Friday, February 22nd, 2013
13

Hollywood, Stop Botching Your Third Movies

Ewoks. Tina Turner. Religious space prisoners. Sofia Coppola. Here is where we sit for a moment and gravely reflect on all the horrific things that can go wrong when an otherwise amazing trilogy hits its third installment.

I'm not the first to notice that Hollywood has trouble with third acts—although I refuse to believe Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome clocks in at 81% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer. Return of the Jedi brings up the rear of the Star Wars trilogy with a startling 79% (A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back easily top 90%, I think we can all agree that it's Empire or GTFO). The Godfather [...]

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4

Two "Black"-Hearted Drinks From Cold, Dark, Faraway Places

A good friend of mine insists that having a nice meal while you're traveling is considered sightseeing. Since I've had the privileges of accompanying him at nice meals in places like Moscow, Prague and Budapest, I tend to agree: food's as important an entry point to any new place as art or architecture. As a corollary, though, I'd submit that another essential part of experiencing a foreign culture is getting drunk on the local hooch. Now, I don't want to come off all Anthony Bourdain-y here—hey, look at me! I travel! I drink!—especially since Bourdain is a huge wimp for claiming that hakarl was "the single worst, most disgusting [...]

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2

Grenadian Sorrel Drink

A series on actually good nonalcoholic drinks to serve abstaining friends or make for yourself.

I'm really boring in January. Oh, sure, in the Fall I can invent fun drinks, but come Drynuary, I hibernate with club soda and lime and my Bible. That all changed when I discovered sorrel. No, the other one. If you recall, last year, I discovered Sorel, a delicious hibiscus liqueur. Little did I know that there’s also a native Caribbean concoction known as sorrel drink, popular in places like Jamaica and Grenada.

Brought to my attention by a close family friend from Grenada—the Spice Island!—sorrel drink is traditionally served during [...]

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7

My Ambitious Attempt To Make Puerto Rican Pasteles

A series about foods we miss and our quests to recreate them.

Like most good Puerto Ricans, my mother was born in the Bronx. But growing up, I spent a decent amount of time in Bayamon, Puerto Rico, where my grandparents lived until I was in my 20s. There, as kids, my brother and I chased lizards in the backyard, enjoyed coconut right off the tree, listened to coqui frogs at night and roosters in the wee hours of the morning through open louvered windows. Everything on TV was in Spanish (which we didn't speak), so we explored a lot. We were also exposed to some dishes that, while [...]

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6

Things To Drink This Fall: Sorel Cocktails

When the weather turns cold/apocalyptic, your cocktails need to step it up a notch, and your bitter aperitifs are no exception. Lucky for you, there's Sorel. Full disclosure: Sorel is an artisanal, handcrafted twee little liqueur made in—of COURSE—Brooklyn. So that makes this recipe something of a trend piece! And trend pieces should go with summer drinks (see Aperol!), not fall ones, right? But resisting Sorel is futile because it's good. Really good. Billed as a hibiscus liqueur, Sorel wraps up classic fall flavors like cinnamon, clove, ginger and rhubarb and is versatile enough to both complement or supplement things like sweet vermouth, Campari or other aperitifs.

Another [...]

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4

A Flank Steak For The End of Summer

A series on things to make, eat and imbibe this summer.

The almanac says we've got a few weeks left of summer. But if you're like me, Labor Day is the bookend that marks summer’s close and the beginning of all things fall—that pivot point when the the state fair shuts down and college football starts up. While I can't get my head around summer ending just yet, I love the transition to fall, when grilling moves from the backyard to the tailgate. If you’re planning one final blowout of the summer in observance of our favorite socialist holiday, don't bore your guests with [...]

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7

T-Bone, For Two

A series on things to make, eat and imbibe this summer.

You know what? Forget about groups and gatherings. Enough with the ever-faithful host to the hordes, the slaving over the hot grill for others just to watch them bogart all of your ribs. Deep into the dog days of summer, it's time to slow down and relax with a somewhat indulgent meal. Save it for one of those summer Saturday nights when you have nothing planned and nowhere particular to go. Sometimes a delightful summer evening requires nothing more than you and your sweetheart. And a huge hunk of beef.

Main: T-Bone Fiorentina Sides: Grilled ramps and [...]

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13

Hiking The Grand Canyon In A Day

Signs posted at the rim of the Grand Canyon warn you not to attempt to hike to the river and back in one day: it's too strenuous, and you need to be prepared with food and a gallon of water per person. Apparently, there are several deaths (especially in the summer months) and 250 rescues made each year, so the National Park Service is serious about this. Typical warnings exhort: "DO NOT attempt to hike from the rim to the river and back in one day, especially May to September."

I arrived at the Grand Canyon in late March. It was Spring Break, 1990.

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4

Ribs, For Their Pleasure

A series on things to make, eat and imbibe this summer.

My favorite summer moments involve impromptu gatherings, especially those where you find yourself hosting on relatively short notice. I know, it's tough being that popular! Whether because you have spontaneous friends, a grill, or a really great, fireworks-proximate roof deck, you may find yourself unexpectedly entertaining this summer. Sometimes these friends will bring beer; sometimes they'll just show up. No need to panic. Here's an excellent menu that easily feeds a group of six to eight without trotting out the tired cliche of burgers and dogs. (Fair warning: this will just encourage people to keep converging on your place [...]

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10

A Breezy Summertime Guide To Picnicking In The City

Sometimes, the curses of living in NYC turn out to be its blessings. When you can stretch your arms out and touch both walls of your bedroom—or, both roommates—the great outdoors becomes less an escape and more of a living room. Luckily, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux had your back even before you moved in with your "boyfriend." New Yorkers have long enjoyed recreational use of open public spaces. I like to uphold that tradition with the classic picnic in the park. And sure, grabbing a slice and flopping down on someone's sweatshirt in Washington Square can be perfectly nice—and easy. But with a little more effort, [...]

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7

Beach House Dinner: Shrimp On The Grill

A series on things to make, eat and imbibe this summer.

In New York, some people mark the beginning of summer as the day the MTA turns on the air conditioning in the subway cars. For me, summer starts that first Saturday when everyone flees to their summer shares and the city empties out giving the remaining few a blissful On The Beach-type moment.

But if you're one of the lucky ones who are actually on the beach, at some point you're going to need to eat. With that in mind, here’s an easy menu for a weekend at your summer share. This menu strives to meld the [...]

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7

Spanish Jambalaya Casserole

With spring officially here, we've reached the two final installments of this series of favorite casserole recipes (with crockery recommendations) from The Awl and The Hairpin. But before you go full fair-weather grill-out, a recipe for jambalaya.

One of my first post-collegiate single-guy attempts at "cooking"—outside of warming a can of Goya black beans in a saucepan—was for a Mardi Gras-themed party in the mid-90s. I'd gone to my first Jazz Fest in 1993 with some friends/co-workers (synonymous in those days for me), and I listened to a lot of Dash Rip Rock and The Radiators. The next year, a creole-themed party emerged as the perfect [...]

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14

Four Cocktails To Get You Through The Holidays

With the holidays upon us, everyone seems to crave booze a little more than usual. Either you’re hosting, party-hopping or catching a drink with a friend. The temperatures are cold. It's dark by three in the afternoon. Drynuary lurks ahead. And, after it turns out your Christmas Bonus is a subscription to the Jelly of the Month Club, you could use a little pick me up.

This is the time of year I turn to The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks for guidance. This classic was written by Frank Meier, the purported inventor of the Sidecar, who, in the 1920s and '30s, presided over the bar at [...]

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54

Everything I Ate At The Minnesota State Fair

I was indoctrinated into the cult of the Minnesota State Fair six years ago. At the time, it was sort of a goof with my then-girlfriend, now-wife: we were dating long distance between San Francisco and New York, so it was an excuse to meet halfway and in her hometown. Twelve hours, two orders of fried cheese curds, several Leinie’s and a live taping of "A Prairie Home Companion" later, I was hooked for good. I've only missed it twice since. (Once, for my wedding, and then last year, because my very-expectant wife was grounded.) Now, the Fair is as much of a Labor Day tradition to me as [...]

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33

Mastering The Art Of Urban Grilling

New York City has a 24-hour-subway system, gay marriage and David Chang. What we don't have are rolling suburban lawns on which to accommodate Charbroil Offset Smokers when we want to char the hell out of some animal flesh. With Labor Day fast approaching, 4th floor walkups and a lust for a perfectly grilled ribeye will soon collide, and an urban grillmaster will have to adapt. Here’s how (with bonus Beer Can Chicken recipe)!

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103

Best Movie Closing Songs, In Order

20. "The Promise," Napoleon Dynamite

19. "Wake Up," The Matrix

18. "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life," Life of Brian

17. "What A Feeling," Flashdance

16. "Queen Bitch," The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

15. "If You Were Here," Sixteen Candles

14. "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes," Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

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20

The Greatest Beastie Boys Lyrical References To New York, In Order

30. "I'm the Kung Fu Master vs. The Sumo Wrestler Got the beats in Manhattan you can hear in Westchester" —"Do It"

29. "I love it when you hit those switches A curve ball's what my pitch is So here we here we come Like dum ditty dum I keep all five boroughs in stitches" —"The Negotiation Limerick File"

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75

41 Movie Remakes That Would Destroy What Remains Of My Youth, In Order Of Heartbreak

41. North Shore (1987) 40. Children of the Corn (1984) 39. Broadcast News (1987) 38. Once Bitten (1985) 37. The Dark Crystal (1982) 36. The Gods Must Be Crazy (1981) 35. Night Shift (1982) 34. One Crazy Summer (1986) 33. Youngblood (1986) 32. Near Dark (1987)* 31. Some Kind of Wonderful (1987) 30. Spies Like Us (1985) 29. Pretty in Pink (1986)

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4

Piragi (AKA Latvian Bacon Rolls)

To me, Thanksgiving is as red-blooded an American holiday as there is. Food, football, uncomfortable family moments, and (most American of all) overindulgence. Thanksgivings of my youth added flavors of the American immigrant, inverting the classic Pilgrim-noble savage model.

Sure, we had all of the traditional dishes, lovingly prepared and fussed over. Especially Wild Turkey! But I’m first (and a half!) generation American, so ethnic food has always been a part of family celebrations for as long as I can remember. You already know about the Puerto Rican side of me. Here’s how the Latvian side of my family also holds a central place in any holiday.

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9

Roger Waters on Tour: "The Wall," 20 Years Later

Before he launched off on a year-long tour, my (then very pregnant!) wife and I had the privilege to attend a rehearsal of Roger Waters' live performance of The Wall-Live at the Izod Center in New Jersey.

We didn't know what to expect. This evening was billed simply as a live dress rehearsal for the highly-anticipated tour-and that Pink Floyd's The Wall would be performed live for the first time in 20 years. All we knew was that we, along with about 1,000 others, had tickets. I didn't even know if I could get a beer.

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