Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Bad-Ass Blogger Beta

Thanks to Akshay, who responded to my comment on his blog and told me that Blogger Beta is now open to everyone who wants to switch. The three coolest things in my opinion are:

  • Tags for posts, so you can categorize your posts and let readers browse by category rather than just by time. If people like my posts about France, they can just click "France" in the Topics section to the right. That is, once I finish labeling all of my old posts (complaint number one and only: wish I could mass-label my posts -- am I missing something?).

  • Drag-and-drop layout editing, with prefab containers for lists, external javascript, etc. It was a very small pain to migrate all of my sidebar widgets (the wine journal, tag cloud, flickr badge, blogroll) and will now be much easier to add them in the future. The best part is that that kind of stuff is now more easily accessible to people without a degree from MIT in computer science.

  • Faster. At least, publishing is faster (because rendering is dynamic), so blogging is easier. I've yet to see if regular page loads are any slower due to being dynamic, but it certainly doesn't seem so as of yet.

Everyone thank Akshay for making this sweet new toy, especially since he has to stay up at night with a pager in case it breaks.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Portishead, and MySpace Music Publishing.

I've personally been a fan of Portishead for a long time, though they haven't released any new music in about ten years. According to this article on Pitchfork, they've released two new tracks -- on their MySpace page. I'll be very excited to see the day when a band makes a splash (or a comeback) solely online, and cuts out the distributors/licensors of today. Don't get me wrong; there's still a necessity for middlemen. They're just going to be less controlling, less expensive, and more infrastructure than the music publishers currently in danger of fading into yesteryear.

And as much as it pains me, last night I found a Paris Hilton making-of-the-music-videos short posted on YouTube roaring to the top of the most-viewed list. She may be a harlot, she may not be able to sing without a vocoder, but she's got some savvy PR folks. Congratulations, Paris, for (surely unwittingly) embracing the future of content distribution.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

M. Ward, Likely New Only To Me.

Presumably some of the rest of you have heard of M. Ward, considering they've already been on Letterman and released four albums. They're a fun band that remind me quite a bit of Wilco (more here). Me, I'm behind the times (and still don't have a television), so I was introduced to the band by Fred Wilson's blog this evening. There's a great YouTube video of them playing on the Late Show. Interestingly, their new album, Post-War, was released on vinyl and iTunes on August 22nd, though the CDs don't hit stores until Tuesday the 29th. That's one way to drive down distribution costs, and it certainly worked on me. Check out M. Ward:

A Fire Island Summer.

Summer on Fire Island seems to me what life in Florida should be like, and would've been like if growing up there hadn't led me to take it for granted.

We've stayed at the Malakoffs' rented beach house at Davis Park on Fire Island three times this summer, and each visit has been a transcendentally relaxing experience. Everyone moves from waking to eating fresh fish, bagels, grilled meats and vegetables, to lying on the beach, to reading on the porch, to watching DVDs in a sandy warm haze before falling asleep again. I sit eating rare steak, drinking a margarita and staring off through the trees into darkness and think, "This is what life should be like."

It's taken full-time employment to make me truly understand warm vacations. For the first time in my life, I'm eagerly looking to spend two weeks on a sandy island doing nothing. I don't know where, and I'm not sure exactly when, but it's going to be glorious. If you've got any favorite islands in the middle of nowhere, feel free to let me know. In the meantime, I'm going to miss Sarasota and Siesta Key a little bit.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Japanese Game Shows.

Now if this doesn't beat all. A Japanese game show entitled "Silent Library" where the contestants (five Japanese guys and a huge black kick-boxer) endure hilarious and foul torture while trying to be as silent as possible.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Bloody Marys.

The Chicago Matchbox.
The usual crew went to Prune last Sunday for a warm, lazy brunch. Prune serves about ten different Bloody Marys, ranging from the traditional to the Chicago Matchbox (pictured at right and served with pickled green beans, caperberries, turnip, radish, brussels sprouts and loaded full of horseradish and homemade lemon vodka). I went with the Southwest, which featured a bit of tequila alongside a smoky chipotle pepper and tabasco sauce and almost burned my tongue off. Thank goodness they're all served with a small beer chaser on the side. The fried oyster omelette was excellent, while the huevos rancheros were good but not worth the wait on their own.

I feel like there's a lot to be said for the New York brunch, when one rolls out of bed, strolls a few blocks to meet equally-disheveled friends, and munches on comfort food while sipping a deceptively strong cocktail. I think after a few more of these I'll come up with some mind-blowing conclusions, but for now I'll settle for this: it's certainly a great way to begin a Sunday.

If all of you faithful readers *cough* have any favorites, I'd appreciate your brunch recommendations.