Monday, December 28, 2009

Greetings from the armpit of America...Vegas, that is.

I know you've been wondering where I've been this week...all two of my readers, that is. Well, I arrived to Las Vegas yesterday--ya know, the city of mirrored hotel facades and dirty hookers--for work. Despite regular showers, I have felt dirty since landing here. The entire city stinks of cigarette smoke, the sky is gray, and there are billboards everywhere for strip clubs and Penn & Teller who I really thought had been eaten by tigers years ago. Instead of candies on my hotel room pillows there was a menu for 'Whipper Ticklers' and crotchless bikini bottoms. I don't want to be a 'naughty ballerina.' I just wish there were better free toiletries in the bathroom. On Day One I lost $3 on a 'Sex and the City' slot machine. The only place I could find to eat lunch was Pink Taco. The chips were great, I'll admit, but I prefer not to dine at eating establishments named after my private parts. The only daylight I've seen on Day Two was via a ride to Del Taco. I will be here for 3 more days and you may not hear from me again. But please--if I don't correspond again by end of week--send a search party to my hotel and the Spearmint Rhino. Thanks and I hope to see you on the flip side.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A [frugal] Jew's guide to Christmas Day.

I hate to perpetuate any stereotype--and I'm fully aware that Jews have a bum rap for to put this nicely...well, frugal--but this member of the tribe is really and truly low on funds this holiday season. And in an ironic twist, I also happen to love Christmas. Hannukah--I can take it or leave it. Yom Kippur--I'm not going a whole day without food for anything, let alone repentance. But the bright lights, pine-scented trees, and fat, gray-haired, red-suited men of Christmas--this secular Jew will celebrate that any day of the year (well, namely just on December 25th).

This year, however, I'll be stuck in So Cal on Christmas Day--loved ones far away and nary a penny to spend on festivities.

So, here's how I'll be celebrating the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

  • Cleaning. Cleaning is free. It is fun. It should take up at least 2.5 hours of my day. Which is a start.
  • McDonald's. Did you know that Mickey D's is open on Christmas Day? Well, it is. At least the one in K-Town. Hopefully the checker-playing, elderly Korean men of the neighborhood will be out in full force. Because I will talk to them. And I will join in their checkers game. And I will lead them in Christmas songs. You know I'll do it.
  • Movies. No, not the in-theatre kind. The rent 'em at Ralph's from the big vending machine for $1 / day kind.
  • Wine. Can you say Two Buck Chuck anyone? Sure you can--just try it.
And if all else fails, I will find out where you are celebrating Christmas. And I will crash.

Le Tigre plays on words but will Tiger sell you tee shirts?

Le Tigre, the brand better known for its stitched logo than its actual product, has launched a new campaign. It references today's most scandalous star athlete, encourages a focus back on to the sport of golf, and even includes a charity angle.

But do we really need Tiger Woods right now, Le Tigre? And is it possible to 'get back on course' and away from Tiger's recent scandal when you're calling attention to him in the very same ad? And, greatest on the irony scale, does a charity that aims to 'promote character development and life-enhancing values' really need to associate itself with golf's biggest, ahem, player?

I would like to officially cast my vote on Le Tigre's new ads (because I know they were waiting on my input): FAIL.

[Via WWD]

Monday, December 21, 2009

Chicago: I came, I saw, I left 40 hours later.

As part of my new initiative to visit American cities I've not yet seen (which is most of them), I took the opportunity this past weekend to join my mother in an insanely brief visit to Chicago where my brother and his fiance now reside.

The temperature was in the 30s which Chicagoans will tell you is not that cold. Well, Chicagoans can suck it. I've lived in Los Angeles for over 4 years. Anything below 50 during the day is ungodly.

The sky remained gray for most of my visit.

Though it allowed for a clear view of the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower).

The Lincoln Park Zoo offered a free light show to those willing to face cold night temperatures for tree covered branches, neon animal shapes and a polar bear who knew enough to stay hidden inside his warm cave.

Despite a 4:30 am arrival, O'Hare Airport was already abuzz with holiday travelers this morning. Had I been any more fatigued, I might have thought this light installation a sign of hallucination.

To see the rest of my Chicago pics, visit the album on Flickr.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The office holiday party gift that keeps on giving.

Earlier this week, my department hosted its annual holiday party. This party is lovely and endearing for all of its predicatability. There will always be a domestic cheese platter. I will always eat too much. Someone will always get inappropriately drunk. But what spices the party up each year is the White Elephant gift exchange.

At this year's party I received this odd specimen of a gift to the left. A 'Crazy Cat Lady' Action Figure. I think the irony begins with the word 'action.' Isn't an inherent part of the Cat Lady's persona that she not get any action?

The toy is accompanied by a quiz on the back to sort out, at long last, if you are or are not a Crazy Cat Person. Some of the questions include...

* Do you get excited when you hear a can opener?
* Do you have more cats than ex-boyfriends?
* Do you bring new boyfriends home so the cats can meet them?
* Do you later break up with them because the cats weren't impressed?
* Do you own more than one piece of clothing with a cat on it?
* Do you feel that the ancient Egyptian tradition of cat worship is the one true religion?

To which I'd like to ask, 'So, what if I can say yes to one or more of these questions? What of it?' To which I'll add that I'm not admitting to any of this. I'm just asking. So I'll implore you to stop judging me.

Regardless, I'm really looking forward to Friday night at home to play with my, I mean play with my new action, I mean go out and get crazy. Cause I totally have a life.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The [un]official Etiquette Guide to the holiday party season.

Holiday party season has officially sprung upon Los Angeles. And my calendar's become so inundated with holiday party invites that it may die a slow and painful death of good cheer and mistletoe poisoning. Now, I'm equally at fault for the scheduling overload--I hosted my own holiday party last night--but my own mistakes quickly aside, I'd love to offer some etiquette tips for those participating in holiday festivities this season.

1. Compile a holiday wish list. No one wants to guess what you want. If you're into Hanna Montana--sure I'll judge you [and perhaps suggest counseling]--I'd rather get you the weird shit you want than present you with a [far more appropriate] gift you'll scoff at. You can view my very own wish list here (hint, hint).

2. Bring something to the party. You've been invited to those 15 parties (or maybe just that one depending on how [un]popular you are). And you can't show up empty handed. If you do, your host is put in the awkward position of having to pretend he or she is still glad you came. Believe me. He or she is not. For host gifts, I suggest a nice bottle of wine, something for the kitchen, or strippers depending on the nature of the party.

3. Don't bring stupid people. The dynamic of a party is all about its guests. If you've been invited to bring a guest, bring a good one. Guests who no one wants at the party include, but are not limited to, your little, underage sister (okay, some of the guys may actually be stoked she's there, but no--this is still not okay), your recently released convict pen pal, and the lonely and creepy mall Santa.

4. Don't make it all religious and stuff. The key to most holiday parties are that they're for everyone. Catholics attend Hannukah parties. Jews go to Christmas parties. And so on and so forth. So keep the religious stuff light, especially if the soiree's a 'holiday' party and you're not sure about the religious leanings of your host. Items not to bring include: crosses, menorahs, bibles. Safe items include: mistletoe, reindeer-shaped chocolates, board games and practical jokes.

Note: above is the 'holiday' tree that someone brought over for me recently. Note that though it looks like a 'Chrsitmas' tree, there is chocolate surrounding it. And chocolate makes everything secular.

Happy holidays everyone!

xo * Jessie B. R.

Food Find: Ketel One Canteen says thanks, happy hannukah and bon appetit.

Sometimes vodka gives you a massive f+cking hangover. Sometimes (the better times) it gives you potato pancakes and awesome free grub. This weekend, catch Ketel One's ultimate guerrilla marketing ploy, the Ketel One Canteen, in Hollywood. The food truck (of course it's a truck--who bothers with stationary anymore?) will be doling out FREE food prepped by Ilan Hall of Gorbals Restaurant and Top Chef fame. And Hannukah-themed fare no less. Because us Jews--we like vodka. And you gentiles--you like Jewish food. It's win-win, really.
Though the truck won't actually be serving alcohol, it will be accompanied by a fleet of cars to drive you home if you've had one too many libations somewhere else along the Cahuenga Corridor.

Ketel One Canteen
@ Cahuenga between Hollywood and Selma
Thursday - Sat: 12 a - 2 a

[via Thrillist]

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Pictures: Selma Blair's cavernous private parts in 'The Big Empty'

A few years ago when I was screening short film entries for a Gen Art event I came across a 21 minute film that, many moons later, has stuck in my head as a beautiful and poignant one. Finally finding it again last night via the modern miracles of IMDb and YouTube, I believe my fond memory may have been slightly exaggerated. The story of a girl whose vagina is so gaping and empty that she's swept around the globe by a fame hungry doctor for TV appearances seems less likely and slightly more hokey. But 'The Big Empty' is still worth viewing, if only to wonder how bigwigs like actress Selma Blair and exec producers George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh got wrapped up in a project about the wasteland of one poor girl's private parts.

If you've got the 21 minutes at work today, watch it and share your thoughts. And P.S. - keep your eye out for an appearance by House star Hugh Laurie peeking out from Selma Blair's hospital gown.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Been there, done that: 100+ years of December 11ths.

Harper's Bazar - December 11,1897

LOOK Magazine - December 11, 1956
JET Magazine - December 11, 1969

LIFE Magazine - December 11, 1970

Rolling Stone - December 11, 2008

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Walmart sells caskets. Middle America can go peacefully now.

Walmart, your go-to megastore for cheaper cleaning agents, tween lines, and electronics, has now added caskets to their retail offerings. The cheapest models start at $895. And I checked--delivery time's not terrible on these bad boys. Order the 'Mom Remembered Steel Casket' today and have it at your doorstep by next Monday, Tuesday tops.

Just be aware--if you're on the store's website and searching for 'casket'--that the 'coffin guitar cases' are not in the same family of merchandise. You will not fit inside.

[via @daria_laloo via LA Times]

Helmut Newton - black, white and nude all over.

Just a glimpse at the work of a photographic legend. Because I love a legend, I love a good eye, and I love naked people (in no particular order).

Jenny Capitain, Pension Dorian, Berlin 1977

Domestic Nude I, In my kitchen, Chateau Marmont, Hollywood 1992

Fat Hand and Dollars, Monte Carlo 1986

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Worthy Reads: We Feel Fine

'I feel like taking a run outside to burn off the peanut butter I consumed an hour ago in the cafeteria.'

And think you should care because this is the world wide web gosh darnit. And we all want to share our feelings.

We Feel authors, Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris, have compiled thousands of these emotive declarations--the 'feelings' and the 'thoughts' and the crap we feel the need to tell the world--off the web. And now they've put them in a book for your consumption.

And I think it's genius.

[via Flavorwire]

Food Find: Nickel Diner serves up diner fare with flare.

Nickel Diner is located on Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles. And how appropriate that a diner that makes old [fashioned] new again should be housed in a neighborhood that's rapidly transitioning from dingy and dirty to hip and reborn.

The waitstaff is tatted. The menu showcases tofu alongside diner standards like grilled cheese and the Nickel Burger. And the dessert tray is rich and sugary and high in calories, but hosts a vegan tapioca. It is truly a diner for a new generation--a hungry one that likes its organic quinoa and its fried onion rings in equal parts.

P.S. To the bottom left of the dessert tray you'll notice what our waitress called a 'Cher Cupcake.' She couldn't tell us why it's called that--that we'd have to try it to find out. We, instead, ordered the Salt Peanut Cake [with potato chips]. So, I beseech you to go in, order the cupcake, eat it, and report back.

P.P.S. House specialties include the Smac & Cheese and the Maple Glazed Bacon Donut. Though I don't eat bacon, both looked pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Greetings meant for someone else.

I live in a medium-sized apartment building in Koreatown.
Which means that there are several who've lived in my unit before me.
And many more who'll reside there in future years, I'm sure.
Which also means that occasionally I still get Jafet R.'s mail.
This often begins with excitement about a hand addressed letter or card.
And ends with me thinking 'oh, I guess another of Jafet's old cronies doesn't know she's moved...still.'
This morning I saw the signs of the season's first holiday card.
And then--yes, of course--came the revelation that it was meant for Jafet.
Well, I've lived here for over 2 years now.
The jig is up.
I opened her mail.
First, I saw the card's cover.
'Beautiful Savior!,' it read.
Aw, criminy. Jafet's got fanatical religious friends. Great.
I opened further. Quoted psalms and a typed up letter. Awesome. More religious propaganda.
I unfold the lengthy, typed up note and begin reading Ron & Barb's 'Christmas greetings from North Carolina!'
Ron has Parkinson's. Barb has cancer. Shit. I feel bad now.
A's husband has thyroid cancer. Okay, this is too much now. This is a hoax. They're going to ask for money.
K and T are still in Durham with their 5 children. They are twins. They're three. They're having fun on the outer banks.
Two couple friends met them at the Cracker Barrel off Interstate 95 in May. It was a special treat. Um, perhaps this is for real. People don't just make up trips to the Cracker Barrel.
Mom's going to be 90 come 2010. Wow.
And--this closes the letter--Ron and Barb want to wish us...I mean Jafet...'a most blessed Christmas and New Year. At times, the future looks gloomy, but God is still in control and [they] thank Him for his protection and grace that He gives [them] each day.'
Barb and Ron have completely put me to shame. They didn't ask, Jafet...for money. They didn't push their religion. They're just super grateful for their family and the twins and the Cracker Barrel and God at the holidays. They're sort of awesome and I consider, for a moment, writing back. Telling them that Jafet doesn't live here anymore. But, if they'd like, they can continue to write.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The RSVP Line: baked goods for charity? We're in!

For one day only--tomorrow--LA's foodiest food bloggers will come together in the name of charity. Eat My Blog promises to be a bake sale to rival all other bake sales (yeah, even your elementary school bakeoff). The event will feature baked goods from the kitchens of better known blogs (i.e. LA Times, LA Weekly) as well  as the lesser recognized-but still tasty-ones (i.e.

Menu items are slated to include such eccentric treats as 'olive oil buttermilk coffee cake' and a frightening number of bacon treats like the 'bacon apple pie,' and will be balanced out by the standards like [boring ole] cupcakes.

I'm most excited for the gluten free and vegan desserts. Thank you, bloggers, for kindly remembering those of us with strange dietary restrictions. And for giving me an excuse to stuff my face tomorrow--ya know...for charity.

Eat My Blog
Saturday, December 5
10 a - 4 p

Zeke's Smokehouse
7100 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Pictures: Up In The Air

Last night I attended Gen Art's advance screening of 'Up In The Air.'

Go see it because...

The film's message is sobering but so true to my heart. None of the shit we think is important really matters at all. But if you're not in it together with someone, you're in it alone. And it's so much lonelier that way.

George Clooney is so very handsome. I'm not one to get gaga over movie stars. But Clooney makes me want to take a cold shower...and then get dirty again.

The soundtrack is stellar. It includes tracks by Dan Auerbach, Sad Brad Smith and Elliot Smith. It is sad but makes me happy.

Up In The Air opens tomorrow--Friday, December 4th.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Food Find: Big Man Bakes [cupcakes].

Call me a hormone-crazed female blogger, but it's clearly a dessert kind of day over here in overcast Los Angeles. Though I had Aussie treats on the mind this morning, my focus has shifted to sweets that are a little closer to home. Just down the street in fact. Just a few blocks away from my Downtown office has recently opened Big Man Bakes, a cupcake eatery which I'm confident will rival the bigger boutique cupcake chainlets which have sprouted over the last year or 2 (ala Crumbs). The bakery's proprietor, William 'Chip' Brown, is indeed a big man. But for those of us who are trying to stay a bit...well...not so big, he kindly makes a smaller version of his sugary goodness. And he'll sell you 6 of 'em for just $5.

Those of you who are observant and/or quick with math will notice that the picture above shows only 5 cupcakes. Well, there may or may not be even less remaining in the box now. Don't judge.

Big Man Bakes
413 S Main Street
Los Angeles, CA 90013

The personal lives of public figures.

The biggest news stories of this week have included Tiger Woods' 'transgressions' [for which he has now publicly apologized to his family]. And the coming out of 'Family Ties' actress Meredith Baxter. Both items made headlines on the front pages of national newspapers. Both have nearly overshadowed Obama's announcement that more troops will be sent to Afghanistan. Both are none of our goddamn business.

And I simply cannot figure out why we care. Husbands cheat on their wives not infrequently. Women over 60 come out of the closet...well, maybe not as often. Don't the members of the American population have their own problems and occasions to deal with? If not, I'd like to suggest needlepoint, or perhaps Mah Jong, as a more productive hobby than celebrity gossip.

[Image Credits: Tiger - Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press; Meredith - Drew/AP]

Food Find: a history of Lamingtons, an Australian dessert of great importance.

I worked an Australian hosted event last night and was introduced to the strange and wonderful world of Lamingtons. These squares of heaven are a little known treat here in the States. But one the Aussies have perfected. If nothing else good has ever been imported to the US from Australia by way of the vast Pacific Ocean, let it be known that Lamingtons arrived last night. And they were worth the journey over.

According to this History of Cakes, a Lamington or Lemmington means 'layers of beaten gold. An Australian dessert of little cubes or squares of sponge cake, dipped in chocolate, then rolled in coconut. In Victoria (State of Australia) they often add a layer of raspberry or plum jam.' Whatever they say. They're delicious.

And speaking of the history of the cake, 2006 was an apparently rather impressive year for the Lamington. Wikipedia tells us that Friday, July 21, 2006 'was designated as National Lamington Day in Australia.' And that 'in September 2006, the National Trust of Queensland named the Lamington one of Queensland's favourite icons.' The cake is either that good. Or Australia is seriously devoid of significant cultural news.

To make your own Lamingtons, find the recipe here. Enjoy the sweet taste of Australia!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Today is World AIDS Day. Do something.

Today is World AIDS Day.

How wonderful that people and organizations are taking action and making progress in the fight against AIDS.

How sad that the epidemic's become so great that an international Day is warranted to recognize it.

Visit World AIDS Day to learn more.

Support the cause with your daily coffee fix today via Starbucks.

Find out what the (RED) campaign is doing to help.

Do something.