Monday, August 31, 2009

apollo's bog.: Love Happens, Fame

This is the September edition of Apollo’s Bog, a new monthly feature that takes a look at upcoming films and music for which we have genuinely low expectations. While we want to avoid jumping the gun and panning a film or album before experiencing it, these selections are specifically chosen because we doubt it can gracefully flutter its wings upon release. Based on the sway of its marketing campaign, trailers and singles, we judge art sullenly and aptly.

Love Happens (Sept. 18, Brandon Camp)

A best-selling self-help guru, coping with the death of his wife, falls for a florist that he meets at one of his seminars.

This cookie-cutter romantic drama starring Jennifer Aniston and Bill Pullman – I’m sorry, I mean Aaron Eckhart – is either a throwback to precursors or a disaster zone of unoriginality.

The trailer pre-packages its torpid genre ingredients. Behold the holier-than-thou plot device, the meet cute. Eckhart and Aniston bump into each other turning a corner in a hallway, and in a bout of love at first sight, he asks, “Would you like to have a cup of coffee?” There’s not even an effort made to give us something we haven’t seen before.

Aniston, who’s suffering career death Kate Hudson style, is sleepwalking through another ill-fated box office dud about whimsical romantic love missing in her own overly publicized life.

Formal grievance: Enough close-ups of Aaron Eckart’s mug. Thank You For Smoking, Meet Bill and The Dark Knight all had plenty of that.

Judy Greer is rudimentarily typecast as every girl’s closest pal in these types of films. Greer told Entertainment Weekly, of working with Aniston, “All the roles that she’s played – I’ve always wanted to be her best friend.” Seemingly unconcerned about career mobility, Greer may never be a legit lead.

The trailer reveals way too much, including Eckhart running through a forest after taking advice from Dan Fogler. It actually shows us the scene in which Eckhart shows up at the flower shop and the two decide to get together, which is clearly later on in the film.

Another unchallenging role for Aniston, Love Happens is a commodity that has been spewing out of the studio system for people who live as boring, clichéd lives as its characters. The demand for it died before the extinction of VHS tapes.

Trailer music report card:
Goo Goo Dolls, “Better Days” C-

Fame (Sept. 25, Kevin Tancharoen)

Dance students struggle for perfection at a competitive performing arts high school in New York. Alan Parker’s Academy Award-winning 1980 original ranked 42 on Entertainment Weekly’s list of the 50 best high school films.

When it was decided that the remake of Fame would not be R-rated like the original but rather a PG kid-friendly version, it must have a fairly simple solution to a problem. How could the High School Musical franchise continue to be a stable moneymaker in the multiplex without officially being a part of the franchise? Remake Fame – diluted for kids!

This unnecessary September release is an excuse not an exhibit. It won’t have half the impact of the original, though it looks visually polished, it’s mostly a money grubber in a typical deadspot in the year of the box office. September is almost as bad as January – but at least Kelsey Grammer, who appears as a member of the performing arts faculty, gets to juxtapose the series debut of his next big sitcom Hank with this forced attempt at a blockbuster.

The film has been described as a reinvention instead of a remake – a ‘reinvention’ that just happens to capitalize on name brand recognition and an enormous fan following that adore a film much different than this safe teen fare. The big money men merely wanted to see the title song shine once more with dollar signs.

Unlike Parker, who had a distinguished directing resume at the time of Fame, Kevin Tancharoen has thus far choreographed Madonna, directed Britney Spear’s Onyx Hotel tour and remixed projects for Christina Aguilera, Jessica Simpson and Tyrese. So Tancharoen understands dance choreography and maybe a little about music, but can he handle a film of emotional depth? Can he choreograph ambition, triumph and adversity in the form of affecting pathos in between those dance steps? Yawn.

Trailer music report card:
“Fame” (cover) B-

Pitchfork proves its dominance over musical lists

This one's 500 songs long.  And unlike Rolling Stone's comparatively wimpy 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, Pitchfork's just covers this decade.  This decade isn't even over yet.  Behold, it's Pitchfork's 500 Greatest Songs of the '00s.

Speaking of Jann Wenner's dinosaur, the hipper-than-thous at Pitchfork couldn't resist a dig at it in their explanation of the necessity for a 500 song "best of the decade" list: "...about what you'd get from a print magazine, but it's free and you won't throw it out the next time you move."

Insulting both the gold standard in music journalism and its own readers in one fell swoop?  Could Pitchfork get any cooler?

I have no desire to link directly to Pitchfork, so here's Stereogum's convenient abridged version.

Pitchfork's 20 Greatest Songs Of The '00s
20 The Walkman - "The Rat" (2004)
19 R. Kelly - "Ignition (Remix)"
18 Hercules and Love Affair - "Blind" (2008)
17 Annie -"Heartbeat" (2004)
16 The Rapture - "House of Jealous Lovers" (2002)
15 The Knife - "Heartbeats" (2002)
14 Jay-Z - "99 Problems" (2003)
13 LCD Soundsystem - "Losing My Edge" (2002)
12 OutKast - "Hey Ya!" (2003)
11 Gnarls Barkley - "Crazy" (2005)
10 Arcade Fire - "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" (2004)
09 Animal Collective - "My Girls" (2009)
08 Radiohead - "Idioteque" (2000)
07 Missy Elliott - "Get Ur Freak On" (2001)
06 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - "Maps" (2003)
05 Daft Punk - "One More Time" (2000)
04 Beyoncé [ft. Jay-Z] - "Crazy in Love" (2003)
03 M.I.A. (Feat. Bun B and Rich Boy) - "Paper Planes (Diplo Remix)" (2007)
02 LCD Soundsystem - "All My Friends" (2007)
01 OutKast - "B.O.B." (2000)

"My Girls" makes the decade's top 10?  When is someone going to explain Animal Collective's appeal to me?  Beyond that, the scope of this list is simply too massive for me to even attempt to analyze it.  I think the best way to approach it is as a list of the songs you probably should listen to, for better or worse.

Pitchfork's Top 15 Songs Of 2009 ... So Far
15 The Big Pink - "Velvet"
14 Woods- "Rain On"
13 St. Vincent - "The Strangers"
12 Kid Cudi vs. Crookers - "Day 'N Night (Remix)"
11 The Walkmen - "In the New Year"
10 The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Young Adult Friction"
09 Camera Obscura - "French Navy"
08 Japandroids - "Young Hearts Spark Fire"
07 Antony and the Johnsons - "Aeon"
06 Grizzly Bear - "While You Wait for the Others"
05 Phoenix - "1901"
04 Bat for Lashes - "Daniel"
03 Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks"
02 Dirty Projectors - "Stillness Is The Move"
01 Animal Collective - "My Girls

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Outside Lands 2009

The Outside Lands music festival is well underway at San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.  While it's only in its second year, it has such a fully-formed lineup of strong acts that I regret not being there.

There's only one day left for the festival, but it's certainly ending on a high note: Bettye LaVette, The Dead Weather, Modest Mouse, M.I.A., Band of Horses, Tenacious D and a host of others are all on the Sunday bill.  Here's the festival's schedule.

The Beatles: Rock Band on tour

Via AFP: The new Beatles: Rock Band video game is on tour in anticipation of the game's September 9 release.  Gamers who attend its tour stops, like one at the Rockit Room bar in San Francisco last Wednesday, get the chance to preview the game.

The game's release is significant for a few reasons beyond its appeal to video game fans.  First: its story mode focuses on historical detail, giving players the opportunity to re-live important points in the band's development from Cavern Club pub players to the Ed Sullivan Show to Shea Stadium.

The company that holds the rights to the distribution of The Beatles' music, Apple Corps, has been extremely wary of releasing any songs digitally.  A quick search on iTunes reveals that none of the music controlled by Apple Corps (not to be confused with the Apple that owns iTunes) is available for download.  That the real tracks are included in Rock Band is therefore somewhat interesting.  Maybe it signals Beatles downloads down the road?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Noel Gallagher leaves Oasis (again)

Via Rolling Stone's Rock Daily blog: Noel Gallagher quit Oasis before a scheduled gig in France today, leaving the Rock en Seine festivalgoers wanting for an appearance by the veteran British rock group.  Though many in the crowd saw the cancellation announcement as a joke, realization soon set in as time passed and no Gallaghers appeared.

Liam and Noel Gallagher, co-leaders of the band, are famous for their bitter fights, and this isn't the first time Noel has quit.  However, all future Oasis tour dates have been canceled and Rolling Stone reports that this time, it might be for good.  Noel posted his resignation letter on the band's MySpace site:

"It is with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight. People will write and say what they like, but I simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer. Apologies to all the people who bought tickets for the shows in Paris, Konstanz and Milan."
 Anyone who knows the band knows this has been coming for a long time.  Only time will tell whether the brothers will be able to mend their differences.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prime Meats: Locally Sourced Meals in Brooklyn

Prime Meats, sister restaurant to Frankies 457 Court Street Spuntino, is nestled on the corner a few storefronts down the block from its sibling.  It, unlike the Italian cuisine of the original restaurant, is mainly German-influenced, a tribute to the original German heritage of the area.

Going back to Carroll Gardens is like a time warp for me. I remember sitting at my great grandmother's house, eating the famous Brooklyn style pizza, and always making a stop at the infamous Court St. pastry shop. So, I was excited to venture back down again.

When we walked down Smith Street and Court Street, we discovered that much has changed. Sushi bars are now intermingled with the Italian joints that have been there forever. We first stopped at Frankies 457 to attempt to grab a bite of Italian cuisine only to find that their was an hourlong line at 8:30 on a Tuesday night (recession in Brooklyn anyone?). They directed us to Prime Meats, which we actually already had in mind after reading a recent review.

Upon entering, I felt as if I could be in an early 20th century tavern. The bartender was dressed in classic attire, pouring wines and mixing cocktails. Within a few minutes, we were escorted out back to the patio seating. Unfortunately, after a brief look at the menu, I realized that Prime Meats was cash only. So it was back down the street to the bank. I had told my guest that she should order drinks for us in the meantime. When I had returned I sat down to only the water I had left with. I asked, and our server still hadn't returned to the table. So after getting the server's attention, we ordered drinks: a local beer (Sixpoint Righteous Rye) and cocktail (Mayanne Fizz, made with Old Tom Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth, diced strawberry, and sparkling wine). 
The Mayanne Fizz wasn't exactly what we expected; it tasted like horrible cough medicine. The waitress insisted the drink had been perfectly prepared, but was happy to bring a replacement. The next drink we ordered was superb, making me believe that the bartender was talented at mixing decent cocktails. Our food finally arrived with all the appropriate accompaniments (ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard for the burger and Bavarian mustard for the rest). We had ordered the Prime Meats Burger, for which the establishment has received notoriety, and Sürkrüt Garnie (chouchrote garnie). The burger, made with a half pound Creekstone Farms Black Angus patty, housemade sesame roll and malolactic fermented dill pickle, was absolutely delicious. Juicy and cooked properly, the burger actually tasted like beef. The malolactic fermented pickle tasted like a well-made malolactic fermented wine with the crunch and sourness of a delicious pickle. The only disappointment were the fries, which tasted like frozen fries, and that the mayonnaise was not house-made.

The Sürkrüt Garnie, a Bavarian classic, was delicious, and included slow cooked pork belly, Thuringian bratwurst, calf tongue and knackwurst, served with housemade sauerkraut. The tongue and pork belly were braised to perfection and tasted delicious. The potatoes on the plate could have used about another pound of salt, but the sauerkraut was quite flavorful with the addition of the Bavarian mustard served on the side. I also ordered a house-made pretzel, which was very oddly shaped but tasted good. The only element the dish lacked was color. The kitchen tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to make up for it with the addition of chopped chives.

Overall, the food was excellent with some minor adjustments. The lacking part of our meal was service. It was slow and not very helpful: mediocre at best. The server only seemed to brighten up after we started discussing that the ingredients were mainly sourced locally (Pennsylvania, the Hudson Valley and Red Hook) and the importance of that in the upcoming years.

If you're in Brooklyn and craving a locally-raised, grass fed burger, there is no other substitute. It looks like word has gotten out; when we were leaving, around 10 o'clock, the place was packed.

Apollo's Cred Rating: 6.5/10
Appetizers: $8 - $13
Entrees: $13 - $32
Wines: $8 - $12 glass, $29 - $55/bottle with a very good selection
Cocktails: $8- $12
Ambience: Tavern-like warm feeling, outdoor patio
Recommendations: Prime Meats Burger
Downsides: Cash only
Address: 465 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231
Phone: 718-254-0327

How the War Should Have Been Won

Review of Inglourious Basterds (Quentin Tarantino, 2009)

The tone is so gleefully vengeful in Inglourious Basterds it’s as if Quentin Tarantino is hunched over in hockey gear cherrypicking at the goal line, securing a victory for the Jewish oppressed.

His revisionist history of World War II – envisioning a Jewish-American team of Nazi scalpers led by Tennessee gentile Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) winning the war – is a glowing pop-art pastiche of epic proportions. Derivative of spaghetti westerns, exploitation cinema and ‘80s luxury glamour (courtesy of David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)” in an exquisite sequence), Inglourious Basterds is a deliriously calculated, thoroughly thrilling Jewish-American wet dream.

The film opens in Nazi-occupied France with a chilling, layered scene in which sinister Nazi Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) correctly suspects a farmer is hiding Jews. A few years later, Shosanna (Melanie Laurent, a sexy noir-ish ingenue), the sole escapee from this massacre, owns a movie theater in France and meets a Nazi war hero (Daniel Bruhl). He convinces Joseph Goebbels to hold the premiere of a new war film in her theater, setting off a chain of events.

This is QT playing around like a chef dabbling with confectionary delights, and of course cinema ultimately plays a major role in the course of American History: Vol. II.

The epic structure borrows chapter divisions from Tarantino’s last epic attempt Kill Bill, and the five chapters each willfully serve a specific purpose. Lengthy scenes are constructed brilliantly. Civil conversation, as intentionally tame as a drinking game with playing cards, escalates into interrogation and often results in an act of severe bloodshed influenced by Tarantino’s DePalma-style thirst for violence. The viewer gets antsy not bored for peripheral vision during a few long scenes.

Unlike QT’s creative slump Death Proof, the dialogue among a few seated characters trickles with boiling tension and all the animosity that’s left unsaid. Death Proof’s groups of Chatty Kathy girls rambled and lulled the viewer to sleep; Inglourious Basterds' war is fought with words and gestures, particularly how one counts to three.

On the acting front, Waltz is superb and, in the span of the first 10 minutes, represents the insidious distrust and bigotry of the Nazi army. Laurent, as the beautiful Shosanna, is outstanding and the film’s focal Jewish heroine.

The misleading title indicates that the Basterds are the film’s centerpiece, and though they’re a compelling, motley Jew crew, their exploits are only seen in segments. These snapshots don’t give us much of a backstory, and Aldo, the quirky, impassioned leader, is the biggest caricature of the lot. Pitt delivers a good performance, but if it wasn’t for Pitt’s casting (still not the best pick), his commanding presence when we first meet him delivering a Patton speech would be heavily deflated into a persona. He’s an amiable cardboard cut-out of a hero, but his personal motivation for such a risky operation is unexplored.

That the film is a bit overstuffed is a secondary thought, however. The viewer wants more of the Basterds, but there are no plot strands worth cutting to preserve its already 153-minute running time. Word is Tarantino has 500 additional pages of unproduced writing about the Basterds, a possible prequel that could just as easily fall by the wayside like the Pulp Fiction/Reservoir Dogs prequel The Vega Brothers and the Kill Bill follow-up with Vivica A. Fox’s growing daughter.

The finale in Shosanna’s theater is a fiery bullet-ridden tour-of-force of anxiety, fear and vengeance. The film unites the audience in a very popular cause and exploits all it can in enveloping us in giddy ecstasy of taking down Hitler. The pleasure and catharsis is so enthralling the past running time doesn’t seem taxing at all and you don’t wish it to end just yet.

Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s greatest effort since Jackie Brown, and the final line and final shot hit you like a smiling bullet.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

New Release Tuesday: 8/25/09

The biggest release today, of course, is the Arctic Monkeys' Humbug, which I reviewed
There are quite a few other notable albums in stores, though.  My favorite is Dolores O'Riordan's solo record.  You may know O'Riordan from her time with The Cranberries ("Zombie!  Zombie!  Zombie! Eh! Eh! Eh!").  Then there's "Bubbly" herself, Colbie Caillat.  And, of course, Imogen Heap, who composed the song heard 'round the world, first on The OC and later on the SNL skit, "Dear Sister," that spoofed the episode.

Arctic Monkeys  -  Humbug
The Casualties  -  We Are All We Have
Colbie Caillat  -  Breakthrough
Collective Soul  -  Rabbit
David Guetta  -  One Love
Imogen Heap  -  Ellipse
Tamar Kaprelian  -  Delicate Soul
Matisyahu  -  Light
Mellowdrone  -  Angry Bear
Mew  -  No More Stories
Ingrid Michealson  -  Everybody
Willie Nelson  -  American Classic
The Pinx  -  Look What You Made Me Do
Dolores O'Riordan [Cranberries]  -  No Baggage
Smile Empty Soul  -  Consciousness
Smokey Robinson  -  Time Flies When You're Having Fun
Roy Hargrove Big Band  -  Emergence
Shonen Knife  -  Super Group
Subnoize Souljaz  -  Blast From The Past
Trey Songz  -  Ready
Victims Of Circumstance  -  Roll The Dice
Wildbirds & Peacedrums  -  The Snake
Zechs Marquise  -  Our Delicate Stranded Nightmare

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hunting the Ice Cream Man

This past week's New York Times Dining section contained a story about the apparent havoc the ice cream man has been creating in NYC parks. Parents of young children are now trying to blame that familiar ice cream truck tune for screaming, begging and crazed children.

The ice cream man evokes wonderful memories, symbolically marking the end of the school year and the start of summer. What would summertime be without crowds of children running down the street, yelling at the top of their lungs, chasing the ice cream truck?

The ice cream man tradition traces its roots back to the 1820s, with more frequent occurrences in the later 1800's. Today, ice cream men can be found around the world, serving pre-packaged fun bars, hard ice cream and soft serve. Mr. Softee was founded in 1956 and is now even located in the Far East. Most people will recognize the famous Mr. Softee jingle, even if they don't realize it has lyrics.

Yes, it is true that in recent years, the ice cream man has taken on a new, grimier image in some locations: of sweaty and fat old men, working away serving bacteria-infested soft serve.

However, new images of the classic ice cream man can be found in Tacoma, Washington. That’s where Joel Semanko, who owns an ice cream vendor business, Cool Cycles, can be found with his Harley and sidecar and dressed in traditional ice cream shop attire.

Apparently, going to the park has become a hassle for some people because children scream and yell for the ice cream man. This has led parents to complain that sweets have caused children to become addicted to the sound of the ice cream man. The consensus is the best way to combat these problems is to dismiss the ice cream man from service. But, while ice cream vendors could consider moving on, I don’t believe they’ve done any harm.

From the NYT article:

"New York City principals received letters from the advocacy group Asthma Free School Zone, urging them to keep trucks from their buildings.
‘Sometimes you’ll see a child in a stroller parked right next to the exhaust pipe of the truck,’ said Lori Bukiewicz, schools coordinator for the organization, which has been trying to persuade Mister Softee to use biodiesel fuels in generators for their freezers and to get city officials to pass legislation controlling the trucks’ emissions."

Maybe parents are just a little crazed and overwhelmed because of the heat, but the ice cream truck is an image of summer that everyone should recognize for years to come. Don't kill the ice cream man!

Read more at the New York Times.

And, for those of you who are interested in learning the lyrics for the Mr. Softee jingle, here they are:

"The creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream,

You get from Mister Softee.

For a refreshing delight supreme,

Look for Mister Softee.

My milkshakes and my sundaes and my cones are such a treat,

Listen for my store on wheels, ding-a-ling down the street.

The creamiest, dreamiest soft ice cream,

You get from Mister Softee.

For a refreshing delight supreme,

Look for Mister Softee.

S-O-F-T Double 'E', Mister Softee."

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Joel Berg speaks at the CIA

This past week I was invited back to my alma mater, the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, to listen to Joel Berg, author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America and founder of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.

Joel Berg is an activist in the areas of hunger and food security around the country, with a home base in downtown Manhattan. I had the chance to meet with Berg earlier this year; we sat down one on one to discuss the issues of hunger and the importance of local, organic, and sustainable foods to the poverty-stricken communities of New York.

I started writing about food because I felt a need to educate people about the 36.2 million food insecure Americans and how we can help them obtain reasonably-priced, nutritious foods that are, hopefully, locally and organically grown in a manner that gives back to the earth.

With that in mind, I worked to connect the chefs at the CIA with Joel Berg to in order to organize this lecture for the students and faculty. Joel Berg is an accomplished man with an impressive resume; he's a graduate of Columbia University and served under the Clinton administration in senior executive service positions at USDA before founding the NYCCAH.

He spoke about the history of American hunger and what we can do to help. He had the opportunity to speak to a more focused audience than usual at the CIA, since food is the attendees' number one interest.

The lecture was intended to make the connection between cooking for necessity and cooking for passion. He revealed the possibilities of serving food to the food insecure and becoming an active member in local hunger organizations. He pressed people -- "citizens" -- to the hunger issue to local politicians' attention.

Berg repeatedly added that government intervention was needed, suggesting that, if the government would invest $24 billion into feeding the food insecure, we could potentially eliminate the $90 billion we spend every year on food insecure-related costs such as medical care and ongoing obesity problems.

He also discussed the relationship between malnutrition/obesity and food insecurity issues. Raj Patel does the same in his book Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System. Joel also addressed access issues, i.e. what it takes to obtain nutritious foods in low income areas of America. The lecture showed just how lucky we are to come home to a meal every night.

For more information or to join the fight, read All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? by Joel Berg and check out the NYCCAH.

Friday, August 21, 2009

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Filmmakers talk about mockumentary short The Bridge Bash

In 2003, the greatest party of all time almost didn't happen. One DJ saved the night... and changed the world.

On one abstruse night in 2003, there was a legendary party held on the Brooklyn Bridge that every attendee hazily remembered but kept secret. Details were fuzzy, and the identities of the approximately 600 affluent, high-profile partygoers remained cloaked – until now. Like two groomsmen-turned-fratty sleuths in The Hangover, a pair of New York-based filmmakers sought to find out just what the hell happened. Or so it seems.

The Bridge Bash is a star-studded mockumentary short due online in late December. APOLLO’s CRED had a chat with the two men behind the party puzzle piece-finding mission, Adam Moreno, the writer, producer and co-director, and Alex Mamlet, the producer and co-director. As a part of their absurdist PR plan for promoting the film, they pretended all this was real and that master disc scratcher DJ Blue who saved the ‘party’ took years to find – despite the fact that the real DJ Blue is in fact Moreno himself.

Providing necessary clout to the film is an eclectic line-up of celebrities, as indicated in the trailer, including Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Ethan Hawke, Justin Long, Billy Crudup, Sam Rockwell, Peter Dinklage, David Wain, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter. Additional details about the film are available at

Moreno’s background is largely in contributing musically to soundtracks for a few films including The Ten, and Mamlet’s mostly known for documentary work. The gang is still editing and hoping to create awareness in an effort to gather more interviews and facts. They talked to us about the project and improvised lies surprisingly well.

AC: How’d you guys arrive at the concept for this project?
Alex: Myself and Adam had heard about this party for years, and we also heard about DJ Blue, but we’d never really met anybody who had met him. Was it your uncle that worked with him at the sanitation department?
Adam: Yes.
Alex: Blue’s uncle worked in the sanitation department. He told us that [Blue] had recently run into some money problems and was excited about getting his story out there. So we tracked him down. We got to meet him for the first time and learn how legendary this party was. After the interview with him, we sort of became superjazzed that for the first time this story could be told.
Adam: We had about this party and we’d sort of been spinning it as the most famous party ever, but the truth is it was a very underground thing that just fabulous people were at. And there was no footage. So a lot of the people we went to – it wasn’t working. We’ve been trying to get this off the ground for a while. It wasn’t working until we were able to hook up with Paul Rudd, and that really set it off. He got us access to other people that were there, people that weren’t there. And we’ve just been compiling footage until we could get the interview with DJ Blue.

AC: What were some challenges and advantages that came with making an authentic true-to-facts documentary?
Adam: One of things that made it difficult was there were no cameras allowed at this party. But one of the great things about us putting this Web site out is we’re now starting to hear from people who were there who filmed it, and footage is starting to surface, which is really exciting for us as filmmakers.
Alex: I’ve done some documentaries about the lore of parties and party crashing, so I was always fascinated by the idea of this party that people aren’t sure even happened. And it was so explicit and so private and there was no footage taken. When Blue and I hooked up, we brought the sensibility of really wanting to get to the bottom of this story: what happened on this sort of magical night.

AC: How’d you assemble an eclectic group of celebrities to talk about a party from six years ago?
Adam: Once we were able to get to Rudd, more people came out. When people heard about DJ Blue, they got involved and were more willing to talk about their experience. People in the hip-hop community and club scene, some athletes. People that actually worked the party as well. People that did catering – some of their stories are really interesting because they had high-end everything from the sound system to the food. It was like Tom Cruise’s wedding where you had to sign the releases. We haven’t interviewed yet – but we spoke to people from the Mayor’s office and we want to get them on camera to talk about releases. How long the bridge was closed for, what the traffic issues were. It’s overwhelming because we’re getting access to start this little short, and it’s almost more than we can handle.

AC: What was the purpose of posting a trailer this early into production?
Adam: We made a trailer in part to light a fire under our own asses and finish it. Some documentaries take years, and we’re not doing Muhammed Ali. We’re doing the story of a party from one night, and we didn’t want to dwell on it. We’re doing a short and we want to get it out as soon as possible.

AC: The trailer gave me the very strong impression this was a mockumentary. Almost too strong. Can you confirm that?
Adam: It’s not a mockumentary. The reason we put this trailer out was to help us get this footage that we’ve really been struggling to get, to be able to tell the story well. We like, though, that angle, and it’s been provocative that people have been asking us, ‘Is this bullshit?’ As some of the responses start coming in, from people that were there, we’re able to start painting actual pictures of the footage. People had a tough time figuring out whether or not it was real, which was really interesting for us.

AC: So it’s kind of a mystery you’re curiously anxious to solve.
Adam: In the age of the Internet, the allure of something that was once properly kept under wraps is no longer an enigma. By making a film about it, we’re basically going to be destroying what made that special because we want to publicize it.

AC: Do you think many in the New York in-crowd care about keeping the party’s anonymity intact or do they not even care anymore?
Alex: There were a lot of people that were so fucked up that night they don’t remember it. […] Like anything controversial, it’ll spur a dialogue.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

QT's Top 20 film list contains no references to himself!

The latest Quentin Tarantino extravaganza Inglourious Basterds – which The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg argues no Jew would have had the cojones to make – is finally here Friday. Since QT’s name is bigger than anything related to the production itself, and its ho-hum reception at Cannes, he recently told LA Weekly about his 20 favorite films that were released in the past 17 years – since his notable directing career took flight. The list does not include Reservoir Dogs, True Romance, From Dusk Till Dawn, Four Rooms (ha!), Natural Born Killers, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill or Grindhouse.

Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku)

#2-20 (in alphabetical order):
Anything Else (Woody Allen)
Audition (Takashi Miike)
The Blade (Tsui Hark)
Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson)
Dazed and Confused (Richard Linklater)
Dogville (Lars von Trier)
Fight Club (David Fincher)
Friday (F. Gary Gray)
The Host (Joon-ho Bong)
The Insider (Michael Mann)
Joint Security Area (Chan-wook Park)
Lost in Translation (Sofia Coppola)
The Matrix (Andy Wachowski & Larry Wachowski)
Memories of Murder (Joon-ho Bong)
Police Story III (Supercop) (Stanley Tong)
Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright)
Speed (Jan de Bont)
Team America: World Police (Trey Parker)
Unbreakable (M. Night Shyamalan)

The list is an assortment of blockbusters that meet an entertainment quota, Asian cinema that was overlooked in the states and a truly forgettable Woody Allen comedy. You know, the one with Jason Biggs.

QT adopts the auteur theory in making his picks, it seems, with writers-directors like his buddies Paul Thomas Anderson, Richard Linklater and Sofia Coppola showing up, as well as Lars Von Triers (I would’ve gone with Dancer in the Dark over Dogville), Michael Mann (digging The Insider pick but no love for Heat?) and M. Night Shyamalan. He thankfully used restraint in nepotism by not including his friend Eli Roth’s horrid horror film Hostel.

Being a utilitarian of international film history in bundles, he ironically takes a swing at British cinema, saying Shaun of the Dead is a one of the rare great British films. Although I wouldn’t go that far in evaluating the hilariously derivative zombie-com, I appreciate the honesty.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Review: Cooking Dirty

Jason Sheehan or wannabe Anthony Bourdain? Award-winning culinary writer Jason Sheehan has finally released a memoir of his past experiences working in a very low-end restaurant after years of toil. Within the pages of Cooking Dirty, Sheehan describes the hardships of working in stressful, fast-paced environments.  Starting in restaurants as a dishwasher at age 15 and eventually becoming executive chef, followed by restaurant critic and food writer, Sheenan is quite the accomplished man.   That also applies to working 16 hour days, doing a never ending stream of drugs that pass before him, smoking upwards of three packs a day and being constantly drunk.


Sheehan describes this life as what happens in run-of-the-mill restaurants. From past experience, I can tell you that although some of this happens, not everyone partakes. It makes me think that Sheehan is even more desperately trying to recreate Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential in his own words, or the TV contracts and million or so dollars every year.  

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbellly was one of the first tastefully written kitchen memoirs to describe what kitchens are really like. Bourdain went to Vassar College for journalism, has written additional novels and knows how to craft a hook to keep the reader engaged. Boudain describes what happened before the glamour the Food Network portrays, but Sheehan has taken it a bit overboard -- exaggerating, to some extent -- the drinking and cigarette smoking ex-cons working in today's restaurants.

Not only does he exaggerate, but he insists on repeating it over and over again in the book.  It becomes very boring after the first few chapters, at least to a professional. Sheehan makes it seem that all one can get from life as a chef is getting one's ass kicked night after night (true), drinking extraordinary amounts of alcohol, doing an assortment of pill cocktails, an occasional line of coke, smoking whatever comes your way, and being the FNG (f---ing new guy).

No real stories about food in this book exist independently of the aforementioned items. Besides, Sheehan constantly mentions that his love for food and the kitchen is what brings him back. It could be more like the perfect place for Sheehan's addiction for alcohol and drugs is the kitchen at work, and he gets paid for it.

Also, in today's kitchens, what happens in the past tends to stay in the past. Kitchens today are still busy and stressful, and getting slammed daily is a part of kitchen life. Drugs aren't exactly acceptable, food being discussion material, and drinks are only for after work (although many nights a week). Cooking is about the thrill of food, not the extracurricular activities associated with kitchen life. Cooking, though still genuinely blue collar, has also gained a little more professionalism in recent years. Instead of wannabe punk rock burnouts, people who are serious about food and cooking make up most of today's and tomorrow's future cooks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Film Review: World’s Greatest Dad

Complete with spoilers!

A thorough analysis of World’s Greatest Dad, in theaters August 21, comes packaged with strain and restraint. It’s a bleak tragicomedy that reveals a glum plot twist, which barrages you with multifarious feelings. An intense discussion of such would ruin the film for you, so please note the upcoming spoiler tabs.

What begins as a dallying, shrewd observation of modern malfunctioning father-son relationships derails into an expression of unanimous societal narcissism. Though the twist is refreshing technique, the film never quite recovers its deft perception of human behavior.

Oddball ‘80s comedian Bobcat Goldthwait wrote and directed this satire starring Robin Williams as Lance, a failed writer and single father who teaches high school English. His recalcitrant son Kyle (played by Spy Kids’ Daryl Sabara), an attendee of the school, is the absolute worst. The Problem Child in highschooler form, Kyle’s a perverted, spoiled loner who abhors his father and almost all natural hobbies except sexual self-pleasure.

The film starts out entertaining and meandering, with Kyle’s ineptitude and apathy serving as the common punch line. The script is socially conscious of the tricks and verbal prestidigitations of the everyday smart aleck. At the 37-minute mark, the tempo switches up a bit, and the film goes where you don’t expect it.

SPOILER ALERT: After an evening out to dinner with Lance and Claire (Lance’s teacher girlfriend, played by Alexie Gilmore), Kyle commits an embarrassing act of sexual experimentation David Carradine-style n his bedroom, accidentally killing himself. Lance discovers the body and, in recreating his death to look like a suicide, crafts an articulate suicide note that infers Kyle had much to communicate.

From here forward, the script fleshes out Lance in a comparatively less compelling manner and takes a relatively long time to really get its point across about Lance. In the process, it loses its hilarious, rhythmic display of spirited vulgar dialogue previously exhibited.

Lance at one point quotes Simon Pegg, “Death is an impediment not an energy drink” – an appropriate allusion because death indeed drives the plot forward quite momentously.

SPOILER ALERT: The film’s attempt to convey Kyle’s posthumous impact as a misunderstood genius is never quite convincing. The idea that the school students who hated him now revere him is obviously ridiculous, but it’s exploited here rather than effectively critiqued. You initially sympathize with Lance and want him to be a successful writer, and then tragedy strikes, and you definitely don’t. You only feel pity, and this detachment strangles the film’s vitality.

Goldthwait’s reputation stands for more of a name - and a squeaky voice - than a body of work, but with this he’s drawn new attention to himself. The production is certainly higher maintenance than his last indie film Sleeping Dogs Lie (2006), in which he scoured for cast and crew on Craigslist. This wickedly sour tasting from Goldthwait’s warped mind also finally gives something bitter and dogmatic for Williams to work with.

What’s additionally shocking is a major studio’s willingness to get behind a project that depicts the disturbing and the immoral with a gleeful vivacity.

World’s Greatest Dad is an iron-fisted, fearless comedy that strives for full-circle satirical brilliance but shines a lot less bright after dishing out a few hard-to-swallow surprises.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Album Review: Arctic Monkeys - Humbug

It seems surprising that Arctic Monkeys, the music blogosphere darling band of 2005, is already on its third album.  After a meteoric start, it’s almost as if nothing the group can do will match its debut.

Considering 2006’s Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not became the fastest-selling debut record in England, it’s unsurprising that sophomore release Favourite Worst Nightmare didn’t perform quite as well. And so, the group sets about the difficult task of living up to the colossal expectations with its third record, Humbug. Searching for a new spark, the band tapped Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme to produce.

These British boys have the rock star swagger. They have to, at least. How else could they have exploded into blog stardom when so many similar bands have faded?

With Humbug, that swagger mixes with Homme’s desert thunder to birth a surprising new sound. Oh, it’s still Arctic Monkeys. But lines like “What came first/The chicken or the dickhead?” from “Pretty Visitors” suggest Homme has been a bad influence on lead singer/songwriter Alex Turner, which signals good things for Humbug.

Homme and Favourite Worst Nightmare producer James Ford split production duties, each handling half of the Humbug sessions’ 24 tracks.  Only 10 of those tracks made it onto the final cut, leaving the listener to match each track to its producer.

Minor-key back-alley slinks like “Crying Lightning” bear the markings of Homme’s musical instincts: all fuzzed-out bass lines and bluesy reverb.  “Dangerous Animals” follows the thematic statement of “Crying Lightning.” In fact, there’s a predatory funkiness to the majority of the tracks on Humbug.

The guitars are meatier and the drums are heavier in comparison to the fragility of the band’s previous recordings. “Pretty Visitors” even has a dirge of a chorus that would fit perfectly on a Queens of the Stone Age tune. The brattiness of “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” has grown into full-blown menace.

A few of the softer tunes recall pre-Homme Monkeys, suggesting the work of Ford. Turner’s snarky lyrical tendencies retain their zip even here. “Cornerstone” finds him asking a new lady friend “Can I call you her name?”

The nagging question about Humbug is whether any of the songs are catchy enough. Turner's nimble lyrics and the newfound heaviness make the album interesting, but there’s a danger that Humbug will be too easy to forget. Regardless, with its third record, the band manages to prove that it’s capable of evolution, which certainly bodes well for its longevity.

Hipster Rating: 7/10 (9/10 in the U.K.)
Actual Rating: 8/10
Download: “Crying Lightning,” “Dangerous Animals,” “Pretty Visitors”

Inaugural print edition of Apollo's Cred

Announcing the first print edition of Apollo's Cred!  All of the content has previously appeared on the site, so it's just a digest of recent posts.  However, if you want to download it or print it out to read in the bathroom, please feel free.

Right click to download.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What’s Out: From the critics’ notepad

District 9 (Neill Blomkamp)

"District 9, with a chump-change budget of $30 million, soars on the imagination of its creators. This baby has the stuff to end the movie summer on a note of dazzle and distinction."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

District 9 is an amazing movie, one that will sweep you up emotionally and intellectually, that will give you plenty to think over and even more to marvel at. It's an achievement that needs to be seen to be believed, and once it's seen it's guaranteed to be beloved.”
-Devin Faraci, CHUD

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (Neal Brennan)

“As anyone who has seen Robert Zemeckis’ 1980 cult classic Used Cars or John Landis’ fascinating 2003 documentary Slasher can attest, the milieu of used car salesmen can inspire great comedy but the funniest thing about The Goods is that the presence of James Brolin pretty much ensures that Barbra Streisand will have to sit through it at least once.”
- Peter Sobczynski,

“The movie gores many sacred cows, insulting families, capitalism, sexual responsibility, political correctness and smoking bans, with glee if not originality.”
- Colin Covert, The Minneapolis Star Tribune

The Time Traveler’s Wife (Robert Schwentke)

“If you allow yourself to think for one moment of the paradoxes, contradictions and logical difficulties involved, you will be lost. The movie supports no objective thought.”
- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki)

“Far more upbeat than much of Miyazaki’s oeuvre, limned in bright pastel colors where even destruction is golden, Ponyo possesses an almost demonic childish energy and a delight in form stronger than reason or narrative.”

- Ronnie Scheib, Variety

BEST BET(S): Ponyo with your kids. District 9 without your kids. The Goods if you don't have kids/are desperate.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Warner brings Legos to silver screen

Opening movie credits of decades past label an adapted screenplay or story as “Based on a play,” “Based on a novel,” or “Based on a film.” In 2003, Gore Verbinski’s Pirates of the Caribbean credited its story’s origin to the Walt Disney themepark attraction. In 2007, Michael Bay’s blockbuster Tranformers’ credits and movie poster read: Based on Hasbro's Transformers™ Action Figures. Not based on an intelligent narrative story but a saleable product or service.

Well, another profitable toy franchise is getting made into film. The plastic building blocks Legos, only featured in direct-to-DVD animated movies up to this point, now joins G.I. Joe, Transformers and other toys onscreen. Variety reported that Warner Bros. hired writers Dan and Kevin Hageman to pen a family comedy mixing live action and animation that is set within the capacious Lego world.

I was kind of glad this took so long to take off as a cinematic extension of the franchise. Do we need a Lego film?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Kings of Leon strike platinum with Only by the Night

Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night hit platinum status in the United States last month, which means the album sold over a million copies.  Though the band is huge across the globe, selling over six million copies of the record total so far, this is the first time a Kings of Leon album has reached platinum in the States.

This is an especially significant accomplishment when the album’s company on the Billboard Top 40 is taken into consideration.  It’s increasingly rare that an honest-to-god rock and roll record gets mainstream recognition.

The indie music faithful most likely scoff at Kings of Leon the same way they scoff at anything else produced by the big record companies.  However, the music in question certainly doesn’t sound like the standard Top 40 fare.  Moreover, Kings of Leon spent years toiling in obscurity before first gaining recognition overseas.

For a better understanding of how unlikely Kings of Leon’s stint on the Top 40 is, here’s a list of the top ten selling albums on the Billboard charts when Only by the Night went platinum:

1.    Demi Lovato – Here We Go Again
2.    Daughtry – Leave This Town
3.    Maxwell – BLACKsummers’night
4.    NOW 31
5.    Hannah Montana 3 Soundtrack
6.    Black Eyed Peas – The E.N.D.
7.    Jordin Sparks – Battlefield
8.    Kings of Leon – Only by the Night
9.    Taylor Swift – Fearless
10.    Lady Gaga – The Fame

This list is essentially a compilation of what the big media corporations have rammed down America’s throat.  Demi Lovato and Hannah Montana are purely Disney creations, while American Idols Daughtry and Jordin Sparks come to us courtesy of Fox/Rupert Murdoch.

The question here: do people actually have such poor taste in music, or do media conglomerates have a complete stranglehold on public opinion?  Is it both? 

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's melon season!

It's the middle of August, when melon season in the Northeast means the best of the summer.  I thought I'd write about different applications for melons other than just cut into wedges. Recently, you might have noticed restaurants doing more than just fruit salad and prosciutto-wrapped melon; here's a simple recipe that would make for an excellent addition to an end-of-the-summer BBQ.

When I worked in the Hamptons, melon soup became a weekly staple at the beach bar. It was really easy and very refreshing.
Recipe: Melon Soup
Melon of choice (honey dew, cantaloupe, watermelon)
Simple Syrup (1/2 sugar 1/2 water)
Few Basil Sprigs
Small rosemary sprig
Few Mint Sprigs
White Balsamic
1. On stove, put one part sugar and one part water in a pot. Add basil, rosemary, and mint. Bring to boil. Turn off and let steep for about 20 min. Chill down until cold.
2. Cut melon into small chunks (take off rind and scoop out seeds). Place in blender, add a small amount of simple syrup, blend until smooth.
3. Season with simple syrup (this will depend on how sweet the melon is), balsamic, and salt.

Enjoy on a hot summer day. Add your favorite liquor to it to make a refreshing adult beverage.

I've also read about watermelon BLTs, which sound refreshing and delicious; a savory side to the ever-popular BBQ dessert. At the restaurant where I work now, we do a melon and mozzarella salad with avocado and poblano puree. There are many recipes out there to try. In any case, enjoy your melon now, because it will soon be out of season again.
If you have the chance to grow your own melon next summer I suggest it. They take up a lot of space, but you will be surely surprised when you taste them. The most delicious melons I have tasted were from the garden.

Sustainable Beers: Sierra Nevada Estate Ale

While at the bar the other day with fellow co-workers and enjoying a beer or two, a question arose.  They had been poking fun at me for supporting local and sustainable agriculture.  Combined with the bar atmosphere, this led me to wonder: Is there a sustainable beer?

The answer, I found after some research, is yes.

There are many organic beers out there, but sustainable beers were nearly unseen until this year. Sierra Nevada brewery recently unveiled its Chico Estate Harvest Ale, a completely sustainable brew. Recent dining trends predict that beer is the new wine in the high-end restaurant industry. More and more often you will see beer pairings instead of wine, because usually beer goes better with food. In NYC there is even a cupcake shop -- Sweet Revenge -- that pairs its sweet treats with an assortment of beers.

High-end brewers are seeing increases in sales, and people are demanding more complex beers that expand the spectrum of flavor combinations and pairings. With its new estate beer, Sierra Nevada has taken the high-end beer trend one step further.

Like estate wines, Sierra Nevada has been growing all of the ingredients on a plot of land next to the brewery. Although they don't have enough land to grow all the ingredients for all of their beer varieties, they are producing this one specialty brew that's completely sustainable. In the next few years, I'm sure we will see this trend expanding to an increasing number of microbreweries.

With high-end brews comes high-end clientèle. So when going to your next beer fest, leave behind the Led Zeppelin t-shirt and ripped jeans in favor of your finest suit and tie.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Album Review: Patterson Hood - Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs)

Patterson Hood, also known as the lead singer of Drive-By Truckers, has been working on the group of songs on Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) for years.  It’s no wonder, however, that he only recently got a chance to record them.  The Truckers had an album out in 2008 (Brighter Than Creation’s Dark), backed Booker T on an album this year (Potato Hole), and toured in support of both.

Murdering Oscar is Hood’s second album of solo material.  As with Killers and Stars, the songs here have a more personal feel.  However, unlike the vocal-and-guitar format of the first record, the arrangements here are more robust.

A strong supporting cast aids Hood on Murdering Oscar, including members of DBT and Hood’s own father, veteran Muscle Shoals session bassist David Hood.  John Neff’s pedal steel, in particular, is instrumental in painting the sepia-toned Southern portrait of life on songs like “Belvedere” and “The Range War.”

The arrangements are still sparse in comparison to a full band DBT album, the biggest indicator that this is a solo record for an uninformed listener.  “Grandaddy” and “She’s a Little Randy” are almost exclusively Hood singing over his guitar.

Hood has a knack for vivid storytelling in his songs, focusing on the downtrodden working class much like Bruce Springsteen.  However, while Springsteen’s characters were New Jersey city kids, the ones on Murdering Oscar are distinctly more Southern.  Fittingly, many of the tracks presented here take a melancholy tone. 

“I Understand Now,” perhaps the most upbeat track, is also the album’s most accessible.  A few peppy songs like it sprinkled throughout might have evened out Murdering Oscar’s tone a little and made for a more complete album experience.

Despite the strengths of the individual tracks, Truckers vocalist/guitarist Mike Cooley is missed here.  The interplay between Cooley’s songs and Hood’s songs are what make the DBT so intriguing as a band; fans of the band might be left wishing for a few Cooley tracks. 

Though definitely worth a look, Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) might be a little too dense for listeners who aren’t already fans of Drive-By Truckers.

Hipster Rating: 5/10

Actual Rating: 6/10
Download: “I Understand Now,” “Belvedere”

Friday, August 7, 2009

What’s Out: Julie & Julia, Cold Souls, Paper Heart

Julie & Julia: Writer-director Nora Ephron adapts two memoirs, My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prod’homme, and Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell. Meryl Streep is Julia and Amy Adams is Julie. This film should make you hungry, but nothing can top all the absolutely delicious-looking pies in the film Waitress. Not that I'm admitting I watched Waitress. But it is very good.

Cold Souls: The great Paul Giamatti, an Italian who made a career out of playing neurotic Jews, plays himself in this dark comedy about an actor who signs up for a soul-removal service. From the looks of the bizarre, inventive trailer, this flick screams Charlie Kaufman, but according to reviews, this one certainly stands up on its own merits.

Paper Heart: This faux-doc starring musician/comedian/actress Charlyne Yi, a friend of a friend of the Apatow tribe, asks questions about the existence of true love.

What's your best bet? Cold Souls.

RIP Edmond Dantès

John Hughes was the 1980’s guy behind the guy. He died of a heart attack yesterday in Manhattan at the age of 59, according to AP. There were faces that were pop culture staples during that epoch. There were also famous words. Hughes’ face is not recognizable – he kind of looks like Wilson from Home Improvement or your high school principal (for a more complete picture of a face). Maybe even my orthodontist.

The last American teenager who arguably contributed to the homogenization of almost all teen content that decade also set the standard of quality for it. But don’t pigeonhole him as the writer and occasional director who pioneered the Brat Pack scene and “hasn’t done anything good lately.” Yes, he ducked from media attention since he moved back to his native Illinois home in the mid ‘90s, where he subsequently hid under phunny pseudonym Edmond Dantès. But's he not a mere neo-Luddite recluse.

Aside from authoring the Molly Ringwald trilogy, he commandeered two significant genres: the R-rated comedy that didn’t depend on raunch, and the family comedy. Two personal favorites – Planes, Trains and Automobiles (he wrote and directed) and National Lampoon’s Vacation (he wrote) – were possibly the two best comedies of the ‘80s. Zoning in on the comedic strengths of Steve Martin, John Candy and Chevy Chase, he brought out some of the best acting and zingy delivery. He gave us that enormous pancake in Uncle Buck, a clip of the greatest fake gangster movies in the two Home Alone films and … Beethoven… Ok, I’m not going to vouch for Beethoven. Or Flubber. Regardless, he created rich, memorable characters like Ferris Bueller who broke the fourth wall even after the credits were over and Clark Griswold, the food additives researcher with the best intentions for the ideal summertime family sabbatical. Check out some good stuff below.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Apollo's Download: Take One Car - When the Ceiling Meets the Floor

We're going to be trying something new here at Apollo's Cred. On a semi-regular basis, we'll be offering music to download, absolutely free. The goal is both to help unsigned bands get their music heard, and to introduce people to some good new music. This is our inaugural Apollo's Download post, and we hope you enjoy it.

Please welcome Millerton, New York's Take One Car. The group is a five-piece rock outfit that just released an album, When the Ceiling Meets the Floor, on May 28.

We have here the exclusive free download of that album, courtesy of vocalist/guitarist Tyler Irish. This same album retails for $9.99 on iTunes. You can download it for free here. So check it out and feel free to spread the word.

The album has a heavy, guitar-oriented vibe, while Irish's voice ranges from vulnerable to aggressive. We recommend track six, "The Menagerie," for a good taste of what the band's up to on this record.

Download the full album here. (Megaupload, 90 MB)

Also, check the band out or on MySpace.

Heath Ledger-directed Modest Mouse vid takes on whale hunters

As we mentioned in our early review (available here) of Modest Mouse’s new EP No One’s First and You’re Next, the public’s access to the music video for “King Rat” had been delayed for several months.

The video, directed by Heath Ledger, appeared on MySpace. The late actor, who originally pitched the storyline to Isaac Brock, failed to complete the animated project before his January 2008 death. His partners at the film company The Masses took over for him. After much speculation, the video has finally been released. Check it out (above). It's certainly an exercise in morbidity and demonstrative rhetoric. He didn't squander what would be one of his last avenues for communicating his beliefs.

Rolling Stone notes: "With the clip, Ledger was hoping to bring awareness to the illegal commercial whale hunts taking place off the shores of Australia by reversing the roles of the parties involved, and the imagery of the video does a superior job of translating Ledger’s message."

Picnic and a movie, locavore style

The fondest memories of food are ones that are made with friends and family.  Your most profound memories of food probably aren't of the most refined dining experience or the finest quality ingredients.  Instead, memories are made with those around you. With that in mind, yesterday, I combined my passion for food, friends, and a free movie at the park.

My day started off with a trip to the farmers market to pick up some local and organic produce to make an array of fresh and seasonal salads that would be a perfect pair with a good rosé and a movie in the park. I bought almost everything from green market, where I happily paid the higher prices, knowing my dollar going straight into the farmer's hands. The food I selected was all delicious and very much in season. I first bought some corn, now finally in season and very tasty. With it went cilantro, limes (one of the only non-local ingredients), poblanos, and scallions.

Try these recipes to make some fond food memories of your own:

Corn and Poblano Salad
4 servings:
3 ears of corn
1/2 bunch cilantro
1-2 limes
1 poblano
scallion greens
olive oil
1. Peel outer corn husk. Leave 1 or 2 layers on. Put on grill or roast in oven to achieve light brown color. Cool. Cut off cob.
2. Roast poblano in oven or on grill. Place in bowl, cover with plastic wrap to steam, Peel and deseed. chop into pieces around the same size as corn kernels.
3. In bowl mix corn, poblano, chopped cilantro, scallion tops slices on bias, lime juice, oil, and salt. Season.

I wanted to add some sliced red pearl onion for color and flavor, but received a frown when mentioned "onions," so I left them out. This dish turned out to be sweet and spicy, and the corn was excellent. A great summer get-together dish to try.

Local potato salad, with a mustard vinaigrette and pickled spring onions.
Serves 4:
5-6 medium sized potatoes from farmers market
2 Spring onions, Including tops
Red Wine Vinegar
Mustard (Dijon and whole grain)

1. Cut potatoes into even bite size pieces. Cook potatoes until tender in salted water. Chill.
2. Slice Spring Onions. In a pot, put 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, bring to boil and pour over onions, chill.
3. To make vinaigrette: put 1/4 cup red wine vinegar in bowl, add 1 tsp each of whole grain and dijon mustard. Add 2 tbsp honey and whisk together. Drizzle in 3/4 cup oil, while whisking vigorously.
4. Mix sliced spring onion tops, potatoes, pickled onions, and vinaigrette in bowl and season to taste.

Potato salads can be made many different ways. This is a twist on the traditional. I like the addition of pickled ingredients, which added flavors and acidity to the dish.

Heirloom tomato and mozzarella salad
Serves 4:
2-3 Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella (homemade is best)
Sea salt

1. Slice tomatoes and Mozerrella and arrange on plate. Top with torn basil, sea salt and EVOO.

This is simple, fresh, and light.  Heirloom tomatoes are excellent right now. Get them and don't be afraid to pay for them, because the Tomato Blight might run tomato farmers into the ground this year.

Grilled Flank steak sandwich w/ roasted scallions, rosemary mayonnaise, lettuce, and blue cheese
Serves 4:
1 loaf fresh bread
1 flank steak
Rosemary and thyme
Red Wine Vinegar
1 egg yolk
Blue Cheese
1. Marinate steak with oil, a splash of vinegar, rosemary and thyme sprigs for a few hours.
2. Make mayonnaise: 1 egg yolk with a splash of water in bowl. Whisk together with chopped rosemary. Slowly drizzle in 1 cup oil, making sure it is emulsified together. Season with salt. Set aside.
3. Take scallion whites, trim them up, clean. Toss in oil and salt and roast, Until tender in oven. Split in half if large.
4. Cut bread into slices
5. After steak in marinated, dry off well, season with salt and pepper, and grill until medium rare. (Do not overcook, flank steak gets really tough if cooked more than medium rare.) Let rest and slice thin.

To assemble sandwich, toast or grill bread. Spread toast with mayonnaise. Place scallions on, followed by steak, blue cheese, lettuce, and then bread. Slice and serve.

After we all gathered in the kitchen to prepare this delicious rustic dinner, it was off to Astoria Park to enjoy an evening spread out on blankets and share all of these wonderful salads and sandwiches. It was a beautiful night, with the lights of the Triborough Bridge (recently renamed the RFK Bridge) and Manhattan skyline reflecting off the east river. We sat between the Hell's Gate Bridge and Triborough.  And this, my friends, is how some of the best memories are made with food.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jill Sobule Lashes Out at Katy Perry (a year late)

Jill Sobule, the singer-songwriter who had a hit with a song titled "I Kissed a Girl" in 1995, is pissed at Katy Perry, the singer who had a hit with a song titled "I Kissed a Girl" in 2008.

The Rumpus ran an interview with Sobule in which she finally made her true feelings about Perry known, and she had nothing but good things to say:

Fuck you Katy Perry, you fucking stupid, maybe “not good for the gays,” title thieving, haven’t heard much else, so not quite sure if you’re talented, fucking little slut.

I'm not one to defend Katy Perry, but isn't it a little late to be saying this?  Sobule didn't complain a year ago, when Perry's song actually was released.  Anyway, there's no reason to even compare the two.  Incubus had a terrible song called "Wish You Were Here," stealing its title and nothing else from a classic Pink Floyd song.  There aren't enough words in the world to ensure every song written has a unique title.

Michael Moore steers away from documentaries, makes no mention of Canadian Bacon II

Remember Michael Moore as Lisa Kudrow’s kooky cousin in Lucky Numbers? Or John Candy as a Moore doppelganger in Canadian Bacon, the satire about a fictional cold war between U.S. and Canada? It’s okay if you don’t. The highly successful political documentarian’s name may again be associated with narrative films, as he is bidding farewell to cinéma vérité.

Moore told The Detroit News on Saturday that while finishing up his new film, he thought, “Maybe this will be my last documentary.”

Capitalism: A Love Story, another polarizing, dogmatic doc looking at a problematic sector in U.S. policy, is due out October 2.

Though he hasn’t written or directed a non-documentary film since 1995’s aforementioned Bacon, he has two ideas in the works. He tersely described them by employing a broad genre classification system.

"I have been working on two screenplays over the last couple of years," he says. "One's a comedy, one's a mystery, and I really want to do this."

Moore may have played a supporting role in Lucky Numbers and has a reputation for being a borderline obese gentleman waddling around with a microphone and a camera. But I think even Moore would agree that he should stay behind the camera for his upcoming fictional forays.