Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Personal Year/Decade in Review notes

What a weird, sad, maddening and wonderful decade. Trying to keep up with various cultural incidents — we've become too fractured to call them events, really — is just about impossible. The splintering of media channels, despite the various mergers and conglomerations, has left us with the possibility that developing an ADHD-like approach to artistic and cultural experiencing might just be evolutionarily advantageous.

How does a person make sense of what's happening in the world nowadays? When RSS first came out, it was touted as the best way to filter out the "useless" online content and get to what we're really interested in. The "good" stuff, so to speak. Now it seems to add to a burgeoning sense of self reinforcement, that is, what you find and read only reaffirms what you already believe as opposed to challenging those beliefs, testing them under the twin beacons of logic and emotion.

Fashion became a big deal under the Obama administration.

Journalism in America is undergoing an apocalypse.

I reclaim the meaning of "apocalypse" to be profound change or transformation, rather than the end of the world.

Yea to old-school, violent, and manipulative vampires, no to melodramatic, sparkly (!), brooding vampires.

Yea to zombies, whether they come in the form of movies (28 Days Later), comics (The Walking Dead), or classic literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies).

Yea to comic books being part of the pop culture discussion, no to fanboy baiting and event exhaustion.

Lists about any section of culture, whether it's music, movies, TV or whatever, cannot help but reflect personal tastes. But if you gather enough of them and compile them into one master list, will that give you an "objective" view of what was good?

Simon Reynolds' Notes on the noughties: The musically fragmented decade.

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Hip-hop at the end of its tired decade

Before I began writing this entry, I read Simon Reynolds's "Notes on the noughties" series for The Guardian online, and was struck by his insights and odd sense of humor. (Beards as signifiers of musical authenticity, anyone?) I'm surprised at how much I agree with him, and somewhat annoyed and relieved that he put together observations that have been bothering me these last few years. Following the same vein, I'm going to put down my own thoughts on the decade in an effort to make sense of it all. For this first part, it might help to read the New Yorker article by Sasha Frere-Jones about hip-hop before continuing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wildlife year/decade in review OR My year in lists

I create a list of alternative Christmas songs for this week's WildLife. Twisted Sister, unfortunately, did not make the list.

I contribute to WildLife's list of the best movies of the decade. Of course, I am willfully different in my choices.

Finally, I give my list of the year's best comics and graphic novels.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Decade in Review

I contribute to the Daily Wildcat's Decade in Review issue, which was an interesting issue. (A shame it didn't have campus stories.) Of the four entries I wrote, only one made it to print while another was misattributed to me mistakenly. The rest went unpublished for various reasons too mundane to mention. Here's what I wrote:

Top National Stories - Contested Election of 2000

While this was not the most contested presidential election in U.S. history — that honor goes to the 1876 election between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden — the 2000 election was significant for several reasons.

It saw a major shift in the judicial branch’s power. Despite numerous media organizations declaring Democratic candidate and then-vice president Gore as the winner based on exit polls, by the end of Nov. 7, 2000, the U.S. still had no clear winner in the presidential race. It became clear that the contest hinged on the winner of the popular vote in Florida.

Gore called for a hand recount. The multiple legal moves left a nation of voters, many of whom had voted for the first time in a national election, anxiously awaiting a decision. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually ruled 5-4 that the recount was unconstitutional, and could not be completed in time for the second deadline extension.

In the end, the U.S. had a new president, George W. Bush, who would have a profound impact on the decade, regalvanized Democratic and Republican parties and a new generation that discovered that every vote matters.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Scratching the surface of the Arizona State Museum

This week, I spent time behind the scenes at the Arizona State Museum to see how the people at the archeology repository do their work. My thanks to Patrick Lyons, Arthur Vokes, and Katie MacFarland for taking the time out of their busy schedules to speak with me, and thanks to my editor Justyn Dillingham and the Wildcat's copy desk for help with the editing.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Friday, November 13, 2009

Daily Wildcat theft - the end?

I wrote an opinions column about the entire Daily Wildcat theft case, which is kind of a companion piece to Shain Bergan's column earlier this week.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

Second annual Tucson Comic-Con

The second annual Tucson Comic-Con was great. I was able to get some wonderful interviews with many of the creators and vendors at the event. You can find the Wildcat's event coverage here. There are photos by the enthusiastic Gordon Bates and a video of my interviews that are edited by the wonderful Kelli Horan, who was able to read my mind and put together exactly the type of story I wanted to tell. Thank you guys!




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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Halloween articles

Apropos of the upcoming holiday, I discover that there is a Tales from the Crypt graphic novel series.

For this week's Wildlife, I contribute my list of the scariest movies to the staff inventory. My intro as to how I chose my list was taken out. (They're based on my childhood fears.)

The new, American-made "Astro Boy" movie was good overall.

Built to Spill plays tonight! What's surprising is that the band is playing at a small nonprofit after watching a documentary about the group.




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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Recipes for entertaining this fall


Here are two recipes for your Halloween and fall parties.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Grinding strangers in the Southwest

Busy week at the Wildcat:

I review the latest A Place to Bury Strangers album. Shoegaze-y goodness.

I visit the Tucson Museum of Art to take in its exhibition, "Ansel Adams: A Legacy,"which represents the photographer well.

I'm in a grindhouse trailer for The Loft's Grindhouse Movie Trailer Massacre competition.



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Friday, October 16, 2009

Fighting Oil With Biodiesel

I review the documentary "Fuel" and find it to be dense primer on the fight for alternative energies in the U.S.

Photo courtesy of thefuelfilm.com

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Moore's Das Kapital with Jaxx's 'Scars'

I watched Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" and find Moore is more intrusive in this movie than before.


Basement Jaxx returns with a new album, "Scars," which I review for the Daily Wildcat.




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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Daily Wildcat theft

I contribute to the story about the ~10,000 copies of the Arizona Daily Wildcat being stolen.

It's suspected that the theft was probably carried out by Phi Kappa Psi members. There was a sheet of Spanish homework among the piles of papers. The names are of Phi Kappa Psi members.

The possible cause for the theft? It might be related to a Police Beat incident that happened at their fraternity. Since the stories broke, the fraternity has launched an internal investigation. Given the responses of the fraternity leadership to the incident and the homework discovery, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that members were carrying out orders.

Despite what many online commentators have said, this incident does constitute a crime, i.e. censorship.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Metal mania, Merge, and movies

Busy week:

I somehow survive listening to Metalocalypse: Dethalbum II.

I delve into the history of Merge Records and find out I have many albums from them.

I argue that comics made into movies are often awful.



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"Whiteout" a washout

My review of the "Whiteout" movie, based on the graphic novel by Greg Rucka and Steven Lieber, was published this week in the Arizona Daily Wildcat.

The movie didn't do so well at the box office.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pains of Being Pure at Heart concert

Great show. Tauni met up with me. Liked all the bands, surprised about Cymbals Eat Guitars. Two of the guys from The Depreciation Guild are also in PoBPaH, which might explain how one song from each band referenced the drum intro from "Be My Baby."

Found out Peggy of PoBPaH is good friends with Carlen, who costars in the band's video, "Everything With You." Apparently Carlen found her through MySpace and they later met for a "blind MySpace date." (Sounds like something Carlen would do, actually.) She's just as sweet as Carlen.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flamenco on display

My first multimedia project of the semester was on Tucson's First Spanish and Flamenco Festival. Photographer Emily Jones captured some great images while I interviewed some UA students who performed at the festival.






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Friday, September 11, 2009

Food and music is the life I live now

My apologies for posting these so late. There have been some network problems and I've been rushing from one class to another. Anyway, here they are:

Saigon Pho review: "And it is the broth that distinguishes Saigon Pho’s version of this comfort food."

On Sally Shapiro's second album: "Whereas Sally Shapiro’s Disco Romance sounded like the perfect winter soundtrack, My Guilty Pleasure rushes in like the spring snow melt."

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Talking about Disney+Marvel, pizza, "Extract"

I talk about Disney's purchase of Marvel Comics, which is a nice present for Marvel's 70th birthday. What wasn't a nice present is Kodansha ending its licensing agreement with Tokyopop, a major U.S. manga publishing company.

(Illustration by Ken Wright. Copyright Arizona Daily Wildcat.)

Mario's Pizza is better than average.

Mike Judge's "Extract" is not bad.


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Comics Corner #1

Check out my comic book column at DailyWildcat.com. I talk about DC Comic's Wednesday Comics.


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Saturday, August 8, 2009

This is playing in my brain

Great Northern soul song by Bonnie Brisker:





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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Julie & Julia review

I finished "Julie & Julia" by Julie Powell today in order to prepare for the upcoming movie. Normally, I don't read books with movie tie-ins, but I'm reviewing the movie for the Summer Wildcat. (The movie is also pulling material from "My Life in France," Julia Child's memoir of her formative years in France, so I'll have to make as much progress into that as I can.)

After reading Powell's book, I'm of two lines of thought. In one, I enjoyed reading the cooking ordeals and triumphs that Powell experiences. With the other, I found myself exasperated with many of the events.

It's admirable that Powell chose to tackle the first volume of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in order to have something more in her life than a government secretary job. This is no different than someone who decides to create an organic garden in a rented home or starts knitting sweaters for the homeless or something. We crave meaning in our lives through our endeavors. But instead of rallying to her cause, I found myself often wishing that Powell would quit whining and stop acting like such an awful person.

I guess the main problem I had with the book is that cooking looks to be mostly a horrible affair, fraught with danger and inedible treats. Even reading the triumphs were not enough of a palliative to the noxious (or is that obnoxious?) effects of book. Cooking should be seen as a fun adventure, not a necessary hassle.

Yet for the sake of the story and ourselves, what progress can there be if we start from a state of perfection, or, perhaps, a state of satisfaction? If that were the case with Powell's book, I don't think I would have had the patience to read past the first chapter, let alone finish it.

So, it has an interesting premise and moments of sympathy and humor, but I can't recommend this book to most of my friends.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Your new textbooks: Comics you need to read

I recommend some comics for incoming UA students. Here's an example, a manga by Kiyohiko Azuma:



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(500) Days of Summer review

I saw (500) Days of Summer with one of my reporters, Ali, last night. The movie follow Joseph Gordon-Leavitt who plays Tom, an employee at a greeting card company. Zooey Deschanel's character, Summer, joins the office as the president's personal assistant and the object of Tom's love interest. The story begins with Leavitt moping about the breakup with Deschanel, and from there it jumps back and forth within those 500 days of the relationship.

Too precious: omniscient voiceover, flashbacks, footage of respective childhoods, musical number complete with animated bluebird, ironic juxtapositions, and the name that comes up at end.

Good stuff: ironic juxtapositions, especially with a particular split screen sequence; color and music themes (shades of blue associated with Deschanel); female singer-songwriters and indie music including the Pixies, Regina Specktor, The Smiths, Feist, and Carla Bruni on the soundtrack; some good insights; Leavitt and Deschanel look like a believable and lovely couple (this equals good acting).

So, combine a good-looking couple onscreen with a soundtrack to appeal to the indie crowd (which would include me), and you've got a movie that is soon to be overhyped. If (500 Days) wasn't trying so hard to win your affection, the movie would come off that much better.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Raphael Saadiq's new concert DVD





Raphael Saadiq - Love That Girl from Artists Den on Vimeo.

A great song. Gotta love those classic moves.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

A Friendly Challenge

From my friend Bo:

"The first five (5) people to respond to this post will get something made by me. You can tell me something you might like if you want to, and I'll try my best to do it but I can't promise anything, sorry!

This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
- What I create will be just for you. (you get to decide what happens to it and where/if it'll be posted, if applicable)
- It'll be done by the end of this year (2009).
- You have no clue what it's going to be. It may be a mix CD or an icon. I may make something. I might bake you something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure! [not me either]
- I reserve the right to do something completely weird :)

The catch is that you have to put this in your journal as well, if you expect me to do something for you! (cuz it's more fun that way)"

So I'll do the same. Leave a comment and we'll get started!

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On the Menu at Home

My sister and I went on a cooking spree today thanks to the ingredients heading past their peaks. This is what we created:

Cucumber burgers - slices of Armenian cucumber served in place of bread buns. After deseeding, they felt a sprinkle of salt and are then grilled on both sides. Grassfed, hormone-free hamburger patties from a Cochise, AZ rancher go on the griddle with a light touch of S&P. Sliced white onions from a local farmer are placed between the patties so that they can absorb their juices as the two are cooking. The meat enjoyed a rest with the brown, softened onions.

Notes: I ate these straight up while my sister added her condiments and fixings. You can eat these with knife and fork or with your hands. You can use the center of the cucumbers to hold the onions.

Warm purslane salad with red string beans and beets - With the exception of the garlic and the "dressing," all of the ingredients came from the CSA. The beets are peeled and cut until they're the size of your entire thumb. The string beans are cut to the same length. After heating a tablespoon of neutral tasting oil (vegetable or canola) in a wok, the beets are tossed in and stirred constantly for about 3-5 minutes. They took on a deeper red color. The string beans are thrown in and swirled around the wok for a few minutes. Minced garlic from one or two cloves is squeezed into the middle and mixed for about a minute or two just to take away some of that rawness. This is then placed on a bed of roughly chopped purslane. Pour some pickling juice (sweet, salty and spicy, with Vietnamese fish sauce as a base) over everything.

Notes: My sister felt a dominant flavor was missing. (Then again, she says that with everything made at home.) I liked how the flavors of every ingredient came through clearly without one element overpowering the others. It might even taste better after it has been sitting in the refrigerator for a day or two. My mom created the pickling juice based on what her co-worker had given her one day.

Sparkling cucumber cooler - There was a lot of cucumber left over (I still have one and a half sitting around) so I made this based on a recipe from a CSA member. Three parts of cucumber to one part of Granny Smith apple with a scant quarter cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, and the juice of one lime — all of this went into a food processor or blender until it took on the consistency of applesauce. This then went in a pitcher or serving bowl. A bottle of cold sparkling water or ginger ale is added. Sugar and/or salt was added according to taste. (I had ginger ale on hand so it needed a little salt and lime.)

Notes: I'm awaiting the results tomorrow.

Apple, cranberry & blueberry crisp or cobbler - My sister made the crisp, I made the cobbler. I added cinnamon sugar, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg to my apples (1/4 cup, 1/4 teaspoon, 1/8 teaspoon, 1/4 teaspoon respectively) whereas she didn't. She used a simple butter batter whereas I used oats mixed with creamed butter and brown sugar. She added more of the dried cranberries and blueberries than I did so the crisp didn't have as much syrup as mine did. In place of the cinnamon sugar, my sister used plain sugar.

Notes: Hers taste great. Not too sweet, which was surprising given the ingredients. It needed some spices in the apples or salt in the batter, though. I'll be tasting mine at the newsroom tomorrow.

Summary: With the exception of the apple crisp and cobbler, neither of us have made the dishes in this way before. And, in my opinion, they came out surprisingly well. My only regret was forgetting to take a photo of the food before eating. Que sera, sera.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Basement Jaxx // Play with it - MXP4

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Best Tucson Restaurants (So Far) & Congratulations

Apologies for the lateness of this posting — finals, etc.

For the Commencement Issue, I cut loose, a little, and highlight some of the best restaurants Tucson has to offer students.

Congratulations to all the Arizona Daily Wildcat graduates!

Thank you all for your hard work to keep the UA/Tucson community informed.

Hope to see you in print, online, or, perhaps, on an e-book reader.

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Thoughts on journalism

A clarification. In yesterday's post, I talked about an incident that occurred in a journalism class involving a student and her video project. It may look as if I was deriding the UA School of Journalism and its journalist-professors. I was not.

Instead, my scorn was aimed at the student and her project. The fact that she could make such a project and try to pass it off as journalism is ridiculous. Just as there are some articles and events that do a great disservice to the credibility and staff of the Arizona Daily Wildcat as well as the UA community, the same can be said of what goes on in the School of Journalism.

The point I was trying to get across was that the classroom is not the same as the work environment, yet both are vital. The classroom can be a laboratory where people can experiment in a safe place without fear of reprisal from the general public. This is no different from an artist drawing in a sketchbook or a choreographer dancing in an empty studio.

But this experimentation is not the same as displaying one's paintings or performing a dance piece — or writing for a regular newspaper. As that student may have perceived it, her class work was not under public scrutiny, so there was little or no consequence.

So you turn in shoddy work for a journalism class. Your classmates may not respect what you've done and your grade may have taken a hit, but there's always the next assignment to boost up your grade. That is, if you even care about your grade or the class.

But turn in shoddy work at the newspaper and you'll get complaints from students, faculty, alumni, parents of students, local businesses, special interest groups, other staff members, etc., and you may never get a chance to regain their trust again. There are real and lasting consequences involved with working at a newspaper — even a student-run newspaper — and that student, for better or worse, didn't get to see and feel those consequences in the safe confines of the classroom.

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Since I'm on the topic, there has been a national discussion going on about how to save newspapers. Guests and callers on a recent episode of The Diane Rehm Show offered a few suggestions including nonprofit status, new business models, and a government bailout similar to what the auto industry has received. Wednesday's Democracy Now! showed an excerpt from David Simon, creator of The Wire, who testified before a Senate hearing led by Sen. John Kerry about the state of journalism and the need for "high-end journalism," that is, professional journalists. He advocated for a nonprofit model for newspapers. Ariana Huffington of The Huffington Post, and Steve Coll, former managing editor the Washington Post, also testified and presented different views as to what can be done for the newspaper industry.

I wonder if it's possible for the newspaper industry to survive. I doubt it can continue in its current physical form. I also doubt we can get the same quality of reporting from online sources without significant capital to finance it. As Simon summarizes so well, the major blogs and news aggregators feed on the primary sources of news and those who follow these secondary and tertiary sources do not have to pay for the content. But they still need the newspapers to provide the news.

People have become accustomed to getting free information online. However, people are also willing to pay for online content so long as they get perceived value. When selling something online (and the news is a product that is sold), the buying process needs to be so quick and easy that even a child can do it. (Amazon and iTunes are good models to consider.)

Given that two-thirds of North America's population uses the Internet, I'm surprised that industry leaders haven't moved faster to transition online or create a stronger print/online hybrid. It's almost like the American auto industry and hybrid cars...

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Summer preview

For the final Wildlife issue, I write about what you can do during the summer in and around Tucson.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Editorships and scholarships

I was passed over for the summer editor-in-chief position at the Arizona Daily Wildcat. It went to Justyn Dillingham.

I was also passed over for the fall art & features editor position at the DW. The position also went to Justyn.

When combined, these facts may lead one to think that I may be feeling bitter about the results. Yet I'm actually a little relieved to not have both positions. It has given me the chance to take some much needed time off. I've been in class ever since I began my study of nutritional sciences, and it's nice to have the opportunity once again to travel or work at a better-paying job.

My best friend Matt invited me to visit him in Boulder, CO, this summer to attend a Death Cab for Cutie, Andrew Bird, and RaRaRiot concert, and I'll be able to do that for once.

Of course, I'd like to continue to work at the DW. Where else can I get journalism training without taking the classes? Where else can I meet people doing journalism because they want to do it rather than because they have to do it for a journalism class? Where else can I see journalists out in the field working to get stories that have a direct impact on UA students?

This isn't to disparage against the journalism department since they have, so I'm told, some good great professors with strong backgrounds in journalism. But the classroom is a safe environment where someone can shoot herself "testing" 3 different tequilas while wearing a low-cut dress and claim it as an investigative piece into the various brands of Mexican tequila in a crappy YouTube-style video. (Sadly, this actually happened in a journalism class. I'm not sure what grade that person got. The sad and annoying part is that she didn't even get any tequilas that aren't readily available in the U.S.! How informative can that be?)

Questions I've been asked by others regarding my work at the Wildcat: why are you doing this? Why write for them? Why not work at a job more related to nutrition like diet tech or assistant at a RD's office? First, I missed the hectic environment from my days at the Oberlin Review. Second, I didn't really develop my skills as a journalist while at Oberlin aside from my work as a copy editor and manager. Third, I think developing these skills will be helpful in the future. I'm adding to my writing portfolio and stretching out my resume. I'm also learning more about the Tucson community and what it has to offer by way of its food and arts. Though the latter may not be as important to a dietitian, it's vital to know what local food resources are available so that clients can used them to their full advantage.

As it stands, I've already done a lot for the Nutrition Club this year, which was one of my and the officers' goals. It was enough to earn me the club's scholarship. I've also been elected to be a club fundraiser, and my goal next year is to raise enough money for at least two scholarships again. Hopefully, I can exceed that goal with our new officers.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Enjoying a film festival with guacamole and gelato

I've been very busy at the Daily Wildcat these past two weeks:

Marisa Fisher, Brandon Specktor, and I reflect on the Arizona International Film Festival. We also chose the best of the festival. (You can find a video hightlight of our discussion here.)

I wrote reviews on certain AIFF films on the Wildcat Blog. (Unfortunately, I didn't have time to comment on all the films I watched.)

Want to find gelato? I went on a search for great gelaterias in Tucson.

Co-host Becca Lesser shows me her family recipe for guacamole, which is used for their restaurant, in the penultimate installment of Conquer the Kitchen.

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Words of the Night

Hypopanpituitarism - the subject line of an email.

Overheard in the newsroom:

Heather: "I think I'm teething."
Shain: "That's the weirdest thing I've ever heard a grown-up say."

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Screw Earth Day! - Grist's April Campaign

"One day is for amateurs." - Grist on Earth Day.

For the month of April, Grist Magazine has been embarking on a fun YouTube campaign with Umbra hosting the festivities and facts:






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"Against Readings"

From The Chronicle of Higher Education's Mark Edmundson:

"Schopenhauer tells us that all major artists ask and in their fashion answer a single commanding question: 'What is life?' The critic works to show how the author frames that query and how he answers it. Critics are necessary for this work because the answers that most artists give to major questions are indirect. Artists move forward through intuition and inference: They feel their way to their sense of things. The critic, at his best, makes explicit what is implicit in the work.

This kind of criticism is itself something of an art, not a science. You cannot tell that you have compounded a valid reading of Dickens any more than that you have compounded a valid novel or a valid play. When others find your Dickensian endorsement of Dickens to be of use to them, humanly, intellectually, spiritually, then your endorsement is a success. The desire to turn the art of reading into a science is part of what draws the profession to the application of sterile concepts."

Even though this is about applying a certain analytical vocabulary, this quote jumped out at me.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Quickie Review

Quiet week for me:

My review of the new CD from DOOM (formerly MF Doom) is published.

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

A Taste of France in Tucson

As the Thrifty Foodie, I investigate the offerings of Ghini's French Caffe.

Becca helps me Conquer the Kitchen this week with an Easy Pita Pizza.

I am taking a break in food reviewing next week to focus on a community nutrition project. But I shall return with another Tucson delectable in print.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Weekly Update

I review 5th Street Deli & Market, as does Andi Berlin, a former Daily Wildcat staff member who is interning at the Arizona Daily Star. She's secretly following me...

Becca Lesser teaches me how to Conquer the Kitchen with matzo ball soup.

Tomorrow, I will walk/run with the UA Nutrition Club for Run For Your Life 5K, which is benefiting Tucson Community Food Bank, UA4Food, and Heifer International.

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New Lucky Soul!














Whoa Billy - Lucky Soul

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Give My Love to the Vegetarians & Vegans...

Through the Arizona Daily Wildcat:

I visited Govinda's Natural Foods Buffet for this week's Thrifty Foodie review. It's a beautiful place with yummy food.

I Conquer the Kitchen with Ali Freedman and her recipe for vegan snickerdoodles. They taste just like regular snickerdoodles!

Alas, the Mix is dead. But look for next Wednesday's WILDlife for my CD review and my next Thrifty Foodie review.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Wearing the Green over the Blue (WILDlife & St. Patrick's Day)

This week, I'm in love with Neko Case's new album, "Middle Cyclone." (It should read 4.5 out of 5 stars.)

Becca Lesser and I "Conquer the Kitchen" with a tasty, and potent, Baileys Chocolate Mousse Pie. (Sadly, I had no time to make the crust, but I did make the whipped cream from scratch.)





I offer a shorthand guide of place for good pub grub on University Avenue and Fourth Avenue. I won't be making friends with The Auld Dubliner or Gentle Ben's anytime soon. Then again, I doubt they even noticed me there unless I had a pint in hand. (Note: I don't drink.)

I contribute to this week's Mix, which is in honor of St. Patrick's Day and Irish performers. I recommend The Pogues' "Transmetropolitan" and Dexys Midnight Runners' "Jackie Wilson Said" and "Let's Make This Precious."

And now, spring break!

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The Dark Knight - review notes

[Some thoughts and reactions that I found scribbled on a piece of paper as I was cleaning. Cleaning house, so to speak, physically and mentally.]

Nolan offers an interesting interpretation of Batman and those around him.

Tense movie - problems and paranoia build up...
- Good control over pacing

Excellent interpretation of the Joker.
- Esp. in the beginning, with how he treats his gang.

Tech and fight scenes

Mob left an open question...

Not a hero the city needs but one it deserves.

To bear the burden

"An engine of chaos"

Need something to reward their faith

*Prisoner's Dilemma* - and they played the scenario with the best outcome for everyone...

To seek validation/invalidation for one's existence...
- Harvey, Batman, Joker

Joker's left alive!

1st movie w/o "Batman" in title

Lives up to the title, though...

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Monday, March 2, 2009

I Am the Fourth Estate

This week, I eat at The Hungry Fox and find some good comfort foods while under the careful watch of stoic nutcrackers.

I Conquer the Kitchen this week with Lisa Gatlin. We make a rainbow cake that's fit for a festive birthday. And we now have a theme song, too!

Check out Wednesday's Daily Wildcat for a culinary tribute to the late, great Dr. Seuss.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

25 Things, Or Why I Rarely Do These Lists

1. From 4th to 8th grade, I immersed myself in books on religion, philosophy, science, psychology, art history, history, sociology, spirituality, mythology, the paranormal, magic, world superstitions, and urban legends along with whatever "age appropriate" fiction I could grab from the Phoenix public libraries, all in a search for answers about the world, myself, and people. In contrast to most of my friends at that time, these books were my "church" since my family is areligious. My grand conclusion, which I rediscovered junior year of high school, is that the world is a strange, sometimes beautiful place.

I Am the News

I "Conquer the Kitchen" with Kim Kotel's Cheesy Chicken.

In the latest installment, "The Thrifty Foodie" reviews Guilin Chinese Restaurant and its vegan and vegetarian-friendly menus. (Mike Christy has a snazzy photo for it!)

I write about philosopher Daniel Dennett's talk about Darwin's "strange inversion of reasoning" and its connection to philosopher Alan Turing's conception of machines.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Simplicity (from Facebook)

USING ONLY ONE WORD! It's not as easy as you might think! Copy and change the answers to suit you and pass it on. It's really hard to only use one word answers. Be sure to tag the person you received it from!


1. Where is your cell phone? Connected.

2. Your significant other? Absinthe.

3. Your hair? Mullet.

4. Your mother? Garden.

5. Your father? Wok.

6. Your favorite thing? Coltrane's.

7. Your dream last night? Prophetic?

8. Your favorite drink? Bile.

9. Your dream/goal? Reification.

10. What room you are in? Padded.

11. Your hobby? Addendums.

12. Your fear? Aphasia.

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Alpha.

14. Where were you last night? Macguffin's.

16. Muffins? Nothings.

17. Wish list item? Goad.

18. Where you grew up? Desert.

19. Last thing you did? Trepanation.

20. What are you wearing? Probabilities.

21. Your TV? Synthetic.

22. Your pets? Idiosyncratic.

23. Friends? Bipedal.

24. Your life? Synesthetic.

25. Your mood? Actualized.

26. Missing some one? Multiverse.

27. Car? PIGEONS!

28. Something you're not wearing? Couture.

29. Your favorite store? Whitechapel.

30. Your favorite color? Burning.

33. When is the last time you laughed? Elections.

34. Last time you cried? Elections.

35. Who will resend this? Ha!

36. One place that I go to over and over? Kitchens.

37. One person who emails me regularly? Bots.

38. My favorite place to eat? Home.

39. Why you participated in this survey? Stories.

40. What are you doing tonight? Conspiring.

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WILDlife stuff and the News

Let's Get It On — In the Kitchen

The Mix - Eddie Floyd and others

and there's supposed to be a video of me making one of the recipes from the first article, but it has yet to surface...

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Friday, February 6, 2009

WILDLife articles

My review of the Blue Note Records 70th anniversary concert, as performed by The Blue Note 7:

http://tinyurl.com/cnqxmh

A dining guide for Valentine's Day, co-written with Ali Freedman:
http://tinyurl.com/akekoc

My contribution to this week's The Mix (Theme - Dance!):






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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Recent Wildcat articles

First, check out my First Bite of T6 Filling Station:

http://tinyurl.com/bmjbw5

Then, my song to Wednesday's WildLife Mix:

http://tinyurl.com/bcu7fp

Upcoming articles: A review of the Blue Note 70th anniversary concert and a guide to dining out in Tucson on Valentine's Day.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Credentials

I have a press pass with the Daily Wildcat now. Weird but awesome. It's weird in the sense that I've been distrustful of the media in general with how it presents a story, and I'm now part of that media. It's awesome because, well, I'm part of that media. I get a chance to highlight parts of the world that need, or fear, the illumination. Now if we can only staunch the bleeding of the newspaper industry...

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Writings at DailyWildcat.com

One is about the first Science Cafe, which was about water harvesting:

http://tinyurl.com/d5x2bp

My first restaurant review, which looks at Sultan Palace:

http://tinyurl.com/a7dcjr

And finally, my song for the inaugural Mix:

http://tinyurl.com/cuxbkr

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Late night (animal) calls

I just heard wolves or coyotes outside by my house yiping at each other before they headed down the street. Weird.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Design influx

I'm messing around with the blog's design right now. Pardon the mess.


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Friday, January 2, 2009

2009 A.D.

2008 has been a horrific and hopeful year. We've seen Chinese manufacturers save on production costs in exchange for lives — again. The FDA seems to be growing a spine for once. The Olympics were amazing. Zhang Yimou's opening and closing ceremonies were fitting. Michael Phelps — I doubt no one will be able to break his record. The U.S. is still fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. Finally, 2008 will be remembered in the U.S. as a historic year in politics: One serious female contender for the presidency; one not-so-serious female contender for the vice presidency; the oldest presidential candidate; and the first black man elected to the U.S. presidency.

I'm not big on new year resolutions since I celebrate 2 new years every year (which is as wonderful as it sounds). It would seem weird to have two sets of resolutions within weeks of each other. Yet I'm sentimental enough to suggest improvements to myself around the first new year's eve. So in no particular order here I go:

Follow my passions.
Improve my cooking and writing skills.
Simplify my life.

That's it. Happy new year!

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The Best of 2008

Let's start with the event of the year: Sen. Barack Obama being elected as president! I knew that I'd see this happen during my lifetime, but I was never sure when. It's good to know that it occurred before I became 30. Now I'm 1 for 3 with presidential elections.

I enjoy making and reading these end-of-the-year lists since they often serve multiple purposes. The first is that they are a record of the American cultural zeitgeist. What did the critics enjoy and what did the general public enjoy? Where do I fall in this spectrum? Most hip-hop has been lacking this year. I don't follow the blues, jazz, country, metal, or R&B too closely or at all.

I think back to David Foster Wallace's introduction for the 2007 edition of the Best American Essays. He talked about Total Noise and Deciders (his caps) and what it meant to be a responsibly informed adult in the U.S. nowadays. He argued that it's impossible to read every published essay in the U.S. as a precursor to deciding on what's the "best." All any of us can hope to do is to be intelligent enough to know what we don't know and to approach such personal ignorance with a sense of humility so that we may begin to improve ourselves. Wallace's revelation echoes of Socrates, Mengzi, and the Buddha. I can only hope that I have been able to explore and map my own ignorance with these lists.

Movies
I haven't watched that many movies since August thanks to my job at the Daily Wildcat, but many of the movies I have watched have been great overall. However, there was a clear, definite winner.

Best movie: WALL-E
How brave is it of Pixar to take a chance on starting a movie with a 30-minute opening sequence with no dialogue? And with a big budget, "mainstream," animated film, no less. Beautiful animation, a story full of satire and playfulness, WALL-E boasts some great moments of humanity from characters made of pixels. I would even go so far and say that this movie is near flawless.

Next best movie: The Dark Knight
Another great movie that provides the new standard for superhero movies to come, and a good example of how make a better sequel. Christopher Nolan's version of Batman hits all the right notes: Bruce Wayne's conflict between his civilian life and his life as Batman; supervillains; gadgetry; and so on. Yet the movie transcends previous superhero movies in that the situations are grounded in situations that not only test Batman's sense of morality but also those in Batman's life such as Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennysworth, and Harvey Dent.

Best movie reissued this year: Chungking Express (Criterion Edition)
OK, so the special features aren't all that special, which is surprising since Criterion usually does a great job in this area. But the movie still holds up really well after all these years.

Other notable movies: Iron Man, Hellboy & the Golden Army,

Music
I've been trying to catch up on all the music released since the summer. Thankfully, many of the year's best albums have been spread throughout the seasons rather being unloaded during the fall and winter, which was the norm in recent years.

Albums (in no particular order)
- Hercules & Love Affair - Hercules & Love Affair
- Jamie Lidell - Jim
- Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
- Lykke Li - Youth Novels
- M83 - Saturdays = Youth
- Quiet Village - Silent Movie
- Q-Tip - The Renaissance
- Santogold - Santogold
- She & Him - Volume One
- Sigur Ros - Incredibly Long Title
- Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Songs (in no particular order)
- Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma
- Shelby Lynne - I Only Want To Be With You
- Santogold - L.E.S. Artistes
- The Roots - Rising Down
- Portishead - The Rip
- Estelle - American Boy (feat. Kanye West)
- Hercules & Love Affair - Blind
- Sigur Ros - Gobbledigook
- The Juan Maclean - Happy House















Happy House - The Juan Maclean

Books
This is somewhat new for me. I've always been lifelong voracious reader and the greater availability of a faster Internet connection has translated to many hours spent reading multiple online publications. Yet reading an article on a computer screen cannot compare to the tactile experience of reading something in my hands. The weight, texture, and even the smell of paper held in my hands is an experience that cannot be replicated with metal and electricity. (Sorry Kindle.) In spite of a shrinking publishing industry, a global economic depression in which we have yet to see the bottom and numerous cultural items that demand our attention, I don't think book reading will see a great decline in my lifetime. What may decline are the venues through which new writing may disappear, a different issue altogether. With that said, here are my book discoveries and delights of the year:

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman
A great look into how doctors think, how they make mistakes in their thinking, and the consequences of these cognitive errors and assumptions.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
A companion book to The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan distills nutrition advice into 3 simple tenets while providing the layout of the battle (and collusion) between business and nutrition.
Usagi Yojimbo Volumes 1-8 by Stan Sakai
Following the adventures of a ronin rabbit, Stan Sakai's comic book series is tasty melange of heroism, history, culture, and mythology.
Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland
Bolland's recoloring of his collaboration with Moore adds to the tense, occasional banal atmosphere of the story. Great ending.
Doom Patrol Volumes 1-3 by Grant Morrison and various artists
People have talked about the deconstruction of the superhero, but few have carried it out to the same extent as Grant Morrison. "Fighting" a living painting was the most normal "villain" that the Doom Patrol faced in these volumes.
De/Compositions by W.D. Snodgrass
Speaking of deconstructions, a chance discovery at the university library yielded this collection of poems compiled and reinterpreted by Snodgrass. His versions of poems from renown poets demonstrate that the parts can indeed be greater than the whole. It also reveals the importance of editing.
Modern English Grammar by Bryan A. Gardner
Which brings me to this selection. Less repressive than Fowler but better than Follet, Gardner's approach to usage and grammar makes for a entertaining read, even if you don't care all that much about grammar. The mini-essays sprinkled throughout the text are interesting discussions into what makes English English. This book, and the following, proved invaluable during my time as the Daily Wildcat's copy chief.
On Writing Well (30th Anniversary Edition) by William Zinsser
A man who claims William Strunk and E.B. White as direct influences, Zinsser brings verve to his pages in his ongoing quest to perfect his writing. Reading his prose alone is a lesson well served on how to write simply and carefully.

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