Apr 11

I still really miss David Foster Wallace

I feel absurd saying this, but I still feel just about as sad about David Foster Wallace’s death as it is reasonable for anyone to feel about the death of a famous person they’ve never met, three years after the fact.

It’s not really his style I miss, though of course he was an incredibly talented writer. What I loved about him was the way he saw the world — with an honest and endless curiosity. Like Vonnegut, he was one of those writers who remembered to notice the things we’ve long since forgotten to see. And like all of my favorite pop culture writers, he actively fought against snobbery and prejudice in favor of giving everything a real, fair look. He wasn’t perfect at this — who, in the history of the universe, has ever been totally faithful to his or her own philosophy? — but the important thing, in my view, was that he tried.

I can’t write like Wallace and I never will. But trying to experience the world with an open mind is something I can, and do, strive for. I recognize that it is ridiculous of me to pin all this heavy stuff on one guy, who despite all his gifts was just a person like any other. I also understand that I sound totally sappy right now. It’s tough sometimes writing about things you really, passionately, obsessively love or admire, because it’s too easy to just start gushing hyperbolic cliches. But if you’re really invested in art or culture, you know that every once in a while, you come across an artist or book or movie or whatever that really and truly changes you, makes you see the world differently, helps you understand what is possible. Well, Wallace was that for me.

Despite all that, I have yet to work my way through Infinite Jest or Brief Interviews with Hideous Men — my affection for Wallace comes from having read his essays. So that’s embarassing, and it also means that there is a chance, however slight, that I could change my mind about him. But it’s also kind of nice. It means there’s still more Wallace for me to read, and will be for a while yet. I just started Infinite Jest today (this is my second attempt). I’m annoyed but also secretly happy that that thing is huge and very very difficult and is going to take me forever to get through.

Jan 11

John Cho and Jay Chou are not actually the same person

Green Hormet IMDb

It'd be less obnoxious if Jay Chou's name weren't RIGHT THERE ON THE POSTER, two inches away.

FirstShowing tweeted today about an interesting error on IMDb’s Green Hornet page: Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou’s role as Kato has been credited to MILF-popularizing American actor John Cho. Uh, WTF?

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Jan 11

Review: ‘Conversations with Other Women’

Conversations with Other Women

Yes. Just yes.

Here’s what I didn’t like about Conversations with Other Women: One, the continuous use of split-screen is effective about half the time and distracting the other half of the time. Two, lines like “She always was the type to see better in the dark”– no one talks like that, ever, unless one is a character in an amateur theater piece that’s been polished one too many times.

Here’s what I liked about Conversations with Other Women: everything else. It features two consistently impressive actors doing what they do best; a poignant little love story that unfolds like a striptease; and a soft, seductive soundtrack. Bad dialogue and annoying editing might be enough to sink a lesser film, but when the rest of a film works so well, the flaws are easy to forgive.

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Dec 10

“Anyone Can Cook”: 9 very easy, very tasty recipes for beginners


We had a mouse problem earlier this year, so cooking at my apartment was a little like this.

To say that cooking is one of my hobbies would be inaccurate, as that would imply that I actually know what I’m doing. It’s far more accurate to say that learning to cook is one of my hobbies. I’d literally never made anything more complicated than pasta and jarred sauce until 2007, and 2010 is the first year I actually made an active effort to try and become a decent cook. And you know what? I’m still clueless, but I’ve gotten better at faking it. I still get nervous about the slightest recipe modification, fear unusual (to me) ingredients like flour and kale, and take 50 minutes to make a 30-minute recipe. But I’m no longer subsisting off of Sabra hummus and pre-packaged salad, so that’s progress, right?

So for all the novice (or experienced but lazy) cooks out there, I’m posting a few of my favorite successes. All of these are doable as long as you are capable of chopping vegetables and turning on appliances, and most are relatively quick. Oh, and sorry about the lack of pictures– I didn’t know I’d be writing this when I cooked these dishes– but I believe all links have pictures if you click through.

Good luck!

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Dec 10

Five ways to bring The Walking Dead back to life (and I’m sorry about the pun)

The Walking Dead

What a lovably ragtag gang of misfits!

Well, thank God that’s over.

The Walking Dead, in its first season, wasn’t a terrible show. It was something far, far more frustrating than that: an okay show that had the potential to be an incredible show. The series premiere was a wonder to behold– beautiful and eerie, humane yet brutal. And every episode since then did nothing but squander the promise of that first installment.

So I was very fucking relieved to hear last week that director Frank Darabont had fired all of his writers. I’m taking it as an acknowledgment on his part that the show hasn’t been everything it could be, as well as a sign that he has some idea of how to fix that. Much as I’ve complained about the show’s big flaws, I don’t think it’s irretrievably fucked up yet. In fact, if the first ten minutes of Sunday night’s finale proved anything, it was that the show can still be fascinating when it wants to be.

In the spirit of optimism, here are five things I’m hoping Darabont and his freelance staff will do for us next season. (Spoilers for the first season of The Walking Dead ahead.) Continue reading →