Saturday, December 26, 2009

Suspended Disbelief

I'm on break from school (which is more than nice) and I have had more than enough time to watch more movies than anyone should in a short period of time. I've come to notice that there is a point in many movies where I sort of say, "well, that's just not possible/reasonable," no matter how ridiculous anything in the movie was before that. For instance, there could be a movie where dogs talk, cook, and a house floats on balloons, but I only don't believe any of it when dogs fly planes. You know, little things.

That said, a few of the points that caused me to shake my head:

1) Up: See above. The talking dogs and house lifted by balloons was totally Ok with me. Only when the dogs were flying planes did I shake my head in disbelief.

2) Eagle Eye: While I somehow got over Shia LeBouf with a mustache (I really don't care if I spelled his name wrong), and I was OK with a supercomputer being able to access/control any piece of media or information, the point when an un-manned drone flew in to a tunnel to chase down the protagonist was my point of disbelief.

3) Harry Potter: Just kidding! All of it is totally believable.

4) Live Free or Die Hard: Many moments here, but the one that got me was crashing the car in to the helicopter. 'nuff said.

5) Spiderman 3: Emo spidey scene. This isn't where I stopped believing in the premise; it's where I stopped believing that this movie had any redeeming value. it's close enough, and I needed a fifth.

Which movies did you lose your belief in, and at what point? Comment below.

Thanks for reading,

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Black Friday Rule

Having listened to the Dropkick Murphy's in my punk phase, I thought for a very long time that Black Friday was some obscure Irish thing I just knew nothing about. Then I figured out the Thanksgiving weekend version, where a lot of crazies skip lots of sleeping in an attempt to go save money by spending lots of money. The logic behind it seemed absolutely contrary to anything rational. And then I tried it.

My first Black Friday experience was last year, at Toys R Us. I wanted to get Guitar Hero for cheap, and I did. The whole ordeal was relatively painless- no huge crowds, just an orderly line with people who were friendly enough to one another. No mad rush for any one item, no one getting trampled, and no fist fights. In short, it was a disappointment. Kidding.

This year, I had a more desirable item in mind- the very computer with which I am sharing this story with you. The original target was a $200 Best Buy promotion. I decided to be one of the crazies, and got to Best Buy around 3:30 for its 5:00 opening. Failure. A full parking lot, and a line around the building. No way in hell I was sticking around for that, so I went to option 2- the Office Depot by my place, which about 23 total people know exists.

This was a much better scene. Two cars in the parking lot, including mine. After a nice little nap in my car, I got in line around 4:15. The beauty of this line is that it was 6 people long; the British would have been ashamed in the lack of a queue. It was so short that I was able to drag my dad out of bed to come get a computer for himself as well, at a remarkably good price.

The best part of the whole experience- the Office Depot manager came out around 4:30 with coffee for everyone. So, it can pay to be a crazy. You get cheap goods, and free coffee. And is that worth a lack of sleep? It wasn't then. It is, now that I've slept again.

Happy post-Thanksgiving, and thanks for reading.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Stealing Riha's Spotlight

Allow the title to be a shameless plug for my friend Riha, over at Riha Reviews, found here. He focuses mostly on pop music, which isn't quite my forte. But check it out.

Instead, I wanted to talk about the Band of Skulls album, entitled 'Baby Darling Dollface Honey,' which is also one of the highlight tracks. While the band sounds great, and explores a variety of sounds utilizing both male and female vocals, what has impressed me so much throughout listening to their album is the track ordering. The album begins upbeat, and slowly winds down as you approach the end.

The album gets in to the good stuff quickly, as track 3, 'I Know What I Am' has been featured as the iTunes single of the week, and is on the New Moon soundtrack. Death by Diamonds and Pearls, the preceding track, also has seen some radio play, and it is followed by Fires, another great track. The album is solid throughout, without any dull track of the 11 laid down on the album.

For fans of bands like Manchester Orchestra, The Black Keys, Glasvegas, The Kooks, even Granz Ferdinand or The Dead Weather, Band of Skulls is definitely worth a listen.



Monday, November 9, 2009

I hope I wasn't this dumb....

A snippet from a real conversation on the shuttle this morning:

The scene: Guy 1 is holding a copy of Bridget Jones Diary (the book). It has a picture of Renee Zellweger's face on it. Guy 2 is oblivious to anything, ever. Guy 2 is asking Guy 1 about his morning classes.

Guy 1: ...yeah, I have British literature at 11:15. I have to go read the book, though.
Guy 2: What book?
Guy 1 (gesturing with his book): Bridget Jones' Diary. I've read all the books in the class so far, except this one. I couldn't do it.
Guy 2 (not joking): Yeah. Is that Victorian?

This just had to be shared.

Per usual, TFR.


Monday, October 19, 2009


My last wedding post, about e-response cards (go take a look if you don't know what I'm talking about) drew a lot of response, the funniest of which was an e-vite to a wedding. A wedding I attended this past weekend, in fact.

It turns out, despite the lack of an electronic response card, that weddings (at least this one) are damn fun. There are a few key points that I think are relatively universal that I thought I would share.

1) People are happy.
Weddings are happy occasions. With the exception of perhaps a scorned lover of the past, everyone is pretty pumped for the couple getting married. Both families are thrilled, friends are gathered together, and everyone is in a pretty good mood. This really sets the stage for the rest of the wedding items to be even better.

2) The Open Bar.
Speaking of things that make weddings better...

3) The food.
This particular wedding featured the choice of fish, chicken, or a veggie option, all of which were downright delicious. How would I know what they all taste like? I got the fish, my sister got the veggie, and her fiance got the chicken. I promise that they even offered me bites without me having to swipe them. Generally, wedding food is pretty good. At a minimum, you get...

4) Cake.
When was the last time you had cake, and were upset? It doesn't count if you had cake because you were upset. Exactly.

5) Dancing.
Whether it be a band (awesome) or a DJ (still sorta awesome) or a crappy DJ (at least there is still music), weddings are a fun place to dance. And, dancing is always fun, even if you don't dance well, or if you are a naysayer who belongs in the town of Beaumont. Yes, that's a footloose reference. Deal with it.

While there are assuredly more elements of an awesome wedding, these five core elements pretty much guarantee fun. So, to the new happy couple who sometimes read this, a long and happy marriage. And to the rest of you- set up more of your friends, so you'll have more weddings to go to. Everyone wins.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Community Service

Howdy, folks.

This weekend, I was up at 6 am. This is before the sun, and does not ever happen. The reason? A community project we've been working on for a few weeks for class. Saturday involved ten hours of general help with a local soccer tournament. The purpose of the weekend was to sign up the kids for a league that is forming within the community, to give the kids something to do outside of school.

While it was a long day, it had been an awfully long time since I had done any community service. It's time to do more. I'm going to guess that you, as my readers (since you have the internet) are also in a position to give back. It's something that is easy to talk about, but tougher to do once push comes to shove. I'm not talking from a place on high, here. One service project hardly puts me in a position to preach- I need to start doing more on a regular basis.

The point is, do what you can. Organize or participate in a project through work or school. You'll feel good giving back to the community.

Per usual, thanks for reading.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Best Coast

It's been a long debate. The East Coasters love their winters, and the West Coasters know the sun is better. It's a debate without an answer, and I will not argue that one is better than the other. That would be futile. But, with regard with one aspect of the issue, it's no contest.

Pacific Time is better than Eastern time, when it comes to television. Not only is prime time television at 8:00, just the same as the east coast, but we get sports three hours earlier. We get day baseball at 10:00 am, Sunday football at 10:00 am, but Monday night football ends at a reasonable time. The World Series doesn't go until 2:00 am. Advantage: West Coast.

Don't even get me started on Central time. Prime time at 7:00? Sure, it means the 10:00 shows come on at Nine. But who is home in time to watch the Office at Seven? Sorry, central time. You just offer very little in the context of the time zone argument. Same goes for Mountain; just not a lot going on.

I'm sure there are arguments that I am missing here. Go ahead, argue for your time zone in the comments. We'll review later.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Timbaland is wrong.

It's not too late to apologize.

While my posts tend to be impersonal in nature, the subject of repentance has been on my mind as the Jewish new year and Day of Atonement draw closer. We all know that none of us are perfect, and that throughout the year we wrong other people (insults, for instance), as well as commit general wrongs against the world (littering). Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur (the aforementioned holidays, for the Gentiles out there) provide an opportunity to start fresh, and repent for the sins of the past year. It's like Catholic Confession, but once a year, and with actually going to the source. The people source, as well as the God source.

While the past year hasn't been anything out of the ordinary as far as sinning goes, something struck me this holiday season about the idea of being encouraged to approach others to ask for forgiveness. Our wrongdoings are not simply forgiven; it takes the thought and recognition that we have wronged others, and the courage to approach those we have wronged to recognize it to them.

It's hard to apologize. We all have this sense of pride that generally makes apologizing difficult; for me, it's always hard to admit that I've messed up. While it may be somewhat required during this season of repentance, we should try to carry the impetus to apologize when needed throughout the year, in a sincere, meaningful way. I think our relationships with each other could be improved simply be admitting to a friend that you have wronged them, and that you're sorry. While this doesn't mend the thing you did, it may help to get past it.

Finally, the new year reminds us that it is not too late to apologize. So while general apologies aren't preferable, I apologize to you, 17 readers, for my general lack of proper spelling and grammar, in addition to anything else I may have done to wrong you.

L'shana Tova, and per usual, thanks for reading.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Street Scene!

This article was written for the LA Times Sunday magazine, which is why it is sort of LA focused. I was granted permission to also publish it here.

Street Scene

San Diego’s Festival Worth a Drive South

Coachella may be Southern California’s best known music festival, but San Diego’s Street Scene has been putting on quality music for 25 years. With smaller crowds and a friendly feel, last weekend’s Street Scene offered a more intimate feel than the desert Coachella. The two night event featured forty-five bands on five stages, many of whom also played at this year’s Coachella. Downtown San Diego provided the perfect setting, capitalizing on convenient transportation, easy navigation throughout the festival grounds, and views of the sun setting over the San Diego Bay. While both festivals have a definite Southern California vibe, Street Scene offers a cheaper, more intimate way to see great bands in one place.

Headlined by hip-hop artists The Black Eyed Peas and M.I.A., this year’s Street Scene also featured great artists rarely heard over the airwaves. Girl Talk stole the show Friday, turning two blocks of downtown in to a dance party with his innovative mash ups. Coming off a year in which his album was rated #4 on the list of Top 10 Albums of 2008 by Time Magazine, his set featured non-stop beats, a video screen he used to communicate with the audience through text, and a stage full of dancing audience members. He capped his set with a fireworks display, setting the crowd off in a final frenzy.

Friday’s best main stage acts included Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, led by the former Bright Eyes singer, as well as a gritty performance one would expect from Modest Mouse. Friday also featured festival mainstays Band of Horses, and the up-and-coming Cage the Elephant, and Matt and Kim (whose single is featured in a popular alcohol commercial). Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band brought in LA staple Jenny Lewis (of the LA-based band Rilo Kiley) for one song, playing Bad News as well as the original artist. Oberst’s blend of folk and rock were a perfect fit for playing between Band of Horses and Cake, and Oberst’s strong vocal performance easily won over the crowd.

Los Angeles’s presence was felt during Street Scene, as LA’s bands No Age, Ozomatli, and The Silversun Pickups were featured throughout the weekend. Grammy-winning Ozomatli gave their usual crowd-pleasing show, mixing Latin, Hip-Hop, and Funk in to one cohesive, lively set. The Silversun Pickups also represented for the City of Angels, giving one of the weekend’s best performances. The band mixed in songs off all of their hit albums, ending their show with the new single Panic Switch, and Lazy Eye, the hit from their second album, Carnavas.

The Silversun Pickups rock was preceded by the contrasting Of Montreal performance, which integrated a variety of theater elements in to the performance. Of Montreal is as known for their over the top costumes as for their music, and lead singer Kevin Barnes did not disappoint, appearing in a fantasy-like cape and suit. The band played well, but the music was overshadowed by their incredible stage theatrics, which included a full story line played out in kabuki-style theater.

In addition to the Silversun Pickups and Of Montreal, Street Scene’s Saturday lineup featured Jack White’s new venture, The Dead Weather. Along with Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age, and Jack Lawrence of The Raconteurs, White put on a classic rock show. Mosshart’s vocals and emotion put this band on par with White’s prior projects, and the Dead Weather’s live shows leave nothing to be desired.

Saturday’s lineup also had a definite funk feel to it, opening the main stage with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears and ending the side stage with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Both groups put on lively performances on the heels of Friday’s Trombone Shorty show. While Black Joe Lewis played to a small crowd as a result of being first on the bill, Ms. Jones performed at the same time as headliner M.I.A., resulting in a smaller crowd than she deserved. The two performances were both energetic and fun, getting the audience to dance the entire time.

Though LA bands made the trek down, San Diego bands also were featured throughout Street Scene. The Dirty Sweet led off Friday, which also featured Anya Marina, a former San Diego DJ. The Crocodiles played opposite Black Joe Lewis on Saturday, and local favorites The Delta Spirit finished off Saturday’s set on The Green Stage, a solar powered side stage.

While Street Scene doesn’t offer the sheer size of Coachella, it does offer the variety and talent level seen in the desert. For those who want the chance to see their favorite bands (and some soon-to-be favorites) right from the rail, Street Scene is well worth the drive down I-5.

per usual, TFR.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Concert Going

I had the joy of covering San Diego's Street Scene, a large two-day festival downtown, for the LA Times Magazine. The festival was awesome- performances by the Dead Weather, Silversun Pickups, and personal favorites Ozomatli were enough to entice me to go, and the shows did not disappoint. While a full review will hopefully be published, there were non-review like observations I wanted to throw out there.

1) Concerts are fun. Even if you don't like dealing with crowds, there's something about live music that is exhilarating. There's always something different than the studio cuts, and there is a definite shared experience that is a good time. A good performance, live those of the Dead Weather and Silversun Pickups, can really make you like their music a whole lot more.

2)If you're a rock star, don't act like one. Live music doesn't always make you like a band more. The lead singer of Cake, for instance, was a total douchebag. He spent the first two songs complaining about the stage crew and things that went wrong, and acted above the crowd. Despite it being long past sunset, he wore his dark glasses and hat. We left after two songs as a result. Despite liking Cake's music, I'm going to have a sour taste in my mouth about the band.

3) Techno sucks less live. I'm generally not a fan, but the live shows (like Girl Talk and Chromeo) were a blast. Going back to point one, there is a shared experience there, and when it turns in to a giant dance party, it's awesome.

4) You can't spell Funk without Fun. The two most lively shows not named Girl Talk were Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Both bands had great front (wo)men, but seemed to be backed by a section of White Jewish dudes. Love it.

While I'm no concert connoisseur (this was my first multi-day concert), I'm looking forward to going to more live music in the future. Go see some shows, people!

Per usual, thanks for reading.


Monday, August 17, 2009

The Flaming Lips

In two weeks, I will have the pleasure of reviewing Street Scene for the LA Times Sunday Magazine. To perhaps get my writing up to snuff, I'm going to attempt to review the Flaming Lips show from the other night.

In short, The Flaming Lips put on one hell of a show. The stage featured a see-through half-circle screen, which the Lips played videos on throughout the show, and also used to feature Wayne (the lead singer) talking to the crowd throughout the set. They had a camera fixed on to his mic, which allowed those of us standing in back to see clearly the whole time. The screen, combined with about 50 large balloons, a stage filled with people dressed as sheep, and one human sized panda and gorilla, made the Lips set as visually stunning as it was well played.

The one thing that bothers me most about concerts is when the band is disconnected from the audience, too cool to connect to the people who are there to see them, and too good to play the popular songs. The Flaming Lips incorporated all of their hits throughout the set list, and made a point of talking to the audience throughout the show, encouraging us to sing along, and expressing their preferences for a cheap show, like the $6 one they were performing. They joked about leaving briefly to let us cheer for an encore, which while not new, is still cool.

Overall, the Flaming Lips put on a show to inspire both eyes and ears. The visually stunning performance tied in beautifully with the tight sound they put out, giving their live cuts a feel different from that of the album, but equally as good. The Flaming Lips have well earned their reputation as one of the best live bands around.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Keep the Change

It is time for the United States to catch up with the rest of the world. I'm talking about money, here, people. The US has been far behind both Britain and the European Union in two particular things money related. Yes, it's time to embrace both dollar coins and the two dollar denomination.

The dollar coin has been valid currency for a long time, but has long been dismissed by the general pubic. From the Susan B. Anthony to the Sacagawea, and now the George Washington, the one dollar coin has never caught on. In Britain, the Pound only comes in coins for the one and two pound denominations. My time in London taught me what that small pocket in my jeans was for- the change pocket became quite useful, and it was nice to not have to dig in to my wallet to buy something small. Coins are cheaper to make and last longer than bills, but that has been discussed by people smarter than me.

So, what will it take for America to embrace coinage as a popular form of currency? My initial thought is that we need it named after someone everyone knows and likes. Susan B. Anthony isn't going to cut it; most people don't know why she is historically important. While more people could say why Sacagawea is famous, she still doesn't carry that general fame and unquestioned love from the general public. But, not many figures are greater than George Washington. Despite a failed marketing campaign and the fact that they're still unsuccessfully out there, I think it's time for something new.

I offer two propositions: One, have a series of the all the presidents, much like the state quarters. Release them over time, and limit them to length of term served. The FDR dollar? Maybe less popular, because it's got 4 terms (well, 3.5) worth of coins out there. Find yourself a William Henry Harrison (30 days in office), and that's a keeper. My other thought is to release the JFK dollar. I feel like no one really hated JFK; he's a figure big enough to make this work.

What about the coin itself? What would distinguish it from a quarter? I say we take guidance from the Pound, and make it thicker, to distinguish it. Also, get rid of that fake gold sheen. Make it look like a coin, not like a something you'd find in a treasure chest.

We should also embrace the two dollar denomination. Inflation has reduced the purchasing power of the dollar, and realistically, most single items cost more than a buck. The two dollar bill (or coin) would prove more useful, as users could carry less currency, worth more. I realize that $2 bills are considered oddities, but why not use them more? It's more practical to carry more value in less physical capacity; it's quite literally more bang for the buck.

To summarize: make coin money that works, and catches on, and make the $2 denomination more prevalent.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Keeping it Classy

Recently, there have been a variety of weddings- it is wedding season, after all (better than Christmas!). I had a thought, as I feel like invitations are single-handedly supporting the post office these days.

While weddings remain stalwarts of tradition and class, it may be time to make a break from tradition in wedding invitations. Sure, the fancy invites are nice to get in the mail- they're pretty, they become a mainstay of the side of my refrigerator, and they ooze class. And, because I am sure many brides, mothers of brides, and Ms. Manners would be appalled if I suggested the abolition of the wedding invitation in favor of something electronic, I instead propose the following. Pun intended.

So invitations stay. But, what if we made responses electronic? Wouldn't it be significantly easier if there were an online database that people could go to log their RSVPs? Fathers of the Bride would save not only on the postage required to send back those little RSVP cards, but on the cards themselves (and corresponding envelopes). An online RSVP system would be easy, and as an added feature, could incorporate wedding management for guests. Imagine it: guests could click a radio button for their response, and in addition, enter their meal preferences online, providing an easy to manage dinner list. The database could provide easy guest lists, and could probably also provide an easy to use online seating chart as the couple (or couples' parents) decided whom to seat with whom.

Since I am far from all-knowing about weddings, I would submit that there are probably other aspects of wedding planning that could be done online. Parents of the couple located in different places could both access it, should that be something that was useful.

For all I know, this could exist. If it doesn't, well, I want royalties if someone makes it. It would buck the convention of tradition, but I imagine that it would be easier and cheaper than the RSVP cards, and something easy to build. In a time when saving money is en vogue, it would be easier to make the break from tradition, without really losing any of that special wedding class.

Per usual, thanks for reading.


Editor's note: My friend Aaron created exactly what I was talking about, using Google forms. See

Friday, July 17, 2009

One Tangent after another...

  • Got a phone call today (three, actually) from a friend I hadn't spoken to in a really long time. She's one of those ones that it really doesn't matter how long it's been, things just click again. Call that person.
  • Take a moment to realize how lucky you may be. You have internet- your standard of living is probably pretty good.
  • In the spirit of my friend's new blog, to be listed shortly in the recommended section on the right, listen to Manchester Orchestra's album "Everything to Nothing." It's quite good, and has something for everyone.
  • Wireless internet still continues to amaze me. I can share thoughts with the world (well, all 11 of you) and sit at my kitchen table drinking tea.
  • As an afterthought to the piece below, about death- take the time to hear your grandparents' stories. I haven't enough.
  • Fun tidbit: The weird letters you have to retype when signing up for any online account help the new york times digitize their old articles. One word matches to make sure you're correct, and the other fills in the gaps that the optical readers can't do. Technology is cool.
And, per usual, thanks for reading.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Death (or glory)

No apologies about not writing for a while. I had nothing to say.

My best friend's grandmother died a few days ago, and tonight I went over there to sit Shiva with them. She lived a full and wonderful life, and her passing was expected, and even somewhat welcomed. The family spoke of the good memories they had, and it was a celebration of her life.

The part that puzzled me was everyone else in attendance- mostly people I knew, and all happy to see each other, but with a somber overtone. That sort of mood is to be expected, and it's not as if anyone made any faux pas. But if the family could have a more positive outlook on the whole thing, shouldn't the friends in attendance share that feeling?

I once joked to my friend Eric that if something were to happen to me in college, I didn't want any of those serious pictures shown, but instead wanted a picture of me mooning someone plastered all over any service. I feel like that would give a more appropriate tone. If I pass, and it calls for all my family and friends to be in one place, then I want them to be celebrating, and having a good time. I feel like most people feel the same way; that they would want their loved ones having a good time, and enjoying being together. Let it be a party.

Per usual, TFR.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Started work today at the court house. Got jury duty in the mail when I got home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Politics and Law

Oh, hey. Good to see you, it's been a while.

I was in a doctor's office today, and they had Fox News blaring, reporting on the Sonia Sotomayor nomination. Yes, it is slanted to the right. We all know that. I don't particularly care about that- my bone to pick here is about the confusion between law and policy.

Sotomayor said, to law students (from a clip being shown) that the Court of Appeals is where policy is made. She then followed up that statement saying she knows she shouldn't say that, and that judges are not legislators. The commentators then kept harping on the judicial role, so on and so forth. 

The thing is, the CoA is where policy happens. They generally decide cases based on what the will of the people would be. But it is different from law- law comes from the legislator, and policy comes from the interpritation of that law. They are without a doubt connected, but they are not the same.

Point being, this one needs to be let go. One Justice out of nine cannot create policy on the Court, and the Court is far too scrutinized to go rouge and legislate- it is outside of their Constitutional bounds.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Odds and Ends

Brief thoughts from the past few weeks:
  • Twitter: Surprisingly addictive, without all of the nonsense of facebook. If you decide to follow me @imissburritos, that would be cool. Makes me feel more important than I am.
  • Manny's 50 game suspension: Great for the Padres, terrible for baseball. This whole game needs to be fixed, and fast. 
  • Law Finals: It makes no sense to judge us for an entire semester, based on three hours worth of our work. Especially if it's only multiple choice. 
  • Worth a read: A story I still find funny, posted under TMI Thursday, found in the Plight of the Pumpernickle blog linked on the right toolbar.
  • Worth a Listen: Manchester Orchestra- I've Got Friends, off of Means Everything to Nothing. Fantastic song.
  • On the topic of music: I think The Killers, whose new album wasn't so good, are playing festivals because no one would go to one of their shows anymore.
  • The Rubio's Hamburger Taco: No. Just no. They don't belong together, ever.
  • Random phone calls to friends you haven't heard from in a while- check plus.
  • And last, but not least, a web series called Dorm Life, which can be found on Hulu, or at Hilarious.
Per usual, TFR.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Perhaps the most recognizable cereal of all, the Cheerio has long been the staple of "a well balanced breakfast." The supermarket cereal aisle staple knows many forms; the classic yellow box, the whimsical frosted cheerio, the much-loved honey nut, and even the long-forgotten team cheerio, a mix of classic, frosted, and some honey something-or-other. 

But while these heralded cheerios hold down the fort, the long forgotten, yet still classically delicious Apple Cinnamon Cheerio toils away, working hard to provide that magical mix of apple and cinnamon to the waiting taste buds of the early riser and midnight snacker alike.

 The quiet, yet much loved Apple Cinnamon Cheerio

So let's hear it for the underdog of the cheerio world, rising above the popular honey nut variety to triumph on our taste buds, and in our hearts.

Per usual, TFR.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I felt the urge to write, because I am sitting in the shade of a tree, in beautiful 84 degree weather, and enjoying the perks of wireless internet. We are discussing the benefits of having nature combined with fantastic technology. The internets really are a wonderful thing, as is sitting around with some friends, enjoying the sunshine.

On that note, things are busy, and the blog has noticably gone dry. I do twitter now, on occassion. Feel free to follow for more mindless thoughts.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Economics of Fantasy Baseball; or, how I learned to stop worrying, and love the bomb.

If we have ever met, there are probably two things you learn pretty darn quick: I love baseball, and I really enjoy economics. Usually the two don't cross paths in my heart- I don't often particularly care about the economics of baseball. Quite frankly, they're just boring.

Where the two do cross are in fantasy baseball, which is another of my loves (but really a subset of baseball itself). How, you ask? The margins. 

The very first thing I learned in high school econ came from my summer reading, from a book called Murder at the Margins. It's a cheesy detective story about an econ professor on vacation, where a murder happens, and he solves it based on people's economic choices. Super cheesy, but it taught me that in econ, absolute numbers are less important than the marginal unit of difference. 

Murder at the Margins. Or, an experiment with pictures in the blog. (from

Marginal values come in to play when drafting a fantasy baseball team. You want the best player, sure. But you decide this based on the marginal value of the best player at a position available, compared to other positions. It's how you decide whether to take the best second baseman next (scarcity, another economic issue), or whether to add on a second pitcher. Fantasy baseball, for me, becomes the perfect combination of my two loves that combine in an interesting manner about zero other times.

As the baseball season draws ever so near (four days, thank god), the time for drafts is upon us, and fantasy baseball has returned. In a short format, because this would be far too long otherwise, other reasons why I love fantasy baseball:
- Forces you to keep in touch with people you wouldn't otherwise.
- Gives you something to talk about with friends who also play.
- Allows you to beat your friends, and have proof that you did. Or, to trash talk about how you will beat them, next time, because you got whooped.
- Forces you to care about baseball games you otherwise would not. Kansas City at Detroit suddenly matters to a Padres fan.
- Makes summer less boring.

For these reasons, and more, welcome back, fantasy baseball.

Per usual, TFR.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The MTA Hikes

My greatest experience with public transport may be the MTA song we used to sing at camp. That being said, the New York MTA system will be experiencing fare hikes and reduced service. While this directly affects me just about zero, I do believe there was and is a way to avoid the drastic solution to keeping the system afloat.

Back in my days as an economist, I wrote a paper about the benefits of a congestion charge, especially in places like New York. Such a fee would charge automobiles for using the streets of downtown Manhattan during peak hours. There are scaled prices for residents, and obvious passes for emergency and service vehicles, and pubic transport. 

Singapore has been a shining example of how a system can be implemented. Since implementation, the city has experienced significantly reduced traffic, lower travel times, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, the congestion charge system raises funds towards the upkeep and construction of infrastructure.

Such a system in the NYC would not only open up the roads, but also raise the needed funds (or be a good start towards) continuing the current level of service and pricing for the MTA system. Now, it definitely has its drawbacks, one of the big ones being financial discrimination on a public causeway. But the benefits outweigh the costs, despite what would assuredly be a public outcry upon implementation.  

I like talking about this, and could go on. Let me know if you want to discuss further.

Per usual, TFR.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

The great debate

Today I was eating a lovely tuna sandwich, as one should eat a sandwich. It was uncut, and on oblong bread (i.e. not the typical square sandwich bread). My friend, who was eating her sandwich, held hers the opposite way of mine. One of us held it by the short side, with the longer side facing the mouth, with the other holding it vice-versa. A great debate ensued.

I am intentionally ambiguous here, because I want unbiased results from the general public. In the scenario above, which side of the sandwich would you take the first bite out of? I don't care if your answer is the corner- in that case, which side is the second bite out of? I also do not care about you sandwich elitists who only eat cut sandwiches. Get over it.

Long story short, leave your responses in the comments section below.

Per Usual, TFR.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Biggest Loser Ironies

Biggest Loser provides me with many of the ironies in my life. Many of them are my fault- for instance, eating stuffing while watching it. Including stuffing in my omlette tonight while watching it. Eating breakfast foods combined with dinner foods, while I watch it. (Note: yeah, I eat weird things. but it was delicious.)

But most of all, it was that the challenge involved how bad fast food is for you, particularly a pizza with lots of meat on it- like 490 calories and 27 g of fat per slice. Next commercial on: Round Table Meatball Pizza. I couldn't make this up.

I won't even begin to rail against a pizza with meatballs on it, despite its obvious place on a worst ideas over list. It speaks for itself, and is better suited for a David Miller rant- check out his sandwich rant, over at DMBulliten (linked on the side). But you get the picture.

Per usual, TFR.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why San Diego is better than New York.

New York: one foot of snow.

Shameless plugs

Pot Roast put up videos from the last Knighta Komedy. This one is my personal favorite.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Here at Self Portraits, the one thing we have in our lives is routine. Class, the occasional visit to the gym, and lots of reading. Then, Thursday mornings off due to a brilliant stretch of luck from the scheduling office.

There have been three classes cancelled this week. That means three classes (well, two, really) that will be rescheduled, and have been, at inconvenient time when we have a ton due. 

It's not that I'm mad we have more class. It's that it breaks my routine, which I only now realize I'm so used to.

On the bright side, spring training games started today.

Per Usual, TFR,

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Port gets Political

I felt the need to write about something, and tonight is the non-State of the Union Address. What follows is thoughts from the broadcast, in bullet format, and written down as things happen during the speech.

Note: This is long, but they're quick notes.

- The pomp and circumstance of introductions, while historically based and somewhat exciting, could really be toned down to save a lot of time. Time is money, right? Are introductions cutting in to the economy? We'll see if that's part of the stimulus plan.
- Wolf is saying that the speech is going to be focused on domestic policy. Isn't that what we should have been doing a long time ago? Without abandoning foreign policy, focusing on improving domestically, in infrastructure, education, and environment? How much better off would we be if the money spent in Iraq was spend stateside?
- Sorry, Wolf. No matter how you spin it for ratings, this is not that historic of a moment. Important, yes. But not historic. It has happened before, and it will happen again, on a yearly basis (yeah, yeah, its not a State of the Union. But it's the same thing.) That does not make i historic, yet. If the speech becomes historic, that's one thing. The event itself, not to much.
- $5 says my friend Alwyn is a better photographer than the "official photographer of the US." Also, props to the President for throwing out left-handed handshakes when the right hand is occupied. Also, does Obama kiss Hillary Clinton during the normal course of their meetings? If so, does the rest of the cabinet feel left out?
- Ooooooo, presents for the leaders of each house. They're probably puppies.
- From the side, Chief Justice Roberts sort of looks like Chancellor Wrighton of Wash U.
On to the speech:
  - Early on, a lot of talk that sounds like he's still running for office. Stats about the past administration's time, and not enough talking about how to fix it, yet.
- It begins with jobs. But where, doing what? Are we going to see a New(er) Deal? 
- Camera on John Kerry. Looks like he has a newspaper under his arm.
- ... and on McCain with the word skepticism. 
- Not sure how I feel about the comedy lines dropped in to the speech. Obama is the type of charismatic speaker who can pull it off, because the public identifies with him as a person and as a politician. But this isn't really the time or place. 
- Wish I would've bought that domain first.
- A lot about cars, even if subtle mentions. Realistically, now is not good to buy a car, if we want to get over that oil hump he opened the speech with. Wait a few years, go electric.
 - Oh, Obama. Leading in industry does NOT mean ignoring what other countries do better (the Korean battery comment). Free markets encourage specialization, which makes everyone better off. You know that, I'd bet.
- The third challenge: About damn time we recognize education is important. Raise teacher salaries, attract better teachers, make education better. This promise will not be able to be kept without higher salaries for those who teach.
- Is the quitting on your country (by dropping out of high school) going to be the new tag line?
- Highest proportion of college grads by 2020: Take that, Scandinavia!
- Updating an earlier note, its probably not a newspaper, but a copy of the speech they all seem to have. My mistake.
- Is that a subtle corn subsidy shot? Are we finally getting rid of the Archer Daniels Midland nonsense subsidy?
- No torture. that's probably good.
- Sciences- good. About damn time, again. But I'm biased.

Overall, a good speech, if things promised can be implemented. Only time will tell.

Per usual, Thanks for reading.


Monday, February 16, 2009


Since I don't update nearly as often as some expect for a blog, read the other's people's blogs on the right. I recommend all four of them.

Go read!


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hope Springs Eternal

The headline will read across newspapers in the morning: A pun about spring, and a new season. After months of nothing and hot stove, Major League Baseball spring training starts tomorrow. Here's why it's great, and it has nothing to do with baseball. Except that it's about baseball.

No matter what happened last season, spring training marks the beginning of something great. as Tampa Bay showed us last season, anyone has a shot at running from worst to first. Cubs fans everywhere get hope that next year is now. Padres fans have faith we might not lose 100 games. It might not be much, but it's something.

Spring training means the start of times getting warmer, summer approaching, and the enjoyment that is the love of a game. Spring training means breaking out the leather and throwing around the pill, and the start of intramural and little leagues everywhere. It's the change in the sports pages, and the focus of fans everywhere, who no longer have to put up without statistics. 

It is, in a word, perfect. The best it can possibly be... until opening day.

Per usual, thanks for reading.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Happiest day of the year

This post was going to be about the sadness of having Yahoo! tell me that I don't currently have any sports teams, and about how spring training starts this week, and so does fantasy baseball registration. 

Then, an email came in to my inbox, literally as I got to the page to post. 
"You are invited..." to join a fantasy baseball league.

God I love spring.


Sunday, February 8, 2009

World's best inventions

My excessive use of wireless internet got me thinking as to the world's best inventions. I present a preliminary list, with lots of things I'm sure I'm forgetting.

In no order:
- Wireless internet: The ability to take the internet to class, to fields, and anywhere else you may like is pretty damn cool.
- The internet itself: no explanation necessary.
- The light bulb: my default answer. Think about how different things would be if still by candlelight.
- Soap: just to appease the medical world.
- Fire: Technically a discovery, and not an invention. But because it led to cooked food, it gets a mention.
- Birth Control: Idea courtesy of a friend, when he was asked the question. Self explanatory, really.
- The ball: Perhaps also a discovery, but I'm going to go with the first manufactured ball, with the intent to play sports. Fantasy geeks everywhere thank you.

This list is far from comprehensive- just starting the debate.


Addendum: I've been told I forgot the printing press, and the combustion engine. Both good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


I'm not the best of spellers, and while I think I've been pretty good so far on this blog, I have issues within my class notes. This just in: the word 'sovereign' is very difficult to spell. It took me four tries to just get it close enough to have spellcheck know what I was talking about.

Just another day in Constitutional Law... at least it's warm out.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Feeling Accomplished

Moved back home today from the housesitting, and it's really awful nice to be back. Went grocery shopping to re-stock the kitchen, did laundry, cleaned the house a bit, and ran the dishwasher, all of which lead me to the point:

I feel really good today. I feel like I cleaned up a lot of things, and made good food choices at the supermarket. I bought a ton of veggies, then made what I think was a healthy dinner (who really knows anymore). Then I watched the biggest loser, which made me like my choices even better.

It's just been one of those days where everything feels good, and I wanted to share. 



Monday, February 2, 2009

The underappreciated

Just a quick shout out to something I'd noticed before, but never thought about: the shubbery in the highway median. It makes the highway prettier, blocks the headlights from the other side, and does a damn good job dividing the highway. I also would like to know who cuts it, how often, and with what machine. Can they just drive with blades on the side that cut? If you have answers, I want them.

Per Usual, Thanks for reading. (from now on, perhaps an acronym? PUTFR? we'll see.)


Sunday, February 1, 2009


I went and hung out with a few friends last night, marking the first time I actually went somewhere in a while. Law school takes a lot of time, and most social events are geared towards drinking. While that's all well and good, I'm really not much of a drinker. Law school drinks a lot more than I do.

Point being, as law students, we run very short on time. Consider this a rally cry for doing things that don't involve over-crowded bars, loud music, and lots of booze. Call me old fashioned (and super competitive), but I would prefer a nice little board game night. And yes, I realize how lame this makes me.

Some quick hitters:
- 15 year olds really enjoy just being loud. This is what I have learned form house sitting.
- 70 degree weather is significanty better than the cold.
- I'm sort of surprised at how good my friends from college have been about keeping up. Good work.

Thanks for reading, per usual.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Daily Soundtrack

Since I started walking to school, I started using my ipod on a regular basis for the first time. On days I forget it, I honestly regret not having music to fill the time. I didn't always used to be this dependent on music, but recently it seems that I need something to fill the silence. There is more and more radio and itunes going on than ever before, which makes me wonder how much brainpower is going in to music, rather than learning things.

My point is this: I am currently away from home, but not away from my music. is seemingly a Pandora knockoff (for those who don't know, its awesome), but keeps track of what music you listen to through iTunes, and logs your preferences. You can listen to streaming radio of music it recommends for you (which is not quite as good as Pandora, yet), but you can also listen to streaming radio of music you own. So I am now listening to my music, just from an online database that knows which tracks I own.

Technology. Pretty cool. Per usual, thanks for wasting your time with me.