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RIP MJ

I remember the first time I ever saw Michael Jackson. I was 4 years old and I saw the video for Billie Jean on the television. I was amazed. Sure, I was 4 and the “magic” sidewalk that lit up when he stepped on it probably made my little brain explode but still… I remember being completely enamored. People take this for granted but, at that time, there weren’t very many people on television who looked like me. In fact, as I later learned, Billie Jean was the first video of a Black artist to ever be played on MTV. I remember trying to sing along, as only a 4-year old can, and thinking that he was the coolest thing I had ever seen. After the video went off I started throwing a little mini tantrum because I wanted the video to keep playing.  Inexplicably, the complexities of music video rotations were beyond my comprehension and I fully expected the video to play in an infinite loop.  In an effort to settle me down, my cousin gave me the Thriller album cover and I remember staring at it for the next hour. (Probably expecting it to come to life like the magic sidewalk…)

Sure, I know you might be scoffing at my Stephen Glass-like memory. But it’s the honest to blog truth. While there is no question that Michael was beloved the world over, his status in the black community (particularly in the early days) was almost mythical. He was just a poor black kid from Gary, Indiana who went on to become the biggest star on the planet. His greatness gave a lot of people something to aspire to.

While I grew up listening to his music, it wasn’t until later in high school and college that I became a die hard J5 fan. In college I had a radio show and during each show I would a large portion to “old school” classics. Aretha, Marvin, Bill Withers, The Jackson 5, etc…  Michael Jackson was one soulful little boy.  His voice on Who’s Loving You is so raw and emotional that you almost forget that it’s a 11-year old singing the song.  Even at such a young age, his talent was undeniable.

I always felt that the real tragedy of the Michael Jackson story is the fact that fame basically ruined his life.  Sure it’s easy to talk about what a freak he was (believe me I’m guilty of it too).  But can you even begin to imagine what it must have been like to grow up Michael Jackson?  How alienated and alone he must have felt.  So without bringing up the well publicized tragedies that followed him later in life, I’ll just say that he’ll be missed.

Michael Jackson was without question one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived.  He changed the face of music and his legacy will survive long after his death.

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24 subplots

24 has undoubtedly jumped the shark.  In fact I’m pretty sure it started to go down hill after around season 3.  However, due to an unrealistic hope that the show will some day suck less, I continue to watch.

What never ceases to amuse me about 24 is the subplots.  That’s right, you know what I’m talking about:

  • Kim and her martial arts boyfriend
  • Wayne Palmer having an affair with that congressman’s wife (played, for some reason, by Gina Torres)
  • Frodo’s life partner and his junkie sister

And let’s not forget this season:

  • Dubaku’s relationship with a waitress despite the warnings of her over-protective, slightly crazy, sister
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Why do I love the subplot?  Because it’s pure cheesy goodness.  They crack me up every time.  You know that despite how far fetched or seemingly random, they will eventually intersect with the main plot in the strangest of ways.  Take Sean Astin’s (Lynn McGill) subplot.  His dope fiend sister manages to hook up with a bad guy who’s sole purpose is to steal her brother’s CTU access card.  Then the uber bad guys get their hands on the stolen key and a bunch of people die a painful death from toxic gas.  This subplot, of course, gives way to perhaps the most hilariously absurd 24 line of all time:

So, we’re all going to die because you were embarrassed?

Classic.

So what’s in store for the waitress and her meddling sister?  I can only imagine an unnecessary scene where Dubaku tortures her and mercilessly drags her from her wheel chair.  But what is the link? Maybe she is only a waitress part time and the rest of the time she moonlights as a food taster for the President and Dubaku will use  her to serve poisoned hash browns to the Commander in Chief!  Or…maybe he’s just lonely.  Ruthless dictators need love too.

And while I’m on the subject, is it me or does 24 seem way too torture happy this season?  I mean damn.  Last week Jack seemed awfully anxious to hold an infant baby at gun point.

Jack: Madam president, he’s lying!  Let me do what’s necessary and he WILL tell me who let the dogs out!

Funny, funny stuff.

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life imitates art

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A while back I saw the absolutely hysterical scrabble xkcd:

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My very dear, often hilarious, high school chum’s response:

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What are the chances?  I couldn’t make this stuff up folks.  Too funny…

HD vinyan

1 comment

live long and effin prosper

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Just saw the new Star Trek and in a word…awesome! I’m sure they’re already working on a sequel (prequel?) but if they’re not, they really should. As a total Star Trek nerd I thought a lot of the inside jokes were pretty hilarious. Not to mention the off the wall casting. Harold download wall e online wanted online as Sulu and little Byrd from Huff as Checkov. The only thing that sucked was the seats. Even though I was there a good 40 minutes before showtime I still ended up only 5 rows back and right on the end. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that experience but it can be pretty nauseating sitting that close in an IMAX theater. It was total pandemonium. The line wrapped all the way to the other side of the theater. Crazy. Other than that, I thought it was a great movie.

But honestly…can someone tell me what the hell Madea was doing in this movie…?

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All Day I Dream About…Shoes

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hope

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The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

Over the past two years, I have steadily watched this campaign unfold.  From the fiercely competitive primaries to the even trickier presidential race, I’ve seen Obama navigate his way through uncharted waters with an impressive amount of grace and ease.  He triumphed while never forgetting that this election was about more than selfish ambition or breaking racial barriers.  He was one who always gave the impression that at his core, he truly wanted to make the world, not just his country, a better place.  And, while the fact that Obama is Black is undeniably noteworthy, it is in no way what makes him remarkable.

Here is a man who, against insurmountable odds, has managed to remain true to his beliefs without resorting to the negativity so common in recent campaigns.  He showed an incredible strength of character when he could have easily chosen the low road.  However, I am not naive.  I realize that to go from someone who couldn’t even get into the 2000 DNC to the first African-American President of the united states requires an unimaginable amount of political savvy. But what set Obama apart from the rest was his ability to stay on message while still appearing to come from a place of honesty and truth.  We have had many a charismatic politician, but he somehow managed to transcend all who had come before.  His intelligence and the eloquence in which he spoke was all the more impressive when coupled with the fact that his meager beginnings would have made his story impossible under any other circumstances.

Barack Obama is an American first and an African-American second.  Rather than making race an issue and attempting to be the first Black President, he simply stayed on course and proved that he deserved to be President for no reason other than the fact that he was the best man for the job.  He gives me hope because he is living proof that with hard work and determination anything is impossible.  We must also not lose sight of the fact that his victory shows how far we’ve come as a nation.  Despite what you feel about personal responsibility vs. systemic injustices, Obama is a testament to the fact that any battle can be won if only we persevere.

And on this day, I am so very proud.  Proud of our country for seeing past the things that divide and instead looking forward towards the things that unite.  Proud of our youth for not succumbing to apathy and showing the world that they have a voice that deserves to be heard.  But most importantly, I am proud of Barack Obama.  With an unfaltering love of his family and an unwavering pride in his country, he showed us all that we can truly have change if we never let go of our hope.

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CORE values

On Christmas day I went to see The Great Debaters. I had a vague idea of what the movie was about but I didn’t realize that so much of it would focus on James Farmer, Jr. I really, really wanted to like the movie (I did), but the ridiculously trite dialog and (sorry, Denzel*) inexperienced directing made it impossible.

One of the great regrets of my life is that I didn’t spend more time with Dr. Farmer when I had the chance. While I was an undergrad at Mary Washington College (now University of Mary Washington) I had the great honor of taking his Civil Rights class. He was 77 years old at the time but the man had a memory that was truly astounding. He was able to recount epic moments in Civil Rights history as though they had happened days ago, instead of decades. He told stories of the abject hatred he faced when he attended his first sit-ins. And of the unimaginable struggles he had to endure as one of the Freedom Riders. To be able to hear first hand accounts from someone who played such an integral part in the shaping of American history was a privilege that I will always treasure.

So even though I didn’t completely like the after-school-special-hollywoodization of Farmer’s tenure at Wiley college, I did respect the sentiment. If nothing else, it served to remind us of the sacrifices of those that have come before. SNCC, CORE, SCLC, Farmer, King, Wilkins…and so many more.

Dr. Farmer was one of the most remarkable human beings I have ever known. And with every success that I achieve I honor him and those who have paved the way.

*Note to Denzel: While I respect you and think you are one of the world's greatest actors, come on dude, even you have to admit that there were WAY too many arc shots at the end. I got dizzy for goodness sake. Oh, and you totally deserved the Oscar for Training Day, you were awesome.

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eat: Gonzo

Had an awesome meal at Gonzo last night. Probably one of the best of the whole trip.

  • Appetizer: Rice Balls
  • Entree: Duck Ravioli and Margherita/Spicy Sausage & Broccoli Rabe pizza
  • Dessert: Pecan Praline Ice Cream Sandwich

The Rice Balls were a smaller, more flavorful, arancini. The filling was prosciutto, peas, and mozzerella. There was also a very strong (meyer?) lemon flavor that was tasty but a bit overpowering at times. But on the whole, they were really good.

The ravioli was filled with duck, carmelized butternut squash and ricotta in a sage, brown butter sauce. I’ve had a lot of squash ravioli in brown butter sauce and in almost every case, the squash is completely overpowering. In this case, however, there was a perfect balance.

The pizza is a house specialty. The crust is a grilled, perfectly crunchy, flatbread with topings including savory pumpkin puree, oyster mushrooms and bel paese cheese. The house gladly did a half and half pizza so that we could sample the different offerings. The spicy sausage and broccoli complimented each other well. And the margherita, while nothing special, was solid and didn’t disappoint.

If it weren’t for the ravioli, I’d say that the dessert was the highlight. The homemade Tahitian vanilla gelato was a perfect match for the almost meringue-like pecan praline cookies. The entire thing was drizzled with a dark chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar. I know, I know… If it sounds good, imagine how it tasted.

Overall, it was an amazing meal and I’d definitely go back. I’ve certainly been to lots of restaurants but what sets a place a part is the completeness of the menu. I’ve gone to many places where only a few of the items on the menu are stars while the rest are…”eh”. Not only was every thing I tasted at Gonzo delicious, but there were many other things that I would have like to have tried. I’d highly recommend it if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

Rating: 4 out of 5 plates

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eat: Craftbar

On Sunday night I had a pretty decent meal at Craftbar. It’s the more casual sister-restaurant of Craft both of which are owned by Chef Tom Colicchio (most notably of Bravo’s Top Chef). What I liked most was the atmosphere. Sure, the brown butcher paper on the tables was trying a bit too hard but the excellently eclectic music made up for it. Everything from Sia to Beastie Boys to late-80’s Michael Jackson pumped through the dining room’s speakers.

  • Appetizer: Warm Pecorino Fondue w/ Acadia Honey, Hazelnuts and Pepperoncini
  • Entree: Veal Ricotta Meatballs (atop Orechiette)
  • Dessert: Brown sugar cake

While a bit of a misnomer, the “fondue” was pretty delicious. Since pecorino isn’t what I’d call a melty cheese, instead a traditional fondue consistency it was more of a hot cheesy mound beneath an oozy layer of warm honey and whole hazelnuts. It was served with one lone slice of crusty bread. They should really consider upping the bread to “fondue” ratio.

The meatballs were close to perfection. In general, the best meatballs consist of the classic: pork, beef, and veal. So I was worried about whether pure veal meatballs would have enough fat to be flavorful. However, they were moist and flavorful and the tomato sauce was just the right mix of zesty and tangy.

Dessert was truly amazing. The brown sugar cake was a moist, spongy mound of heaven. The entire thing was dusted with a brown sugar coating-like-crust that wasn’t too sweet and was a perfect match for the fluffiness of the cake.

Overall, I’d say it was a good meal. I will say I was expecting a LOT from the way Colicchio beats up on the contestants on Top Chef. I wasn’t disappointed but I wasn’t completely blown away either.

Rating: 4 out of 5 forks

1 comment

Baby you’re no good

Last Monday I saw a coworker’s band perform at Amnesia. Towards the end of their set my coworker (who is the lead singer) tells the crowd:

I’d like to dedicate this next song to my coworkers who are all sitting up front tonight. This next one goes out to them especially Arquay!

The name of the song, I kid you not, “She’s No Angel”. Ok, so I’ll never win the “Coworker of the Year” award. I can dig that. But right after she made the dedication a guy in the back yells out:

Ain’t that the truth!

Brutal. I don’t even know that dude. I can’t help it if my fly Pumas cause people to hate on me.

1 comment

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