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Saturday, February 28, 2004  

And the Oscar Goes to...
As promised, Here are my Picks (subject to chance over the next 28 hours.)

Best Picture, Editing, Make-up, VFX, Score, Sound, and Song: LotR: RotK (sweep sweep sweep)

Director: Peter Jackson (BoW award for all three films)

Actor: Sean Penn (though Depp's SAG award opens this category up way more than I was expecting...)

Actress: Charlize

Supporting Actor: Tim Robbins

Supporting Actress: Renee Z. (I haven't actually seen any of the films that the actor picks from. Going all on buzz, reviews, and gut)

Script: Lost in Translation

Adapted Script: Mystic River (one of the two award I'm not giving to LotRs.)

Cinematography: Toss up: Master and Commander or Cold Mountain. I haven't seen cold mountain but I think the academy will be tossing Master and Commander this award so it doesn't go home empty handed.

Art Direction: I'm tempted to go LotRs, but I think it will actually goto Girl with a Pearl Earring. The academy loves period pieces for this award...

Costume Design: Talk about a dead-heat category... I'm going to go with LotR though to bring the grand total upto 9.

Make-Up: LotRs perhaps deserves this award more than any other this year. Just ask ol' puss-eye!

SFX Editing: Master and Commander? Pirates? Pirates HAS to win something... SO I'll say PotC.

Animated Feature: Biggest Lock of the whole night: Finding Nemo!

Forien Language: Barbarian Invasions (it sounds a lot more exciting that it actually is)

Doc Feature: Fog of War. Errol Morris? Oh hell yeah!

Doc Short: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Chernobyl Hearts

LA Short: ??? What the hell do I know... Two Soldiers. Whatever...

Animated Short: Destino!!! I hope Roy Disney is good an' drunk when he makes his speech too!

There Ya go! I had a little better than 50% average last year... I think I'll do better this year with the inevitable LotR sweep! I have it picked for 9 awards, just 2 short of the record held by Ben Hur and Titanic. I would really LOVE it if it were to beat that record as it is one of the landmark films of my lifetime (much more so that Titanic!!!) But I don't think it'll happen...

posted by JMV | 2/28/2004 12:36:00 PM

Dead Horses Beware
Have I mentioned that The Shins rock?

Just checking.

There is nothing more tasty than the guitar solo in "Girl on the Wing."

I want to get it tattooed on my lung.

Should I be frightened that I'm beginning to sound like Warren Ellis?

Maybe I should just goto sleep.

posted by JMV | 2/28/2004 02:56:00 AM

Rocked the 'board today. Six tough pages. Wrote and Polished and rewrote. Act II is officially underway.

I had slowed down after I finished a polish of act I, my writers esteem throwing speed bumps in my path. But Thursday I got out of Hollywood for the afternoon and paid a visit to a friend in Echo Park. It was the day after our "big storm" and the sky was still streaked with isolated dark clouds, but the sun was bright and warm and foreshadowed Cali spring. Matt Hals was the director of Trannies! and one of the few people I knew when I moved to LA. We ventured downtown for some serious tacos (that rivaled Taqueria-V's) and chatted about writing.

This is my first screenplay that has actually gotten into the scripting stage in like three years, so I've got a fair amount of anxiety and ego tied into this project. It is hard to make headway sometimes when you can't step away from your work as see the big picture. Its like writing in a vacuum. But talking about some of my story concerns and conceptual problems with another writer was really helpful and I was able to attack act II with renewed vigor on Friday. Matt is also writing coverage for some company, so when he had nought but good things to say about the sample I left him I was super-stoked!

One of the things we talked about was tone, and how screenwriters often ignore this until it is too late. The story I'm writing is dark and atmospheric and establishing this tone early on in my pages was very important for me. I ended up using a little trick that I stumbled on when writing my first script/thesis: music. ARIES (the aforementioned thesis script) was a high-concept "cyber-noir" detective story; conceived as a way to meld all of my academic research of "hard boiled" and Film Noir movies with my love for Sci-fi and specifically the cyber-punk aesthetic. I ended up writing nearly the whole script in a Lyons Diner in Capitola, California (in a notebook, longhand) while my discman played my new favorite album of that time: Portishead's "PNYC." The distinct retro-future sounds of that album were a perfect match for the script I was writing.

So, when I started writing the script for this current project one of the first things that I did was make up an iTunes playlist that would help me capture the tone I was going for. I ended up with a selection of Tool, A Perfect Circle, some of the darker Radiohead, and a smattering of Tori Amos. That should give you a pretty good idea of what I'm shooting for. And so far it has worked really well. I listen to the same 3 or 4 songs every time I sit down to write and that helps me center and get into a consistent frame of mind. So far so good. Busy weekend ahead, so I probably won't get through too many pages, but I'll be sure to get my Oscar picks up before the festivities on Sunday.

posted by JMV | 2/28/2004 02:28:00 AM

Thursday, February 26, 2004  

Self Censured
Be happy that I decided not to post what I had finished writing before dinner. It was meant to be a rave review of The Shins two albums, which I haven't been able to stop listening to in days, but it was bloated with purple prose and non-sensical metaphors. In included the sentence, "now the sonic larvae have consumed the best parts of my rational thought and pupated in my cortex." I told you it was for the best. I'll just say that the two discs ("Chutes too Narrow" and "Oh, Inverted World") are fantastic. So fantastic you should look into getting them. Like now. Seriously.

posted by JMV | 2/26/2004 07:54:00 PM

Tuesday, February 24, 2004  

Fat Tuesday
Happy Mardi Gras! In celebration of a holiday that I never remember to celebrate I cooked up a quasi-traditional meal: jambalaya. Though I was pressed for time and ingredients, so I whipped up my quick and cheep version. One package of Rice a Roni "Cajun Chicken" flavor ($1.39), half a package of fully cooked andouille sausage from Trader Joe's (half of $3.99), a three or four chicken tenderloins I had kicking around in the back of the freezer ($uh... 2 bucks?), a couple of cloves or garlic and 1/2 an onion. All in all it takes about 30 minuets and costs all of 6 bucks of ingredients and turns out pretty damn good. My mom would probably balk at the thought of jambalaya built on a box of rice-a-roni, but I made up a batch of cornbread so that should make her feel better. I think there is a place for complex dishes made with the best fresh ingredients that require time and skill to prepare, but sometimes you just don't have the time, the energy, or the fresh stuff. For these time it is handy to have an arsenal of recipes that can be made fast with stuff that should be sitting around the kitchen.

On a similar note, the night before last I had a dream where I was in my very favorite taqueria in Santa Cruz where I ordered 4 carnitas tacos and a carnitas burrito. So sometime yesterday I decided that I was just going to have to make up a batch of carnitas for myself, and wondered why I hadn't ever tried to before. Turns out the first couple of recipes I found included "2 Pounds of Lard" as the first ingredient. Now I love pork fat as much as the next guy, but 2 POUNDS is a lot of lard to have to deal with. I'll still probably try to do it though...

posted by JMV | 2/24/2004 09:00:00 PM

My Bad
Seems that I haven't posted in a couple of days... And I thought I was getting better about that. Not like there has been a whole lot going on recently either, I guess I'm just lazy. I'm a little upset by the News from Starbucks. I just don't understand why they would call Julie out of the blue, give her two (very positive) interviews and then blow her off, less than 24 hours after the second interview, with a terse e-mail. It is just hard for me to understand why anyone wouldn't want to hire her. She friggin ROCKS! Admittedly I AM a little biased, but I know first hand the kind of dedication she has for her work and the kind of energy that she puts into it. Prospective employers should ask the candidates spouse questions...

In other bizarre news I got a call from a prospective employer today. I usually wouldn't post about a first call about a Craig's List posting, but this is for Paulie Shore's personal assistant/intern. I replied to the post a couple of weeks ago for the halibut as they say and was more than a little surprised that I got a call from one of Paulie's "people." It sounds like it would be a really cool gig. From what I can tell I would mostly be working out of his office at the famous Comedy Store, where his mother Mitzi has launched the careers of countless comedians. At this point I would be surprised to hear back about the job, but it will certainly be interesting to see how it all plays out.

posted by JMV | 2/24/2004 02:36:00 PM

Friday, February 20, 2004  

His New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable
Thanks to Mike over at Cruft for the heads up on Rumsfeld's 1000 Fighting Style. I certainly wouldn't want to meet him in a dark, ninja-filled, ally.

And since I'm linking to random stuff... This coming tuesday is "Grey Tuesday" when DJ Danger Mouse is asking as many people as possible to host his "Grey Album" for 24 hours in protest of stupid legal actions. The Grey Album is the DJs mix of Jay Zs "Black Album" (which Jay Z has released in several cut-up/remix/DJ friendly formats) and the Beatles "White Album." Of course EMI had a fit and sent out all kinds of C&D letters and generally pissed on the parade. I'm just happy that I'll be able to get a friggin copy of the album on Tuesday, as it is supposed to rock.

One more random link for a friday afternoon: These look neat, and I'm mainly posting this so I don't loose the link... Have a good weekend. If your in SoCal, stay dry...

posted by JMV | 2/20/2004 11:14:00 AM

Thursday, February 19, 2004  

Foust tipped me off to a fabulous new NetToy (NeToy?) called "Musicplasma." It uses the Amazon API to graphically organize a musical act's "sound." You type in a band/performer that you dig and Musicplama maps out connections to similar artist in sound and era. The maps are dynamic and you can zoom in/out or click on other spots to see those connections. A nifty distraction and one that just may cost me some cash as I have now found a couple of bands that I should probably check out...

posted by JMV | 2/19/2004 03:06:00 PM

Wednesday, February 18, 2004  

Little Tiny Mice Are Eating My Brain
Yesterday was a big day. I'm trying to put in between 2 and 4 hours of script-writing a day, and shoot for about 3 pages in that time. Yesterday I cranked out 6 1/2 taking my page count to 16 and finishing off the first act. So I was pleased as pie yesterday. Of course, all this energy spent on the script means the blog is getting ignored, which is a shame because I think I'm going to miss my traffic goal again this month. I need to generate some HITS on the site!

In other news, I've got another item for the "bastards stole my idea file." Evidently Nestle is going to start marketing oddly flavored Kit-Kats in Great Britain this year in a bid to regain some market share. Cumin, Curry, and Lemon Cheesecake are on the list. That wasn't my idea, but towards the end of the article a restaurant in Berkshire is mentioned because it serves up bacon and egg flavored ice cream!

Insert shot of John doing the "Khan!!" yell from Star Trek 2.

Anyway... I seem to have completely lost my train of thought and any coherent thread to this post, so I'll end with a non-sequitur

"I remember [in the early '80s] seeing posters for the small, semi-portable version of the Apple IIc. Quite a lot of what I subsequently imagined in my early science fiction simply came from seeing that ad in a bus stop. I didn't know anything about it technologically. I just thought if it's that small and that nicely styled, everything is changing."

William Gibson from an interview in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

posted by JMV | 2/18/2004 03:24:00 PM

Tuesday, February 17, 2004  

Lets Try That Again
I'll consider this a rewrite and give the previously mentioned "lost post" another shot...

Jules and I were asking "Why do we celebrate the beheading of a saint again?" on Saturday while stuck in the kind of traffic that can only be caused by the nervous and horny violently colliding with the lonely and bitter. We then remembered that ever since the dawn of our relationship we have held a marked distasted for the "holiday" (except, or course, the candy hearts) and that this year we had been somehow blinded by the unrelenting drive of consumerism. So we decided, right then and there, to rebel against the frilly pinkness and hit the Carls Jr drive-though. It isn't that we are unromantic or overly pragmatic, but rather that we don't see the sense in singling out a single day to lavish affection and attention on the one you love. How does one day of flowers, fancy diners, and chocolate further the cause of love? Love is something to be nurtured EVERYDAY lest it wilt and shed its many-splendid leaves. After some burgers and videogames we were want to leave the comfort of our apartment for the outside world that had surly grown only more desperate and frightening since we last saw it. And yet we craved ice cream. So we caved and did something that I'd wanted to do ever since seeing Swingers. Something that is SO LA it frightened me. We called Pink Dot (actually we called their competitor, Yummy.) Pink Dot/Yummy is s delivery grocery/convenience service that offers all your food needs until midnight delivered right to your door. The prices are about the same as Ralphs/7-11 and the delivery fee is like $3, so all in all a pretty good deal.

Sunday my mom made her way into Hollywood for lunch, and we spent the afternoon pretending we were hip industry insiders while dinning on the patio at The Cat and Fiddle. After lunch and some writing time I made a foray into the Valley to help out in the G&E department on a shoot I had heard about a few days before. Turns out it was the last day of shooting on an independent feature. Rule Number One is a high school dramady about. Well I actually don't know what it is about as I was only on set for one day. But it was a good time. The DP had an interesting style for the shoot where he lit nearly every scene with a combination of Babies bounced off walls and showcard and an inky or two scrimmed way down (I never found out what stock they were shooting but I saw some Kodak shot-end boxes so it must have been the vision 500 (7279.) So that made my job real easy. I also didn't realize until later that the lead in the film is a bone-fide rising Hollywood starlet (or at least a regularly working SAG actor) who has a pretty beefy list of credits including Malcolm in the Middle, Bernie Mac, and a slew of TV movies (she is also producing Rule Number One.) We wrapped out at about 7:15 as the sun rose over Studio City and I proceeded to sleep through all of Monday.

posted by JMV | 2/17/2004 04:10:00 PM

I finally sat down to break my silence and write up a post, and was just about done when I hit CMD+R instead of CMD+T and reloaded the blogger form and erasing the damn post. I'm pissed in the way one can only achieve after doing something stupid on a empty-but-coffee-fueled stomach.

posted by JMV | 2/17/2004 03:56:00 PM

Friday, February 13, 2004  

Mouse Soup
I don't know if everyone else has been following the executive turmoil that Disney is having right now, but it basically amounts to Eisner (head of Disney) is a bumbling idot and is driving the Mouse right into the ground, while Roy Disney (Heir of Walt) has resigned from the board as protest and launched an aggressive campaign to have Eisner removed from power. It is kinda like a corporate Coup... Well anyway, things get messier by the day, and I just read an article about the Disney board members pooping their pants over the Oscar Nomination that the short film "Destinos" received. Destinos was produced under the Disney marquee by Roy Disney and could very well win the Oscar for Animated Short Film. The board is in-a-bunch because god knows what Roy will say about Mikey Eisner if he gets to give an acceptance speech, AND Disney (the company) has to promote the film and campaign for it to win lest Roy raises a stink that the board sabotaged the films chances on purpose (and he would probably have grounds for litigation.)

This raises the question of if ABC (owned by Disney) will uses the "nipplegate" granted 5-second delay on the telecast to censer any anti-Eisner remarks Roy might make. The Oscar producers have said (and I'm paraphrasing) that they would only use the delay to protect the sensitive and innocent viewers from profanity and nudity, but who knows what will actually go down if Roy starts shooting his mouth off (and I sure hope he does.) Either way it will make the presentation of the Short Animated Film award one of the years "must watch" awards instead of a bathroom break.

posted by JMV | 2/13/2004 02:09:00 PM

Thursday, February 12, 2004  

High Off the Fumes
After all my difficulties getting a concise and coherent blog post written this evening I knew that I needed to work through my sudden inarticulacy. So opened up my writing case and withdrew the file of notes on the screenplay that I've been work on (on and off) since June. Last week during a streak of productivity I completed another draft of the step-outline and knew that I needed to go over that and make some changes. As I stared at the neatly organized outline I had the overwelming desire to file it back away in the box. I just couldn't bring myself to re-write the damned thing again. I felt like I would never be prepared enough to actually start writing the SCRIPT. I had nearly 100 pages of notes, background, character sketches and plotting ideas. I had 4 different drafts of the step outline and I couldn't think of anyway to improve on what I had in-front of me. Then it hit me: I was done. i was done with all the arduous pre writing. All the plotting and outlining. Now I was just using it as another form of procrastination and if I didn't do something drastic then the whole thing would come crashing down about my ears. I needed to take that first scary step into the unknown. So I booted up my script writing software and started typing.


It is a couple of hours later and the first 5 pages of my script have just slid out of the inkjet. There was no real reason for me to print them out; I just wanted to see the back ink on the white paper. It makes it seem more real. They are rough and need a lot of work, but they exist! I feel better about the project than I have in months. The act of typing out the first 3 scenes has made me so much more aware of what I need to do to get this done and opened my eyes to different ways of tackling some of the problems that seemed so insurmountable when all I had was a hundred pages of notes and an outline.

Rock! I think I'll have a whisky to celebrate, Cheers!

posted by JMV | 2/12/2004 11:33:00 PM

Why John Writes About, but Doesn't Play, Music
Ok. This is the THIRD time I've started to write this post. The first two attempts exploded from a simple explanation of my musical inadequacies into intensely personal and horrible convoluted rants. But it is important to me that I deliver on my promised post, so this time I'm keeping it simple. I never excelled ad music because of some combination of: laziness, impatience, frustration, and sheer ineptitude. People who are musically inclined amaze me because I just don't "get it." I have problems with tone and rhythm and I have absolutely no grasp of music theory. But music is such an important and powerful force that I can't be satisfied with my inabilities to create it, so I try and do the next best thing and write about it.

Not really the introspective post I was originally shooting for, but better than nothing. I'll go archive the nearly 2000 words of my first two attempts in my digiscrapbook and leave it at that.

posted by JMV | 2/12/2004 09:11:00 PM

Wednesday, February 11, 2004  

Music On My Mind
Been thinking about/dealing with music a lot this week, and I was going to post some random thoughts on the subject. But I instead decided to just give a couple nano-reviews of three albums from 2003 that I've recently gotten my hands on that have blown me away.

First off, I got a copy of A Perfect Circle's "13th Step" from my mom a few months ago but never really gave it a chance; a couple of weeks ago something happened and now I can't stop listening to it. The single, "Weak and Powerless" has shot to the top of my "Top 40" iTunes playlist and the rest of the album is steadily burrowing into my psyche. I've loved Tool since the first LP and their blending of prog-rock and postpunk-artrock is a sweet confection. A Perfect Circle is like pop-Tool: both more melodic and more accessible. But it is by no means light, and the song writing of Billy Howerdel has a Hefty emotional impact.

Elephunk from the Black Eyed Peas is just as good as every has been saying, even if it moves away from the hard-hitting rap-vibe of "Bridging the Gap." The BEPs cover some serious territory on the disc, from Latin-inspired jams to thumpin' club-fare to thick Reggae and Dance-Hall grooves. Will.I.Am has some serious lyrical punch and the flow to match, and the addition of the honey-voiced Fergie to the 'Pea's line-up gives the album a softer side. So far I'm digging it even more that the much lauded "Spekerboxx/LoveBelow" (which doesn't even have a guest appearance by JT!)

And finally we come to The Shin's "Chutes Too Narrow." I'm sorry to say that had never heard of The Shins until this album started dominating critic's year-end top-10-lists; I then caught the wonderfully irreverent video for "So Says I" (the one with the animated penguins v/s walrusses) on MTV2 and knew I needed to get the album. It is a pretty phenomenal disc, one of those "every song is a tiny masterpiece" albums. The Shins sound is firmly planted in the IndieRock/Lo-Fi genre but their songwriting transcend the often simple compositions of the genre. It is an album filled with lines that you just want to scribble on the cover of your algebra book. My only complaint is the leaves-you-wanting-more 34 minute length of the album as it makes is too easy to listen to twice through and this is an album that I don't want to burn out on.

Any of those three albums (all available on iTunes) will not disappoint, and I highly recommend all of them. Now, I haven't yet listened to "Chutes Too Narrow" today so if you'll excuse me... Stay tuned tomorrow for "Why John is forced to write about music instead of actually MAKE music."

posted by JMV | 2/11/2004 10:56:00 AM

Monday, February 09, 2004  

Well, I'll Be Snookered!
We have lived in the shadow of the Hollywood Mountains for what Five months now? And I never noticed until TODAY that this is part of the view from our balcony/porch:

posted by JMV | 2/09/2004 03:12:00 PM

Like Oil and Vinegar:
It don't mix, but it sure is tasty... I am, of course, speaking about last-night's Grammy Awards. Normally I wouldn't touch the show with a ten-foot pole, but the TiVo captured it and I was interested to see Price and the White Stripes performances. Turns out the show was far more entertaining than anyone expected it to be (especially after the horrible production last year.) Things were different from the very beginning; the opening number was a medley duet between Beyonc? and Prince. They moved pretty fluidly from "Purple Rain" to "Crazy in Love" and then touched on a couple other of their big hits. I could nit pick the performance and say it could have used a couple more rehearsals and Prince seriously needed to be bumped up in the mix, but that didn't really matter. It was all about the energy that the two polarities created.

The show only took off from there, flying buy at a breakneck pace; it actually made the VMAs look like a sleepy awards show. And the producers kept the energy high by tossing a seemingly random mish-mass of performers on-stage at the same time. Sting, Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, and Pharell doing a Beatles cover sticks out as one of the more random combos. The White Stripes were one of the few acts that got the stage all to themselves, and their performance just reminded me to be pissed off that I missed them on tour. The Black Eyes Peas, who seem to be trying to single handedly bring politics back to Hip-Hop, hit a homerun with "Where's the Love" and were joined on-stage by the ubiquitous and apologetic JT (I don't care what you say, JT is cool!)

The high point of the show was easily the "Church of Funk" segment with "Reverend Samuel L." SLJ enthusiastically introduced Earth Wind and Fire who then jubilantly played "Shinning Star" which was immediately followed by Big Boi performing "The Way You Move" joined by some member of E,W&F. Robert Randolf and the Family Band kept things cooking with the red-hot strings of his steel peddle guitar. The segment culminated when the "third member of Funk's holy trinity" George Clinton himself ascended the stage followed by the costumed legion of Parliament Funckadelic. Then, the whole damn "congregation," including the Rev. Samuel L, shook the Staples Center with "We Want the Funk." There must have been Sixty THOUSAND people on stage. It was a pretty damn cool moment for music on TV.

The rest of the show couldn't quite match the energy of that performance, which I think should really have been the closing number, but still held some incredible performances. The Foo Fighters were joined by legendary Jazz pianist Chick Corea for a goosebump inducing, and undeniably ROCKING, performance of "Times Like These." Corea's ivory-work was the perfect compliment for Grohl's plaintive and earnest howls and is a great example of what made the Grammys work: the producers took big pop acts that always deliver and paired them with iconic musicians to create an organic musical experience. Sure, some of the combinations didn't work out (Sting and Sean Paul's rendition of "Roxanne" fell pretty flat) but all in all the equation paid off in spades and made for a very entertaining evening.

posted by JMV | 2/09/2004 12:35:00 PM

Thursday, February 05, 2004  

Eureka!! Continued...
After loading up Hwang (our blue Hyundai Accent) with Skubb and Vikka Manne we hit the road into NoHo to find this fabled supermercado, and after driving in circles around the place a few times finaly managed to get into the lot. Two things about the place hit me simultaneously as I got out of the car: "DAMN! it HUGE!" and "OMG it smells fucking great!" The mercado was indeed super, easily dwarfing our neighborhood Ralphs, and tucked away in one corner was a bustling Taqueria. As we made across the isles filled with a mix of familiar products in spanish packaging and items wholly new to my experience the smell of the panderia hit like the blow from a hammer. A glass case held row-after-row of impenadas and Salvadorian quesadillas, but we held stong and advanced past them into the taqueria proper. I was practically bouncing up-and-down with excitement as I shouted my order and even more excited as the cook handed the tray containing the little carnitas tacos sitting on a bed of dual-tortillas that I had been dreaming about across the counter.

There is a general guideline for judging a restaurant: it should have people eating there. And my guideline for ethnic cuisine is a variation on this: the lower the ratio of white-people to people who share ethnicity with the restaurant the better. So I was happy to see we were quite literally the only white people in the taqueria. We found a table and I got some assorted salsas (including a chipotle based variety that tasted like a cross between BBQ sauce and that thin-red salsa from Taqueria-V.) and tucked in.

Jackpot. The tacos hit the spot like a laser-guided pork missile leaving a smoldering crater in my esophagus. Oddly enough this Taqueria-induced heartburn is a good thing in my book, and is lovingly referred to as "the burn" or the "t-burn" and does a good job of taking my mind off the nagging Void. Julie's Nachos were equally fulfilling and we left feeling like we had discovered a cool oasis in the middle of a parched, sandy, sea. The tacos are no replacement for the Void-filling Taqueria-V numbers but they do make a suitable, Void-nourishing, substitute. And it gets better. We walked through the rest of the mercado and I was stunned when we saw the butcher case. There were actual BUTCHERS behind it. And they were, -GASP-, cutting up meat! There were whole quarters of beef hanging in a display fridge in the back. And what's more the cuts looked good and they were cheep. Like bargain, get excited cheep. Then there was the produce. Lets just say it put the crap that the damn scabs are peddling to S-H-A-M-E.

So Vallerta Supermarket was quite a find in the heart of North Hollywood and, at a mere 7 miles from our house, it is a viable alternative to the traditional supermarkets and the sometimes-unbearably-stuffed-with-old-people Trader Joes.

posted by JMV | 2/05/2004 12:52:00 PM

Tuesday, February 03, 2004  

Ever since we blasted southward across the central-coast stretch of Hwy 1 in the faint pre-dawn light some five months ago I have had a void in my very soul. A void that I have only been able to fill once in those five L O N G months, and a void that can only truly be satisfied by pork. Fried pork tacos from the greatest Taqueria that I've ever know to be more specific. The carnitas tacos from Taqueria Vallarta in Santa Cruz are the only true medicine for what ails me.. The carnitas there is devine; each tender fiber infused with yummyness. Los Angles is a VAST city, a cornucopia of ethnic food and cultural diversity. But in five months I haven't been able to find a goddamed taco. It sounds impossible, but I have tried hard, some would say obsessed, to find a taqueria to help make me whole again.

Let me take a moment and relate the Curious Dichotomy of Mexican Cuisine to you. My childhood was spent in the suburban sprawl of Orange County. And while all my friends and neighbors were WASPS there was still the ghosts of native culture and good Mexican food abounded. From El Capitan to El Conejo to some little place in HB on Magnoilia I knew where to GO to get some enchiladas done RIGHT. All these places served, what I will call here, "homestyle" Mexican: wet burritos, enchiladas heavy on the sauce, thick beans, all the stuff you would expect to get from say El Torito or Acapulco. And my favorite of all was the dos enchiladas con queso. I have probably consumed some 60,000 in my 25 years on this earth.

Then I graduated from highschool and moved 400 miles north to the misty mountain nestled Santa Cruz. Moving to the Central Coast caused quite a bit of culture shock, and I remember one instance in particular where I went out for Mexican with some friends. We went to a "Taqueria," which was a first for me; the menu was a list of food types (tacos, burritos, nacho etc) and a second list of meats (Carne Asada, Carnitas, Pollo Asada, etc.) The food was completely different than the Mexican food from back home. The tacos were served with just onions and salsa on two tortillas. Cheese enchiladas were nowhere to be found on the menu. I was confused by this affront to all that I knew of Mexican food. Over the next couple of years I learned to L O V E this new genre of Mexican food, and found that Taqueria-style restaurants greatly outnumbered the "homestyle" establishments in Santa Cruz. The king of all Taquerias in my mind is Vallarta. They just have the most ass kicking food. My stomach waters and my mouth growls at just the thought of a couple of their tacos.

And here is the nature of the Mexican Culinary Dicotomy. Taqueria vs Homestyle. Why are there two clearly divergent styles of cuisine? I would really like to know. I don't think it is a matter culinary region, though this may have something to do with it. I have hypothesized that it is mainly a socioeconomic difference though I have precious little to support that argument. My best guess it that the Taqueria fills more of a "fast food" niche while the "homestyle" cuisine is more what would be served at a home. Though again, this is mainly conjecture. I welcome any other theorys into these two delectably different "genres" of Mexican cuisine.

So any way... We move to the City of Angles and expect that there will be good Mexican on every corner. But in our neighborhood the best mexican is Del Fucking (not to dis Del Taco. It fills a niche, but it won't fill my Void.) I've been jonesing like Sinatra in "Man With A Golden Arm" for weeks, and (to steal some prose from PA,) all other Mexican food has been like methadone to my taco-addled psyche. And yet I still lacked the cojones and the support to wander into some taco-shop in East LA or in the Latin markets downtown, so I turn towards technology and after a few hours of googling everything I could think of I find a prospect. It seems that there is a chain of latino supermarkets in The Valley that hold within them a full on TAQUERIA. So today, after a trip to "Los Angles' answer to Ellis Island" we rocked on over to NoHo to try out what I would hope to be a serviceable way to fill The Void.

To be continued...

posted by JMV | 2/03/2004 08:15:00 PM

Sunday, February 01, 2004  

Can't Sleep.
Trolling Web.
Started entering random values into the Google Image Search.
Found strange sites.
Found this:

posted by JMV | 2/01/2004 04:03:00 AM

Sneak Peaking
February in Hollywood means not just then end of Football Season but the beginning of the "Pilot Season." Pilot season a time of hope and greenlights. New shows are pitched to networks and a few dozen are given some money to shoot a pilot episode: the first "proof of concept" episode of the show. Then , later in the spring the network execs decide which shows are promising and they order more episode and the show finds a place in the fall season. It is an exciting time for actors since there is, theoretically, a chance for break-out success if a new show makes it big. Though statistically it still sucks as each of the major networks will order anywhere from ten to twenty pilots and only 3 or 4 will end up in your "fall preview issue" of entertainment weekly. Here is a working list of a bunch of pilots ordered from the various networks and the people behind them. It looks like 2004-2005 may be an even bigger train-wreak that this year was. Some of the chaff looks to be the return of Charlie's Angels to the tube, a new Paul Reiser comedy, C.S.I. New York, and NBC re-producing ANOTHER acclaimed BBC series. But how can anyone beat "FRANKENSTEIN" which is described as,

"expected to take place in present-day Seattle with both Dr. Frankenstein and his monster surviving the past two centuries thanks to genetic engineering on both subjects. The two are then discovered by a female cop and her partner through a routine homicide investigation. Over the course of the pilot, Frankenstein's monster joins forces with the cops and will combat Dr. Frankenstein and his other creations in successive weeks. From Martin Scorsese and author Dean Koontz."


But there are some prospects. ...Ok, maybe not. But it is hard to make a TV series sound GOOD in two lines. At least the WB is bringing vampires back to Primetime soaps with the return of "Dark Shadows!" Oh, and WarrenEllis' supernatural espionage thriller, Global Frequency is getting a pilot on the WB! There can hardly be shit hotter than television from the dark, booze-soaked mind of Warren Ellis.

posted by JMV | 2/01/2004 02:26:00 AM
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