Ausom, Inc.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Is there anything more poignant than a princess bed?

To some hideously self-indulgent parents, the answer is clearly no. The rest of us wonder why it's so hard to turn on the night light and lock the door.

This cannot be stressed enough. Go ahead, scroll down. You may recognize "Ahmed" as our favorite $tallionaire, Real (sorry, Chance). Well, after Miss NY kicked off Mr. Boston, I can't say I'm too interested in the outcome.

Luckily, Top Model has started up again (thank God) and lest everyone forget who called the winner back in September, well, it was me. This season has no end of earthly delights. Hooray!

Also, I saw Apocalypto a couple of months ago. Don't listen to the haters, it was rad.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

TONE POEM

One of these things is just like the other:





Except not this thing:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Nothing's right, I'm torn

It's like a black fly in my Chardonnay.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Bitch made Anchal cry!

OK, so after Mon-EEK got kicked off last week, we all breathed a little sigh of relief. Alas, not for long. Her exit has allowed this season's true villain to step forward. I should have seen the obvious signs (by which I mean similarities to Jade) before--the kissing up to everyone, the piss-blond hair, the over-the-hill-ness, the nasty complexion, the tendency to undeservedly win challenges and then gloat about it--but Melrose had me duped. But seriously, what a bitch. I love it how in this season there are clearly two cliques: the Nice Clique (Anchal, AJ, Megg, Caridee) and the Mean Clique (Melrose, people too weak from not eating/stupid to disagree with Melrose). And what she was saying about Anchal--just because Anchal is way beautiful and also eats and is not 55 years old. Seriously, insecure girls who get on everyone else's asses to spread their insecurities really piss me off. Why can't they just direct it inward like the rest of us? And with that, Melrose has officially become ANTM's bitch-girl (which means also that, according to the rules of the show, she can't win). Speaking of winning, my money's on Caridee. She's crazy!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Most Shocking Name in 2,000,000 Years!

Rodan

The Flying Monster is not exactly a confidence-inspiring restaurant name. Still, the metaphor of a hideous Japanese-influenced chimera actually does a decent job of explaining the food and service at this establishment. The food was passable, although it would be a stretch to call it "good." The pork "cigarette rolls" are a lame attempt to appeal to smoking hipsters and actually taste nothing like pork, or, for that matter, cigarettes. The shrimp was fully cooked, but that's about the most that can be said for it. The wasabi fries were good, although I didn't get much wasabi taste from them. Their chief virtue was that they were fried a lot. The only good thing about this place was the lychee royale, a champagne and lychee drink that could be easily assembled at home with a trip to a Chinatown market and a bottle of decent prosecco. The service was execrable, and the fact that smoking was allowed at the bar made for an uncomfortable meal. The attempts at Wicker Park hipster chic (if such a thing can be said to even exist), from the emaciated hostess and kitschy name to the unfriendly waiter and CCTV bathroom "mirrors" that were actually broken, all came across as hopelessly lame. Basically this restaurant is like your emo cousin from Portland, OR: it tries way too hard.

Fall TV roundup

Well, now that I've had a chance to view most of the candidates for the network chopping block, I thought I'd add my own well-considered opinions to the cacophonous, Alessandra Stanley-filled mess (personally, I prefer Virginia Heffernan, but then again, who doesn't?) that is September. While I often have a difficult time reviewing TV, because I so wholeheartedly love most television, this season's offerings have proven that even the most uncritical consumer of mass culture pap can find something to hate. But before we get to my scathing criticisms of the latest batch of offal, let's check in with some old favorites:

Grey's Anatomy

Still the most emotionally manipulative show on television, Grey's Anatomy continues to deteriorate in my estimation. While it's good to see Ellen Pompeo with a little more meat on her bones, I have to say that I find her character descending from narcissistic into just plain evil. I don't know how much longer I can put up with this batch of self-absorbed surgeons, who seem to use the genuine suffering of a couple of the characters (e.g. Izzie) as a launching pad for their own self-involved entanglements (e.g. Meredith's whole "you're that guy" speech to Chris O'Donnell--who is looking v. hot btw--where it's like, somehow you managed to make your friend's dead fiance about YOU). Also the fact that they've made Addison a genuinely sympathetic character makes it hard to give Meredith any benefit of the doubt whatsoever. I think the producers made a major mistake bringing her on permanently, even though she's the only reason I watch now, because it makes it harder to pretend that Meredith's actions are morally ambiguous--they're just plain mean. That said, Addison's drunken performance at the bar was priceless, and I'll probably keep watching to see if/when she gets revenge on skanky Meredith.

Laguna Beach

I love this show, even though there is absolutely nothing to recommend it. Still, Tessa seems like a sweetheart and she and Raquel seem like the only normal people to be featured on Laguna, well, ever. I'm rooting for both of them to overthrow Kyndra and Cami, the evil ugmos. Jessica's insecurities continue to have train wreck-like appeal. Cameron's vicelike grip on the female population of Laguna remains a mystery--sure, his abs are rock-hard, but he also looks a little bit inbred in the face. All in all, a delightful palate-cleanser amidst a week of serious TV-watching, even if I do have to switch between it and Project Runway every 5 minutes.

America's Next Top Model

While I don't know if my musings can possibly compare to the sublime fourfour recaps that I so look forward to every Monday, it is worth noting that the show has finally become sentient--it looks in the mirror and sees its true, campy self in all its redundant campiness. This has had some ill effects: I found the entire first episode almost intolerable, with special marks going to Tyra for her efforts to look like a complete spaz. Also, the fact that the show has abandoned all pretense of being a serious competition (which is an essential ingredient in reality TV) highlights the girls' increasingly pathetic emotional plight. Nonetheless, Monique is a bitch and I'm already rooting for Anchal, who is really quite lovely and sassy. The twins are also early favorites of mine. In summation, Tyra sucks more than ever, while the girls are one of the best bunches I've ever seen, drama and personality-wise. Also, I'm relieved that hard-to-forget Jade is becoming an ever-distant memory.

Law and Order: SVU

I'm on hiatus until Mariska comes back.

Battlestar Galactica

While I know the season premiere isn't till Friday, I believe I can state with confidence that its awesomeness is going to far outstrip all previous awesomenesss, because it is so awesome. I hope this season will bring us more glimpses into the Cylons.

Project Runway

I'll watch till the bitter end, but having seen their runway collections, I remain unimpressed. Why is it that after the first season no one's been able to put together a decent or even remotely interesting collection? Did they cut their budgets drastically or something? Or has the policy of giving them ever more ridiculous challenges under constantly shorter deadlines simply broken the poor designers' spirits? I'd go with the latter. I implore the producers of PR to give their designers more time--I'm sure America would rather see better-executed garments than another trash-stravaganza put together in 5 hours.

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Degrassi, the adventures of a preternaturally plucky bunch of cursed Canadian high school students, never fails to entertain with its mix of earnest after school special tackling of important topics and bad acting. There's also a self-awareness at work in Degrassi, largely due to the inclusion of some cast members from its previous iteration, who preside over the whole affair as elder statesmen of sorts. Paige rules, Manny is a skank ho, and Emma has surprised us all with her continuing transformation from gangly junior high ugly duckling to high school swan. It's good to see that Paige, Marco and Ellie will be sticking with the group as they tackle college life, although I'm convinced that Dylan will once again break Marco's heart. The season premiere was great, with its laughable admonition not to drag race, which, honestly, has anyone done since the 50s? Maybe things are different north of the border--I guess they don't have digital cable. Luckily, I do, so I can keep enjoying Degrassi as much as The N bothers to broadcast it.

House

While the subplot about the amorous teenage girl was kind of a non-sequitur, I sympathize with her spore-induced feelings. I mean, what red-blooded young woman doesn't love a prickly, unshaven, crippled middle-aged man with an acid tongue and fake American accent? It's a rhetorical question.

Lost

SEASON PREMIERE TONIGHT OMG!!!1

Desperate Housewives

It's nice to see Kyle McLachlan reprising his role of Trey McDougal. Seriously, what happened to him? He went from David Lynch's male muse to the go-to guy for uptight neat freaks of impeccable breeding, thin lips and maybe sexual dysfunction. That said, I find the most recent episodes a delightful return to form after last season's nasty business about the boy in the basement. The show only works when they're hiding dead people. The only sour note is Lynnette's predicament: having to deal with her husband's baby momma, who is a completely irredeemable character. The fact that her spineless husband is even speaking to this woman is enough to make me cringe, and I'm hoping Lynnette takes a real stand sometime soon. Still, Ever After's Dougray Scott makes a winning guest appearance and Teri Hatcher's comic timing remains spot-on.

Gilmore Girls

Somewhere along the line, this show went from one of my favorites to borderline unwatchable. Basically, all the characters are annoying, and it's high time it ended.

ON TO THE NEW SHOWS!!1

I'll start with the only good new show on TV and take it from there, in order of deteriorating quality.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

A welcome return to form from Aaron Sorkin, whose rapid-fire banter on the West Wing was sorely missed. Who cares if people don't talk like that in real life? I think they should. Matthew Perry was a simply brilliant casting choice and the chemistry between him and Bradley Whitford almost makes you forget about Josh Lyman. The only things that are a little bit grating are Amanda Peet's questionable office attire and the many references to Sarah Paulson's "talent" which have yet to be borne out. All I saw was her weak singing voice in that one skit. Still, D.L. Hughley and the rest of the cast make up for those weaknesses, and the cast is stellar as a whole. The writing is fantastic and actually makes you care about what happens to these people. I like it so much that I've even watched the reruns on Bravo with my mom. All in all, my Favorite New Show, and finally something to watch on Monday nights.

Ugly Betty

Many things about this show are kind of delightful, such as Salma Hayek self-referentially appearing as an overwrought actress on the telenovelas on TV. Still, no amount of braces and glasses can hide the fact that America Ferrera is lovely and sweet, and not the least bit ugly. It makes the name of the show and the hideous outfits she wears seem almost cruel. It would be enough to juxtapose her in some kind of conservative business attire with what passes for beauty in the fashion industry and let people make their own judgments. Still, I'll probably keep watching it.

Six Degrees

The only reason I've watched this show is that it comes after Grey's Anatomy. The only other reason I've watched this show is because Hope Davis is in it, and she's great. The photographer character is also sort of interesting but other than that there is little to recommend it, and the attempts at creating mystery via Erika Christensen's "box" are ill-conceived. I expected more from J.J. Abrams.

Brothers and Sisters

I loved Ally McBeal, and I love Sally Field, but this show kind of sucks. I don't think that even the formidable Desperate Housewives lead-in can save it. I just hope it doesn't sink DH along with it.

Standoff

I don't need to watch this show to know it sucks. Everything Ron Livingston has touched has turned to awful, except for Office Space, which was amazing. That was basically the perfect role for him, and now he can't really do anything else credibly in my mind. There's also something revolting about his stubble which makes it hard for me to look at him.


So basically the new shows suck, but the old shows are actually pretty good, so it's OK. I haven't watched some of the better-reviewed new ones but I may or may not get around to it. Most of my time slots are booked. Ah, the exhausting life of an amateur, unpaid, unread TV critic.

Next up, to show that I actually do have a life: Chicago restaurant and nightlife reviews! Also, look forward to a new segment: Recipes I Have Tried Recently. While I won't include the actual recipes, I will describe them!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

It's super effective!

I haven't posted in a while. There is a reason for this. I wrote a thesis, and at a certain point I read over most of my thesis-era posts and decided they weren't that funny or interesting. Sure, I was cracking myself up doing Lacanian diagrams but even Ari was like, listen that's kind of lame. However, now I have a diploma! That is basically all I have, though, except for a large stack of video games, endless cable television and the guest room in what I guess I'm going to have to refer to as "my parents' house." Yep, livin' large and at home. That is, if "large" is taken to mean "gaining weight from deep dish pizza and hot dogs while sitting on my ass." Let's just assume that's a given.

However, this setup has not precluded Fun Times. In fact, last night I had a delightful dinner at Mas (on Division and Ashland-ish I wanna say?) which involved a heavenly goat cheese empanada, some truly excellent tilapia and shrimp ceviche that overcame the cilantro (which really is saying a lot, because I absolutely loathe cilantro), and finally a delightful discovery: the coveted spinach and artichoke dip. The existence of said dip is pretty central to any good night out; or at least the possibility of attaining the dip is. Combined with a delightful jaunt to the Map Room, in which much Delirium Tremens was consumed, it was quite a pleasant night of it, the late-night McDonald's run notwithstanding.

So, that's my Chicago Chronicles of late. Upcoming news includes my evaluation of Season Finale Season as well a masterpiece on Pokemon XD: Gale of Darkness as soon as I finish it. I can say right now that Battle Bingo is one of the most sublime minigames in existence, and there is something about creating "best circles" in the Purify Chamber that starts some kind of disturbing endorphin loop in my brain.

The Sausage of Dr. Mabuse

So I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, so let me just start out with a little caveat: Don't get me wrong, I love Hot Doug's. I have loved it since the day I set eyes (and teeth) on it, and the Jennifer Garner continues to satisfy a deep and secret corner of my soul. However, in the spirit of the thing, I always try the "Game of the Week." This week, it was the intriguing-sounding "Mountain Man," which featured pomegranate mustard and venison-caribou sausage. I say, hooray! I love venison, and pomegranates! What could be better?

The answer is just about ANYTHING ELSE. When the "gorgonzola dolce" cheese was listed last, I assumed it would sort of be a filler ingredient. Sadly, I was wrong. It easily took over the entire bun, and engulfed the sausage. The pomegranate mustard was reduced to a pink smear on the bun that reminded me of something I'd rather not say. There was also nothing dolce about this gorgonzola; as far as I could tell it smelled like a mountain man's B.O.

That, and this random old lady from out of town decided to sit down with me and Tha Rooch, at which point she admonished me for not finishing my Mountain Man. There are many reasons why I did not do this:

a) I had already inhaled a Jennifer Garner (spicy hot dog with all the delicious Chicago trimmings) in approximately 60-75 seconds.

b) I had eaten a significant quantity of both cheese fries and duck fat fries.

c) Did she smell the sausage? Because I dont' think she did.

Once I said that I'd eaten too much, she actually EXCUSED HERSELF FROM THE TABLE, because apparently she couldn't stand to be in my decadent, wasteful presence.


Then, to make things even worse, one of the girls who works there came up to me and Rooch as we were leaving and kept asking us why we weren't taking the sausage home. Because I thought "It smells like ass" probably wouldn't go over well, I just was like "i'm too full!" She then was kind enough to get us a bag so we could take it. Can't people take a hint? I looked like I was gonna vom. Seriously, I did not want that sausage. But what could I do? Needless to say, as soon as we got out of the car in Wicker Park we tossed the infernal thing.

I should've gotten a Gary Lazarski.

Friday, March 31, 2006

How to Read Umberto Eco

So I finally cracked open How to Travel with a Salmon, which has been sitting on my shelf for about a year now, and I must say that I'm ashamed that I waited this long. I should have known from reading his afterword to The Name of the Rose that Eco is an uncommonly hilarious essayist, but Salmon has really driven the point home. I found myself laughing out loud in my apartment, curlers in my hair, about his encounters with the Coffee Pot from Hell. I must say, though, that my favorite anecdote was the one dealing with people you think you know, because Eco talks about running into Anthony Quinn on the street and almost saying "hi" to him and engaging in conversation before he realized that Quinn was a celebrity and not some half-forgotten acquaintance. This actually reminded me of a time in my own exciting life, when I was doing some research at the Avery Library at Columbia this summer and was waiting to meet my friend for lunch. Along the way, I ran into Julia Stiles. I did not know that she was Julia Stiles, but thought she was merely someone I knew from somewhere, especially because she was waking with a bike, as I happen to know a few Columbia students. So I calmly smiled at her and tossed off a noncommital "hey" as I walked past, as did she. Only about 50 yards later did I realize who it was, and I totally freaked out to myself. I guess the moral of the story is that if you treat celebrities like normal people, they don't think twice about it. I was also pretty proud of myself for being so unintentionally cool. But, there you have it. If ol' Umberto had smiled at Quinn and said hello, he may have gotten the same response. But I guess we'll never know.