January 29, 2009

These Eyes Were Not Tearless...

Printed today in the New York Times:


It came to me the other day:
Were I to die, no one would say,
“Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
Of promise — depths unplumbable!”

Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
Will greet my overdue demise;
The wide response will be, I know,
“I thought he died a while ago.”

For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
And death is real, and dark, and huge.
The shock of it will register
Nowhere but where it will occur.


January 22, 2009

LOST: Will Someone Please Get That Man a Shirt!?

But wait, there are more important things about last night's episode of LOST than Sawyer's glistening chest! After the premiere's time traveling madness, it seems like this video (released at 2008 ComicCon) includes some serious clues:

First off, that is definitely Faraday working the camcorder—and now we know he was most definitely in the Dharma-era past at some point. Secondly, could all the problems Chang seems to have with his hand/arm be connected to the hand-chopping-happy crew Sawyer and Juliet encountered in the jungle in the premier?! (TFJ io9 for that connection.)

January 21, 2009


All this inauguration stuff is making me nostalgic for the campaign. Remember this indelible pic?

The best part is that I found it by searching "McCain Obama Debate Monster."

(Nothing better for my blogging productivity than having an interview to transcribe.)

OMFG: LOST Tonight!

It's been a big couple days on the television set.

Quote of the week about LOST:

Brian: "Remember when this was a show about polar bears."

Embrace change young man.

The group I might be most excited to learn more about are our three young freighties—all still on the island or in its vicinity. Remember this exchange:

(Forgive the subtitles.)

Miles is sassy.

Though Fairuza Balk Does Make Me Think of This...

Which makes me happy. Return to Oz is the raddest. Or, most rad.


...am I watching The Craft right now? I gotta get a job.

January 20, 2009

It's A New Day

I've been pretty truant with this blog because I've been so under the weather. But today I got to watch Barack Obama be sworn in as President. It was pretty special.

January 15, 2009

Top Ten Things I Ate In Asia

In no particular order:

- Barbecue squid with crazy, tangy, awesome orange sauce on Langkawi: I don't know what was in this sauce, perhaps the tears of angels.
- Samosa in Georgetown, Penang's Little India: This samosa was unlike any I've ever had—an intensely thick shell stuffed with shockingly verdant whole peas and strings of fresh herbs. That samosa to your average samosa was like brick oven pizza from a place with a line out the door to Pizza Hut.
- Pad Thai from the hole-in-the-wall on Sulli's block: I ate a fair amount of Pad Thai in Thailand, but this version was the paragon—high ratio of bean sprouts to noodles, plenty of peanuts, big strands of green onion and plump, perfectly cooked shrimp. The $1 price tag didn't hurt.
- Stir-fried red curry with mixed seafood at our bungalow on Koh Lanta: Our home on Koh Lanta had excellent food. Once, we tried to expand our horizons and ate in town—big mistake. We ordered this dish at least three times. The curry was hot, the squid was tender and the balance of flavors was perfection.
- Shrimp with marinated cabbage in Krabi Town: This dish was kind of unexpected. I ordered it on a whim and was blow away. The cabbage was thick and tangy, with a pleasant crunch. It didn't hurt that our dinner also featured the best green curry I had in Thailand.
- Fried chicken on the waterfront in Krabi Town: Crunchy, slightly spicy, and freshly fried—it was the best fried chicken I've ever had.
- Som Tom, everywhere: There is nothing I will miss more than the searing pain of freshly made som tom. Women on the street make it with a mortal and pestle, stuff it into plastic bags and pass you the tangy, crunchy, spicy magic. Oh, and it comes with sticky rice.
- Satay in Georgetown, Penang: I thought I knew satay, but I knew nothing of the tender little chunks of marinated meat served with a peanut sauce that put anything made stateside to shame.
- Barbecue eel in Narita, Japan: This meal was vastly improved by the experience of eating in a bustling little restaurant as men cleaned eel in the window and waitresses squeezed between tables toting pots of hot green tea.
- Fruit shakes, everywhere: Most fruit shakes in Thailand are done simply with fruit, a dash of sugar water and ice—pure heaven.

Crappy with a Capital CRAP

Yesterday I felt so crappy that I was forced to look up "jet lag" on Wikipedia to make sure that was all that was going on. Not only was I up one full night, I was up two straight nights thanks to my ten hour layover in Narita and my complete inability to sleep on planes. And I am trying to adjust to a 12 hour difference, which must be the worst possible shift. Anyway, after a 3-hour afternoon nap, a 2-hour nighttime nap and 9 hours of sleep, I'm hope I'm seeing the light at the end of this crappy jet lag tunnel.

January 14, 2009

Brrrr...It's Cold in Here

One of my favorite all-time lines in any rock song is from Spoon's "Rhthm & Soul." Britt Daniel sings—with his signature heartbreaking nonchalance—"Winter, it gets cold in ways you always forget." It's a simple statement (and obviously an emotional metaphor) but sooo true.

Needless to say, it's been on my mind over the last two days. When I left for Thailand we had yet to experience real winter temperatures. And, after a month in a tropical paradise, I had no idea what 25 degrees would feel like. It feels cold. In your bones. And it's only gonna get colder.

But even harder to adjust to is the greyness of American winter—the overall lack of color. Good thing I have Doug, and a hoard of loose green tea I bought in Japan, to keep me warm.

January 13, 2009

"Don't Ever Leave Me"

Tonight I fly back to Nashville and reunite with Doug. It might take him a few sniffs and a couple headbutts to remember me, but I think it will go something like this:

Brian is Miss Minchin.

Bad Things I Watch: Rock of Love Bus Welcomes Me Back to America

Last night, after a quick pizza dinner with my little bro (thanks Eli), I crashed. Hard. I slept a deep and dreamless sleep until I awoke around 6 a.m. and couldn't find my way back to slumber. I decided to turn on the TV and then give it another try in a couple hours.

What I discovered on that illuminated screen was probably the most depressing welcome home I could have received from American popular culture: It was Bret Michaels, his hair, (lots of) fake breasts and the lewdest, most degrading behavior we've seen yet on the three-seasons-running marathon of debasement we like to call Rock of Love. And this season, they're taking it on the road resulting in the clumsily titled "Rock of Love Bus."

I don't really know when Rock of Love went from being good cheesy fun to simply distressing, but I do know it happened well before one woman took a shot out of another woman's hoo-ha. This season, the blonds are blonder and the boobs are bigger, while the size of the skirts remains very, very small. It's funny to think back on season one when Heather was depicted as the drunk, trashy, stripper lady—she would be the Angelina Jolie of this bunch.

As the women poured drinks on each other, divided themselves into cliques and exposed their bodies for a washed up rock star in what could only be called a parody of mainstream sexuality, I really missed Thailand.

One more complaint. Any time things started to get really gross and creepy, Michaels would inevitably reply: "That's just rock n roll." Someone get that guy a fracking time machine and transport him to 2008, please. No wonder they're confining Rock of Love Bus to Middle America, where there are still plenty of folks who haven't yet realized that yesterday's corset top is today's huge old lady glasses and who learned all they ever needed to know about irony from that Alanis Morisette song.

Good Things I Watch: T-Minus One Week Til LOST

It's official. In one week we'll begin to find out what happens after this:


January 12, 2009

Tokyo: Me Tired

I'm now well over 24 hours with no sleep (NO SLEEP!) and I'm back in the Tokyo airport after a day spent wandering around the surprising and very charming small city of Narita.

I took in a temple, ate some broiled eel (a local specialty) while men a few feel away from me cut the heads off live ones and cleaned them at the front of the restaurant to bring in customers (it worked; the place had a line down the block) and drank a lot of wonderous green tea.

(Side note: It's coooold in Japan in January--all I had was a sweatshirt and a sarong worn as a scarf.)

Now I just have to survive another flight and two trains. Eek.

January 11, 2009

Back to Earth, Back to Reality

Sunset on Ton Sai.

In a couple hours I get on a plane, and then another plane, and then yet another plane. Monday afternoon I'll land in beautiful Newark, NJ.

A weekend on Ton Sai—a little beach area without paved roads or electricity before 6 p.m.—was the perfect way to end my trip. We did some rock climbing, ate som tom by the beach and drank under a full moon.

I'll have more reflections on my time in Thailand (and various other topics) when I get home, so keep reading—especially if you want my thoughts on Friday's big BSG premiere.

January 8, 2009

Workin For the Weekend

This weekend (well, in about an hour), we're heading to Ton Sai, a beach close by that is only accessible by boat. It's supposed to be beautiful, and cheap. This is my last weekend in Thailand. (In my head I'm hearing either Green Day's "Time of Your Life" or Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You"—it's like I'm moving out of the Real World house.)

January 7, 2009

Can You Pass Me a Tissue, Brotha?

So, the unrivaled Onion AV Club has posted it's list of the best television episodes of 2008. Included was this entry:
Lost, "The Constant"
Was Lost's fourth season its best yet because it finally moved the story forward—while also deepening the mythology and tugging at the heart—or was it the best because it was the shortest, and thus had a higher percentage of memorable moments? Sure, the show's first three seasons had plenty of episodes as good as the absolutely awesome "The Shape Of Things To Come," "Cabin Fever," and "The Economist." But you'd be hard pressed to find many Losts as singularly special as "The Constant," a mind-bending time-travel episode focused on poor, displaced Desmond. While Desmond—who always seems to figure into the best Losts—jumps back and forth between the present and the past, and between potential rescue on a mysterious freighter and his years of military service, "The Constant" drops hints about the time-warping properties of the island and the behind-the-scenes machinations of Charles Widmore. It all concludes in a touching virtual reunion, reminding fans that Lost is more about the journey of its characters than the history of the place they've been stranded.
Which made me go rewatch this:

Tear. Only a couple more weeks left until the return of the emotional roller coaster that is LOST. If they find some way to rip Des and Penny apart, I will murder someone. (Who am I kidding? They already have: Ben swore revenge on Widmore and promised to go after his daughter.)

The whole list is pretty great, including entries from Battlestar Galactica, Mad Men, 30 Rock and the episode of Survivor Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites when poor ice cream scooper Erik got duped into giving up his immunity idol (after the whole "It's a stick with a face on it" brouhaha).

January 6, 2009

Prince's, Watch Your Back

Today I had some of the best fried chicken of my life. I bought it at a street stall in Ao Nang. Here in Thailand, they cut the chicken into smaller pieces so there's more of the good crispy stuff. The smaller pieces also mean shorter cooking time, and, therefore, juicier meat. If I had to guess on the preparation, I'd say long marination process (garlic, chilies, ect.) and a light dusting in rice flour. My little piece of breast came with a small pile of fried red onion (OMFG Good) and sticky rice. That delightful little snack: 20 baht, or about 60 cents. Washed it down with a banana shake: Heaven.

January 5, 2009

Another Reason Why Thailand is Better Than the U.S.: Food on the Beach

At the Jersey shore, when we get hungry, we leave the beach, grab a hoagie or a sandwich back at the house, or maybe grab a granola bar out of a sand-filled cooler.

In Thailand, on the beaches near Ao Nang, there are floating kitchens—long tails serving blended fruit shakes, grilled chicken, pad thai, fried rice and Western food for the rubes.

But there are also people walking the beach, toting coolers filled with beer, soda and cold water. There are men carrying baskets on long sticks, grilling corn to order on portable charcoal grills and sprinkling them with sea salt. There are women selling fruit—mostly pineapple cut with such skill into sections that you can eat them like lollipops.

Thailand wins. (Though I could kinda go for a WaWa hoagie right now.)

Addicted to the Pain

I never thought of myself as a masochist, but there's really no other explanation for my continued flagellation at the feet of som tom.

Ah som tom: cold, hot, sour, sweet. Here are the things I'm sure are in it: shredded green papaya, tomatoes, raw garlic, lime, nam pla, peanuts, green beans and, of course, the chilies. These ingredients are combined in sweet matrimony with a mortar and pestle and then eaten with handfuls of sticky rice (it's for the burning). The result is a combustible miracle of tart lime, cool vegetables, earthy peanuts and heat, lots of heat.

We've been eating it a lot—brought home in plastic bags from the night market, eaten alongside grilled chicken from a stall by the river in the middle of the day, or, well, pretty much whenever its available.

Today, I was in Ao Nang (a small beach town that serves as a launching pad for many of the better beaches near Krabi) and decided on a snack. I went to a street food vendor and ordered som tom. The woman seemed a bit peeved—it's labor intensive—but after cracking a few jokes about me in Thai with her coworkers who were peeling and deviening shrimp on the curb, she got over it. She held up a small red pepper. I replied, "Not too spicy." She held up the universal sign for "a little bit"—forefinger and thumb held close together—and cut the pepper in half.

When she brought me the plate I thought I was going easy on myself—hey, maybe it wouldn't be spicy enough!—but then I took the first bite. And started sweating. Then my nose started the inevitable drip, drip, drip. (Sulli has told me that her Thai co-teachers always laugh at her runny nose; the woman in Ao Nang laughed too.)

After the heat (finally) fades, all that's left is the hum of garlic, and the desire for more.

(For you Nashvillians, Siam Cafe on Nolensville makes a decent version.)

January 4, 2009

Mine Eyes Have Seen: Beaches, Cities and (lots of) Food

Some pictures from my travels. Enjoy.

BSG OMG: He Kissed a Boy

I spent part of my morning today catching up on Battlestar Galactica webisodes in anticipation of the big return on Jan. 16. (My first Friday back in Nashville. It's kismet.)

Gaeta totally MO'ed with a dude. Guess all the speculation about what Lt. Felix gets up to in that Melrose Place-style swingtown they call barracks wasn't so off base (though he does play a smidge of tonsil hockey with a pesky 8 later in the 10 'sode arc).

Shower Cap Poetry

From my hotel in Bangkok:

"I can take to the skies. I can soar like a bird. With his heart full of song. Won't you color my eyes. I've been waiting so long."

From the Diary of a Mad Jewish Woman

From the upcoming film The Road.

Adapted from a journal entry:

Between The Road, Sirens of Baghdad (a complex novel about the genesis of an insurgent in Iraq that I finished two days ago) and the quagmire in Gaza, it's hard not to be thinking about the end. The Big End. The Big A.

So I've spent a strange amount of time recently mulling over the apocalypse. Nuclear war. It can seem oddly inevitable in these new, dark times. I've also been listening to a lot of Mountain Goats—and somehow John Darnielle seems like the person I'd want singing me to the bitter end (preferably with the grim dread of "Dilaudid" or the magical huff of "If You See the Light").

Yet there are still so many redemptive things left to experience in this world: Thai food—chilies and lime and the slither of noodles tossed with oil—or hot, sweet tea with milk at a street stall as rain pours into the streets of Penang. And there are books like The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. A Miracle. A work so nuanced and majestic that it makes you rethink the worthiness of the human mind.

I forgive Chabon for the cruelty of the novel's long separations—maybe even the soul crushing tragedy of Thomas, sent to the bottom of the ocean—because he offers reunion, catharsis, and the story's own story of angst and redemption: the dissolved Golem of Prague, reanimated with paper and ink.

January 3, 2009

Does This Look Like A Doug That Misses His Mommy?

Or does this look like a Doug being held hostage against his will?

You decide.

Tonight We Ate...

- Barbecue pork salad with coconut tips, chili and lime.
- Fried shrimp cakes with prawn paste.
- Stir-fried sea bass with chilies, garlic and these crazy little green peppercorns, still on the stem.

Deelightful: I was breathing fire.

The House Was Built Too Small!!

Today we arrived back in Krabi Town after almost a week on Koh Lanta.

Yesterday, I got an email through the PA Campaign for Change listserv about an apartment for rent in DC for inauguration. 800 bucks per night for a 450 sq. foot studio apartment. Nutso.