East Bay View (a blog about several things)

now 98% free of substantive content

Friday, August 24, 2007

I apologise to all homosexuals for my comeback, mainly for its weakness

Random guy riding past me in the passenger's side of a car: "Hey, stop walking like a faggot."
Me: "Stop acting like one."

I was also thinking of something more complicated along the lines of "Why are you worried, do you want to suck my cock?", but didn't have time to formulate it properly.


Why I should stop watching movies over two hours long

  • made in the last five years
  • over 120 minutes
  • that I didn't think were too long:
Breakfast on Pluto
Bus 174
Inland Empire
Harry Potter 4
Star Spangled to Death

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Top ten: Double play

Finally getting around to Golden Afrique Vol. 2 and The Rough Guide to Astor Piazzolla, I left out a couple of songs for obviousness: Franco & Sam Mangwana's "Coopération (Odongo)", possibly Zaire's most beloved song, and Piazzolla's "Libertango", possibly Argentina's most beloved song. Of course, they weren't obvious enough for me to have heard them before.

1. UGK, "International Player's Anthem": Dre is trampling over established ideas of rap rhythm the way Dylan trampled over established ideas of folk melody. Doesn't explain why he's dressed like Rowdy Piper, but at least he makes up for Pimp C.

2. Nyboma, "Doublé Doublé": This is kind of obvious too, not that many in this hemisphere remember Nyboma or his Kamales for anything but this song.

3. M.I.A., "Boyz": In which she goes humminy humminy over those crazy, war-starting boyz. Will buy (!) the warm album of the year favourite in the next few days.

4. Lil Wayne, "I Feel Like Dying": I heard two teen girls talking about dope dealing on the bus the other day, discussing whether it's better to mix purple with the cheap stuff or sell them separately. Silly, of course you keep them separate.

5. The Apples in Stereo, "7 Stars": Great tune, and Robert Schneider is good enough to carry it.

6. Katharine McPhee, "Too Little Too Late" "Over It": Another good American Idol-related song, bringing the total to three (two by Clarkson). Sorry Clay, you weren't hot enough to get the good tunes.

7. Miranda Lambert, "Dry Town": Yes, I know there's more to country than drinking songs. But screw prohibition.

8, 9. Powerhouse Sound, "2-1-75"; "2-1-75 (For Miles Davis)": This month's Vandermark. Next month: more Vandermark.
10. Lil Wayne, "Live from the 504 (live on Rap City)": A whale in the boat! Greatest rapper alive, nearly!

Ten more: The Apples in Stereo, "Energy"; B.G., "Move Around"; Freeform Five, "No More Conversations"; Scott Hamilton, "Love Letters"; Joseph Kabasele, "Independence Cha Cha Cha"; Miranda Lambert, "Famous in a Small Town"; LCD Soundsystem, "North American Scum"; Astor Piazzolla, "Golazo"; Tabu Ley Rochereau, "Aon-Aon"; Timbaland ft. Justin Timberlake, "Release".

Great video, shame about the song (apart from the "heavy metal" bit): Morningwood, "Nth Degree".


The most wrong Bush speech ever

Oh for fuck's sake, where to start? Vietnam were the ones who toppled the Khmer Rouge, remember? The US Government, on the other hand, were happy to let their new friend China supply arms to POL FUCKING POT to get vicarious revenge on Vietnam.

Even if he somehow truly believes the American withdrawal from Vietnam was a mistake, he can't really except anyone else to swallow this, can he?


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The rabbit fucks the pot

Monday, August 20, 2007

Biggest US box office draws by decade

1910s: Hard to find reliable information, but probably Mary Pickford, followed by Douglas Fairbanks or William S. Hart.

1920s: Uh, Norma Talmadge? Really not sure. Could be Pickford, Fairbanks, Clara Bow, Tom Mix, Colleen Moore, Rudolph Valentino, Lon Chaney... but probably not Chaplin, who didn't make enough movies.

1930s: Do you go for Clark Gable, who drew heavily throughout the decade, or Shirley Temple, who might've had a better four year peak than anyone else ever? Next group: Joan Crawford, Janet Gaynor, Will Rogers even though he died halfway through the decade.

1940s: Bing Crosby at #1. His mate Bob Hope fights it out with Betty Grable for #2. Then comes Gary Cooper, then Abbott & Costello or Gable.

1950s: John Wayne first, Jerry Lewis second. Then some ordering of Jimmy Stewart, Cooper and Dean Martin (hard to separate the contributions of Martin and Lewis). No actress stands out: Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day and maybe Grable all have claims, but none would make the top ten overall.

1960s: Too close to call between, this is funny, Day and Wayne. Liz Taylor third. Next group is Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Jack Lemmon, Julie Andrews.

1970s: Clint Eastwood, by a huge margin. Burt Reynolds, Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford and Newman are way behind.

1980s: Very close between Eastwood and Eddie Murphy. Next group is Reynolds, Tom Cruise, Sly Stallone. Bad decade for actresses: Jane Fonda might come top, and she spent most of the decade making exercise videos.

1990s: Top group is Cruise, Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, maybe in that order but maybe not. Next group is Robin Williams, Harrison Ford, Kevin Costner, Governator, Jim Carrey.

2000s so far: Cruise is way ahead. Hanks is a clear second. Then George Clooney, Roberts, or Johnny Depp.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Making old jokes offensive again

Conversation in Hollywood, 1997:

Ryan Phillippe: So I had sex with this actress Reese last night.
Friend of Ryan: Witherspoon?
Ryan Phillippe: No, with my penis, you sick fuck!

Here's my Stylus feature on the 'Spoon. If you don't need the pictures, here's a better revision I didn't send in on time.


40 favourite songs of the Nineties, #24: Fatboy Slim, "Praise You"

It's obvious, isn't it?

Don't worry kids, we've nearly got through all my electrodance picks.

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rush Hour 3: Forget it Jackie, it's Chinatown

Yes, I know I'm over my limit for variations of that Chinatown line.


40 favourite songs of the Nineties, #25: Technotronic, "Move This"

Yeah, it was first released in 1989, but it was a hit in the Nineties. I don't know of a song that better expresses the joy of teaching. So patient, so encouraging, and yet with a hint of slyness.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Canonball #901: Dames (1934)

The purpose of Ruby Keeler: a distraction from how intermittently awful everybody else is. Yes, even Joan Blondell. This is the definitive skip-to-the-production numbers musical, and what numbers: I could never hope to compete with Busby Berkeley in the obsessiveness stakes. "I Only Have Eyes for You" fractures Ms Keeler into omnipresence, while the title song posits that women are most valuable in aggregate, particularly when arranged as a snowflake. Fearfully symmetric. A MINUS


40 favourite songs of the Nineties, #26: Baby D, "Let Me Be Your Fantasy"

More than a decade beofre Brad Paisley's "Alcohol", here's a song written from the POINT OF VIEW OF THE SUBSTANCE OMG! Rave fin de siècle.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summertime in the SLC, part 5

I've run out of things to say about statistics, so let's get back to movies:

Indigènes (Days of Glory) (Rachid Bouchareb, 2006)

SLC Film Center screening at the Rose Wanger Center. The setup isn't formulaic, since it's unprecedented, but it is by the book: contrasting Algerians enlist in the French army in 1943 and live, kill and/or die together. In the key role of the literate corporal who believes in the Solidarity of Oppressed Peoples~! (and takes an awfully long time to get in trouble for it), Sami Bouajila is thoughtful and passionate enough to hold the movie together. Roschdy Zem is the marksman who falls for a French girl, while Jamel Debbouze, as the kid who tells his mother it's his duty to fight, seems too sentimental until he lashes out. The execution is almost as good as in Letters from Iwo Jima, and the ideas go beyond pondering the foreign (though Aurélie Eltvedt, as the woman from Provence, is cleverly made to seem exotic). Those about race are straightforward but telling, though the unfair treatment of the enlisted seems less because of their race than because officers always take credit for their soldiers putting their lives at risk. Those about nation are trickier, as patriotism gets conflated with a bunch of more noble motives. A MINUS


I'd been enjoying complimentary Polygamy Porters all week: solid, workmanlike beers limited by their low alcohol content. After seeing Indigènes, I headed across the road to Squatters to taste the beer from the source. Tried the Full Suspension Pale Ale on hand pump. Doubt it would've been anything out of the ordinary in a bottle, maybe not even on regular tap, but from the cask it was in exceptionally good condition, up with the freshest tasting beer I've ever had. Didn't try the food; I will if I ever make it back to SLC.

Crown Burger

On paper, a burger with both ground beef and pastrami is a cute idea. But a huge pile of pastrami thrown on top of the patty? On the one hand, my Brazilian friend G-Roc loved it. Me, maybe I'm a wuss, but I found it unappetising: that's more red meat than I eat most weeks. The pastrami was tasty, but that just emphasised the tastelessness of the ground beef. Fries were of typical dive quality.

You do have to come here once, because you know, fry sauce.

Market Street Grill University

A/K/A The Broiler. This was our splurge meal in SLC, though we could still only afford the Early Bird Special. Food was very good and fresh if lacking in character. Even the smallest touches seemed designed for the mainstream palette: curly parsley instead of Italian; a wine list filled with big names (i.e. wineries I'd heard of); Haagen-Daas for dessert. So perhaps it's not surprising that the best thing I had was their boiled potatoes, followed by their clam chowder. I asked for my broiled Alaskan halibut to be slightly undercooked, which meant it wasn't overcooked. I was reasonably happy with what our $29 each got us, and note thankfully my server was no less enthusiastic for my wearing a T-shirt.

Red Iguana

Everyone says this is one of the best restaurants in SLC. Everyone is right. From the something-for-everyone menu, I chose the puntas de filete a la Nortena. The shreds of sirloin (with a few bacon bits) were reasonably scrumptious, but the secret is in the sauce - the almond mole was outstandingly complex; couldn't quite tell what else was in it. (Ginger, maybe?) Add crispy fried chips, tasty tortillas and functional refried beans, and you see why the walls are lined with awards. I regret only that they have many dishes I want to try and will never get to.


The ride home:

Waited around at the station among thinning patience for over four hours. The train was supposed to leave SLC at 11:30 pm; it finally chugged off at 3:20 am. Most touching scene was a young couple sharing their smokes with an older woman; in turn she gave them some of her meds. On the train, they started running out of food before Winnemucca, and this time I wasn't prepared. First they ran out of Crystal Geyser, meaning I had to drink the emergency-grade Kansan bottled water, but at least this was complimentary. For lunch I bought instant ramen from the snack car, which even by the hardly sky-high standards of instant ramen was pretty bad - and I was still glad I had nabbed the last pack.

For afternoon tea I bought Doritos for the first time in months; this was sadly the culinary high point of my ride. Finally for dinner, we were handed snack packs, which contained, in order from worst to far beyond worst: Kansan bottled water; stale crackers; a packet of chunks which looked like dried fruit and tasted like damp sugar; something which a blind person with no taste buds might suggest had a passing resemblance to a brownie; and a goo that would give pseudo-cheese a bad name, so let's call it pseudo-pseudo-cheese. When the train finally arrived in Emeryville at 10:30 pm, three hours late, I had to negotiate the bus ride through West Oakland (featuring a couple who were very grateful that the cops had let one of them out of handcuffs moments earlier) before having the best bowl of oatmeal of my life.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summertime in the SLC, part 4

These conferences are useful for reminding me that outside of Berkeley, there sure are a lot of Bayes fans around. I'd like Bayesianism better if they weren't trying to making everything quasi-objective: that just replaces an arbitrary set of rules with another arbitrary set of rules (that sometimes works better). Anyway, the dichotomy is kinda beside the point: nonparametrics are the future!

Coffee Garden

Attractively located inside Sam Weller's (Zion) Books, this branch of Coffee Garden became part of my morning routine. (You didn't expect me to survive on free hotel coffee, did you?) They always have light and dark roasts available, and the dark roast always had some body to it. Muffins, slices etc. are variable in quality but always are edible. Wireless too, I think.

House of Kabob

Kebabs are Persian style. Had a jujeh kebab: a big strip of marinated chicken breast cooked on a skewer. Nicely cooked, nicely spiced. Good tomatoes, onion and rice as well, at a reasonable price. Nothing original, but executed flawlessly.

Greek Souvlaki

Had the standard gyro. It's limited by the ingredient quality: the meat, a beef/lamb blend, is pressed sausagy stuff. The pita seemed fresh and the red sauce was nice. Came with rice, which was a little stocky for me, and I like stocky. Decent place, suspect there are better gyros in this town.

The Bakery

Huge selection, mostly old school sweets. Only thing I tried was a big $2.50 almond croissant. Reasonable dough, generous with the nuts, if overglazed. Call this place a subject for further research.


Went back to Chanon Thai for beef gang panang. Still overcooked. Still great.


RIP M. Antonioni. Even though I only love one movie of his, it's really, really great.

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Friday, August 03, 2007


We take a break from our JSM coverage to bring you this reminder that you can never have too much narrative.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Summertime in the SLC, part 3

  • Statistics talks that aren't mathematical tend to be very shallow. While I bear this more easily than the dead dullness of mathematical talks, it doesn't reflect well on the level of broader thinking about the subject.
  • It may just be me (I'm pretty sure it is, but I'm probably right), but is the tenor of this conference distressingly capitalist? All this business-liberal jargon seems to be deployed with a mind to making kids more productive.
  • I've long wanted a "Fuck Math" T-shirt. Outside of work, I don't use any math I didn't know at 10 (OK, I knew a lot of math at 10, but not calculus, trig etc.) Whenever I use math I didn't know at 10, it seems superfluous.

Big City Soup

The Main St branch looks closed, so I walked out to this location in the Gateway District. Lovely space, lovely staff. As for my lobster bisque, well, this isn't exactly the lobster capital of the world, but it was fine. For five bucks and change, it came with a generous chunk of fresh soft wheat focaccia, and a slice of Tillamook. I'd certainly return if I were a local.

Taqueria El Rey De Oros

There are many taquerias and stands out around 900 W, and I don't know how this rates in comparison, but I believe this is the only place with pictures of a king holding a taco and a butcher's cleaver painted on the front wall. I also know you can get three tacos (or a burrito), a few slices of radish and onion and carrot, and a Pepsi for $2.50 plus tax. Tried the carne asada and the al pastor; the latter was much better, not the very best I've had but full of meaty taste. Quite possibly burritos are better. Maybe one day some brave soul will do a taqueria crawl out this way; until then, this'll be my recommendation for an ultra-budget SLC eat.

Cafe Pierpont

Went here on the recommendation of someone's local friend, unfortunately. Would've liked the place a lot better if we hadn't ordered margaritas. The drinks suffered from Utah Cocktail Syndrome: even Cocaine, who despite his name has no tolerance for cotrolled substances of any kind, thought his was weak. After a long wait, our amiable Zonker-like server brought out ginormous plates of food for each of us; only I finished mine. My chicken was sufficiently juicy, but it and its accompaniments were bland. Still, the place would be acceptable if they served smaller portions for less money.

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