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February 23, 2007

the food network?

The Food Network is my new Weather Channel.  For years and years, whenever I would be lounging with a book or magazine in a room containing a television, I would flick it on and switch it to the Weather Channel, as a white noise to fill the room while I read.  It's probably not the best habit in the world -- in fact, it could be what's making me stupider.  But no longer!  I've kicked the Weather Channel to the curb in favor of the Food Network.  Not that I'm watching it, mind you.  There's only two or three shows I can take.  I just like the sound collage in the background of low talking and occasional cooking.

As to which of the Food Network entertainments I find entertaining, I gotta say that I agree ninety percent with Anthony Bourdain, who guest-blogs his opinions of the Food Network's murderer's row.  I think he's wrong about Giada, though her show is so soft-focus close-uppy that I wouldn't be able to tell if she could cook even if I watched close.  (Also, read Bourdain's books.  He write real good, for a kitchen guy.  Then have some of his choucroute at one of the Les Halles.  He cooks some damn fine choucroute, for a celebrity bookwriter.)

I know, none of this has to do with Iran or Mallard Fillmore.  When I relax, my silly enthusiasms bleed in the margins.

Posted by mrbrent at 11:10 AM

February 22, 2007

mallard fillmore still unfunny

In the course of the commute this morning, I checked in with the funny pages, to make sure that Bruce Tinsley's "Mallard Fillmore" is still egregiously not funny.  It is.  But at least today's strip is informative: non-Conservative men are trans-gendered, body-pierced anarchists.

I guess it's that kind of ad hominem reductionism that unfaithful, drunk-driving xenophobe Conservatives find funny.

Posted by mrbrent at 5:20 PM

you're not paranoid if they really out to get you

At the very least, you have to be impressed by our vigilance.  Americans were polled on who they believed to be our "greatest enemy" -- you can see the results over here.  The results?  Iran, with 26% of respondents, squeaks by Iraq, with 21%.

I guess that line of traffic I saw the last time I drove to Montreal were actually Iranian forces massing on the border.  Good eye, Americans!

Also endearing is the fact that Public Enemy Number Two is a nation that we have already invaded and currently occupy.  I recommend that we do not forget the threat of the Normans.  Those Normans were a cunning people, and, once they master time travel, could present a formidable opponent to the people of coastal Maine.

But thank goodness we have a common enemy of some sort.  Otherwise, we'd have to focus all our irrational hate on gays, or illegal immigrants.

Posted by mrbrent at 3:27 PM

you will have 1/2 hour news hour to kick around

Your suspicions about Americans' dogged affection for failing upwards are confirmed.  No, not the Bush Administration, but rather Fox News' Half-Hour News Hour.  (Which should be renamed "Get It?" as a courtesy to viewers.)  Unfortunately, being toxically unfunny is not a barrier to (comparatively) boffo ratings.

I consider this an omen that, soon, anything actually funny will be derided as "liberal" and therefore unfunny, and America-loving Americans will only laugh out loud at decidedly not-even-amusing material, which will be referred to as "patriot funny" or some damn thing.  And when I say "soon", I mean like "yesterday".

Though, on second thought, this may be an excellent example of viewers tuning in out of spite.

Posted by mrbrent at 10:57 AM

February 21, 2007

horse's mouth

Apparently, Josh Marshall of TPM is increasingly serious about this whole journalism on the Internets thing.  In the past I've noted that one of TPM's first offshoots, TPMMuckraker, was breaking/hounding some news in a way that print journalists only remember doing.

Now he's gone and marked out a little corner for Greg Sargent to write about the reporting of politics.  (Which, if you think about it, is pretty much just, 'to write about politics,' at least these bright and shiny days.)

For example, if you live in NYC you might have noticed the cover of the NY Post trumpeting that a new poll shows that most Americans support endless war in Iraq.  The poll, of course, is dubious, and the most thoughtful look into the whys and hows of the dubious poll is this post from Sargent.  Basically, a majority of Americans will support eating steel wool if you rig the questions of the poll in the right way.  (i.e., do you disagree with the following statement: only an America-hating gay illegal alien would rather eat steel wool than save innocent blond toddlers from an apartment fire set by a recidivist welfare cheat.)  It's a nice post, well-written and well-reported.

So now I must ask: Who can withstand Josh Marshall's fiendish plan to colonize your bookmarks!?!

(For the record, I'm just calling it as I see it -- I have no relationship with anyone in the TPM families.  Yet.)

Posted by mrbrent at 4:39 PM

i guess i won't be getting comped at at the kobe club anytime soon

Finally, a food industry feud worthy of a layman's attention.  (The layman is me, of course, not you.  You are expert at everything you endeavor.)

Please welcome to the Twenty-First Century the "Proprietor v. Critic" flavor of the chair-fight, as evidenced by this ad placed in today's Dining In/Dining Out section of the New York Times.  (No pullquote from this one -- the craziness is finely marbled throughout the letter, like a nice dry-aged porterhouse.)  The longish story behind it can be found over at Eater.  The shorter version is that the New York Times restaurant critic reviewed a restaurant poorly (well, actually, kind of hung it from a tree in a gunny sack and beat it with a shovel), so owner of restaurant retaliates with threats/critique of critics, etc.

It's kind of silly to pick sides -- Jeffrey Chodorow does have a small restaurant empire (imagine upscale Applebee's where there's only one of each), but the circulation of the NYTimes on Wednesday runs above one million copies.  The poorly-reviewed are well within their rights to namecall or whatever else makes them happy, but I doubt that the long-term success of the NYTimes will be affected.

(Also, I do like reading Mr Bruni's reviews, though I think I've been to exactly one of the restaurants he reviewed.  He no-starred it; I liked the restaurant anyway.)

Posted by mrbrent at 11:26 AM

February 20, 2007

pay no attention to the britney behind the curtain

It the great tradition of convenience, I've found someone who's saying what I want to say, but clearly and engagingly.  Every time we turned the TV on over the long weekend, one of us would say, "Britney Spears", and magically she would appear!  CNN, FoxNews, the Discovery Channel -- no matter which.  This of course led to discussion of the newshole, and the absence of actual news therein.

Naturally, I have an opinion on this.  But so does Matt Taibbi, whom I've always enjoyed.  As his opinion is in lockstep with mine, and as his is peppered with vulgarity in the same way that mine is, please go read his, and consider this a "goes double for me".  A taste:

Apparently, from now on, every time a jackass sticks a pencil in his own eye, we'll have to wait an extra ten minutes to hear what happened on the battlefield or in Congress or any other place that actually matters.

Oh, that actual pencils and actual eyes were involved.

(For the record, while not giving two shits about news about Britney in general, I do think that the shaved head makes her smarter than you are, in an Andy-Kaufman-baiting-Memphis-rasslin-fans kind of way.)

Posted by mrbrent at 4:16 PM

happy belated president's day

Was that a great President's Day or what?  I mean, I'm tired and all, but, what a day!  We all got up at seven AM so we could watch the President's President's Day Address from the National Cathedral live on TV.  Then we spent the morning making paper mache masks of our favorite presidents (Buchanan and Harrison, respectively).  Why masks?  Well, so that we could (after clean-up!) get ourselves down to the President's Day Parade down Fifth Avenue!  We were right behind the Shonomish High School Marching Band (they were cracker-jack!) and I got second-place for Best Harrison!  Finally, we ended the evening watching the fireworks over New York Harbor!

Oh wait, I'm lying.  Yeah, we pretty much just stayed home from work, like everyone else (sorry, food service).

Yeah, you Americans really know how to celebrate.

Posted by mrbrent at 9:07 AM