Monday, June 25, 2007


There is a line in a song called "luv [sic] Part 3" by a Japanese DJ named Nujabes. It says: "It's funny how music puts time in perspective... Adds a soundtrack to your life and perfects it."

I know (from a deodorant commercial) that smell is the sense most strongly related to memory, but I bet hearing a familiar tune can have an equally strong tie to one's memory.

A few nights ago I decided to do something I haven't done in a while. I was going to run with my iPod. Rather than taking time to make a playlist I decided to keep it on 'shuffle'. Towards the end of the run I came across a song that I haven't heard in a very long time. Maybe it was because I'm out of shape and was lightheaded from the run, but for some odd reason this song seemed to lift a curtain and unveil memories I had completely forgotten. As I warmed down and continued to listen, the song not only evoked images but also emotions and a sense of excitement.

The same way that certain genres of music define a generation (i.e. disco and the 70s) certain songs can define times, events and people in one's personal life. And when I reflect on my own soundtrack, it really is something funny whenever I hear Coolio and think of my first grade class, or how John Lennon makes me think of my mom teaching me to play the piano.

It is common, at a party or among friends to have a conversation that begins with "Dude, do you guys remember...(fill in the blank)" This is when someone decides to recall their favorite childhood cartoons, old teachers, or toys. Everyone erupts in laughter and applause and contributes to the subject. "Or what about... (another blank)" Then there is that one person who didn't have cable or went to a private school and has no idea what everyone is talking about but has fun laughing along anyway. Songs can be the same way. I can hear a song and be back in seventh grade and lip-syncing on stage with my two best friends. I hear another song and taken to Hollywood, the time I saw it live in concert.

As a fan of music, and a sucker for sentimental value I find it more and more difficult to take songs off my iPod or delete songs from my library. I like to believe that although I may never care to hear Lil' Zane again, maybe someday I'll come across that song and appreciate what it will bring back.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

More Fun with the Baptizer

My room mate often says I'm a the "perfect consumer". He means to say that I'm a sucker for good commercials and easily persuaded by advertisements. But who cares what he says? He has a bowl cut. [Haha only kidding Andrew : ) ] There is some truth to this. I have been known to make some unnecessary purchases, and after all most of my blogs are mere endorsements and analysis of products that I buy or food that I taste or music that I hear. Such is the nature of commentary. However, I must say that it takes a lot for something to make its way from a fleeting opinion in my incessant internal monologue to the topic of my latest blog. That thing must have held my attention or triggered a strong reaction.

A few posts ago I mentioned a 200 yd. water balloon launcher that I call "The Baptizer".The water balloon launcher is basically a really long surgical tube with two handles and a pouch that cradles the balloon. It's a three man operation two men each hold a side of the sling and one man pulls back the loaded pouch like a catapult. My brother and I recently discovered a two-man method in which one man on a knee holds both ends and raises his arms above his head as the other cocks back the pouch. The 200 yd. part, by the way, is no exaggeration. This is probably the only thing worth mentioning twice in my blog. The past few weeks I've had this thing and it has been a blast. Not only was it a hit at Bay to Breakers but it's been a hit at every summer gathering this year. The launcher is instant fun in any setting. They are good for parties, picnics, the beach, parades or even just in the middle of night under the cover of darkness.

The launcher can be found online or at any Sports Chalet... Note that there are two ranges. The 100 yd. and 200 yd. launcher. I have never seen the 100 yd. launcher in action but imagine that can only be half as fun.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Back to Back Bay to Breakers

My trip to the 2007 ING Bay to Breakers kicked off my summer back in California and would not disappoint. Deprived of the prime location at 1970 Fell Street my brothers once held we would have to stay at our cousin's place and rise at dawn and set up base at the corner of Fell and Stanyon. Armed with the 200 yd. range water balloon launcher that we call "The Baptizer", we bombarded floats, nudist and innocent by-standers in all directions. At one point an anchor man from The Filipino Channel even launched a few with me. The launcher was a hit.

A few hours and a few too many drinks later I found myself amidst a mob singing (belting) 'Free Falling' and making my way through Golden Gate Park proudly pushing a float that had been reduced to four Trader Joe's shopping carts and a broom stick.

Later that evening as I began the long drive back to LA I glanced back at the towers of St. Ignatius that loom above the Panhandle and Haight and Ashbury and decided that Bay to Breakers is something I want to go to every year. I remembered why San Francisco had become one of my favorite places to visit.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Binder Reminder v. 7.3

I remember being issued huge daily planners each year at middle school registration. They used to call them "Binder Reminders" and every teacher would insist on writing down homework everyday before leaving class. It was a great tool in training us to organize and schedule our workload. It was an even better tool for counting down the days of school, the next dance, football game or even just as a space to doodle. My favorite was reading the famous quotes on each page.

Recently I decided to get back into the habit of keeping a daily planner. I had always made "to do" lists or written down important events and numbers on Post-Its and stuck them in my binder. However, these days I move around so much throughout the day and often do so without my binders.

I don't know whether it was the classic black leather, the fancy silk ribbon that held the current page, or the very official card of authenticity that sold me on the Moleskin brand. My new planner is perfect and its much more portable then the old school Binder Reminder. Although it is packed with cool features I probably will never use the time-zone chart or the international shoe/clothing size converter, but it's good to know that I have them. I find that even writing nonsense, or things that I couldn't possibly forget like "go to work" in my planner makes me feel more productive. The planner was a great investment and I couldn't be more happy with the design.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What's Shakin'

Nestled in the southeast corner of Madison Square Park is a silver shack that from a distance one might mistake for a gift shop or maybe a large news stand. However the small metallic hut is home to my second favorite burger in the Universe!

What happens when the masterminds behind NYC's finest dining establishments decide to do burgers? Something short of the universe exploding.

The Shack Stack at Danny Meyer's Shake Shack is a trilogy of hot and cheesy goodness. It all starts with lightly toasted buns, then a mayonnaise based Shack Sauce. Two perfectly seasoned 4 oz. beef patties sandwich a thick portobello mushroom that is paired with a white gooey cheese, breaded and fried into a crispy and gloriously golden pouch of bliss.

I admit that on my first trip to the Shake Shack I chickened out and ordered a double cheeseburger thinking that the Shack Stack was too much. It wasn't until my second visit until I sank my teeth into the Shack Stack. A drip of that melted white cheese hung from my quivering lower lip as a tear came to my eye and I decided to savor every morsel of this creation and lick it off rather than politely dab it off with a napkin.

Since that day in the park I've always made it a point to take my guests or visitors there. It is a burger everyone who takes a burger seriously should at least have once. This burger certainly made it's mark on my all-time favorite burger list (knocking off the Mushroom Swiss @ Island's) and I am sure it would have a similar affect to anyone who tried it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Young Talent Utilizes Youtube

From the restless sea of european soccer fights, Johnny Knoxville wannabes and 80s daytime sitcoms that we spend browsing through on Youtube emerges a new breed of video blogger. Young artists have begun to use the popularity of Youtube to showcase their talents and broadcast their skills around the globe. Recently an 18 year old Danish girl acquired international stardom and even made the cover of Billboard Magazine. Esmee Denters signed a contract with a major record label after a she was scouted from her Youtube account that she taped from her sisters room.

Following in her footsteps a very talented Ghana native broadcasting from the UK has risen in the ranks of Youtube popularity. Currently in the top 50 most subscribed musicians, Nanakojo soulfully delivers renditions of Hip Hop, Neo Soul and R&B classics. Armed with his Casio Keyboard and Yankees cap he frequently interacts with his subscribers and urges them to video respond, comment and on one occasion challenged them to sing to his keyboard accompaniment. With the support of loyal fans he has been a successful and well received member of the community of musicians that post videos on Youtube.

As someone who takes the time to contribute to an endless stream of blogs in which I am only one of billions, I can appreciate a person like Nanakojo. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain and fearlessly recognizes this as he continues to exhibit his talents. Upon discovering his video archive I was both impressed by his music selection and his skills on the keyboard.

I highly recommend searching for him the next time you decide to kill time on youtube.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Spring Semester and the Season's End

The days since my last post have blown by like the arctic draft that seeps through the cheaply insulated window in my room. The temperature has finally began to drop at the start of the Spring semester and with wrestling season nearing its end I've been hit with an endless slew of "to do" lists and expenses. Although it's been a sluggish transition back into school mode, I've finally found some time to post an update about the last few weeks. In the days that I haven't been posting I've found myself constantly making mental notes of things to mention in my next post. Now all I'm left with is a list of random events that in no way can fit together in one coherent story- at least not a very good one, or one that isn't completely random. So that is exactly what I've decided to do for this post. Here is a series of short blurbs from mid-January to last night:

My sad-faced iPod was replaced by the good people at the Apple Store.

With the money I saved not buying a new iPod I somehow justified the purchase of the Bose Sounddock that I've had my eye on since Christmas. Its sound quality is unparalleled, especially in the closed quarters of my room that the speakers fill with ease. The only complaint I have about the iPod is that I liked it so much that leaving my iPod on the Sounddock so long burned out my new iPod in a week. Luckily I was able to replace my replaced iPod the following week.

My ephemeral iPods weren't the only things burning out in the last weeks of January. Plagued with a nagging cervical strain I was relieved to finally finish out the season.

My dad's favorite team won Super Bowl XLI... Tony Dungy lead the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning to Super Bowl Victory and became the first Black Coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

New York Senator Hillary Clinton (D), Illinois Senator Barack Obama (D), Former NYC mayor Rudy Guilliani (R), and former Kerry running mate John Edwards have reaffirmed there intentions to run for presidency.

Monday, January 15, 2007

No actually I'm in Iowa

My phone rang just after I touched down in The Land of Five Seasons. I have no idea why they call it that, but the phrase caught my attention on a t-shirt in the airport gift shop. It was Doug calling me to tell me about Club DV8 the night before.

"No, actually I'm in Iowa."

That would be a phrase I would enjoy telling whoever called and one that would be repeated (aloud and to myself) all weekend. There is something about Iowa that is intriguing. It is a plain place without much to do or see, yet it possesses a false sense of importance. I wouldn't go so far as to say that it is an incredibly boring place, because many people choose to live there. It seemed to me like a place that is on a different agenda. It is the epitome of "country", and it isn't even like Bakersfield or San Bernardino where they try so hard to be developed and instead end up with something awkward and even more foreign. In Iowa it is simply "country" and I was there for one reason.

As alienated as we all felt in a place like Iowa, we were not alone. On Saturday morning we weighed-in and gathered with wrestlers from across the country under the University of Northern Iowa's Uni-Dome. Thousandscame to see us all wrestle in the Cliff Keen NWCAA National Duals. The hundreds of participants represented all three divisions of the NCAA, the NAIA and the women's international freestyle competition. Among those in attendance were wrestling greats such as Cael Sanderson, John Smith, Dan Gable, Ken Chertow, Bobby Douglas and current nationally ranked wrestlers such as Nathan Morgan, the Askerin brothers, Johnny Hendrick and Manny Rivera. As if seeing all these people under one roof wasn't an amazing sight on it's own, to my further amazement I was greeted by a few inches of powdery snow on the way back to the hotel.

The whole weekend proved to be a stimulating experience. There was phenomenal wrestling, legendary wrestlers, a McDonalds with a replica airplane cabin that you could eat inside and of course crazy snow. Overall the trip felt like one long trip to one weird museum.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Lost Without My iPod

On the way to the gym the other day my iPod died. It wasn't a surprise since I hadn't charged my iPod since I was back home in LA. Later that evening however, when I tried charging the iPod it wouldn't turn on and all that would show up is a monochrome battery symbol followed by a little iPod man with a sad face. In fine print below the iPod man was a url that lead me to a technical support page on It turns out this might be the end for my iPod. My iPod that I have carried on every run, every walk, every bus ride, plane ride all over the nation had played its last tune for me. Since I first turned it on in June 2005 it has never failed to deliver crisp digital soundtrack for countless walks, runs and drives. It took a beating and was able to withstand many drops and scratches. I'll really miss it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Super Size Soft Serve Cones

I could have passed out face-down into my blackened rib-eye at Puddin's birthday dinner but I managed to make it through the rest of the night after taking a 15 minute power nap. It was a big night and there was a lot to celebrate. It was Puddin's birthday, it was his girlfriend's last night in town, my team mate Gene just accumulated his 100th career win, and collectively as a team we went 2-1 for the day. After a week of two-a-days with our new strength trainer that we like to call "Major Pain" every one must have been short on sleep.

Shumi, Puddin', Sam and I would find ourselves making a late arrival to another fellow team mates apt. There we would rendezvous with some familiar faces and some that we would later learn were called "slogs" (see "slam hogs"). After ditching the slogs and regrouping we made our way to a lounge that promised free pizzas with every beer... and ski ball! It was definitely an unusual combination. Upon arrival I could immediately recognize the smell of fresh baked pizza dough in the smoke that bellowed from an oven in the back and filled the air throughout the bar. The pizza was "free" and it tasted like it could be, but never the less it was a great deal.

After demolishing the personal sized pizza and a Blue Moon I had to call it a night, realizing that I no longer had enough cash for a cab and I would have to make the hike back home. The walk was long and it was made even longer by my two-avenue detour to McDonald's. I had been craving a cone the whole day. The line was long so I had time to think. I remembered the last time I was craving a McDonald's cone.

It was probably 4 or 5 year's ago at a Wal-Mart. It was the kind of Wal-Mart that had a built-in McDonald's in the front. On the way out I decided to stop for a soft cone. I remember feeling hesitant to buy one because of a previous experience at a McDonald's where they must have had a shortage of vanilla frozen yogurt since the cone they handed me was so small that its peak rivaled a Hershey Kiss. I was next in line and didn't have any time to waste so I ended up ordering the cone. After a short dialogue the woman came back with a gigantic cone that was at least 7 inches high. I was impressed.

I had finally reached the front of the line at the 24 hour McDonald's on Cooper Sq. and St. Mark's. I ordered some food and decided to say the same thing to this woman as I did to the person behind the counter five years ago. She came back with my food then proudly presented me with a cone so large that it made me laugh and other people stare in amazement. It was easily 10 inches high. I balanced my food and drink in one hand and the towering cone in the other as I continued the hike home.

Friday, January 05, 2007

New 'Nick' Nonsense

One night I had the sudden urge to play a really good computer game. I remember playing "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" in fifth grade, and decided to try and find an online version. It was pretty random, and I wasn't sure whether I wanted to play to reminisce about a familiar childhood game or to hear Rockapella sing the infamous theme song. I made a weak attempt at finding it after learning that the game only existed as a CD-ROM. I was a little upset but my disappointment quickly subsided as I began to recall all of my favorite childhood shows.

Earlier in the day while looking up the nearest Pinkberry location, I came across an article about new places to eat. The article, for the most part was irrelevant. One line, however, stood out to me and I had thought about it throughout the day. The author made a comment about food trends and made reference to "the waning of the latest cupcake trend giving way to the new Pinkberry hype". I thought it was an interesting way to view food. In trends. People buy into the hype of food as they do for everything else in life. Specific trends define a generation. For instance, I could sit in a room full of peers and mention things like pogs, "Are You Afraid of the Dark?", and "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" and everybody's eyes would light up.

Whenever my little cousins are over they sit on front of the TV and tune in to Nickelodeon (or "TeenNick" as they insist) and are deluded by shows that make middle school look more mini versions of "The OC". I can't help but notice that the trends of my cousins' generation/ today's youth, the "pre-teens" or "tweens" or whatever they want to call themselves, in a word... suck. On the few occasions that I have been able to bear watching some of the newer Nickelodeon shows that my little cousins watch religiously, I've noticed that the sense of humor is corny. Not even corny in a good way like "Saved By the Bell". It's as if the shows are trying too hard and failing. It's the type of humor that breeds obnoxious, know-it-all, smart alecky kids. The type of kid that some distant relative or a family friend brings over and you want to tape their mouth shut.

This new trend of teeny bop shows has disgraced Nickelodeon's glory days. Stick Stickley is turning in his grave! Shows like Salute Your Shorts seemed to be more genuine and innocent than the shows I've seen today. It was about kids in summer camp that played games had crushes and on occasion would sneak out for a night on the town. It at least gave kids a more realistic perception of adolescence than a show about a child pop star who disguises herself and creates an alter ego when she goes to school, or even better than a show about kids who enjoy a dorm-like experience living at a sleep-away middle school on a cliff that over looks a beach.

Nickelodeon should bring back the classic game shows. Those are timeless. How about a new school version of Wild and Crazy Kids or Double Dare? Here's a clip that will take you back to summer in elementary school...

Thursday, January 04, 2007


I just wrote a blog that was at least 1000 words about an adventure I had tonight looking for food. It took me like an hour to write, it was funny and witty as hell. It was about finding good places to eat, noticing the seating arrangement at restaurants, people watching and missing out on weekends as a wrestler.

Then all of a sudden Safari "unexpectedly shuts down"!?! I'm in shock. I can't believe I just lost that blog. It would have been legendary. I'm pissed at my laptop right now and I'm pretty damn tired. Looks like I learned a more important lesson than being grateful for meal money. Oh wait you wouldn't understand that reference I made to my "unexpectedly" lost blog!

On a totally random note, I'm watching a clip from Hillary Swank's new film "Freedom Writers" (aka Dangerous Minds 2). It takes place in Long Beach, CA after the LA riots. In the clip, Hillary Swank's character is presenting her students each with a bag of books from Borders. My first thought was that it was some shameless product placement, but then I realized that I never remembered seeing Borders back in the early 90s. Did that company even exists then? That would be lame if it didn't.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Good Shepherd

The other night I went to see the Good Shepherd. The movie is a product of director Robert De Niro's fascination with the CIA. The movie was great. It had all the components of a successful movie- great story, controversy, suspense, an all-star cast and it was 2 and a half hours. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good mystery or seeing Angelina Jolie.

Monday, January 01, 2007

The New Year

Up until last night, I have spent every New Year's Eve in Pasadena. Although the thought of celebrating New Year's Eve in a different time zone than my friends and family was at first unpromising, there couldn't be a better place to spend New Year's Eve than New York. Or so I thought, that is, before being locked out of my apartment with my room mate on New Year's Day.

With two dead cell phones, 60 dollars on an American Express Gift Card and a handwritten list of emergency locksmith addresses (that all turned out to be delis), we were at the brink of defeat and contemplating spending the night at team mate's apartment that some have referred to as "the shit hole". Thankfully our luck changed. I sat miserably on a cast iron fence anticipating the cold wet dew from the metal to seep through my jeans while my room mate gave the buzzer one last try, and like the sound of a distant plane engine to someone on a deserted island, the ring of our buzzer faithfully granted us entry once again. It turns out, Andrew, my other room mate hadn't left back home to Philadelphia yet, but was out sending his visiting girlfriend off at Penn Station. It wasn't the best way to start off the new year but it ended up working out.

Before I left back to New York someone told me that the way you spend New Year's is the way you'll spend the rest of your year. Like most people I was skeptical but just out of curiosity I gave it a thought by comparing previous New Year's Eves to the years that followed. As I recalled my terrible past New Year's Eve experiences I could only nod in relief at the affirmation of my disbelief in such a kooky myth. Hopefully my skepticism is just and the myth is false otherwise I'll be knee high in locksmith bills by next December. Only time will tell and until it does I'll keep my fingers crossed. Happy New Year!