I’m hoping this is a joke and will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas wasn’t actually paid to come up with this theme song for Entertainment Tonight but I’d rather listen to Rebecca Black’s “Friday” everyday, all day. I know I shouldn’t expect anything listenable from anything that’s related to the Black Eyed Peas but this is horrific. I’m not even going to categorize this as music.
The best thing to happen to ESPN’s horribly boring annual ESPY Awards show was back in 1998 when they let Norm MacDonald host and he promptly tore the year’s sports stars new a-holes. I saw Jon Hamm was hosting this year and I love Jon Hamm in Mad Men, he was serviceable in The Town, and he’s a great guest on Comedy Bang Bang but I can’t imagine ESPN would let him get away with anything like this. Anyway, here’s video of his opening monologue, and San Diego fans note the classic shot of Ryan Leaf in the crowd at 7:55…or don’t, fuck that guy.
I saw a bear once when I was camping. It was way across a valley and barely recognizable but it still spooked me. Next time though, I’ll be prepared.
So, to quote everyone’s favorite band, “Its been a while.” I promise that I’ve gone to the movies (tons) over the last two years since I shared thoughts on Midnight in Paris and X-Men:First Class. I have even written some about them in fragmented drafts that lurk just under the WordPress admin surface of this very website. There are actually a couple of gems in there that I should polish off for you, Dear Reader, but first lets get back on track with a discussion of something opening this week…
Fan or not of the nearly 50 year old series, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t thoroughly enjoy this installment in the adventures of Kirk and crew which follows up the brilliant 2009 reboot of the series. Like that film, this one is accommodating to newcomers and seasoned Trekkies alike. The characters are essentially reintroduced and relationships between them reenforced, particularly that between the brash Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) and his more logical First Officer Spock (Zachary Quinto). As expected of a sequel in this genre, the stakes have been upped significantly from the first film, in this case by bringing the threat facing Starfleet right to their doorstep early on in the form of an act of domestic terrorism on Earth by a rogue Starfleet officer played with calculated brilliance by Benedict Cumberbatch of the BBC’s Sherlock fame.
Now, I’ve had something to say for some time about the increasing depiction of homeland terrorism in television and film. From last year’s Avengers movie which destroyed Manhattan in what has become a matter of course for summer movie-goers, to this year’s 3rd Iron Man film which probably wished it had time for a re-edit to lessen the similarities in its suicide bombing scenes to the still fresh wounds of the Boston Marathon events, I’m getting a bit weary of it. While this sort of shit does go on all over the world on a near daily basis, there is a reason that we are not subject to it here. That is the work of the everyday superheros who populate our military, intelligence, and local law enforcement agencies. For one reason or another though American cinema-goers seem fascinated by these scenes of domestic destruction. In 3D. With popcorn. And in many cases without a single thought to the fact that this is a reality being faced concurrently in other parts of the world. I’d like to think that filmmakers aren’t simply preying on our fears, but instead contributing somehow to the national and global dialogue. Star Trek, in fact, does right in its closing dedication to post-9/11 veterans. But I digress.
It’s hard to discuss the remainder of the film without spoilers, other than to say that concerns I had going in based on the seemingly space-free, land-locked trailer footage proved unfounded as there is in fact plenty of star trekking to be had after the first 3rd of the movie appropriately propels the viewer towards it. There is a good reason that those trailers leave a lot to be answered, as this film continues to play in the alternative-reality sandbox that the timeline splitting events of 2009′s entry provided, allowing for these characters to experience events that devoted Trekkies may be quite familiar with, but in new ways. While it is still very much a story about the dynamic and evolving relationship between Kirk and Spock, the villainous turn by Cumberbatch is so nuanced and motivated that you almost root for him at times, hoping he survives the finale so as to be featured in future sequels. The film has a nice undercurrent about the dangers of fighting such incredible evil and the potential to sacrifice ones own good in doing so. In the end, however, it is clear that as we continue boldly going where no one (not just man anymore!) has gone before, our aspiration will be to do so with our best foot forward.
Solid 4.5 of 5 on the Swasted Scale.
Parks and Recreation is a pretty funny show, unfortunately, I’ve grown tired of mockumentary-style shows and don’t watch it. However, the following is a clip from this week’s episode featuring an appearance by Patton Oswalt. In the clip, Patton’s character commences a filibuster at the city council meeting by sharing his idea for the next Star Wars movie. The entire diatribe is improvised which makes it even more impressive.
As a native of San Diego, CA, Mexico and more specifically Tijuana have always been close by. TJ has suffered in the past 10 or so years due to violence from Mexican drug cartels but since 2011 violent crime rates have dropped dramatically. The city feels more vibrant than ever with new businesses and construction projects prevalent. Many are quick to talk negatively about Tijuana, in my experience these comments are usually from people who haven’t been there for years, don’t understand the cultural relevance of the city or travel to Mexico in general. This isn’t meant to be an article about the history of Tijuana or a tourist guide. Instead this is what my friends and I like to do when we go down to TJ for a day of good eats, drinks and other debauchery (read titty bars).
Getting a ride to the border and walking across is the most convenient way to go but the trolley works too. After crossing we usually grab a cab and are ready to eat. The cuisine of Mexico has become increasingly more recognized for its sheer diversity and complexity, food culture in Baja has risen along with it.
From street meats to proper meals, TJ is a food town. With taco purveyors, incredible seafood and fine dining, TJ brings an edible experience that is wholly unique from anything in San Diego.
After eating its time for Caliente Casino and beside it Caliente Stadium. Club Tijuana, or more commonly called the ‘Xolos’ after a hairless dog breed indigenous to Mexico are a professional soccer team based in TJ. The Xolos play in Mexico’s top league, rising to the Liga MX in 2011 and wining the championship in 2012. Raised as a Charger and Padres fan it is nice (and completely new) to root for a champion.
A Xolo’s game reminds me of what makes live sporting events great, it is all about atmosphere. Everybody is wearing team colors with the stadium packed and friendly. Soccer hooliganism isn’t common to Mexico. Locals are happy to see ‘Xolos Gringos’ as they are proud of their city. It’s TJ so beside the Carls Jr. ‘Hamburguesas,’ stadium food is good and cheap. Two Tecates poured into a big ass cup is five American. That alone makes a match enjoyable.
Once the game has ended it’s off to the bars and the Zona Norte. The Norte is a designated ‘Tolerance Zone’ where strip clubs and prostitution are allowed. Like most of Western Europe, prostitution is legal in Mexico but limited to a specific area of a city. I’ve never banged a hooker in Mexico, or Germany for that matter but they have similar laws. These activities exist in one area, the government tests all the girls and if you don’t like it don’t go there. Logical right?
Our much preferred venue is the Hong Kong club. The moment I first walked inside, I immediately felt like the scene in ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ when they roll in that titty bar. I’ve been to strip clubs in many, many countries and I can’t think of any that top the Hong Kong Club. Though I got to give a respectful nod to Canada and Thailand… If you’ve been, you know. A dollar goes much farther down here than at the shit strip clubs in San Diego and girls won’t shake you down to earn one. Apologies as photos are difficult to get away with inside, the picture below is also in the Zona Norte.
After all dem strippers and shots its time for some street food before heading back to the U.S. The street tacos are unreal and so much better than those (which are really tasty in their own right) across the border. There are many varieties of meat and cuts, try them all.
Once at the border its tradition to end the night with a Tijuana dirt dog (bacon wrapped hot dog). The wait to walk back across the border can take hours so it’s best to cross after 11pm or later when the line is much shorter.
That sums up an adventure just 20 minutes from my home.
Today started like any other weekday. Wake-up, shower, eat breakfast, brush teeth, and out the door to work. I got to work, started up my computer, grabbed some coffee, and started to check my email – work and personal. When I logged into my personal Gmail account and saw this email from Spotify, that’s when the shit hit the fan.
Innocent enough of an email, right? Wrong! Sure, announcing Weezy’s new album…that’s standard enough. I’m OK with that. But what really grinds my gears is the image at the bottom right. I thought, “Oh, what’s this? A remastered release of Hum’s classic ‘You’d Prefer an Astronaut’ album?” Nope. “A new release from Hum?” Nope. Apparently, the band 30 Seconds to Mars extracted all their creative juices making such a stellar album that they had to reach into the hopper and recycle Hum’s concept for an album cover.
“Alright,” I thought. “Maybe its an homage to Hum.” So I fired up Spotify and found 30 Seconds to Mars’ “Up in the Air” single, which is apparently what the artwork is from, to give it a listen. My verdict? 30 Seconds to Mars? More like 30 Seconds Until You Hit Stop! (rimshot!) The music certainly doesn’t leave the impression that the artwork is an homage, just a ripoff. Are the covers spitting images? No, they’re not but a zebra against a solid color background with a similar sans-serif font? Close enough in my book. Immediately after I hit stop I pulled up Hum’s classic and have been enjoying it ever since. And you know what? When I’m done with this album, I’m going to listen to “Downward is Heavenward”, an incredibly underrated album. After that, who knows? I may go back to their earlier albums, I may give Centaur a spin but I can tell you I certainly won’t be revisiting 30 Seconds to Mars. In the end, I guess what I’m trying to say is thanks. Thanks to 30 Seconds to Mars for reuniting me with Hum.
Video of Rage Against the Machine performing in a small record shop over 20 years ago, pretty cool stuff.