Saturday, December 29, 2007


While I was watching Philip Seymour Hoffman on screen yesterday during a screening of Charlie Wilson's War, I couldn't get Dustin Hoffman out of my mind. Maybe it was the ridiculous hair and mustache P.S. Hoffman was wearing, maybe it was his short stature and deadpan/monotone voice... and then "duh!", I realized it.... "they share last names".

Just the Fraggles in my brain playing games with me again... or was it?

I started thinking about the films each have been in. Here is a list of similar roles. Is it coincidence, conspiracy, or could Philip Seymour be Dustin's long lost love child with some chick grip on the filming of The Graduate?!?!


Philip S. in Flawless, Dustin in Tootsie


Philip S. in Boogie Nights, Dustin in Mr. Magoriums Wonder Emporium


Philip S. in Almost Famous, Dustin in All The President's Men


Philip S. in State and Main, Dustin in Wag The Dog


Philip S. in Capote, Dustin in Rain Main


Philip S. in Before The Devil Knows Your Dead, Dustin in Family Business


Philip S. in Punch Drunk Love, Dustin in Death of a Salesman


Philip S. in Along Came Polly, Dustin in Midnight Cowboy

This is just the tip of the iceberg!

If you dare go deeper into it your mind
might be blown!!


Friday, December 28, 2007


With so much Middle East meets West intrigue bubbling over in our current mode, making a film like Charlie Wilson's War an interesting one would seem like a slam dunk. But Aaron Sorkin can't think outside the flagged points laid out for him between the covers of the 2003 eponymous book. With an out-of-gas Mike Nichols on board, Charlie Wilson's War comes off like A Few Good Men meets The Birdcage. With Tom Hanks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Julia Roberts wobbling around in bad mustachioed and toupeed glee the aim of Charlie Wilson's War feels uncomfortably like a 2-hour made for Showtime comedy.

Take a scene near the end, for example.... Rep. Wilson (Hanks) is debating with three members of his sub-committee over the funding of infrastructure rebuilding in Afghanistan. He seeks $1 million dollars; peanuts compared to the $1 billion he drummed up for the Mujaheddin. When his three fellow congressmen laugh him off, Wilson says "That's what we do. We get involved in another country's affairs, then leave..." But the line is delivered with no awareness of it's prescient meaning regarding the war in Iraq. We have stayed, we have been rebuilding infrastructure, we have been training, yet most of the country wants our military out. Whether you are for the Iraq War or not, it's an interesting conundrum for everyone to ponder.

Overall, the Afghanistan/Soviet war - and it's place in our current international crisis - seems like an after thought to Nichols and Sorkin. CWW is more a mini-biopic about Wilson and his affection for women, whisky, and Washington than an emotional lunge at how the backs we scratch sometimes come back to bite us. Even failures like Rendition gave diplomatic complexities such as those more of a go.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


On the heels of calling for a return to the successful Apatow formula in the previous post (see below), comes two new leaked screen shots from one of his upcoming projects, The Pineapple Express (co-writer & producer):

I really like James Franco.


Gotta say that I'm a little leery seeing that I'm not a David Gordon Green (TPE's director) fan...

We shall see....

Monday, December 24, 2007


This morning in USA Today:

Although the strong weekend likely assured that 2007 will eclipse last year in ticket sales, the fortune did not extend to Walk Hard. The John C. Reilly comedy, a spoof of movie biographies such as Ray and Walk the Line, was expected to do about $10 million. Despite strong reviews, it managed only eighth place with $4.1 million.

"We're at a loss," says Rory Bruer, distribution chief for Sony Pictures, which released the movie. "We have a really funny movie that everyone at the studio worked really hard on.

"There was no shortage of star power out there this weekend," Bruer says. "Our hope is that as the holidays set in and people have time off, word will spread about what a good movie we've got." (USA Today)

You're at a loss, Mr. Bruer? Well, let me help you out ... YOUR MOVIE ISN'T FUNNY!!!

Judd Apatow almost had a perfect year in 2008. Knocked-Up and Superbad were knockouts, delivering barrel laughs on the backs of sweet story lines. But Walk Hard is a mere 0-5 laugh generator on the back of a tired parody movie plot line (come back Scary Movie 3... all is forgiven!). If I were Apatow (co-writer & producer), I would disown it as soon as my first biography is written fifteen years down the road. Walk Hard should've been slotted as a January/February dump film rather than a Christmas weekend trophy film.

Watching this mess is watching another reunion of the Apatow/Adam McKay/SNL troupe, and that group's biggest offender, unfortunately, is Walk Hard's director and co-writer... Jake Kasdan. If you remember Kasdan's other 2007 film The TV Set (does anybody??) you'll know that he's now owner of two of the worst comedies of the year. It's quite easy to daydream a "what if..." about the end product of Walk Hard had Apatow plopped down in the director's chair instead.

So, it's equally as easy to place all of the blame on Kasdan's poor comic sensibilities - he deserves most of it - but you gotta question why the talent involved here (and there's a lot of it: Apatow, John C. Reilly, Kristen Wiig, Justin Long, Tim Meadows etc.) didn't step in and have a "quality" intervention. Maybe it's because they've all been flying high for too long, or maybe it was some kind of "emperor's new clothes" mind freeze. Whatever the case, hopefully they've awoken to the hard fact that Walk Hard falls hard,... and then the next go around won't be quite so disastrous.

Saturday, December 22, 2007


I laughed quite a few times in Juno. Diablo Cody can write a swell joke... but a full screenplay? She's not there yet. Juno is more a piecemeal bucket of clever set-ups than a true film about a pregnant 10th grader. The only high school insight we get is when Juno tells us how jocks quietly pine to pork nerdy "McSweeney girls" and that cheerleaders secretly get wet for Woody Allen quoting English teachers. (Indeed, right now, Cody stands as nothing more than an underdeveloped Woody wannabe, herself,... but for the YouTube generation.)

From there we jump to bizarre Dario Argento, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Mott the Hoople, and Patti Smith references but their context is scattered. It's empty posturing, nifty name-dropping. Diablo Cody wants to share her pop-culture preferences and sensibilities than that of a modern day teenager. Amy Heckerling and John Hughes understood that folly, and made it task numeber one to observe the younger generation before making Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Clueless, Pretty In Pink, and The Breakfast Club (all superior screenplays to Juno's).

Even other-worldly teen films like Rushmore - with it's mythical portrayal of teen ambition -, or Brick - with it's playful goof on high school drama playing out like the dark tensions of a film noir -, gave keener demonstrations of postpubescent life. But Cody isn't a total wash. She's definitely got something. In Juno's best set-up, Juno treks some living room furniture over to the front lawn of her boyfriend Paulie's house. The next morning she greets him in a laz-e-boy, rug at her feet, pipe in her mouth, and tells him the pregnant truth. It's a moment of adult future and responsibility meeting an unexpecting teen at the door, yet this type of braininess sadly ran dry for the rest of the film.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Not to jump over the excitement that is these last two weeks of MEGA movie releases, but I'm already looking over the fence into 2008.

Yes, you're going to have the regular January/February dump movies : One Missed Call, The Killing of John Lennon, First Sunday, John Rambo, Skid Marks, 27 Dresses, Made of Honor, Strange Wilderness, Untraceable and last - but not least - , and winner for most audacious title, In The Name of the King : A Dungeon Siege Tale.

[NOTE: This doesn't mean I won't be in line for the above films... especially First Sunday and ITNOTK : ADST. On the latter, it's because of Jason Statham and the fact that I'm in the middle of a dangerously bizarre Uwe Boll crush. Plus, freakin' Burt Reynolds is in it!!]

But quickly in '08 we will get into what could be some possible diamonds in the "dump movie" rough: CJ7, Be Kind Rewind, Cloverfield, Cassandra's Dream, Mad Money, and My Blueberry Nights.

This is why movie obsession is the perfect hobby. You just can't get enough, and there's always enough out there for you to go get.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


Since December 4th, we've had some new additions to the Top 10 Albums of 2007 extravaganza....

Here is my friend George's Top 10

Here is my friend Mandy's Top 10

Here is my friend Victor's Top 10.

Here is my friend Tom's Top 10.

... and last but not least, my Top 10.

And if anyone else has a personal Top 10 Albums/Music list of 2007, please e-mail me and I will gladly post it. After all is said and done, I will try and create a collective MASTER TOP 10 culled from everyone's lists. ... stay tuned!

**** Also stay tuned for my TOP 10 Best & Worst Films of 2007 that will appear after the first of the year.....****

Monday, December 17, 2007


I'm a dancer (really, I just jump...), but only in my room. House beats suit me best because of the 4/4 beat. And the beats of Daft Punk suit me bestest because they make House music for people that don't understand House music (like me!)

Their new Alive cd is a recording of a concert they did in Paris this past June. It doubly works as a GREATEST HITS album. The set is split pretty evenly between all three of Daft Punk's albums, but favors Human After All (which, btw, is hugely underrated). It's hard to pick a favorite moment:
* The tease of "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" giving in to the crowd-induced-orgasm of "Around The World", then building to an apex of both at once...

* The relentless hooks of "One More Time" being lit up by the electronic toy guitars of "Aerodynamic"...

* The way "Rollin' And Scratchin'" and "Brainwasher" come together after being separated from each other for 7 years, and the way "Rollin' And Scratchin'" just makes you go absolutely mental whenever you hear it...
It's a tough call, man. That's was just my reaction today.

And the thing is, today didn't start out too well. So I put in Alive and ergonomically danced away the gray in my office chair. I can't describe what it looked like. Probably some stiff head bobbin' and foot stompin'... but in my head I was tweaked-out club kid breakin' it off in fields of Paris. This afternoon, two DJs saved my life.


The coolest world leader just got cooler....

Nicolas Sarkozy (aka Sarko) has scored himself a top shelf SMILF (Super Model...) or SMMILF (Super Model Mom...) in Carla Bruni.

Now all he has to do when he wants to get support for his policy is to send Ms. Bruni out to seduce the politicians or squat nazis that are lobbing molotovs in the street. This may be the most ingenious political move of all time.

Sarko may not be on the level of a JFK scoring Marylin Monroe... but he's done pretty well for himself. Sarko & Bruni : The Jean Paul Belmondo and Anna Karina of French politics.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Ok... time for the weekly low-brow post...

Three teens in St. Louis walked up to the door at Walgreen's, opened it, slung a bag of liquidy poop into the air, and took off. (I say "liquidy" b/c the news story says it "splattered", and another source - yes, I even double-check my poop news! - said it was "dripping"...).

Unfortunately it hit a pregnant woman and broke all over her:

"When the bag hit, it broke open, and poop went flying," Damke said.

One of the teens opened the door, while another tossed the bag inside, Damke said. Its contents splattered a pregnant woman shopping in the store.

The 17-year-old defecated in the bag and handed it off to a 14-year-old boy, who tossed it in the store, Damke said.

I think Senators Claire McCaskill and Christopher Bond need to go on a Sunday talk show crusade, this weekend, and call for the banning of all "Poop Gag" movies and to start with the godfather of them all.... Billy Madison!

Friday, December 14, 2007


Some high school kids in Connecticut got the chance to live out their rock star dreams, one evening, after the school doors had closed. They got on the intercom and started singing "Welcome To The Jungle". (Apparently they are among the envious of us that haven't been able to buy ROCK BAND.... yet!)

I mean, can you really blame the kids?!?! Give any of us a microphone and an empty forum, and you know we'd all be doing some type of amplified fantasy performance. (Personally, I would take that golden op to rap Eminem or Notorious B.I.G. songs...)

But what the teenagers didn't know was that a teacher was still lingering in the building. Apparently she didn't grow up on Appetite For Desctruction, because when she heard an off-key male voice come on the intercom and squeal, "You're in the jungle BA-BY... You're GONNA DIIIIIIIEEEE!!, she freaked! So much so, that she locked herself in her classroom and called the cops:

Police are reviewing whether an incident Wednesday in Roxbury that caused a Booth Free School teacher to barricade herself inside the building was criminal in nature. At least six state troopers arrived at the school after a teacher called police at 5:45 p.m. She made the call after hearing "You are going to die" come over the school's public address system. The voices she heard later proved to be teenagers singing the lyrics of a Guns N' Roses song, "Welcome to the Jungle," over the school's speakers. The song, a popular rock tune from the 1980s, includes the line, "You're in the jungle baby; you're going to die."

Three teenagers found in the school, whom police have not identified, were detained for roughly an hour Wednesday. Police on Thursday were still investigating the incident, Lt. J. Paul Vance, state police spokesman.

"It doesn't appear there was any criminal aspect, but we're looking into that with school officials," Vance said. (Republican-American)

But.. you know, somehow this whole thing kind of poetically works. The school is a "jungle", cemented forever in our minds by the absurd 50's b-movie classic Blackboard Jungle. I smell remake!


There is no way they could have topped this poster....

... but the newest Harold & Kumar 2 poster is out:

The writers of the first Harold & Kumar will be directing this time instead of the guy that did Dude, Where's My Car? I'm very anxious to see this. The first one played crude humor off of sexual anxiety and social phobias while still keeping a warm, gooey, buddy-movie center. I hope this continues for part 2.

Here is the restricted trailer: H & K 2

And I mean RESTRICTED... so don't play it at work! (unless you work at an adult video store or coffee house, in which then I guess it would be fine...)

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I'd like to be the first theorist to blame global warming on omissions coming out the HFPA engines this morning. (ba dunk dunk...)

Let's get into it...


American Gangster
Eastern Promises
The Great Debaters
Michael Clayton
No Country for Old Men
There Will Be Blood

Duh. Does Ridley Scott just automatically get nominated nowadays? Him and Ron Howard... it's like clockwork. The only surprise here is Eastern Promises. That's really bizarre to me. I liked the film... it's just bizarre that it got a nom.

What's missing? : Rescue Dawn, The Darjeeling Limited, Lars and The Real Girl


Across The Universe
Charlie Wilson's War
Sweeney Todd

The fact that Once did not get a mention here is proof that the HFPA doesn't watch movies (unless the screener comes with a gift basket, check, or "escort"...) and doesn't keep it's finger on the pulse of film culture.

What's missing? : Knocked Up, Once, Waitress, Hot Fuzz.


George Clooney – Michael Clayton
Daniel Lewis – There Will Be Blood
James McAvoy – Atonement
Viggo Mortensen – Eastern Promises
Denzel Washington – American Gangster

Denzel, George Clooney, and "Daniel Lewis" have automatic bids whenever they're in a movie.

Who's missing? : Adrian Brody (The Darjeeling Limited), Terrence Howard (Pride), Christian Bale (Rescue Dawn), Benicio Del Toro (Things We Lost In The Fire), Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men), and many, many, many more.


Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
Ryan Gosling - Lars & The Real Girl
Tom Hanks - Charlie Wilson's War
Phillips Seymour Hoffman - The Savages
John C Reilly - Walk Hard

I'm very happy that Ryan Gosling gets a nod here.

Who's missing?: Steve Carrell (Dan in Real Life), Jonah Hill (Superbad), Adam Sandler (I Now Pronouce You Chuck And Larry), Glen Hansard (Once), Dany Boon (My Best Friend)


Cate Blanchett – Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Julie Christie – Away From Her
Jodie Foster – The Brave One
Angelina Jolie – A Mighty Heart
Keira Knightley – Atonement

Cate Blanchett has the "automatic" privilege just like Clooney et. al. Angelina Jolie is terrible in that A Mighty Heart. Yay for Julie Christie. Yay for Jodie Foster. They are both good in there respective movies.

Who's missing? : Kristen Stewart (The Messengers), Parker Posey (Fay Grim), Carice van Houten (Black Book)


Amy Adams – Enchanted
Nikki Blonsky – Hairspray
Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd
Marion Cotillard - La vie en rose
Ellen Page - Juno

Amy Adams and Marion Cotillard are both great.

Who's missing? : Keri Russell (Waitress), Kristen Stewart (In The Land of Women), Katherine Heigl (Knocked Up), Kelli Garner (Lars and the Real Girl), Scarlett Johannson (The Nanny Diaries).


Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson’s War
John Travolta - Hairspray
Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton

Javier Bardem has to win this.

Who's missing? : Justin Long (Live Free or Die Hard), Albert Finney (Amazing Grace), Ken Marino (Diggers), Samuel Boidin (Flanders), Michael Shannon (Bug), Stephen Graham (This Is England)


Cate Blanchett - I’m Not There
Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
Julia Roberts - Charlie Wilson’s War
Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton

Who's missing? : Adrienne Shelley (Waitress), Gabrielle Union (Daddy's Little Girls)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The Bourne Ultimatum is the most visually displeasing movie since X2 : X-Men United. The hand held zoom-ins/zoom-outs, shaky-shaky pans, wide-zooms, tight zooms, shaky-shaky "holds", and 56-cuts-a-second approach isn't just irritating, it's cinematically disgusting. I found myself begging for a fully-formed composition, a well lit still frame, a close-up that carried emotional heft. Paul Greengrass and editor Chris Rouse know not what they do.
But don't forgive them... their hackery is a downgrading of the action genre. Looking back on the action flicks of '07 we should forgive Spider Man 3 and 300 their errs, and now elevate Transformers and Ghost Rider to full-fledged quality films.... for we have seen the trash that is The Bourne Ultimatum.

Tony Gilroy's regurgitated script is a disaster in itself. Relatable human dialogue is sidestepped for inanities such as these:
Pam Landy: You do not have the authority to kill her.
Noah Vosen: Oh yes I do! And you had better get on board!
Pam Landy: Noah, she's one of us! You start down this path, where does it end?!?
Noah Vosen: ....It ends when we've won.


Pam Landy: This isn't what I signed up for. (pause) What they did to you. (pause) Blackbriar. (pregnant pause) This isn't us.
Bourne: Then do something about it. Everything you need is in there...everything.
Pam Landy: David. Why don't you come in with me? It'll be better if we do this together.
Bourne: No. This is where it started for me.... This is where it ends!

But, amazingly, the critics ate this up!!!! Is it because Gilroy (the latest addition to the Gaghan/Haggis/Arriaga pseudo-intellectual & mucho-ineffectual troop) dropped in some topical C.I.A. leakage, chatter of "experimental interrogation", and NSA phrase dropping? Have our cultural gatekeepers and bullsh*t watchdogs become this gullible?!?!

I supposed that's what ultimately has stirred up so much bile in me. The Bourne Ultimatum is so textbook bad, so emotionally vacant, so poorly acted and it not only gets a pass, but is lauded as one of the year's best films! Agenda driven film criticism has taken over and it's drowning our film culture in a very shallow pool of ideas.

Death to Paul Greengrass. Long live Michael Bay.


... or what could also be called - in keeping with the title of the bands new album In Defense of the Genre - "In Defense of the Jew". In 2 minutes, 23 seconds, Max Bemis rants one of the most unapologetic religious heritage rock songs since... well, since whenever.

Emo is loved/hated for it's heart on sleeve lyricism, but Bemis pushes that approach beyond locker love and lip gloss into more worldly, everyman topics. After a low-shoulder bass line lifted straight from Kim Colletta (circa "Cooling Card"), Bemis dives right in:
"You say you hate the shade of my face for my father's share crops/My people were slaves before yours invented hip-hop"
Ohh...SNAP! It's an emo dis track!
CHORUS: " I think I'm fine the way I am, (and yes I chase my milk with ham)... I think I'm fine the way I am (although we broke our promised land)"
Dis # 2!:
"You say you hate the breadth of my nose for my daddy's earlocks/Shunned before you pierced it, and sold it, and called it "punk rock""
Funny and playful, yes, but it's so, so refreshing to hear a young rock songwriter kick around such feisty identity politics without flinching or looking over his shoulder for the sensitivity squad. This is the arena where hip-hop has conquered and flourished in. Is it pop-punks turn???...... nah, doubtful... but that's what makes this one off song an instant gem.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Johnny To's two previous films, Election and Triad Election, were slick genre slices, hour and a half send-ups of American gangsterism (via Hong Kong) that had progressed him past the John Woo worship of his earlier, lighter work.
In interviews, To's ego kind of bothers me. Instead of being humble about his minor talent, To comes off preening as some sort of savior in Eastern cinema. Across the pond, his contemporary, Takeshi Kitano runs circles around To while working within the same genre. Kitano has an understanding of social mores and human conflict that To has lacked....


Exiled. I was expecting Election 3, but instead, To breaks through with a film about brotherly love within "the brotherhood". The sentiment is tidied up nicely in an excellent photo booth stunt at films end. It's a sight gag that To would have never attempted before. Maybe he watched some of his own DVD interviews (that multimedia mirror that talks back...) and decided to move beyond his blemishes.

Monday, December 10, 2007


You might have to click on it to see it, but the tagline for M. Night Shyamalan's new movie is : We've Sensed It... We've Seen The Signs... Now, It's Happening...

Is it coincidence or intentional that he alludes to The Sixth Sense and Signs in that line??

And I wonder if he named the movie The Happening because of the Pixies song - of the same name - about Area 51.

But then again, isn't the movie supposed to an allegory about global warming, or something...?? From IMDB:
A paranoid thriller about a family on the run from a natural crisis that presents a large-scale threat to humanity.
Maybe "the twist" will be that global warming isn't really man made after all.

Saturday, December 08, 2007





Yeah, yeah.... so we here at Tractor Facts will sometimes post on sick and perverse news stories. We're not proud of it, but we feel it's our duty to not edit our blog posting instincts. (take this as some type of SECOND WARNING before reading any further...)


What's gross? : eating a Whopper.

What's grosser than gross? : eating a Whopper... with an unwrapped condom in it!!!!!

Ohhhhhh yeah... it happened. A man in Vermont took home his fast food meal and when he bit into the burger, he found himself playing tug-o-war with a jimmy hat!:

"My third bite into the burger, it was just a foreign taste," he said. "It was a very sour, bitter sort of taste. It almost had a numbing sensation.

"As I went to bite down a little harder, I felt a rubber grind in between my teeth. I saw it half in my mouth, half hanging out. It was an immediate sick-to-my-stomach type of thing." (AP)


Uh, yeah... I bet it was. In fact, I'll bet it was more of an immediate vomit-on-the-walls-and-gargle-with-alcohol-for-20 minutes type of thing.

But Burger King is a little suspicious since the man waited three weeks to report to them about the Condom Whopper w/Smegma Cheese.

Hartless' lawyer, Devin McLaughlin, said he had Hartless undergo a lie detector test before the suit was filed, and that he passed "with flying colours."

Hartless said he has suffered from vomiting, nightmares and emotional distress. He said he also has incurred medical expenses, because he's worried about whether the condom had been used.

He said he stored the sandwich and its original wrapper in a plastic bag in a freezer in his garage.

The crime scene investigators sent the wrapper to the lab to look for any semen or DNA evidence.

The most tragic thing about this story, is that Mr. Hartless was so close to avoiding this whole ordeal, "I ordered the burger without mayo, so it shoulda been a red flag when I saw the white sauce coming out the bun... it looked suspiciously clumpy too, but, you know... I was hungry!"**

**(this quote was not sourced and, thus, may not be totally reliable information)

Friday, December 07, 2007


I guess I was lucky, cuz me and my two sisters (I'm in the middle...) grew up actually liking each other. The only time we fought was over the car, and even then we'd cry and get our "I'm sorry"s out in about 4 minutes. We're good that way. We've got forgiving blood flowing in us.

They've both nailed their goals and, to this day, continue to pile on over achievement after over achievement. Me? I'm a little slower (I may be a fox, but I move like a tortoise...), but my wife tells me I'll get there someday...

So... let me clear my throat and give my older sister and my brother-in-law a(nother) plug (they are both awesome chefs - pictured above):

Egil Valentine calls his job creative catering.

As the executive chef of his catering company, Macondo, Valentine's creative use of food requires ingredients and equipment that might look more at home in a laboratory than in a kitchen. Valentine demonstrated for me some techniques used by the modern chef that are somewhat flippantly referred to as molecular gastronomy.

Valentine was fully prepped to begin his demonstration when I arrived at his house, but he started by giving me a crash course in molecular gastronomy.

"Molecular gastronomy is techno-cooking. If you think of mango, you think of mango, but a chef like me thinks mango in seven different forms: a gel, a foam, a powder - you understand?" the chef asked.

Valentine continued, as I imagined mango foam.


Following the molecular gastronomy cram session, Valentine took me into the kitchen where his wife, Amy Osborn, helped the creative caterer get ready. Osborn is the other half of their catering business - the pastry chef and Valentine's muse, he said.

The rest of the article is HERE and their catering company, Macondo, is HERE.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


**UPDATE**: Please check out my friend Tom's list HERE, and Mandy (w/ Victor???) will have her list posted HERE, later this week. Anyone else wanting post a list of any kind - music related, of course - please do! You can leave them in the comments section or send me a link.
***TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2007***

10. Minutes to Midnight - Linkin Park

Rick Rubin knows how to trim the fat and flip the format. He made the Red Hot Chili Peppers tolerable from 1999 and beyond, and he's turned Linkin Park from a singles band into album rockers. Minutes to Midnight has less rapping (and unlike past LP efforts, when there is rap, it's good...) and less DJing and more focus on these sit-up-straight songs. It's the best big rock chugga-chugga album of the year.

FAVORITE SONGS: "Bleed It Out", "Valentine's Day", "In Pieces"

9. Because Of The Times - Kings of Leon

Three albums in, and still spry at the age of 25, Caleb Followill is beginning to mature. Songs about "perfect nipples" and premature ejaculation on 2005's Aha Shake Heartbreak (along with its suggestive Georgia O'Keefe artwork...), have morphed into a suitcase of cuddle tunes as evidenced on the ballads "True Love Way" and "Ragoo".

FAVORITE SONGS: "Charmer", "True Love Way", "Black Thumbnail"

8. Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters - The Twilight Sad

The band name and album cover gives a first impression that this may be another sub-par hardcore emo band from Kansas City, but really its just four regular looking Scots playing something like the Once soundtrack with a fuzz pedal. It's a flashback to the days of lovesick 90's indie rock, (circa Wedding Present's Sea Monsters). Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters'unchained heart-on-sleeve guitar assault is refreshing.

FAVORITE SONGS: "Cold Days From The Birdhouse", "Mapped By What Surrounded Them", "And She Would Darken The Memory"

7. Strawberry Jam - Animal Collective

Much has been about the Panda Bear album being a sort of neo-psychedelic Pet Sounds, but for me, Strawberry Jam deserves that comparison. Strawberry Jam is where the madness of Brian Wilson touches the madness of Syd Barrett, creating songs that may not be singable, but are endlessly hummable.

FAVORITE SONGS: "Chores", "For Reverend Green", "Winter Wonder Land"

6. Magic - Bruce Springsteen

Listening to a great Bruce Springsteen album is like pulling on your favorite, perfectly symmetrical t-shirt. You can trust it to make your day in that simple way. "Girls In Their Summer Clothes" divides the two sides of Magic. It's the type of anthem that would blast from radios if this were 1984, but radio won't play that type of rock anymore.

FAVORITE SONGS: "You'll Be Comin' Down", "Girls In Their Summer Clothes", "Long Walk Home"

5. The Good, The Bad, & The Queen - The Good, The Bad, & The Queen

Folk music filtered through dub-influenced piano hall music. Damon Albarn's vision of London is dark in contrast to the days of Parklife, but his point-of-view is still wide and varied: "It's bigger than you/the welfare state", "Drink all day/cuz the country's at war", "We saw the green fields/turn into stone/such lonely homes". Oh, and Paul Simonon is one nasty bugger on the bass.

FAVORITE SONGS: "80's Life", "Kingdom of Doom", "The Bunting Song"

4. Random Spirit Lover - Sunset Rubdown

Wolf Parade who?!? Spencer Krug dropped a pre-emptive bomb on his other band when he released this monster: a non-stop, hook laden, marble-mouthed minor masterpiece. As if Wolf Parade didn't have enough sophomore-slump anxiety looming over their heads already. On the upside, Krug is one half of WP's double-headed song machine, so the outlook for is still good.

FAVORITE SONGS: "The Courtesan Has Sung", "Winged/Wicked Things", "Stallion"

3. In Defense of the Genre - Say Anything

Like Kanye West, emo song-machine Max Bemis likes to call his shots, and so he does with the title of his band's second album. And just like Kanye, amazingly, he pulls it off... and then some! Not only is In Defense of the Genre 2007's most exciting latecomer, it's also the most consistenlty great pop album of the year. You can complain about the lyrics, but Bemis will just refer you to the album title again.

"Skinny, Mean Man", "The Church Channel", "Shiksa", "The Truth Is, You Should Lie With Me", "Have At Thee", "I Used To Have A Heart"

2. Icky Thump - The White Stripes

Rock's most naturally gifted songwriter, since Kurt Cobain, continues his streak. Throw in Jack White's pen work with Loretta Lynn and The Raconteurs, and it's pretty frightening how many trick tunes he keeps pulling out of his lil' black top hat. The lyrics have always been great, but with each chapter, White's wit gets wittier ("Rag and Bone") and his humility more human ("A Martyr For My Love For You").

FAVORITE SONGS: "300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues", "Bone Broke", "Little Cream Soda", "I'm Slowly Turning Into You"

1. Kala - M.I.A.

M.I.A. has made the "dope beat" a global phenomenon. Like Beck did with Odelay, Kala mixes found sounds with pop culture staples to produce a filler free track-to-track sophisticated dance factory. Your feet won't feel cheated while your brain's busy picking apart the sonic puzzles.

FAVORITE SONGS: "Bamboo Banga", "Boyz", "Jimmy", "World Town", "XR2", "Paper Planes"


1. "Say it Right" - Nelly Furtado w/ Timbaland
2. "Give It To Me" - Timbaland w/Nelly Furtado & Justin Timberlake
3. "Throw Some D's" - Rich Boy
4. "Paper Planes" - M.I.A.
5. "Flashing Lights" - Kanye West
6. "AYO Technology" - 50 Cent
7. "Umbrella" - Rhianna
8. "Lazy Eye" - Silversun Pickups
9. "Early Winter" - Gwen Stefani
10. "U & Ur Hand" - Pink

the rest....

"A Bay Bay" - Hurricane Chris
"Bleed It Out" - Linkin Park
"Don't Matter" - Akon
"Gimme More" - Britney Spears
"Girlfriend" - Avril Lavigne
"Glamorous" - Fergie
"Halloween Head" - Ryan Adams
"Last Night" - Diddy w/ Keyshia Cole
"Makes Me Wonder" - Maroon 5
"Misery Inc." - Paramore
"Never Again" - Kelly Clarkson
"No I In Threesome" - Interpol
"Phantom Limb" - The Shins
"Read My Mind" - The Killers
"Roc Boys" - Jay-Z
"Stronger" - Kanye West
"Teenagers" - My Chemical Romance
"What Goes Around..." - Justin Timberlake
"Who Knew" - Pink
"You Know I'm No Good" - Amy Winehouse