Tuesday, February 28, 2012

We wern't nervous..but we were hungry - The Sohpia Grace & Rosie Sensation

Admit it. You think they are cute. Well, that is because they are. They represent pure childhood fantasy and they have no problem being on camera. In fact they love it.

The Ellen Show, a place where dancing around and having fun is not only encouraged, it is scheduled, has been featuring these British Bombshells for a few months now and I got to say, they are pretty fantastic.

How can't you smile at this?

In an age of reality TV "stars" it is nice to see kids just having a blast and knowing that what they are doing is something unbelievably special. They are cute, funny, and normal little girls with some talent. My friend said they are a perfect mixture of Shirley Temple and Russel Brand. That pretty much sums it up, but they are much more talented than Brand.

Yup, went there.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Culture of Expectation and Entitlement

Members of the Jewish community are often flabbergasted when people my age choose not to join a synagogue or other institutions. As the token "young person" on boards and committees, I have heard it all before: Why don't you come? Is it too expensive? Would you come if it was free? And my answer to these question is always the same: It is an issue of values not value.

However, this is lost of the major funders of the Jewish community - Case In Point: Birthright.

Taglit Birthright Israel provides thousands of young people with what it would call an opportunity to experience Israel. Nay, they would call it a gift. The gift of Birthright. In fact we are told that it is a gift and we just should say thanks and enjoy it.

There are thousands of pages of journals, blogs, and news paper articles praising or condemning the programing of this "journey." And while there is a lot that is great about Birthright, there is a lot wrong with this program.

But the worst thing Birthright has done to my generation is that it has created an expectation of free goods and services.

This could not be any more clear in the completely misguided BirthrightNext Shabbat in a Box.

Meat Grinder Jews
Put in Numbers Get Committed Community Members

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Report: Choke

While the first book took a month and a half to finish, this one took less than a week. This makes me happy for a few reasons. 1. I can read quickly. 2. I have eight more books to get my goal. 3. Novels are so much fun when they are good.

Choke is one of those books that I knew I had to read but never did. It was completely enjoyable if a bit messed up. The story was compelling and interesting. It also was sick and twisted without using superfluous profanity, which considering the content was pretty impressive. The use of the profanity actually enhanced the story line.

My one problem with the story lie was that it was extremely similar in approach to the movie Fight Club -- the rejection of the 12 step program, the style of the ending and the instability of the characters. Also, I didn't feel so comfortable reading it in public...but that is more on me than on the book.

4.75 out of 5 Stars

Thursday, February 23, 2012

There is Nothing on TV

Last weekend, I had a very interesting conversation with a number of folks over canned beer, sitting in a hot tub overlooking Lake Tahoe.

Someone made a sweeping statement about the end of broadcast television and that in a few years everything would be online. YouTube would be our new ABC, NBC and CBS, and almost everyone agreed. I thought this to be ludicrous and the conversation took off.

The main issue the others had was that the lack of choice we have today with traditional TV will push people to a specialized, personalized media experience. They were saying that technology will enable an on-demand media engagement: connection to scheduled entertainment would go the way of mini-disk and Eight Track.

The main issue I had was the value of intellectual property and the investment it takes to generate serial quality material. For example you aren't going to get a show like "Modern Family" or "House" out of a group of buddies uploading to YouTube. There are just too many moving parts that cost too much money. And even if you can demand it, without content your demands go unanswered.

And after much back and forth and long after our hands became pruney these two points came out:
My Point: Without a significant investment in the product, the entertainment, educational, or news value of the product will not live up to the standards of the consumer; this is especially true of my chums in the hot tub.

Their Point The old advertisement business model no longer will work as technology advances and those who create must change the way they do business in order to survive; without a change of distribution, taste makers, like my chums in the hot tub, will no longer consume mass media.
These issues are not diametrically opposed, but both are at the core of consumer media's future.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Book Report: The Man Who Ate Everthing

Well it took a month and change but book one of 10 is finished. I read, and very much enjoyed, Jeffrey Steingarten's "The Man Who Ate Everything."

If you like food -- eating it, making it, or just talking about it -- I strongly recommend this book. The writing is smart, self-deprecating and aware of realities of most people's lives. While Steingarten was able to take weeks at a time to master the art of home-made French Fries, he wrote the book and engaged the reader in a way that understood that most of us aren't being paid to have food experiences to write about.

And he is really funny. Reading this book helps me understand his crazy appearances on Iron Chef America.

One problem was that the book is a bit dated. The statistics were about 20 years old but the stories remain extremely interesting, educational and appropriately silly. Far too often food books take themselves too seriously. Foodies believe that they are the reason for life itself. Steingarten loves his great food stuffs, but also loves a Milky Way. And that is how it should be.

4.5 out of 5 Stars.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sometimes you forget

Waking up this morning with the heavy, flat bottomed clouds clinging to the mountains on the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe is pretty hard to beat.
Up at Tahoe for the first time in at least six years, you can forget the majesty of this place.

I loved coming here during college for ski weekends or retreats. Honestly I never had anything but a good time up here. Now I will do my very best to not kill myself as I rent a snowboard and hit the slopes of Squaw Valley.

Friday, February 17, 2012

I like it

People asked me within days of moving here if I like living in San Francisco better than New York. Clearly these people have never lived in the greatest city in the world. But trying to be nice, as is the custom here, my answer was I can't tell you that yet.

For the most part, I am a happy dude who can get along in any location, and San Francisco is no exception. After visiting New York last week, a city I love, and my wife, a woman I love more than anything, I know I like living here in a City by a Bay.

Yesterday, as I got into a Zipcar to take care of some errands and head out to my run, I caught a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance over the shimmering bay. I thought, well this is easy to like. And for a New Yorker, even by six year proxy, that is hard to admit.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Will I ever learn?

When one asks such a question it tends to be rhetorical. Yet in this case, it would appear that it is not, and I will not learn.

Last weekend, I was feeling strong, my legs weren't -- for the first time in weeks -- bugging me and the weather was prime for a PR in Davis. But as you know from any other race recap I have ever written, I go out too fast, over shoot and slow down toward the end. And thus without reading further you have the short version of The Davis Stampede recap.

Here is the longer story.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

An additional benefit

When Abby and I were dating, we did the long distance thing for about six months before she moved to New York. At the beginning it was hard but doable. We both had jobs with a bit more flexibility than we do now and we were young and in love and stuff.

In fact, the long distance thing was even a bit fun. We went out on dates and got to plan for our time together; every second of being together was extremely special. We were really into each other and it was always great to spend time together. The day-to-day stuff was put off for six months and is the reason so many long distance things don't work when people are in the same place.

A little too cute, but a good visual.

When we were apart we talked more than daily, but we both had other stuff going on in our lives and we were just starting the process of building a life together.

Monday, February 6, 2012

One Benefit

One of the only benefits of not living with my lovely wife is that I can grow facial hair.

That represents about two weeks of bearding. And while I like the idea of not shaving and sporting the hipster identification card, it really isn't me.

While I could pretend that there are deeply philosophical and socioeconomical reasons behind my aversion to beards, if I was being honest, I would have to tell you I don't have the patience have it grow in for real. So I had some fun with the trimmer.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Politics of Charity

Susan G. Komen has stopped funding of Planned Parenthood due to political pressure. This is bad.

It is no surprise to anyone that politics drive charity and I wouldn't want someone or some organization to financially support another person or organization she or it does not support fundamentally.

However, in this case, a political witch hunt supported by radical elements of the rightwing have pushed an organization dedicated to the health and well-being of women to strip its funding of an organization that provides health and wellness services to women.

My good friend Adam has never given money to those really-well-meaning-but-always-in-my-way-street-volunteers before. Today he gave. I logged on to Planned Parenthood's website and made my donation. We need more men to do the same in the face of this news, and it has nothing to do with politics.