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03 July, 2008

News Around Town

A Bitter Cup. Starbucks announced the closing of 600 stores and layoff of 12,000 employees. It was bound to happen: with a Starbucks at every block and McDonald's totally addicting iced coffee for much less, even their improved Espresso Roast can't stop the bleeding.

Say No to Plastic Bags. Manhattan Beach follows San Francisco and Malibu as the third California city to approve a no single-use plastic bag ordinance. Santa Monica will be next. The environment for the win. If you want to hear a debate on the issue, Which Way L.A. has a good one.

Another Day, Another Food Recall. I thought potato fries were next, but after the lettuce, tomato, and green onion scare, it's beef's turn again -- this time ground beef -- to be taken off the shelves after grocery chain Ralphs announced a possible E. coli contamination from a Nebraska-based supplier. The grocery chain announced safe supply won't be available until Tuesday.

More Cuts at the LATimes. Another round of jobs to be cut at the paper, 250 of them including 150 editorial positions, due to declining revenue. The paper will also reduce the number of pages it publishes by 15%. Competition is fierce and times are tough, but why not boost sales instead of cutting down on expenses? Perhaps do like the European papers and offer freebies with every issue, kinda like the toy that comes with every Cracker Jack box. Just a thought.

Caught on Tape. Embattled former Orange Country Sheriff Michael Carona, was caught on tape using racial slurs and sexual comments in a sting operation related to his corruption and fraud charges. His defense lawyers want them taken off the record for irrelevance to the case and the possibility it will prejudice the jury who may think that he's also, apart from being a crook, a sexist bigot.

Label(s): Metro
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Can Buy Me Love?

This is just so wrong. From Bandai, maker of the virtual pet game Tamagotchi:

"Ikemenbank", or "handsome men bank", is a heart-shaped electronic piggy bank with an LCD screen that allows its owner to conduct a virtual affair with a cartoon character while watching the coins pile up.
So girls can get some love, one coin at a time.

"Ikemenbank" first asks the user to choose between five different types of men: "cool model", "witty comedian", "gentle, public-school boy", "young athlete" and "older man with patience".

As the user inserts coins, the men talk back, saying "you are the best," and "you are looking prettier these days".
A virtual lover of your choosing, who will coo sweet nothings to make your toes curl... for a price.

But to achieve a happy ending [note: as in "marriage offer"], the user needs to choose strategic answers when the men ask questions such as: "I see my friend had a crush on you... doesn't he?"

The men also need constant attention. If the handsome model is neglected for 5 days, he disappears, leaving behind a farewell letter.
What? A piggy bank lover who not only needs a constant coin diet, but is a needy, controlling jerk, too? Jeeze Bandai, you sure give love -- and saving money -- a bad name.

Label(s): Misc
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Gossip Diet

Rachael Ray asked four of her chattiest viewers to refrain from gossiping for a week, but the girls apparently had such a tough time they broke their "gossip diet" in less than 48 hours. They are so addicted to gossiping that they feel it's an essential part of who they are:

"Gossip is a huge part of my life," says 27-year-old Talia. "I look forward to doing it every day." Stephanie, 29, agrees: "I can't imagine my life without gossip. I think it would be pretty boring."
They remind me of my cousin, who subsists on gossip all day long. I've tried steering the conversation to other things like politics or literature or art, but she either gets this glassy look in her eyes or busies herself with chores so she can ignore me. I finally gave up and decided not to visit with her often for the sake of my sanity; there's only so much of so and so's cheating spouse or gambling addiction or repossessed property I can take.

I'd be lying if I claim never to have engaged in idle and at times not-so-innocent chit chat about someone else, but it’s often so inane and petty I can almost feel my brain shrivel up like a prune when exposed to it for inordinate periods of time. Which is why it blows my mind there are people who actually crave gossip, especially the trash talk kind.

One Jezebel commenter says that some women see sharing secrets – their own and what others told them, which both qualify as gossip -- as a way to bond, and eliminating it entirely can feel like abrupt emotional withdrawal. Perhaps, but I doubt that it’s the only way, much less the best way, for us to bond with each other.

I mean, really? There is absolutely nothing else of interest or passion women would enjoy sharing and talking about more than gossip? I think it's time for some serious self introspection if that is the case.


Label(s): Thoughts
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11 June, 2008

News Around Town

Black Ball Spill. Check out the above video of L.A.'s Department of Water & Power dropping 400,000 black balls into the Ivanhoe Reservoir. The balls will shade its bromide and chlorine laden water from sunlight to prevent the formation of carcinogens. The reservoir serves 600,000 Angelenos; a total of 3 million of these black balls will eventually blanket it in the next 3-5 years. Many think it looks like an ugly oil spill, but it looks more like caviar to me. More from Curbed L.A.

A Challenge to Repeal of Special Order 40. The order states that "officers shall not initiate police action with the objective of discovering the alien status of a person." A suit was filed to repeal it, alleging it prevents police from exchanging info with immigration officials. The city and the ACLU are challenging the repeal, alleging that it amounts to racial profiling and would discourage immigrants from cooperating with law enforcement.

Personally, I'm against the repeal; the LAPD are peace and order officers, not immigration officers. Also, existing laws already covers information sharing between the agencies; a repeal would just create one more regulation we don't need. A segment of Which Way L.A. discussed this important issue, including the alleged killing of high school football star Jamiel Shaw by an illegal immigrant gang member that sparked the whole debate.

Killer Tomatoes. If you've noticed those tomato slices and chunks disappearing from your restaurant hamburgers and salsas, blame the latest salmonella scare. No word on the origin yet. Cherry, grape and homegrown tomatoes are okay; Roma, plum and red round tomatoes not okay. So far, one person has died and 167 got sick, with 23 requiring hospitalization. First was the beef scare, then the green onion scare, now this. What's next, no more french fries?!

Celtics 2, Lakers 1. Finally, we have a series. Lakers eked out a third game 87-81 win at the Staples Center. They played more aggressively -- Farmar even got into Brown's face after being pushed around -- but with Gasol and Odom shut out by the Celtics' strong defense, Kobe and Sasha were left to carry the day points-wise. The Lakers also kept Pierce and Powe's shots to low single digits and Garnett's to low doubles. The other bright side: no repeat of the ugly Staples brawl from Sunday. Also in related news, convicted illegal betting felon and ex-NBA referee Tim Donaghy claims that a 2002 playoff game was rigged in favor of the Lakers; Commissioner Stern calls it hogwash.

Special Favors?? It looks like Democratic State Representative and former Long Beach councilwoman Laura Richardson will get her Sacramento house back. Richardson made headlines for the $535k home's foreclosure and for defaulting on two others. The mortgage broker who bought the home at auction alleges favoritism on the part of the lender, Washington Mutual, which rescinded the sale.

L.A. Chefs Shut Out at James Beard Awards. Although L.A. represented, none of our chefs won any of the major categories at the Foundation's recent culinary awards held in NYC. Two local writers did get nods: Angeleno's Brad Johnson for restaurant criticism and LAT's Russ Parsons honored as a Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America. Grant Achatz from Alinea in Chicago won the outstanding chef award. liveblogged the event here.

Label(s): Metro
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30 May, 2008

Fashion Find: Aldo Hidden Platform Pumps

Shoes are the "it" accessories this season, but most of the brand names are ridiculously expensive.

If you think Manolo Blahnik is outrageously priced at $500 a few years ago, nowadays the much coveted Christian Louboutin hidden platform pumps can set you back at least $700.

Not to mention those Balenciaga gladiator sandals that can cost up to $1,500 a pair. That's $150 per toe, people.

Don't get me wrong. What one considers unreasonably expensive is a personal call. I've certainly done my share of spending in the past, but I just can't justify spending that kind of money for clothes and accessories right now.

That, however, doesn't mean making do with unfashionable choices. Take this Atlantic City pumps by Aldo. Stylish yet reasonable at $100. Who says dollarwise and fashionwise are entirely different things?

Label(s): Fashion
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Lakers In The Finals

After a five-year drought, this was particularly sweet:

Bryant scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers rallied from an early 17-point deficit to beat the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 100-92 on Thursday night and win the Western Conference finals in five games.
Just a short year ago, Kobe Bryant was publicly demanding a trade. Though it ticked off management -- who wisely said he's not going anywhere -- and some fans including me, it wasn't hard to understand why: the team sucked. From the Shaq/Kobe era of three-peat, the new Lakers were reduced to barely making it to the playoffs a couple of times, let alone winning one. Until last night.

It all changed when Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak pulled off the coup of acquiring Pau Gasol from Memphis four months ago. The turnaround was dramatic, almost miraculous. In spite of Andrew Bynum being sidelined by an injury for the rest of the season, the young team stepped up their game and in the process let Kobe be Kobe, concentrating on making those amazing shots and assists instead of worrying about keeping the team from falling apart. In turn, his stellar performance inspired his teammates to do even better. Kobe and his team, in effect, started feeding off each other.

Last night, their teamwork and speed proved too much for the experienced yet lethargic Spurs. Their top shooters Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were effectively shut out by a solid Lakers defense in the fourth quarter. Their own defense in turn, which was weak to begin with, couldn't match an aggressive Lakers team hungry for their shot at the title.

It's nice to see Kobe smiling again. He's obviously pumped up and proud of his team. He matured a lot this season, from a talented yet self-absorbed overachiever into a true leader and team player. Considering where they were from just a season ago, winning the Western Conference was quite the achievement. Hopefully, the ego boost will serve them well in the finals against what looks to be the Boston Celtics.

Lakers vs Celtics. The old rivalry is back. It's gonna be one hell of a championship series.

AP Photo/Chris Pizzello
A&E, Books, Metro, Fashion, Food, Life, Photos, Thoughts, Misc
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29 May, 2008

Frozen Grand Central

A flash mob stands still in New York City. Hillarity and wonder ensues:

See also the Great Freeze in Los Angeles, London, Paris and Edinburgh.

Label(s): Misc
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Sex And The City Premiere

So the girls are back in a full length feature that's been so hyped up only the comatose haven't heard of it. All this excitement over a movie about 40-somethings cheers me up a bit, considering the dearth of major female roles in Hollywood, much less roles for any female over 30, but I wonder if its target female audience is enough to put SATC over the top box office wise.

Judging by the premiere, perhaps it will surprise us yet:

...a ticket snafu left thousands of fashionistas all dressed up with absolutely no place to go...

Security officials said up to 2,000 people - who had gotten tickets through promotional giveaways authorized by movie studio New Line Cinema - were shut out of the screening...

"I've spent five months looking forward to this. I'm angry and frustrated," said Jen Ferguson, 23, who flew in all the way from British Columbia.

Ferguson, dressed to the nines in a black Hervé Léger bandage dress and blue satin Christian Louboutin heels, said her parents had bought four tickets for $1,000 each and booked rooms at The Plaza hotel.
Uh, that's crazy. Harmless fun but crazy. More movie premiere wackiness from Liz Smith, who was actually there.

As for the fashions, the NYC premiere had more good than bad. Sarah Jessica Parker looked radiant in Nina Ricci even though it overwhelmed her petite frame a bit. Cynthia Nixon was sleek and lean in a simple white Narciso Rodriguez . Kristin Davis wore a gold Donna Karan that I personally wouldn't wear but looked adorable on her, if a tad too long. Too bad I can't say the same for Kim Cattrall's ill-conceived and ill-fitting Vivienne Westwood gunmetal bustier dress. The rest of the cast and celebrity attendees in their getups can be found here.

I don't have a burning desire to see SATC; it's cotton candy better suited for tv, and I'm not expecting a more realistic ending than the sappy series finale, especially now that they've extended the franchise on the big screen. If I do see it, it's mainly to check out the shoes and the clothes, some of which are showcased here.

AP Photo/StarPix, Dave Allocca
A&E, Fashion
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16 May, 2008

Laughing Out Loud

wowOwow asks: What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

Easy. Last week, our favorite political blogger Atrios wrote a cryptic "Laura Roslin's mother is Barbara Bush. NOOOOOO". Huh?

It finally made sense when we saw our latest Tivo'ed episode of Battlestar Galactica over the weekend. In a dream sequence, President Roslin -- played by the wonderful Mary McDonnell -- of the surviving Colonials, who is suffering from cancer, sees the hazy likeness of her deceased mother walking towards her on a riverbank with that silver halo of hair and unmistakable tummy-first gait reminiscent of, you guessed it, the Beautiful Mind herself. I spotted her first.

"Oh my gahd, it is Barbara Bush!"

And we bust out laughing. She wasn't the real one, of course, but pretty darn close. Check it out at the 00:50 and 01:10 marks above.

I can point out many other instances like that. D. and I love to laugh together. It's what's kept us blissfully happy all these years.

What was the last thing that made you laught out loud?

Label(s): Life
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Food Bits

• Melon "Fabergé eggs", lemon bears and bok choy fish? It’s the world of produce art. The painstaking skill has made a comeback, with high end restaurants paying thousands of dollars for increasingly elaborate edible figures and tableaus, anywhere from a fish aquarium to The Last Supper. Darn, I should’ve kept those cheap carving tools from sixth-grade cooking class. Click photo for more food magic. [New York Times].

• Fifteen year-old Jennifer Sharpe from Michigan sold a record 17,328 boxes of Girl Scouts cookies which went a long way towards earning her troop a trip to Europe this winter. Wow, that’s a lot of Samoas ®. Her secret? Persistence, hard work and a real love for them cookies. [A.P.]

• Through a parliamentary maneuver, the city council of Chicago lifted the two-year ban on foie gras. Chefs are relieved, PETA is incensed, and goose liver enthusiasts rejoiced. I’d guess Doug Sohn especially, whose foie gras-laced sausages earned him the city’s first $250 fine. [Chicago Tribune]

• Wolfgang Puck sues the owner of Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, Wolfgang Zwiener. Puck’s own steakhouse Cut is only a few blocks away in Beverly Hills from the former, causing confusion. Zwiener won’t budge, claiming a patented trademark on the restaurant's name and renown in the restaurant business long before anyone knew who Puck was. Ohh, food fight, food fight! [The Knife]

• The L.A. Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance requiring taco trucks to change locations every hour or face a $1,000 fine and/or jail. The silly law, which became effective yesterday, basically puts taco trucks out of business in 65% of the city’s total land area. If you love these taco trucks which are a mainstay of Angeleno culture, sign a petition here to repeal the ordinance. Taco Libre! [Eater L.A.]

Label(s): Food
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I'm a curious dilettante
from Los Angeles, California.

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  • News Around Town
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  • News Around Town
  • Fashion Find: Aldo Hidden Platform Pumps
  • Lakers In The Finals
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  • Sex And The City Premiere
  • Laughing Out Loud
  • Food Bits


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