Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ahead of the Curve

A new group of Japanese workers has joined the ranks of the sararimen as experimental robots are being developed to replace them. Thespians can now expect the same soul-crushing grind of stress, overwork, and depression as other workers, relieved only by subway frottage, late night bouts of sake-fueled karaoke, or the sweet embrace of death. Even as their jobs come under threat, the bigger question remains: will the Japanese public accept robotic actors?

They'll get used to them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?

Oh, please. You all thought the same damned thing.

Is it just me, or does Boy George look like Dr. Evil in his perp walk photo?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Hot Damn!

Yadda yadda, New York. Yadda, yadda, classic food. Yadda, yadda, first! time! evah! The chefs will have to cook against a professional hot dog vendor in the Quickfire.
A) Puh-lease. Like New Yorkers know anything about hot dogs. I've heard that those philistines put ketchup on them.
B) What's the big deal? If the vendor wins, will they kick someone off and let her compete? No? Then it's exactly like every other Quickfire, except you're eating a hot dog at the end.

Everyone else makes their lumpy, malformed Frankendogs from scratch, but Pippi Longstocking cuts up a store-bought hot dog and serves it in a... salad-y... spring roll-y sort of thing? At least she cut it on the bias, which makes it so much cheffier than cutting straight across. I wonder if she had enough time to make a box of mac and cheese, because I know this dish I could teach her...

Most of them failed to learn from Army Wife that bacon, the King of Meats, will not be enough to save them this season. It seems like every other "hot dog" contains bacon. I guess it can't hurt, though. Bacon is nice.

Bork makes a World Dog a panini press ...with tartar sauce. Really? He's going to need more than one German beer on the side to keep them from remembering how much that sucked.

Chutney continues her quest not to be pigeonholed as The Indian Chef by winning immunity with her... um... Indian Kebab Dog.

Luigi is a huge D&D fan or something, because he just can't shut up about dragons and princesses. Hey, Luigi, roll a d20 to see if I care.

Back at the House
We get back to the house and Luigi's still talking shit about dragons. Apparently he thinks that if he keeps talking, nobody will figure out that Chutney kicked his ass in the Quickfire.

Elimination Round
They're going to Open! A! Restaurant! What the hell? Restaurant Wars already? What is going on this season? Luigi stops yammering about dragons long enough to tell us that he's opened 50 restaurants in 3 years, or some absurd shit like that. Ouch, dude, maybe if they didn't suck, they might have stayed open longer.

Psyche. They're just serving lunch! In a pre-existing! Restaurant! That's pretty much the same thing, right? No? What's the deal with all of the excessive hype for ordinary events? We need 5 starters, 5 entrees, and 5 desserts, and Hair Product shows us what a take-no-crap, take-charge kind of guy he is by... um... politely asking people what they want to make?

Look out, soccer moms in the grocery store! The chefs are on meth! The chefs are in a hurry, and they feel like they're entitled to act like assholes in public is what he's trying to say, I think.

Crabman is going to make his famous Fresh Dungeness Crab Salad because he's just so damn good at seafood. What's that? No Dungeness? ...his famous Fresh Some Other Kind Of Crab Sala... What? Really? ...his famous Canned Whatever the Hell Is In This Can Salad. Because otherwise, he tells us, he might have to come up with a new plan on the fly. Oh, this should be entertaining.

Some cooking happens and they're serving lunch at Craft to a bunch of cooks who weren't good enough to be on the show, and oh, sure, now that they're in his restaurant, Chef Raddichio is suddenly all worried about double-dipping. Douchebag.

Jersey Girl tells us that she is going to be so pissed off at the other competitors if her Lemon Meringue is as terrible as everyone seems to think it is. Because it's their fault she can't cook? Something like that. It has a cookie in the bottom, she tells us. Well OK, then.

Spoiler alert: New York chefs are petty little camera-hogging whiners when they don't get their shot at 15 minutes of fame.

Starbuck's corn soup with chili oil sounds tasty to me, and the judges like it too.

I bet that guy wishes he'd saved his "dog food" comment now that he's seen Top Dishwasher's deconstructed meatloaf sandwich.

Ha! Padma lays the smack down on Chutney's avocado goo. "Yeah. You can tell she has immunity, or she wouldn't have made avocado mousse." Sue thinks Gail just called her Erotica, which is pretty funny, but I'm sticking with Chutney.

Padma shows us her WTF face and spits Jersey Girl's Lemon Insulin Shock into her napkin.

Stretch's tart and Starbuck's soup win praise, but Luigi's raw meat slays the dragon! Because there were olives on it. Those must have been some great olives, that's all I'm sayin', because cows were not meant to be sashimi.

Ha! Crabman thought his Canned Whatever the Hell Is In This Can Salad was one of the winners. What a doofus.

In the end, Pippi's incoherent defense of her Quiche Gluante d'Autruche knocks her out, and Jersey Girl survives for another round of Top Debater. Her food's spat out, but she moves on again. You're not ever gonna keep her down.

As Jersey Girl sobs the obvious, "I don't deserve to be here," in the back room, we close with words of comfort from Stretch. "There are no accidents in the universe." Wait. Her uncanny resemblance to Jar Jar Binks is on purpose? Damn. The universe is a bitch!

Next Week: Thanksgiving and Combattants de Foo!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Deconstruction Time Again

Pleased to Meet You
Hope You Guess My Name

We start out with the obligatory meet the contestants montage. Damn, there are a lot of them. If it's all the same to you, I'm just going to call them all Bob until they earn a nickname. There are some bald Bobs, a couple of European Bobs, Bobs with tattoos, and there's a Bob with a very silly beard.

Bob tells us that he's a big queen and that his inner queen is most concerned about what Padma's wearing, even though it's just so queeny, because all of his queen friends back in Queens want to know. Because they're queens. I kid. He's actually from San Diego. Damn. How am I going to come up with a nickname for this guy? If only he had some ridiculous affectation or verbal tic that I could seize upon for comedic effect.

Chutney tells us that she doesn't want people to think that she's going to make a lot of spicy curries just because she's Indian. Damn. I could go for a spicy curry right now.

Awww! Army Wife's friend Moby from culinary school is here and she tells us that they're bestest buds and that they had so much fun together in culinary school, and it's going to be totally awesome having him here during the competition. Awwwww. Aren't they adorable? I hope nothing happens to either of them. That would be sad.

I Know It's Over,
And It Never Really Began

The judges arrive and we jump right into the Mad Knife Skills Quickfire. Ha. No phony party for you this season! This is New York, bitches, and there are 3 and a half billion people in the food services industry here. Or something like that. I wasn't paying that close attention, and I'm not about to go and count them all. Like they'd even hold still long enough. Now peel some damn apples!

Fifteen apples, Tom whispers to Padma, is a lot of apples. Yes, Tom. Yes it is.

Bork, The Finnish Chef, is an apple-peeling machine and he gets immunity.

Oh! In the rush, Bob decapitates himself! I mean, he cuts off his thumb! OK, he just cuts himself, but he really is bleeding like a stuck pig. Bob thinks he's done, despite my suggestion that apples covered in blood are probably worse than apples that lost a little too much apple with the peel. In a stunning reversal, Tom overrules the at-home judge. Pommes avec le Sang it is. For those of us keeping track at home, the judges have now ruled in favor of both spit and blood in your food, so we've only got a couple of bodily fluids left before someone gets a bingo.

The next time you go to Craft Steak, you should probably pass on the Hollandaise.

The last spot is taken, and we're on to phase two. The chefs have to speed dice 2 cups of apples. Oh! Apples... I see what you did there.

Bob has suspect knife skills, and Tom is picking big chunks out of her cups before she can continue. Bob gamely soldiers on, though, and she makes the cut. Makes the cut! Ha! I made a funny!

The four remaining chefs must now cook with apples, and the loser will go home without even seeing the Top Chef KitchenAid Calphalon Wusthof Cusinart Kitchen.

Army Wife calls upon the power of bacon and Chutney decides that her best way to avoid being pigeonholed as "the Indian chef" is to make Apple Chutney in the very first challenge. Solid choice. Hey, they're in New York. I understand that you can get pigeonholed just off Times Square for as little as $20 if you know who to ask.

Oh, drama! It's down to Army Wife and Moby. One of these two dear, dear friends will have to send the other one home. Army Wife looks right into the camera and tells us that she hopes Moby goes home. Karma pricks up its ears.

We come back from commercial to find that even the power of bacon can't save her. Army Wife is redeployed back home. Aaaaaaaand, Karma sticks the landing!

Here is the House
Where it All Happens

So we get back to their snazzy apartment and get some face time with the remaining contestants. Bob looks over the balcony at a high school track and football field and says something nonsensical about the Taj Mahal. Hunh?

It's a good thing Moby's still in this thing, or I'd have to make an Unambiguously Gay Duo joke about Team Rainbow right about now.

Nobody likes Luigi and Bork. Their strange, foreign opinions on whether vinaigrette is an emulsion or not have already alienated the other chefs. At least they have their shared love of subtitles and the... how you say... football?

Wait. Back up a sec. You're telling me Stretch isn't on Team Rainbow? Are you sure? She has very gay-friendly glasses.

Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees
And People Say We Monkey Around

The chefs somehow get paired up and sent into the neighborhoods of New York, and there's some kind of head to head challenge involved. There was either some bad editing, or I stepped out of the room at an inopportune time. If you weren't watching, you'll never know. Never mind. We'll figure it out as we go.

The chefs wander around. They exchange bewildered looks with shopkeepers. They buy ingredients they've never heard of. They go back to the kitchen and cook.

By the time Stretch gets all the bones out of her smoked fish, it looks like it was prepped streamside by a bear, and she comments that she really hopes that she doesn't miss any. Bob suggests that perhaps she should have considered buying the fillet. You know, like he did.

Hair Product is shaping up to be this season's uncontrollable spaz. He decides that he's doing so well on time that he should really make some more garnishes. Because if there's one thing we've learned from past seasons of Top Chef, it's that judges love it when you desperately clutter your plate with unrelated crap. He's so busy making garnishes that he completely runs out of time and only gets like 2 of his 19 garnishes on the plate.

Guest judge Van Goghbitussin (or something like that) loves Bork's meat oil, and I decide that I've probably already exceeded my Team Rainbow jokes quota. Bob just wants to get Tom drunk. His opponent, Bob, has served up a "Decontructed Greek Salad". Nobody is impolite enough to point out that her deconstructed salad appears to have been mysteriously reconstructed into something that looks suspiciously like a "Greek Salad". Except me. Just now. Sorry, Bob. Guest judge Van Hurghhurghhurgh takes advantage of this lull in the conversation to drop some smack by suggesting that (the other) Bob's "technique" of overcooking his lamb didn't work, just like he did it on purpose. Nice! Hair Product begs for mercy, and beats Luigi despite his missing frippery. Stretch doesn't choke any of the judges on fish bones, but her unintentionally hilarious Caviar Crazy Eyes loses anyway. The Mouse thinks a steak is Italian cuisine as long as you put some marinara sauce on the side. Ohhhh kay then. The judges kindly suggest that she just needed a little salt and move along. Bob and Moby don't know jack about Chinese food, but Moby's gummy noodles cost him the Chinese Buffet Steam Table Battle.

The high point of the episode for me, though, came with Top Dishwasher's pair:
Tom: "How about you, Bob? Do you have any experience with Indian cuisine?"
Bob (with misplaced confidence): "Well, fortunately I have experience with Latin cuisine and they're pretty much the same thing."
Boy, it's a good thing he didn't say that in front of someone who knows Indian cuisine, 'cause, damn, that'd be embarrassing as hell. So then Padma... ohhhh, right. Oops. So then Padma turns to Top Dishwasher and tells him that even though he didn't really know what he was making, he not only made a classic Indian dish, but he knocked it out of the park. Either Padma really hates Bob or Top Dishwasher just pulled a Monkeys Typing Shakespeare. Either way, I can't stop laughing.

I Cannot Save You
I Can't Even Save Myself

Bork, Top Dishwasher, and one of the Bobs get called back to see who wins. It's Bork's meat with meat oil! He's taken both challenges on the first episode.

Either Jersey Girl or Moby will go home. The judges rip into Jersey Girl for her lack of culinary curiosity: "What if somebody tells you they want an Indian meal?" She answers, "I have books to look at," and if the crickets weren't stunned into silence, we'd hear them right about now, but they were, so we don't. Lex thinks she was making a joke that just completely failed, but I'm not so sure. If she's a comedian, her delivery makes Steven Wright look like Rip Taylor. It was deadpan, that's what I'm saying. Damn, people, don't you have google?

The judges send them back to the storage room to squirm for a little while longer, and then they drop a two-fer on our little human interest story at the top of the show. Here's Moby now, going to the east side. He packs up his knives and he starts to ride.

Next week: More smack talk, fewer Bobs!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fire Down Below

Becks hasn't explained exactly what the expectations are for my new role as President of her fan club, but I hope they include Graft, Corruption, Decadence, and Lies.

There is one thing that concerns me. The squirrels apparently think I "owe them one" now. They left muttering something about a kajillion acorns, but a) I'm pretty sure that's not a real number, and b) I don't think they can count that high.

Finally, I'd like to apologize if the title of this post caused any confusion. Just to be clear, under a Deadspot administration, I promise more of this

and less of this

Friday, November 7, 2008

Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

We won, and that's pretty cool. Equality rocks. I mean, it's not like we went crazy and elected an atheist or a woman or someone who isn't married, but you know, small steps and whatnot.

Some good things happened. Ohio, finally able to vote without the shackles of a corrupt Secretary of State slash Republican Campaign Chair, went for Obama. Go, Flan! Bizarro Indiana voted Democratic.

The deep south and the western plains states, the Ignorance Belt, stayed red, but even they showed signs of change. South Dakota voters said that yeah, maybe women should have the right to choose, and the other Dakota realized that people really should pay their taxes after all so that the government can pay to fix things. I'm not entirely clear on how they thought Republicans would do that, but progress is progress, right?

With the good came the bad, though. Schizoid California inexplicably voted for Obama but against equal rights. Florida, sans Harris, did the same. Arizona voted Republican and against equal rights, so kudos on their commitment to being assholes, I guess. I'd blame the heat, but New Mexico opened a can of 15-point-spread whoop ass on McCain. Have I ever mentioned that even the desert in New Mexico is beautiful, and that Arizona, much like Bruges, is a shithole? Consider it mentioned.

And even though we won a crushing victory in the electoral college, the popular vote was disturbingly close. After 8 years of the Party of Hoover trashing our international reputation, eroding our civil rights, pillaging our economy, and, oh yeah, getting us involved in a land war in Asia (twice!), there were still 57 million people who thought that we really needed another 4 years. Double you tee eff, mate? What is it going to take to convince these sheeple?

Still, I'll take whatever we can get. Half a cup of progress is better than none. Right?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Twenty Twenty Twenty-Four Hours To Go

Look, if you put up with this blog, you're probably already planning to vote, right? Bear with me anyway.

I live in Illinois. It is pretty solidly Democratic. I live in Urbana. It's an island of urban blue in a sea of downstate rural red. The state is going to go Democrat whether I vote or not. The county is going to go Democratic whether I vote or not. The city is going to go Demcratic whether I vote or not. But here's the deal... I'm going to be there first thing in the morning when the polls open, and I'm going to vote.

If there's one thing that I've learned from the time that I spent coaching, it's this: Sometimes you have to play well enough to beat the other team. Sometimes you have to play well enough to beat the ref.

Sometimes the ref is a petty little asshole. Sometimes the ref just isn't really paying attention. Sometimes the ref just sucks. On those days, you have to crush the other team so badly, put the score so far out of reach, that even the ref can't steal the game. He can only make so many bogus offside calls. He can call only so many phantom fouls. And yeah, if the other team are nice guys, it sucks to run the score up on them, but it also sucks to have some chump screw your team over, and our team's been screwed for the last 8 years.

That's all a little irrelevant anyway, because the Republicans aren't nice guys. They're dicks. Look, we both know that the Republicans are going to try to steal this, because it's the only way they can hold on to power, and because they're amoral lying scumbags, and because they don't give a shit about democracy, or the rule of law, or any of the other nice things they say to try and get votes from people who would know better if they ever paid attention. Luckily, there's a simple way to beat them.

Here's the ugly secret. It doesn't take great ideas. It doesn't take superior statesmanship. It doesn't take inspiring ideology. It doesn't even take filthy lucre. All it ever takes to win an election is for people on our side to get off their fucking couch and vote. Voter turnout rates in this country suck, but if their voter turnout sucks and ours doesn't, it's game over, man, and we win.

Let's deliver a victory so crushing that their next Katherine Harris never gets the opportunity to throw away our votes. Let's deliver a monster win in the popular vote so the Democrats know we're fed up with them bending over when the Republicans try to steal the election in the inbred redneck backwaters where this thing is still close.

Whether you think your vote is going to matter or not, get your ass out and vote for Obama, or don't bother speaking to me again.

Oh, and if you're in Cali, vote against Prop 8, because who they love is a stupid reason not to give someone equal rights.