Sunday, April 28, 2019
Saturday, April 27, 2019
New Yorker – "The Culinary Muse of the Caucasus"
"Eventually, tapas and tempura become widely available; one no longer has to forgo a pepper mill. The April, 1977, issue of Esquire contained a three-page guide to Japanese food, entitled “Wake Up, Little Su-u-shi, Wake Up!” By that point, according to the magazine, there were almost as many Japanese restaurants in America as there were transistor radios. A kind of accelerated connoisseurship ensues. Americans of all backgrounds will eat a spicy tuna roll from the supermarket, but not without chopsticks, which we rub together, because we are lovers of sushi. It’s the thing we crave most when we’re pregnant. Before long, our stomachs start to rumble for the next big thing.
Right now, that is Georgian food. The hospitality-trend forecaster af&co. recently named it “Cuisine of the Year.” The “Dish of the Year,” the company says, is khachapuri, a term that refers to any number of Georgian cheese-filled breads. (The 2018 winners were Israeli food and rotisserie chicken.) As the trend report noted, khachapuri is photogenic. The dish has been tagged thirty-five thousand times on Instagram, where the version from the Adjara region—an oval slab topped with cheese and a runny egg—is a particular favorite. The yolk, exuding anthropomorphic cuteness, looks like the center of a winking eye. According to the Los Angeles Times, you can get khachapuri in Hollywood, at Tony Khachapüri, which just opened inside a Vietnamese restaurant called Banh Oui. (The family of one of the owners happens to come from Armenia, which borders Georgia to the south.) It is prepared, untraditionally, with garlic sauce. The crust comes dusted with everything-bagel seasoning.
Then, there’s Georgian wine. A couple of years ago, archeologists working at sites south of Tbilisi unearthed shards of pottery that were coated in oenological residue from 6000 B.C. This means that Georgia, probably the world’s oldest winemaking culture, has completed around eight thousand vintages. Almost every family makes wine. In the traditional method, grapes are aged with their skins in earthenware vessels called kvevri, which are buried underground. Many are left to ferment without much intervention. Georgia was making natural wines, using more than five hundred native grape varietals, before natural wine was a movement. White kvevri wines are especially distinctive. Their color is often closer to deep peach or amber, and they tend to have a highly tannic, brawny taste. If rosé is essentially red wine that’s made like white wine, the so-called orange wines at which Georgia excels can be thought of as whites that are made like reds. In 2017, Georgian exports of wine to America increased by fifty-four per cent from the previous year.
The Danish chef René Redzepi has described Georgia as home to “one of the last great undiscovered food cultures of Europe.” With a relatively plant-centric cuisine and an ancient winemaking tradition, it is well suited for the moment, in which both wine consumption and anxiety about the environment are on the rise, perhaps not unrelatedly. It’s not just the allure of Georgian gastronomy that has led to its growing visibility abroad. The Georgian National Tourism Administration is working hard to convert buzz into durable economic opportunity. In 2018, the agency brought eight hundred foreign journalists to Georgia, treating them to hospitality that, according to one participant, “borders on pathological.” On one trip, a group of American wine writers were shuttled to a vineyard in western Georgia, where a husband-and-wife winemaking team introduced them, as a writer from Vice recalled, to “a fresh and fruity rosé,” made from a little-known grape. “Somm crack juice,” one of the participants observed. (Never leave home without a glib comparison.) Goodbye, Riesling; hello, Orbeluri Ojaleshi."
From Pitchfork's Top 200 Albums of the 2000's, Blueprint was #5:
"When it comes to prophetic hip-hop album titles, Ready to Die was the most tragically accurate of the 1990s. This decade, The Blueprint was rap’s supreme soothsayer: a grand layout too enamored with life to entertain fatalism. Without it, Kanye West may have never gotten out of his mom’s basement. Nas’ “Made You Look” probably wouldn’t exist. And Jay-Z may have become another aged-out rap casualty, gasping for relevance in a realm where 30 may as well be 60.
When the album wasn’t mastering tried-and-true hip-hop tropes like the diss track (“Takeover”), the player’s anthem (“Girls, Girls, Girls”), and the puffy-eyed ballad (“Song Cry”), it perfected a lush, sample-based aesthetic that didn’t rip-off Al Green, David Ruffin, and Bobby Byrd as much as it paid homage. Just as The Chronic revived 70s funk, The Blueprint brushed off 70s soul for fresh ears. And at the center is Shawn Carter, then 31, who supposedly recorded the bulk of the record’s vocals in a near-divine two-day, paperless outpour. Reasonable Doubt may be more complex and The Black Album more personal, but Jay’s Blueprint persona is the one that will match his legacy– towering, effortless, and as eternal as its 12-minute finale. "If I ain’t better than Big, I’m the closest one," he claimed– a controversial line at the time. In 2009, the sentiment seems quaint, if a bit modest. –Ryan Dombal"
From ESPN's Zach Lowe:
"Damian Lillard and the determined Blazers A lesser team -- hell, most teams -- would have broken apart after the four-game humiliation New Orleans inflicted on Portland a year ago. The Blazers didn't run from it. They took time to hurt. They acknowledged weakness. And then, they fortified themselves.
They didn't overhaul their system, on either end. They got better at it, and added new wrinkles. Lillard came back with new ways to skirt trapping defenses. They stormed out of the gate, survived a hellish winter schedule, and surged again in March and April. They believed, even after losing Jusuf Nurkic -- their second-best player for much of the season.
They knew they could win, but also that they could lose without fracturing. Losing no longer scared them. "There's nothing for us to be afraid of," CJ McCollum told me in November, "because the worst has already happened."
They were ready for Oklahoma City's blitzing defense. Lillard picked the Thunder apart. He wore down the redoubtable Steven Adams. On one Lillard pick-and-roll midway through the third quarter of Portland's pivotal Game 4 win, Adams failed to rumble beyond the 3-point arc. Lillard, perhaps surprised by the open space in front of him, walked into an easy triple to put Portland up 12.
Billy Donovan then shifted Adams away from Portland's screen-setters, and had him guard Maurice Harkless off to the side. It was surrender. It was merciful. A year ago, Lillard's confidence melted under pressure from New Orleans' trapping defense. You could see it. He broke. This time around, he broke the Thunder.
The whole team played with poised ruthlessness. McCollum cooked pull-up jumpers, and rescued wobbly all-bench units. Portland's guards will never have classic postseason size, but the ability to make tough shots -- to make something from nothing -- is a must-have playoff skill, too. Al-Farouq Aminu, the Blazers' quiet soul, did a little of everything. Harkless scrounged for double digits. Bit players stepped up.
The Blazers spent the season asking: Why not us? Why can't we be the second-best team in the Western Conference? Why can't we make the conference finals?
But perhaps even they didn't realize what they were really asking: If Durant departs Golden State, why can't we challenge for the NBA Finals?
Maybe they'll never get there. Nurkic has a long recovery ahead. Zach Collins looks like a guy who can make the leap, but actually making it is a different thing. The cap is strangling them. They are always one bad playoff matchup from facing the same old questions about the smallish LIllard-McCollum backcourt.
But right now, the Blazers look like a case study in persistence -- proof there is value in staying good in a league that too often disparages prolonged goodness."
I like this angle. Watching the delay between the shot and the crowd reaction shows you how long the ball was in the air. Lillard has enough time to backpedal four steps. pic.twitter.com/2Qux1zGDyL— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 24, 2019
From Free Darko and GQ's Nathaniel Friedman:
"Damian Lillard became a superstar in that moment. With seconds left on the clock and the Blazers and the Thunder knotted up at 115, Lillard lingered at the top of the key, way beyond the three-point line, casually sizing up the floor as all-world defender Paul George lay in wait. As the seconds ticked off, Lillard projected calm and assurance while seemingly taking no decisive action, and George, who hung back slightly in case Lillard went for the lane, began to look uneasy, like something was not quite right in the world. And it was: Lillard was supposed to make a move, if not close in; he was supposed to be looking for a good, clean shot that gave his Blazers the best chance of winning Game 5 and closing out the series. Instead, Lillard went nowhere.
In the post-game press conference, George called it “a bad shot,” and while calling an instantly iconic and clearly intentional game-winner (series-winner, actually) a “bad shot” sounds like sour grapes, he does have a point. George’s job was to keep Lillard from taking the final shot, or at least limit him to as low-percentage a look as was possible. On the pure math of it, a player is less likely to sink a 37-foot step-back three than they are pretty much any other shot Lillard could have taken in this situation. That Lillard only needed two points to win the game makes the shot even more preposterous.
But George’s post-mortem failed to account for the fact that transcendent players have the ability to break the math. By the analytics-driven logic of the present-day NBA, Lillard’s shot was an aberration. It was a gamble that paid off. But it also assumes that the math is the bottom line, that Lillard isn’t the kind of player who knows when the right shot isn’t the “best” shot. Not only was it lazy—George should have remembered that Lillard had knocked one down from that exact spot earlier in the game—it’s borderline disrespectful. And disrespecting Lillard, who has spent years rightfully complaining that he doesn’t get his due, and whose acrid back-and-forth with Russell Westbrook had been the defining narrative of the series, was the wrong move. It probably only made Lillard stronger. Not only did he want to win. He wanted to rub it in."
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Saturday, April 13, 2019
New York Times – "Watching ‘Our Planet,’ Where the Predator Is Us"
"“One Planet” appeals to the sense of wonder as viscerally as any of its predecessors, but to a purpose. Here is this beautiful, rare thing, each episode says. It didn’t used to be rare! But it is now. And here is how we’re responsible. And here is a tangible thing we might do to fix it. The arc of each installment runs from beauty to loss to a concrete, hopeful example of a battered ecosystem that’s recovered."
"The understatement is potent. Attenborough describes a mating scene in a lush Madagascar jungle with typical verve, then drops a bomb: “Since these pictures were recorded, this forest, and the unique life it once contained, have disappeared altogether.” That celebration of life you thought you were just watching was, in fact, a funeral.
His voiceover is paired with images of destruction that are as breathtaking in scale as any mass migration footage. Satellite images of verdant green shrink to desiccated brown over and over. The rain forests episode closes with an aerial image of the wild Amazon tree canopy butting up against a homogeneous sea of agricultural palms, as sterile and monotonous as a computer-generated pattern."
"The last episode, “Forests,” winds up, of all places, in the ruins of Chernobyl, still depopulated after the 1986 nuclear disaster. The accident was a catastrophe, of course, for humans. But not for everyone.
The camera pulls back from an empty building, its Cyrillic letters crumbling — and there are trees growing from the roof. Everywhere in this desolated settlement, the forest, whose decline the episode had just detailed, is reclaiming its space. Hares and lizards scamper about the ruins. A fox creeps through an open entryway. A moose strides past a sign marked with the radiation symbol. Herds of endangered Przewalski’s horses roam wild.
Reader, I laughed. This vista was horrible, of course, apocalyptic, something from “The Walking Dead.” And it was amazing. We were gone, and life was springing back without us. This was the happy ending.
Whether a happy ending is still possible with us is the question “Our Planet” will leave you to sit with long after it ends."
Business Insider – "Here's the original 3-page outline George R.R. Martin wrote for 'Game of Thrones' in 1993"
The Ringer – "What Might George R.R. Martin’s Original Story Pitch Tell Us About the End of ‘Game of Thrones’?"
November 20, 2020
Based on the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert
Written by Eric Roth, Jon Spaihts, Denis Villeneuve
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Shooting in Budapest, Hungary and Jordan
Timothée Chalamet as Paul Atreides
Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica
Oscar Isaac as Duke Leto Atreides
Josh Brolin as Gurney Halleck
Stellan Skarsgard as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen
Dave Bautista as Glossu Rabban
Zendaya as Chani, Fremen
Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho
Javier Bardem as Stilgar
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
The Direwolves are Coming.
"In partnership with HBO and Game of Thrones, the Timberwolves will take place in a battle of the North on the 9th day of April and unleash the most powerful breed known to thee: the Direwolves. Their existence will be tested, the squadron will be challenged, but they will fight together with all eyes north.
Rep the Pack and stand as a ruler of the realm with special Direwolves gear only available at the Timberwolves Team Store. This is #ForTheThrone! "
Thursday, April 4, 2019
New Yorker – "The Day the Dinosaurs Died"
By Douglas Preston
"One day sixty-six million years ago, life on Earth almost came to a shattering end. The world that emerged after the impact was a much simpler place. When sunlight finally broke through the haze, it illuminated a hellish landscape. The oceans were empty. The land was covered with drifting ash. The forests were charred stumps. The cold gave way to extreme heat as a greenhouse effect kicked in. Life mostly consisted of mats of algae and growths of fungus: for years after the impact, the Earth was covered with little other than ferns. Furtive, ratlike mammals lived in the gloomy understory.
But eventually life emerged and blossomed again, in new forms. The KT event continues to attract the interest of scientists in no small part because the ashen print it left on the planet is an existential reminder. “We wouldn’t be here talking on the phone if that meteorite hadn’t fallen,” Smit told me, with a laugh. DePalma agreed. For the first hundred million years of their existence, before the asteroid struck, mammals scurried about the feet of the dinosaurs, amounting to little. “But when the dinosaurs were gone it freed them,” DePalma said. In the next epoch, mammals underwent an explosion of adaptive radiation, evolving into a dazzling variety of forms, from tiny bats to gigantic titanotheres, from horses to whales, from fearsome creodonts to large-brained primates with hands that could grasp and minds that could see through time."
New York Times – "Women Finally Get Their Own World Cup Soccer Style"
2019 FIFA Women's World Cup
June 7 – July 7
U.S. Women's National Team's Discrimination Lawsuit Against U.S. Soccer