Cafe 227

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The International Mixtape Project, and Session Americana

I have two music-related plugs for you. I hope you will indulge me.

  • A friend of mine finally finished the web page for his "International Mixtape Project," or "IMP" for short. (Get it? "'IMP' for short?" I'm hilarious.) According to the website,"[t]he International Mixtape Project is a growing community of music lovers who exchange homemade compilation tapes and CDs with likeminded folks around the globe. Every month, each active IMP member is assigned the name and address of another member somewhere else in the world. The rest is simple: Send an awesome mix...Receive an awesome mix!" This is a great project, and I hope you'll take the time to check it out.
  • My junior-year college roommate, Kimon Kirk, is blowing up (musically speaking), so it's time to give him some props. (I've been plugging my other junior-year roommate, the Big Injun, for way too long. It's time for some new blood.) If you live in or around Boston, be sure to check out his band, Session Americana, at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA on March 8th and 9th. And for a sneak preview, check out YouTube.

The Reincarnation of Kenny Brunner, and Other Random Links

  • I'm sure everyone saw this story last week, but it's too funny not to pass along. Make sure you watch the accompanying video for gems such as this: "I would be happy if someone tried to save me..." Oh, and take note of how they flippantly threw in at the end that our protagonist still lives with his mother. That's just gratuitous.
  • "N.Y.U. Student Republicans Mount Jaunty (Racist?) 'Immigrant' Hunt." How clever.
  • According to Conor, "though I am sure no one needs to be told this, technically speaking Williamsburg probably ceased to be cool years back sometime before this Washington Post article was published. And though I have no actual knowledge of such an article, it is a virtual certainty that there was one. My guess on a date for that article is circa October 2002." Another friend of Johnny Shades (who cannot be named because he is a high-ranking government official) puts the date at around August 2002, when he "ordered a cafe au lait to go and the guy told me they were out of soy milk."
  • Speaking of milk, check out this new beer-milk hybrid, called bilk. It does a body good.
  • And speaking of beer, check out what these guys found out about the bacteria levels involved in a typical game of beer pong. (Unless you play beer-pong regularly - in which case, ignorance is bliss.)
  • Finally, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces have enlisted an outside helper to aid them in their effort to stem the tide of Iraqi insurgency - Prince Pickles, a "perky cartoon character." I feel much safer now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Ain't Saying She's a Gold Digger...

Actually, that's precisely what I'm saying -- if she participates in "natural selection" speed dating.

According to the group's web site:

"Pocket Change is honoring the age old union of wealthy men and hot girls. Society has taught us to not publicly acknowledge the obvious - no longer dear friends. Women want money in a man, men want beauty in a woman – this is a factual force of nature. Women don’t ask 'So, what does he do for a living?' because they’re interested in his personality and guys don’t ask 'is she hot?' because they’re concerned with character. Guys know that money buys them the car, the house and the trophy wife. This genetic cleansing is how the wealthy stay beautiful."

So, how long will it be before the LateNightShots crew adopts this type of event for the DC set? Judging by the paltry numbers being thrown around in LNS's "Consultant Salary Comparison" forum thread, the guys around here don't make nearly enough for this to work...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

VW Makes Strong Cars, Offensive Commercials

I'm not sure who greenlighted this particular project. Joel Surnow, perhaps?

VW Suicide Bomber

Watch Video

Fortunately, it looks like someone at VW had the good sense to pull the plug on this project before it ever aired.

Best Book Ever!!

Actually, I have no idea if it's the best book ever, or even if the darned thing is any good at all. See, a friend of a friend knows a woman whose husband wrote a book, and my friend asked me to promote it. What I wanted to do was read the book first, and then write a pithy book review in this space. Instead, I went to Miami this past weekend and spent the entire time in South Beach eating Cuban sandwiches and drinking Coronas. So I didn't get much reading done.

What I'm going to do is pass along the e-mail I received for now, and read the book at a later date. It looks pretty good though, and it's gotten exceedingly positive reviews - so I'm excited to pick it up, and you should be too. Because it's the BEST BOOK EVER!


I am thrilled to announce that my husband's first novel, which so many of you are already so sick of hearing about, is going to be available in bookstores tomorrow. The brilliant author is Joshua Ferris, the title is Then We Came to the End, and the publisher is Little, Brown. According to one reviewer (who shall remain nameless), the book is, basically, a work of astonishing genius that is likely to change the face of literature as we know it. It has also been praised by Nick Hornby as a "terrific first novel" and is, according to Kirkus Reviews, "both a wickedly incisive satire of office groupthink and a surprisingly moving meditation on mortality and the ties that bind." Another reviewer, author Geoff Dyer, has written, "It almost makes me wish I had a job."

If all this does not convince you that you MUST read this book, here's a link to a blog that excerpts the first chapter:

Josh will be doing a number of readings, including in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles--those who are interested can let me know and I will keep you posted on the dates.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

My posts have all been perverted, sorry.

I don't know how to begin writing about a subject like this so I'll just jump right in. My roommate's cat is in heat. I don't know if anyone gone through this with a pet but it is one of the most disturbing events I've ever witnessed.

It started late Tuesday night when the cat, Kali, began moaning. I kept snapping at her to shut up until I noticed her rubbing her you know what all over the carpet. At this point I was pretty sure this was a cat in heat but I logged onto the internet just to be sure. Kitty websites everywhere confirmed my fears, this cat was a giant hornball. At only six months old, my precious kitty was moaning, sticking her butt out, and begging for sex. How inappropriate.

The fun continued through the night when Kali began to pee on tall, thin objects to mark her territory for possible suitors. Just another example of a cat's supreme intelligence...makes no difference that there has NEVER been another animal in the house, maybe if she pissed on every piece of furniture one would miraculously turn up and do her.

The truth is I feel bad for the little cat. She probably doesn't understand why this happening and it is also somewhat painful for them to go through. The moral of this blog is what good ol' Bob Barker has been telling us for years, SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR ANIMALS. If not for their sanity, then for yours.

Ivan Drago: Best Game Ever

I just wasted the last 27 minutes playing Ivan Drago: Justice Enforcer. I suggest you do the same.

Monday, February 12, 2007

The New York Rangers at the Sports Club/LA

I joined the Sports Club/LA several years ago, mostly for the basketball courts. (Indeed, Johnny Shades fancies himself to be quite the basketball player.) About a year ago, the club was acquired, and the new management team has been changing things around ever since. Some changes are welcome - for instance, the new carpet, with its relaxing neutral tones, brings me a sense of inner purpose as I trudge that extra mile on the elliptical machine. Other changes are unforgiveable - namely, the conversion of the basketball court into a cardio room, which has served to undermine the only justifiable excuse I had for paying such exorbitant membership fees in the first place.

So, why don't I just quit and join, say, the much cheaper Vida Fitness Center? Because of the random celebrity run-ins.

I've had several notable random celebrity run-ins as the Sports Club/LA. Sure, everyone's heard the story about George Clooney playing basketball there while he was in town filming "K Street." But how many people can say they've been inappropriately ogled by a half-naked John Travolta (in town for a premier of "Ladder 49") in the locker room? How many people can say that they've inappropriately ogled Eva Longoria (in town filming "The Sentinal") as she did the butterfly press machine? How many people can say that former Dolphins runningback Karim-Abdul Jabbar is a personal trainer at their gym? I can answer affirmatively to all three.

This past weekend, though, I had my most bizarre random celebrity run-in ever.

It was Saturday morning, around 11am. I swung by the gym for a quick run before heading to the office for a fun-filled day of work. But it was really hard to find a free machine, mostly because the New York Rangers were working out.

Now I assume they were in town to play the Caps, and were staying at the Ritz Carlton (in which the Sports Club/LA is located). No surprise there - professional athletic teams stay at the Ritz all the time. What was surprising was the following:

  • Here you have a team of professional athletes working out at what is essentially a gym for (1) World Bank/IMF development nerds and (2) the trophy wives of lawyers and lobbyists. It just didn't seem to be the best venue for them to have a productive pre-game workout.
  • Have you ever seen a professional athlete in person and thought to yourself, "Wow, he's a lot bigger/stronger/faster-looking in real life than I imagined?" This has happened to me serveral times. For instance, when I saw Tom Brady and Donavan McNabb at the White House Correspondent's Dinner two years ago, I couldn't believe how tall they were. And when I ran into Popeye Jones at Dream nightclub a few years ago, I was astounded by how ugly he was in real life. But the Rangers - none of them struck me as larger-than-life. With the exception of Marek Malik, who resembles a Carpathian tree-ogre, they all kind of just looked like fairly athletic, normal people. In fact, I mistook them for a collegiate rugby team traveling in the United States at first.
  • How did I eventually figure out they were the New York Rangers, you ask? Well, they were all wearing the same grey ringer T-shirt that said "Be a Ranger," with the NHL logo emblazoned on the top. But with an exceedingly clever twist - "Be a Ranger" was written in different languages, depending on the nationality of the player. (i.e., Martin Straka's T-shirt was written in Czech, Jaromir Jagr's was written in incomprehensible pidgeon English, etc.) I found this whole thing odd - don't professional athletes generally try to remain inconspicuous in public so as not to attract the attention of the adoring masses?
  • Not that it mattered - not one person at the gym seemed to pay them any mind at all, despite their apparent attention-seeking behavior. As if we needed more proof that the NHL is no longer culturally relevant. I mean, 12 years ago, Jaromir Jagr couldn't grab a drink at Chauncy's in Pittsburgh without being mobbed by dozens of doe-eyed, mulleted, yinzer-chicks looking to jump his bones. But as he walked through the gym on Saturday morning, no one batted an eye. I was seriously considering asking for his autograph out of pity.
The 'burgh will always love you, Jaromir...

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Celebrate Valentine's Day, Harold and Kumar-Style

With Valentine's Day coming up, a lot of you guys and gals out there are probably racking your brains trying to figure out something romantic to do with your significant other. Flowers? Lame. Dinner and a movie? Trite!

How about sharing a plate of, say, two dozen sliders and a sack of french fries in a candle-lit public dining room? I am not making this up...

"Make your Valentine's day STEAMY! Take your Valentine to White Castle on Wednesday, February 14 between 5 and 8 p.m. and enjoy hostess seating, candlelit dining and your own server. Reservations are required, so check the list below for participating Castles near you!

Special this year, you can also treat your honey to a romantic White Castle dinner in your home! Cupid's Crave Kits include eight cheeseburgers, one sack of fries, two regular soft drinks, coupons and keepsake items to heat up your homespun romance. Now, ain't that sweet?"

No. No, it ain't.

Jack Bauer Takes on the Aqua Teen Hunger Force

It was only a matter of time.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"A Dream in Doubt" Screens in New York and San Francisco

Preet Singh, a dear friend of Cafe 227, has been working for over three years to produce a one-hour documentary chronicling the aftermath of the first post-9/11 hate fatality of Balbir Singh Sodhi. The film, "A Dream in Doubt," recently premiered at one of the largest independent film festivals in the world, Slamdance, in Park City, UT. The film was recognized for a Jury prize and is currently being considered for a national PBS airing later this year.

In addition, "A Dream in Doubt" has been selected by the Film Society at Lincoln Center and IFP to screen at the famed Lincoln Center in New York City. Preet, along with the Sodhi family, will be in New York City for the screening and a Q&A afterwards.

Details: Thursday, Feb. 22, 6:30 pm, Walter Reade Theater; $10 tickets at

The film will also screen at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival on Tuesday, March 20 at 7:15 pm. Tickets will be available beginning Feb. 13 at

If you live in either of those cities, I encourage you to attend. It'll be worth your time.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Evite Drama Makes Front Page of the Wall Street Journal

Looks like I'm not the only one who has experienced evite drama. In this crazy digital age of ours, it's more prevalent than I thought - as evidenced by Jessica Vascellaro's front-page story in today's Wall Street Journal. Because the WSJ protects its content more ardently than Jack Bauer's dad protects family secrets, you can't access it without a subscription. So I copied it in full below for your reading pleasure (which I'm pretty sure is illegal. But since the unintentional comedy of this piece is unparalleled, I'm willing to deal with the ramifications). Pay particular attention to Mr. Strackany's move of creating fictional invitees to drum up buzz for his party. Classy.


On the Internet, Everyone Knows Your RSVP List

Online Invitations Spur New Tactics for Guests; 'Eggblower' Is Perplexed
February 6, 2007; Page A1

Ben Strackany had an old-fashioned social emergency: Not enough of his friends were responding to his New Year's Eve party invitation. So he deployed a new high-tech tactic: salting his Internet party site with fake RSVPs.

Hosts used to draft their invitations by hand and drop them in a mailbox. Today they can blast them out over email and send guests to a Web page with the details of their party, along with the names of other attendees, whether they plan to attend, and a little RSVP message to the host.

Mr. Strackany's page, using the Evite online service, listed the names of all 30 or so of his invited guests and tallied the responses of those who had replied for all to see. Mr. Strackany, 33 years old, created some bogus guests, including two named "Craig" and "Kara" who responded with messages he made up himself saying "Can't wait" and "bringing two roommates."

"It got the momentum started," says Mr. Strackany, a Web developer from Portland, Ore. His cover was blown when some guests arriving at the party asked after some of the fake guests, hoping to be introduced. He fessed up. Everybody seemed to be amused, he says.

Hosts often appreciate the efficiency and convenience of the new services. But that isn't always true of guests. Some hate receiving Evites because they feel under pressure to reply immediately and with something considerate or clever. "There's a lot of anxiety over how to reply to one of these things," says Jared Osborn, 40, a visual artist from Haverstraw, N.Y. He says he usually sticks to a yes or no reply or else ignores the invitation altogether. "Sometimes the reason is just, 'Eh, it is too much trouble to go.' And you don't want to put that."

As online invitations grow more popular, hosts and guests are also playing new games. Invitees are looking carefully at guest lists posted online before deciding whether to attend. Some guests are helping themselves to other people's guest lists for their own parties.

Last year, two big players, IAC/InterActiveCorp's Evite and Facebook Inc., sent out about 500 million event invitations. "I would have sent my wedding invitation online, if my fiancée would have let me," says Joel Fuernsinn, 31, a database consultant from Atlanta who sends out lots of party invitations over the Web for events like crock-pot parties or to line up friends to help him move from one apartment to another.

For guests and hosts, the invitation page can function like a constantly fluctuating stock price showing the desirability of a party. Last summer, Howard Wu, 33, got a Fourth of July invitation over Evite and was trying to decide whether to attend. The decision got easier when he saw that of the 75 people invited, only a few had responded. "I figured three or four yeses probably wasn't a good sign," says Mr. Wu, a transportation planner from Seattle, who decided not to go.

Some Evite recipients are turning their backs on etiquette experts' RSVP advice (reply within a day or two of receiving the invitation, and only rarely change your answer, according to the Emily Post Institute) -- and are resisting the RSVP process altogether. Last December, Topher Larkin, an administrative coordinator from Los Angeles, went on Evite to ask friends to his 25th birthday party. Days before the party, he was caught off-guard by a bunch of "yes" phone-call replies from guests who shunned the Web site because they didn't want others to know they planned to attend.

"As a host, it is very annoying," says Mr. Larkin, who didn't appreciate having to keep track of the tardy replies. Because his count was off he had to go out and buy more champagne and cheese. "If I were doing it again, I would resort to handwritten invitations," he says.

After emailing an invite to 15 friends for her birthday party last spring, Kara Silverstein noticed that one of them was planning his own party a month later. On his Evite RSVP list, she saw the names of all the women she had invited to her party. "I was pretty angry about it," says Ms. Silverstein of Washington, D.C., a government attorney. "He stole those email addresses."

On email invitations, the blind carbon copy, or BCC, feature is helping hosts avoid faux pas. Sam Mankiewicz, a software engineer from San Francisco, invited friends to a game of Hoover Ball (volleyball played with a medicine ball) but didn't want them to know about one guest many of them didn't get along with. He finessed the situation by putting all the guests on the BCC line of his email, so nobody could see the names of others invited.

Online invitation services generally let hosts change the default settings so as to hide their guest lists. But many hosts don't bother to do that. Some party sites go out of their way to promise RSVP privacy. But that can become a problem, too.

Both hosts and guests ended up embarrassed when Jonathan Bender, a free-lance writer from Brooklyn, N.Y., and his wife, Kate, recently sent online invitations for a Manhattan loft party. They gave each guest a cheeky nickname -- like "the instigator" or "no veggies." The Benders assumed that guests would scan the guest list when they went to reply and see that everyone had received a nickname.

But they used a new online invitation service, Punchbowl Software Inc.'s, that keeps the guest list hidden from other guests. Its site promises "RSVP is not a public exhibition." The result: some highly perplexed guests, like Abigail "Eggblower" Rabinowitz, who wondered why she had been given a nickname. Ms. Rabinowitz, a 28-year-old Columbia University graduate writing student, earned her name for her failed attempt at a silly trick -- blowing an egg out of its shell after poking two small holes in each end. She didn't know everyone else had a nickname and wondered why she had been singled out.

"I thought, oh my god, what are the others going to think?" she recalls.

After a New Year's party was overwhelmed when 80 friends forwarded her electronic invitation to other people, about 150 altogether, Valery Joseph decided not to let that happen again. So for her most recent New Year's bash, she spent several hours and $150 at Kinkos printing up paper invitations, hoping her guests would be more considerate with their RSVPs.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The NPR "All Things Considered" Jinx.

You've undoubtedly heard of the Sports Illustrated Cover Jinx and the Madden Jinx. Well, here's a new one - the NPR All Things Considered Jinx.

In a February 2 feature for All Things Considered titled "Long-Snappers May Help Decide Super Bowl," radio correspondent Tom Golden declares that Indianapolis Colts' holder Hunter Smith performed well "two weeks ago in the AFC championship game when he successfully handled low snaps twice. Both resulted in made field goals." Tom goes on to say that "Indianapolis long-snapper Justin Snow is considered one of the best."

Of course, we all know what happened Sunday - Smith and Snow muffed a snap for an extra point on the biggest stage of their careers.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Aqua Teen Hunger Force Attacks Boston

I lot of virtual ink has already been spilled discussing Turner Broadcasting's guerilla marketing tactics in promoting their Cartoon Network show, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I have nothing particularly new or insightful to add. But Doza does.

First, check out CNN's coverage of the story:

"Assistant Attorney General John Grossman called the light boards "bomb-like" devices and said that if they had been explosive they could have damaged transportation infrastructure in the city."

Doza says: "If pigeons shit nuclear bombs, they too could damage the transportation infrastructure in the city. I guess we got lucky on both counts."

Another priceless line:

"It had a very sinister appearance," [Massachusetts Attorney General Martha] Coakley told reporters. "It had a battery behind it, and wires."

Apparently, devices with batteries and wires are now considered "sinister." This includes everything.

For the record, this is what the "sinister" device looks like:

That's right - Boston was paralyzed by fear for hours on end because of a Lite-Brite.

In conclusion, I'd like to direct you to a news conference perpetrated by the perpetrators of this hoax, who only agreed to answer questions about 1970s hairstyles.

This whole episode has been so patently ridiculous that the real story here has been lost in the shuffle - what could a cartoon called "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" possibly be about?

Pre-Superbowl Diversions

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I mean, Georgetown's a good school and all...

...but this strikes me as rather extreme: