boller was going to have to make a play in the last drive).
But after all of that, they still had the lead with less than a minute to go. Then the refs get involved. Are you really going to call interference on a borderline bump on the deciding play of the game? 4th and 5 near the goaline and you're going to call that? I can't complain about the Gaffney touchdown. It was slightly questionable, but you had to give it to him. Then the idiotic penalties doomed any chance as Boller's Hail Mary was caught - 2 yards short of the end zone.
Even though this game is meaningless in the grand scheme of things - the Ravens are out of the playoff picture regardless - it was the most frustrating loss in years. I blame Don Shula for parking his old ass in the MNF booth. Probably jinxed us. He'll have to chill his champagne a little longer.
This is classic:
Can't wait to see these guys in concert later this month!
Holiday shopping brings out the best in us. Some shoppers are stressed beyond belief and customer service at certain places gets crappier.
We grabbed lunch at Panera and stood in line for an eternity because some bitter woman was arguing about their menu special which reads "You Pick Two. Half a sandwich, bowl of soup, salad. $6.99" This woman kept insisting that the offer was misleading and that she thought she could order all 3 items. I was about to yell at her, "Pick Two means TWO. Not THREE but TWO! Its really not that difficult a concept!" For some unknown reason, the manager placates her and says that he'll change the signs. As if he actually designs these ads and prints them in the kitchen. I suppose he buckled under her pressure, but here's an idea: give her the Panera HQ phone number, tell her to register a complaint and send her off. Why allow her to continue and make us suffer? Finally, she ends up leaving in a huff without ordering anything. I wanted to trip her on the way out, but I realized that she must have such a miserable life that compels her to pick fights with Panera people.
After that debacle, we went to Kicks sneaker store to buy a gift certificate for a friend. I was expecting it to take 2 minutes top. Wrong. 40 minutes. The cashier and the manager didn't know how to activate the gift card. There's advertising all over the store announcing their gift cards as the perfect holiday gift but no one knows how to activate them?? We actually told them that they may wanna get it straightened out because more people are going to ask for these cards. The cashier kept swiping, punching keys and apologizing until the manager finally arrives. He has no clue and calls other stores for advice and can't get it to work. I would have left but they already charged my card. I thought about asking them to cancel the charge but that might have taken another 2 hours. Finally they print out a receipt and tell me to present the receipt if the card doesn't work. Not great gift etiquette to give my friend a gift card and a receipt. Luckily he's not the type to care.
After that we go to Taco Bell. There's 5 workers hanging around the cashiers - not one of them are paying attention to any customers. We just rolled our eyes and left.
Loving the arrival of popular Japanese manga series Death Note on Adult Swim. The story focuses on a high school student named "Light" who finds the death note - a notebook dropped on earth by a cackling death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook will die. Light seeks to use the death note to rid the world of criminals. But his noble intentions begin to waver once the authorities summon a legendary detective named "L" to find this mysterious killer. Light begins to abuse the death note to elude the police. An intriguing chess match develops between L and Light.
Buddakan has been one of our favorite restaurants for years. We've celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and dined with both sets of parents. More than six years ago, my wife and I took my parents here with the intention of telling them that we had eloped. It was a nerve-racking meal, but a delicious nonetheless. My dad inspected my wife's diamond ring like he was a DeBeer. A couple years ago, my in-laws from Japan entered Buddakan and chuckled at the giant golden Buddha that anchors the middle of the dining room. I'm sure if they made a Jesuskan restaurant and put a giant Jesus there - christians would throw a fit.
I will warn you about the dessert. The Chocolate Pagoda is a monster! You will not be able to finish this towering ode to chocolate on your own. It had to be about a foot high thick with triple layer chocolate mocha chip ice cream, chocolate mousse and hazelnut praline. I surrendered with half of it standing. I didn't want to ruin a wonderful meal by overstuffing myself with chocolate. You know its time to step away when your spouse looks at you and says, "It doesn't look you're enjoying it anymore..."
Cool website for Red Interactive Agency. They allow visitors to create their own character and interact with other visitors. You can chat with other users and start fights. Punching and kicking features are cool. I've had random conversations and fights at the same time!
Interesting book promotion.
Funny vid that all designers can relate to.
An oldie but a goodie from Bistro SMAP. Hilarious how Cage hides his face while eating.
Here's Will Smith on SMAPxSMAP for good measure:
1. Thursday from Mickey Mouse and the Boy Thursday Book (1948)
2. Uncle Remus from Song of the South
3. The Indians from Peter Pan
4. Sunflower the Centaur from Fantasia
5. The Siamese Twin Gang from Chip n' Dale Rescue Rangers
6. King Louie from The Jungle Book
7. The Crows from Dumbo
8. Sebastian from The Little Mermaid
9. The Merchant from Aladdin
From Cracked. Details here.
That mall is long gone. In its place is a successful outdoor mall anchored by Wegman's, Filene's, a huge Regal cineplex and a slew of chain restaurants. It follows the blueprint of current suburban development. Got a dead mall? Destroy it and throw a bunch of big box retailers and chain restaurants and people will come.
Very cool flash-animated typography by Takashi Okada. You'll lose track of time staring at the screen.
With winter fast approaching, I find myself craving heavier foods. Korean BBQ is a perfect cold weather food, so we hit up Beawon in Cherry Hill. The restaurant is situated next to a huge Korean grocery. You gotta be on your toes at this type of supermarket. Old ladies will bark in Korean and push you out of the way for that bok choy. One day in the parking lot, a rich middle aged Korean lady rolled her grocery cart at me because she thought I was the Mexican cart collector.
The service isn't too friendly at Beawon either, but its not horrible enough to piss you off. Service is better if you're Korean (which makes up 90% of the dinner crowd) and their community is pretty large and tight in Cherry Hill. My wife could pass - they usually greet her in Korean and greet me in English (no luck for me, I guess).
Anyway, our primary purpose isn't to make friends with the waitstaff. We come to this joint to cook on our own table and stuff our faces. We order 2 plates of Kalbi and throw the succulent pieces of beef on the grill. I enjoy following the customary method of wrapping the beef (along with onions and sauce) in a large leaf of lettuce before stuffing it all in my mouth. The combination of flavors and textures are wonderful. And not only do we stuff ourselves, but we keep warm with the grill right in front of us. Such a satisfying meal on so many levels! Plus you drive home smelling the BBQ off your clothes.
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