Friday, January 28, 2011

yakkety yak

What are the things that set one place apart from another? Many things, maybe. Climate and weather. Language. Music. Politics. And yes, food. Food can be both a divider and a unifier. People may argue over whether their cuisine is better than another region's; but ultimately, great food brings people together.

I've heard a lot of theories about the biggest food differences between the far-flung poles of this country. It's been posited that here in the Northwest, people are more passionate about beverages (coffee, beer, etc), while those on the East Coast have a greater interest in sandwiches (hoagies, cheesesteaks, grinders, what have you). But in my experience, the most striking difference of all is teriyaki.

If you've been to the Puget Sound area, you know that teriyaki joints are ubiquitous - maybe even more so than coffee shops. You can't throw a chopstick around here without hitting a teriyaki place. But on the East Coast, there are few if any dedicated teriyaki establishments. Hardly any! It's so striking. You can get teriyaki at some Asian restaurants, but usually only as an entree, and usually in the $15-20 range. Which I call bullshit upon. Because what is teriyaki? It's a humble cabbage salad, a mound of white rice, steaming sliced meat, and sauce. (And a pair of chopsticks, ha ha.) If you pay more than $7 for a teriyaki lunch in Seattle or Tacoma, you're getting jerked off.

And that's the way it should be. On this one issue, the East Coast has it all wrong: teriyaki ain't some glamorous dinner entree! It's a hot, delicious, affordable, high-sodium lunch.

You know, people, I have a theory: the Northwest runs on teriyaki. You could take away all the coffee and all the beer, and people would grumble, and they might not function so well in the morning, and they might have a harder time unwinding in a bar after work. But you take away teriyaki, and everything collapses. Microsoft, Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, the great universities and institutions of learning, the Seahawks, Bill Gates, Dale Chihuly: all gone without teriyaki. Let's hope we never have to see that theory put to the test.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


People, what is the most overrated film of all time? Ishtar? Heaven's Gate? Hudson Hawk? No, no, you're on the wrong track. Those movies were some of the biggest box-office bombs of all time, losing millions of dollars for their makers. I'm talking about films that most people rave about, which perversely make you want to scratch your own eyes out.

I cast my vote for Once, the drippy low-budget 2006 Irish love story starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. Most people, especially women, rave about it; personally, it makes me want to pull out my eyes and stuff them in my ears, so I don't have to listen to the music. Which most people rave about, but which I find tedious, uninspired, dreary, and dull. Frankly, I don't like it.

I know what you're thinking, especially you Once lovers: "But how can you not like it? They sang together so beautifully! All original songs! And it was made for such a low budget!" Well, let me address the budget issue first. Frankly, I don't give a fuck how much it costs to make a movie. Why? Because I had to pay the same amount of money to see Once that I did to see Avatar. Now, if I could've seen Once for a dollar, I might feel a little differently about it. I might've regarded Once as kind of the Fugazi of modern Irish cinema. But no, they blew it. They charged full-price admission, even though they made the movie for like 30 bucks. And I say that's bullshit.

What else did I not like about Once ... oh yeah, no nudity. It's supposed to be a love story, for chrissake! But there's no nudity. Come on, people, it's 2006! We're not living in Victorian times anymore.

Also, didn't care much for the music, at all. "Slowly Falling" has to be one of the most preposterous, boring, dreary, stuff-your-eyes-in-your-ears songs ever written. It seems like every time I see a male/female acoustic duo in a coffeehouse, they have to play "Slowly Falling" as an encore, and it never fails to make me puke up my coffee. Sometimes my scone, too. Honestly, I do not like that song.

Also, this Glen Hansard guy makes the most pained "singer face" I've ever seen. Why? It's not like he's cranking on the guitar. It's not like his singing or lyrics are revolutionary. Save the melodrama for somebody who'll fall for it, guy. I'm not buyin'.

I've got plenty more to say about Once, but I've been trying to keep my blog posts shorter and snappier. So, to quickly recap: didn't like Once. Not at all, really. Think it's overrated. Maybe the most overrated movie of all time. Don't see it again.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the widening dichotomy between the know-it-alls and know-nothings

A lot of attention is being paid right now to the dichotomy between the Haves and the Have-Nots, what with the recent tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts in public-sector services and the renewed increase in Wall Street bonuses, etc. But if you ask me, there's an even bigger dichotomy out there: the one between the Know-It-Alls and the Know-Nothings. Like, it just seems like there's a lot of very smart people right now, but meanwhile most people are getting dumber. For instance, Stephen Hawking - that guy's a genius! But the average American has no idea what he's talking about. Or Bill Clinton. Rhodes Scholar. And millions of Americans voted against him.

I think this dichotomy is huge, and getting bigger. It may be the biggest it's ever been since the Roman Empire, when the elite placated the masses with "bread and circuses" while they were absorbing all this knowledge and algebra and shit from Persia and whatnot. Does anyone else feel this way? I don't have any data; it's just a hunch. But at the same time, a damn strong hunch ...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

knight's gambit

Some of you may have noticed a slightly different "feel" around Mad City in the past few weeks. Maybe as if it's more ... crowded? There's a simple explanation for that: I'm playing to a bigger audience now. You see, I finally decided to divulge the existence of this blog, in a fairly nondescript manner, to my Facebook followers a while back. And the response has been intense! I think I'm up to something like 20 hits per month now.

I know a few of my old followers may be a little miffed that Mad City isn't as exclusive as it used to be, like when the velvet rope is pulled away from the entrance to the hottest nightclub in town. Sorry about that. I don't really know what to say! I guess it's kind of like when PBS wouldn't allow Katy Perry on "Sesame Street" because she showed too much cleavage. That's just the way it goes ...