Tuesday, September 26, 2023

The Last Word


Seattle Times - "Prominent Seattle bartender Murray Stenson dies at age 74"

"Stenson’s legacy, though, will likely be tied to The Last Word, the obscure cocktail that he made famous.

A collector of rare cocktail books, Stenson was leafing through the 1951 bartenders guide “Bottoms Up” by Ted Saucier, when he came across a pre-Prohibition-era gin drink that had originated at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Made with gin, fresh-squeezed lime juice, maraschino liqueur and green Chartreuse, The Last Word is a balance of sweet-and-sour, with a robust herbaceous tone.

The drink became a cult classic in the Seattle area around 2005, then made its way to the Portland bar scene and was eventually picked up at cocktail dens in New York City. The Last Word then started to appear on drink menus in Chicago and San Francisco and spread to several cities in Europe — especially around London and Amsterdam — and beyond.

Jim Meehan, the co-founder of PDT in New York’s East Village, one of the world’s most famous cocktail bars, called Stenson not just a Seattle star but an international figure.

There is a worldwide shortage of Chartreuse now, and the drink that’s most associated with this French herbal liqueur is The Last Word, Meehan said: “The Last Word put Chartreuse on the map. That is a good barometer of Murray’s reach.”

The cocktail resurgence that started in 2004 helped turn Stenson into a rock star in the industry, as mixologist wannabes sat at Zig Zag Café, taking copious notes in their Moleskine notebooks, while watching Stenson stir drinks and quizzing him about lost classics.

“Murray was a mentor, before we ever talked about mentors,” said Paul Clarke, executive editor of Imbibe magazine. “Bartenders would come to his bar to listen, and to taste, and to watch, and to learn. He never sought the spotlight, but he knew what he meant to other bartenders in Seattle, and he took that role seriously. The Last Word may be Murray’s most lasting gift to the cocktail world, but the contributions he made to Seattle’s bar culture run much deeper than any drink.”"

The Legend of Notre Dame's Green Jerseys

Phone Calls with Usher

Friday, September 22, 2023

Nike's Floating Court in Slovenia for Luka Doncic


Timberwolves 35th Anniversary Retro Uniforms


NBA.com - "Timberwolves Celebrate 35th Anniversary Season; Unveil Classic Edition Uniforms, Court and Logo"

How Good Was Multi-Athlete Deion Sanders?

The Story of Multi-Athlete Charlie Ward


ESPN - "Inside two-sport star Charlie Ward's Heisman season, 30 years later"

How Streaming Has Changed the Music Industry


Wall Street Journal - "Streaming Is Changing the Sound of Music"

"In 1972, the Temptations hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, winning three Grammys, with a seven-minute version of the song “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.” Before the Temptations sing a word, an instrumental introduction featuring organ, guitar, bass, and a hi-hat cymbal ebbs and flows for more than four minutes. If the group were in the studio today, the title chorus would most likely have been featured much earlier in the song. That’s because music streaming services pay artists based on the number of plays each month, and to count as a play, a user must listen to the song past the 30-second mark. If a song you’ve never heard before takes a long time to get to the hook or simply has an extended intro, there is a good chance that you may simply hit the button to go to the next song.

To keep the “skip rate” as low as possible, musical artists are increasingly moving a song’s hook or chorus to that initial 30-second sweet spot. Nate Sloan and Charlie Harding, the hosts of the “Switched on Pop” podcast, have coined the term “Pop Overture” to describe a new trend in which a song “will play a hint of the chorus in the first five to 10 seconds so that the hook is in your ear, hoping that you’ll stick around till about 30 seconds in when the full chorus eventually comes in.”

Creators are modifying more than just the introductory sections of tracks for optimal performance on streaming. Every track that is listened to for more than 30 seconds counts as a play, but whether a listener makes it all the way through a song helps to determine whether a streaming service like Spotify will recommend similar songs in the future."

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Why Americans Are So Awful to Each Other


The Atlantic - "How America Got Mean"

By David Brooks

Movie Matte Paintings


The Killer

Directed by David Fincher
Starring Michael Fassbender, Arliss Howard, Charles Parnell, Kerry O'Malley, Sala Baker, Sophie Charlottem Tilda Swinton


Directed by Michael Mann
Starring Adam Driver, Penélope Cruz, Shailene Woodley, Sarah Gadon, Gabriel Leone, Jack O'Connell, Patrick Dempsey

Nebraska's 92,000 Volleyball Fans


New York Times - "A Record Crowd Shows Buildup of Nebraska Volleyball and Women’s Sports"
ESPN - "How Nebraska volleyball plans to pack Memorial Stadium"

Cover Songs


GQ - "What’s Cool Right Now, According to Stylish People With Great Taste"

Cover Songs
Don’t pad out your playlist with cover songs, make a new one stuffed with them, and celebrate the bold act of putting new spins on old ideas. “It’s a beautiful art,” Urrutia says, “to reinvent something.”

1. Peter Gabriel covering the Magnetic Fields’ “The Book of Love”
2. The White Stripes covering Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”
3. The Beachwood Sparks covering Sade’s “By Your Side”
4. Stereo Total covering Salt-N-Pepa’s “Push It”
5. Divine Comedy covering David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” (above)

Raiding Mines for $100K Vintage Denim


NY Mag - "The Realest Pair of Jeans"

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Filming Oppenheimer


Washington Post - "Inside Christopher Nolan’s 57-day race to shoot ‘Oppenheimer’"

"That one character detail was enough to help Nolan envision the world he might be able to create on-screen, as told through Oppenheimer’s eyes: one of sweeping desert vistas combined with an array of abstract special effects, again created without CGI, to illustrate an interior life of quantum physics and atoms and molecules. “That contrast is wonderfully cinematic,” says Nolan, who then set out to craft a story that he describes as part hero’s journey, part heist film and part courtroom drama, set against the imagery of a western — all presented in very Nolan-esque, nonlinear fashion.

The director knew he wanted to explore Oppenheimer’s rise to prominence — as well as his humiliating trial after the war, which resulted in the revocation of his security clearance due to his associations with communists. The part he was calling the “heist” section depicts the mad scramble for the world’s most brilliant minds to pull off the impossible project of building an atomic bomb before Adolf Hitler did.


They had just three months to get ready for a film that would shoot in just 57 days and run three hours, Nolan’s longest yet. “We’re not like other big films that prep for months and months and months,” says executive producer Thomas Hayslip. “Chris is of the mind that he and the crew need 12 weeks of prep and we’ll get it done in 12 weeks, and any more than that is just a waste of time.”


As the company began gathering in New Mexico to start filming at Ghost Ranch on Feb. 28, 2022, the paint was barely dry on the reconstructed town of Los Alamos. Construction had taken place in the dead of the high-desert winter, with the crew losing days of work because the ground was too frozen to dig into, or because snowfall had blocked the roads. Because of time constraints, the production team would have only six scheduled days at this $3 million set they’d spent three months building."

NYT on Hip Hop's 50th Anniversary


New York Times - "Over five decades, hip-hop has grown from a new art form to a culture-defining superpower. In their own words, 50 influential voices chronicle its evolution."

NFL 2023-2024 Throwbacks


Famous Lefties


Interesting Facts - "7 Famous Lefties in History"

Canoe Record


Axios - "Canoe team led by man from Minneapolis sets world record for paddling Mississippi River"

"The team, which goes by Mississippi Speed Record, launched May 10 and finished the 2,300-mile journey May 27."

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Silent Action


World of Reel "Jon Woo’s ‘Silent Night’ is An Action Movie With No Dialogue"

"Principal photography on Woo’s “Silent Night” wrapped in May of 2022 in Mexico City. The film is the first U.S. movie directed by the iconic Hong King filmmaker in almost 20 years.

Woo’s last American film was 2003’s terrible Ben Affleck action flick “Paycheck.” He swore off Hollywood after that one, but he’s back now with a film that sounds absolutely intriguing, at least on-paper.

Woo tells Vulture that “Silent Night”, which might be released in the fall, is a film with no dialogue. Rather, its story is told visually with music accompanying the drama:

It allowed me to use visuals to tell the story, to tell how the character feels. We are using music instead of language. And the movie is all about sight and sound. The budget was a little tight, and the schedule was tight, but it made me change my working style. Usually, for a big movie, a studio movie, we shoot a lot of coverage, then leave it to the cutting room. But in this movie, I tried to combine things without doing any coverage shots. I had to force myself to use a new kind of technique. Some scenes were about two or three pages, but I did it all in one shot."

Related, New York Times - "Seth Rogen and the Secret to Happiness" (Apr. 2021)

"Rogen had come to accept that his and Evan’s chance “to be the biggest names in movies has come and gone,” he said. But rather than demoralizing him, this insight was freeing, and now he and Goldberg were plotting their return to filmmaking with a project unlike anything they’d done: “A big action movie,” as Rogen put it, called “Escape,” that was heavily inspired by Buster Keaton and Jackie Chan.

“Escape” grew out of a challenge the duo set for themselves to try and make people laugh without using dialogue. In “Pineapple Express,” Rogen explained, “the scenes people remember are the fights, the foot through the windshield and, like, with ‘Neighbors,’ you think of the airbags” — moments, that is, of outsize physical comedy. “We were like, Why are those just the supporting things? Why are those, amidst a sea of talky jokes, these things that pop up once in a while? Why don’t we make a bunch of these jokes and not rely on verbal humor?”

Rogen and Goldberg have flaunted virtuoso stoner ingenuity when it comes to crafting set pieces — even the unfairly maligned “The Green Hornet,” which they wrote and which Michel Gondry directed, is significantly redeemed by its daffily inspired action sequences alone, like the one in which a car rides an elevator, or the one in which a character shoves another character into a foosball table and “kicks” him in the face repeatedly. With “Escape,” Rogen said, “we did add talking eventually, but for a while there was almost none.”

Hot Dog Summer


Wall Street Journal - "The ‘It’ Restaurant Order This Summer? A Hot Dog"

Mattel's IP Toybox


New Yorker - "After “Barbie,” Mattel Is Raiding Its Entire Toybox"
By Alex Barasch

"When the Israeli-born businessman Ynon Kreiz became the head of Mattel, in 2018, he was its fourth C.E.O. in four years. Toys R Us had recently gone bankrupt, causing a slump in sales; Kreiz’s predecessor had resigned after Mattel suffered a loss of three hundred million dollars. Kreiz, whose résumé includes a stint at Fox Kids Europe, saw an opportunity for growth. Mattel, he argued, had a children’s-entertainment catalogue “second only to Disney.” Just as Marvel had gone from ailing comic-book publisher to Hollywood behemoth, the toymaker could leverage its intellectual property at the multiplex. Kreiz told me, “My thesis was that we needed to transition from being a toy-manufacturing company, making items, to an I.P. company, managing franchises.”


At the start of the “Barbie” process, Gerwig decided to write the screenplay with her partner, the writer-director Noah Baumbach. Mattel and Warner Bros. insisted on seeing a preview of the script’s contents. The couple balked—they needed the freedom to experiment. Jeremy Barber, an agent at U.T.A. who represents Gerwig and Baumbach, is close with Brenner, so he could be blunt. “Are you crazy?” he told her. “You should’ve come into this office and thanked me when Greta and Noah showed up to write a fucking Barbie movie!” In the end, Gerwig presented executives with a poem in the style of the Apostles’ Creed. They agreed to take their chances—and, after the script came in, the budget was set at about a hundred million dollars.

The gamble now looks like a smart one. The hyper-saturated trailers for “Barbie” have sparked endless memes, and interest in the film’s aesthetic sensibility, which mimics the look of Mattel play sets, is so intense that the hashtag #Barbiecore trended on TikTok for months. The movie, which opens in mid-July, is tracking to be one of the blockbusters of the summer. Meanwhile, Mattel has amassed a long slate of other projects. Daniel Kaluuya, for example, has agreed to produce a feature about Barney, the purple dinosaur. Thirteen more films have been publicly announced, including movies about He-Man and Polly Pocket; forty-five are in development. (Some of the projects have an ouroboros quality. Tom Hanks is supposed to star in “Major Matt Mason,” which will be based on an astronaut action figure that has been largely forgotten, except for the fact that it helped inspire Buzz Lightyear—one of the protagonists of Pixar’s “Toy Story” franchise.)"

The Next Era of Movies After Superheroes? (Apr. 2023)

Thomas Dambo to Build Wooden Troll Sculptures in the Pacific Northwest


My Ballard - "Giant wooden troll sculpture coming to Ballard this summer"

"Danish artist Thomas Dambo is the man behind the sculpture project Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King, and he’s building six of them with a team of volunteers in the Pacific Northwest. Five will be installed in the Puget Sound region and one in Portland.

Dambo is an environmental artist; the six sculptures will all tell an environmental story unique to their location.


Dambo has created 100 troll sculptures all over the world, all made out of recycled materials.


Each site location will only be revealed at the end of each build process, between August 1 and September 17. The sculptures will remain at each site for at least three years."

Chicago Street Racing


New York Times - "NASCAR to Start Its Engines Along an Unlikely Course: Downtown Chicago"
New York Times - "Chicago and NASCAR, an Odd Couple With High Hopes, Take It to the Streets"

The Origins of Pickleback


Serious Eats - "How to Make a Pickleback (and the Truth Behind its Origins)"

"But the pickleback as its own distinct pairing has a very specific history: It was created on March 12, 2006 at the Bushwick Country Club by a female patron who walked into the bar and saw then-bartender Reggie Cunningham eating McClure’s Pickles straight from the jar. The patron asked Reggie if she could have some pickle brine with a shot of whiskey; he served it to her and joined her in the drinking, and a star was born.

“I don’t think we were the first people to ever drink pickle juice with liquor, but as far as the phenomenon itself, I think Bushwick Country Club was ground zero that night,” says Cunningham, who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. “We had restaurant industry people drink there after hours and that’s kind of how it spread, an organic thing through bartenders and eventually onto menus around the world.”

Now, the pairing is ubiquitous, says John Roberts, the owner of Bushwick Country Club. “It was mostly just bartenders who would know about it, and then it just blew up. It’s literally worldwide. One of my ex-employees was backpacking in Central America and a bar in the jungle had a sign that said, 'Try the Pickleback.'""

The Origins of Pizza


Reuters - "'Pizza' painting found in ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii"

"A fresco that depicts what might be an ancestor of the Italian pizza has been found on the wall of an house in the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, Italy's Culture Ministry said on Tuesday.

Archaeologists presume that the flat bread depicted in the painting, next to a wine goblet, may have been eaten with fruits such as pomegranates or dates, or dressed with spices and a type of pesto sauce, the ministry said.

While it cannot technically be considered a pizza, since it lacks classic ingredients such as tomato and mozzarella, what was found in Pompeii "may be a distant relative of the modern dish", according to a statement.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The Plan to Save America's Pastime


The Atlantic - "Moneyball Broke Baseball"
By Mark Leibovich

MLB Pitcher Battles the Yips... and (Sports) Writing


New Yorker - "Daniel Bard Made an Improbable Comeback. Then He Had to Do It Again"

By Louisa Thomas

Louisa Thomas on Seattle Sports (Published in Grantland in Jan. 2014):

There is a lot of noise in football, and most of the noise says nothing. It is electric guitars in the television lead-in, jet plane roars, industrial sounds meant to signify manly manhoodness. It is loud suits, shouts of “Omaha!,” the groan and crunch of large men crashing into each other. It is Jim Harbaugh throwing temper tantrums and screaming and acting like a parody of a 3-year-old, for which he is considered to have a lot of passion for the game, because “passion” is apparently another word for noise.

You hear a lot about passion and noise in Seattle. It’s inescapable. Even if it didn’t hit your eardrums and settle in your jaw, even if it didn’t make the floor shake, it would be impossible to avoid, because no one would stop talking about it. It was everywhere and endless, like the small grit of rain in the concrete sky. It came from spotted owl activists and the loggers who lost their jobs because of spotted owls. There were punks with safety pins stuck in their skin; dads in Eddie Bauer; girls wearing suede wedges and Earl Thomas jerseys; Starbucks baristas; and the artist who graced my Facebook page with a close-up of his Beast Mode grill. Maybe it had something to do with being rooted on the margin of the country, caught between mountains and water. Maybe it had something to do with being the spiritual home of both grunge and tall lattes, counterculture and mass culture. In the corner of the press box at CenturyLink Field, a barista calmly steamed milk for grande mochas while the stadium shook.

Maybe it went deeper, back to the late 1970s, when the city was mired in depression, reeling from cutbacks at Boeing, unemployment around 12 percent. A billboard by Sea-Tac Airport read, “Will the Last Person Leaving SEATTLE — Turn Out the Lights?” That’s when the city got a football team to cheer for (and to pay for; years after the Kingdome was demolished, the city is still paying down its debt). The team was terrible for a long time and nearly left town. But then the Sonics did leave, and the Mariners sucked, and football — football was what it is in America. It was Sunday and beer and screaming; it was marine blue and gray-moss green; it was savagery and community and a hell of a lot of fun. It was for guys who worked in airplane factories and who programmed PCs, transplants in a city where it can be so hard to make friends that there’s a phrase for it, the Seattle Freeze. Everyone could be the 12th Man. Winning, which Seattle started to do, no doubt had a lot to do with it. But not everything. Even the excitement when the Seahawks made the Super Bowl in 2005 doesn’t match what it is now, a friend who’s a huge Hawks fan told me. “The craziness surrounding the Seahawks is like the city’s collective id exploding,” he said. And it turned out that the city’s deepest driving desire was to make a really, really big noise.

Especially against San Francisco. Not that the opponent on the field totally matters — Seahawks fans, after all, made noise against the Saints just to be more noisy than the fans in Kansas City. Still, it probably helped that it was San Francisco, with its gold rush and golden hills, its golden light on the Golden Gate Bridge and its long history of golden quarterbacks in golden pants. San Francisco, with its iPhones and iPads and Google doodle, and its claims to the creative spirit, as if an Apple Store didn’t have the vibe of a totalitarian state with good Wi-Fi. Add in the hatred between the teams.

Plus, the noise was effective. It upset snap counts and rattled opponents. And it made the game, which seems ever more packaged and remote, made for TV money, seem like it was theirs.

Louis Thomas on her writing methods (Published in Harvard Magazine in Nov.-Dec. 2020):

LOUISA THOMAS ’04 is at her best in transit. Her finest work develops not when she sits down to write, but on her run directly before. That’s when she plots a story in her head, teasing out disparate threads and weaving them into a cohesive narrative. “Sometimes it will seem a little bit insane,” she admits. “Even if I have a tight turnaround deadline, I’ll go run for 10 minutes or go for a walk—just to get going.” When she sits down to write, it’s pretty obvious to her whether she’s hitting the vein or trying to force it. And now, working on an article about baseball’s pandemic start under a pressing deadline, she’s trying to force it.

The Human Factories Across the World Powering AI


The Verge - "AI Is a Lot of Work"

Netflix Documentary Tour de France: Unchained

San Antonio Spurs Draft Victor Wembanyama


ESPN - "Victor Wembanyama real or fantasy"

From Victor's Twitter—Spurs Legends David Robinson, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan take him out to dinner.