27 10 / 2011
Disclaimer: this is an attempt to explain the way I feel about the legality of abortions in the United States. I will do my best not to offend anyone, but this is a contentious issue that many people (including me) feel very strongly about. Please read the entire thing before passing judgment. Thanks in advance.
21 10 / 2011
I’m in this sorta weird spot with tennis right now. I played every summer from when I was five till around when I was eight, and then I stopped. I played about once a year until this summer, when I started taking lessons again. I’m finally really learning how to play tennis. And it’s awesome.
29 9 / 2011
Haaaaaaaaaaaaahahahaha. Ha. Suck it, Boston.
23 9 / 2011
I have been called a douchebag before. Many, many times. By friends, colleagues, family members, a homeless dude, people I’ve just met, people I’ve dated (during and after the period in which we were dating), and even, on occasion, myself. But I had never been called a douchebag by a ten-year-old.
I’m helping Donny (not his real name, obv) with some grammar thing. He starts to write a sentence down, and I say something like, “that’s good, but let’s see if we can make it better.”
Donny: “How about this: ‘Ryan is a douchebag.’”
And I froze. I was stunned. I know little kids curse sometimes, but this was just… I mean, godDAMN. So I collect myself and say something mature(ish), like “Donny, that’s not a very nice thing to say.”
Donny: “How about douche? Is douche better?”
A few weeks ago, in an attempt to supplement my meager income (read: find a job), I started looking for tutoring jobs that I could do on afternoons and weekends. I figure about eight hours a week tutoring, thirty or so writing, and that’s a decently busy life. I got an email from a woman in my neighborhood, who wanted me to basically be her son’s personal tutor for about 7-8 hours a week, at a decent rate. Done, and done.
So the kid’s great. He really is. I know he sounds like an a-hole of a ten year old, and sometimes he kind of is, but mostly he’s just a kid. And sometimes, even the best kid’s are really, really hard to deal with.
Take last Wednesday. Right before I get there, he gets in a fight with his little brother. Over what, I have no idea. But he comes in on the verge of tears, which usually takes an hour of my berating him about his handwriting (I’m kidding — his handwriting is magical). So I ask him how his day was, and he tells me it sucks. I ask him why, and you know what he says?
“Because you’re here. It was fine until you showed up.”
Now, my self-esteem is not dependent on the opinion of a fifth grader. But it reminds me of the last time it was: namely, when I was in fifth grade. Fifth grade was a hit-or-miss year for me; I had my group of friendly misfits, but we were not popular. Quite the opposite; and some of the insults, at the time, really hurt. I always got inward with it, wondering what I was doing wrong that made all these kids act mean toward me. But now I’m like, huh. Sometimes kids are just dicks, for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Actually, you could replace kids in that sentence with people, and it would still be true. But now I know how random kids can be, and a lot of my childhood makes more sense.
It’s not all bad with this kid. He’s really, really smart, and he actually is genuinely kind when he wants to be. He’s absurdly good at math; when we do math homework, he does it, I check it, it’s right I move on (English is another story). And sometimes, he says something that is absurdly funny, even if it’s not funny on purpose.
Take today. Today we’re talking about me checking part of his homework, and he doesn’t want me to do it, but I insist. The following exchange occurs:
Donny: I get it. You just want to get paid.
Ryan: Donny, I don’t only do this because I get paid.
Donny: Then why do you do it?
Ryan (kidding): Because I love you!
Donny: You do? What kind of love?
Ryan: What do you mean what kind?
Donny: I mean, is it the kind where it’s a little weird, since… you know!
Ryan: What, the age thing? I mean yeah, if it were that kind of love, that’s kind of-
Donny: No! I mean, you know. Two guys…
Now this part fucking slayed me. He takes the index finger on both his hand, and pushes them together. He’s trying to mime two dudes swordfighting. With their dicks. A brief reminder: THIS KID IS TEN YEARS OLD.
Donny: I’m looking for a word here… it has three letters…
Ryan (trying so hard not to laugh): You mean gay?
Donny: You can’t say that!
Ryan: What, gay? You shouldn’t call someone gay to make fun of them, but there’s nothing wrong with being gay. I have friends who are gay. Some of them have boyfriends or girlfriends or the same sex. There’s nothing wrong with it. But you shouldn’t use it to make fun of someone’s insecurities.
Donny: Ryan, I’m ten. Use smaller words. I don’t know what insecurities means.
Ryan: But you know what gay means?
Donny: Of course. Didn’t you know by the fifth grade?
09 9 / 2011
In the last two weeks, I have watched a lot of tennis. A lot. Not always actively - its often on in the background while I’m doing something else - but its ALWAYS on. I’ve probably watched as much tennis these last two weeks as the in the rest of my life combined. And its been awesome. But this weekend, it comes to an end.
The US Open men’s semifinals are scheduled for Saturday (barring another hurricane-related rain incident). If you have nothing better to do (actually, even if you do have something better to do), you should watch them. The collection of talent is probably the best of all time (Kanye: “Of all time!” Kanye is going to be making a lot of guest appearances in this post). If you’ve never watched tennis, that’s totally fine - now’s the best time to start. I’ve even created this handy guide to help you figure out what to watch for! And if you watch tennis all the time, you can read this and tell me where I fucked up. Fun for the whole family.
27 8 / 2011
So Dick Cheney wrote a book about the time he spent
slapping America with his penis being Vice-President, and the title sucks. ”In My Time?” That’s the most generic, non-descript, horribly boring title for a memoir ever. Why would he title it that? Isn’t the whole thing supposed to be an unapologetic look at how sometimes he let George wear the big boy pants? So why is the title so shitty?
To help unearth this mystery, I made a few phone calls (not true; I took a really long dump, but whenever someone asks me what I was doing after I take a really long dump, I say I was making a few phone calls), and about half way through my conversation I realised: he had to go generic. Because if the title was in any way descriptive of the content, it would be too awful to put on bookshelves (and the cover picture would depict Cheney “making a few phone calls” on the Constitution). So without further ado, the ten best rejected titles for Dick Cheney’s memoir:
10. I’m Not a Richard; I’m a Dick.
9. Guess How Much Haliburton Stock I Still Own and Never Disclosed?
8. How To Shoot Someone In the Face (And Get Them to Apologize).
7. I Never Liked New Orleans Anyways.
6. This One Time, I Let Bush Do Stuff.
5. I Never Sold My Soul to Satan, Cause I Never Got One.
4. Fuck You.
3. A Douchebag’s Guide to Rigging Elections.
2. I Wanted Voldemort to Win
1. Sorry Bro, I Fucked Up Your Country
27 7 / 2011
I was watching a How I Met Your Mother episode about Marshall reminiscing (and going on a quest to find) the “best burger in New York,” and it made me nostalgic about the amazing burgers I’ve eaten over the years. So, because I’m a narcissistic person who expects other people to take an active interest in my life for no reason, I decided to blog about it.
Now, context is everything, especially when it comes to food. The best steak might not taste so good if you’ve just consumed a huge bowl of penne alla vodka, but the penne might suck if you’ve just finished off some grilled cheese with tomato soup. These five burgers are as much about the mood I was in while I was eating, what I was doing, who was with me, what happened the night before, or the night after. This is not a list of best burgers, per se, but a list of my favorite experiences in which burgers played a significant role. So enjoy.
Five: My Dad’s Wagyu Beef Burgers
Gotta get my favorite grillmaster on this list. Last summer, when my mom was on vacation, my dad, my brother and I decided to do a Sunday dinner, just the bros. And since it was only bros, we decided to grill some burgers (or, my dad grilled the burgers, my brother made a salad, and I opened some chips. I may have also poured wine). On Saturday, my dad went shopping, and came home with some ground Wagyu beef. Papa likes his Japanese meat (no, literally. My Dad likes Kobe beef).
It was a great evening. It was fantastic chillin out with my Dad, and the burgers, stuffed between two delicious potato buns and dressed with lettuce and tomato, were stellar. A great family dinner, and a perfect example on how if you drop 40 bucks on some beef, the burgers really do come out better.
Four: The Oinkster
In my last week of work last summer, my boss Duke (yeah, he’s named Duke, and he lives up to it) took me and a couple of the other people in the department out to lunch to celebrate the end of my internship. The place he chose was The Oinkster: a place in Eagle Rock (near Pasadena, which is near LA) which serves pretty standard burgers (medium patty, American cheese, fries and a coke).
The burger is a model for execution over creativity. Don’t fuck with the formula, because the formula is really, really good. Just make sure the patties are cooked right, the lettuce and tomatoes are fresh, and voila: burgergasm. The burgers were delicious, the fries and their awesome aioli dipping sauce almost as good, and it was a wonderful way to end a fantastic internship.
Three: The Original Daniel Boulud Burger
When my family is in NY, we eat pretty well. We’ve been to Cafe Boulud, Gotham City Bar and Grill, and Babbo, to name a few. A few years ago, my parents and brother stayed in NYC for thanksgiving while I took the train down to meet them. We ended up eating on Saturday night at this place called DB Bistro Moderne, from Daniel Boulud (one of the finest French chefs in the US). I’m scrolling through the menu, desperately trying to remember my high school French, when I see the burger.
So here’s the rundown: sirloin, braised short rib, a parmesan bun, and black truffles. Awwwwwwww, shit yeah. The burger lived up to all the expectations, and it was a wonderful night in NYC with my family, who I missed, going to college on the other side of the country at all. The food was great, the conversation was great, and we were all really happy to see each other. The only downside was all that sirloin was still bouncing around in my stomach as I was sprinting from the subway to try and catch the Metro North back to Poughkeepsie. Oh well.
Two: In n Out Double Double
Those who know me (or have ever lived near an In n Out) will not be shocked to find this burger on the list, even above some of the more gourmet options. In n Out is the best fast food you can get anywhere in the world. And if you want to argue, then you’d better come prepared with some delicious food. In n Out has made people cry. Shit, In n Out almost made me cry, once. (It was either that, or the hangover).
It New Year’s day, my sophomore year of college. The night before had been spent partying with friends at this rich girl’s mom’s house in Santa Monica. For discretion’s sake, I will leave out most of the details, except for this: I have never seen more Champagne drunk in one evening. Ever.
So the next morning, my friend and I wake up, stagger around the house getting ourselves together, and then get into the car to drive home. I turn to him after I start the car, and ask him if he wants to eat, or if he wants me to just drive him home. And he turns to me and says the best possible thing to have said: “You. Me. In n Out. Right now.”
So we hit up the In n Out in Westwood, and it was heaven. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to put something in my stomach than I was at that moment. The crisp lettuce, the vine-ripened tomato, the beautiful beef patties, the special sauce held together by that most magical of buns; it was the closest thing I’ve had to a religious experience that also involved ground beef. I enjoyed eating that burger more than I enjoyed the orgasm I’d had less than 24 hours before. It was juicy and tasty and savory and crispy and fresh and everything you could have ever wanted in a burger.
And its still only number two.
One: The Truffle Burger at Umami Burger
Umami Burger is this wonderful restaurant in Los Angeles that essentially serves only burgers. I mean, you can order drinks and delicious fries and Tempura onion rings and and some other stuff, but all the main courses are burgers. Even the fish option (Ahi Tuna - SO good) is a burger, as is the vegetarian option. I’ve had literally everything on their menu at least once, and they are all otherworldly.
My favorite experience there - and my favorite burger experience ever, bar none - came last summer, on a Friday evening. It was me and three friends, and we were meeting there before going to a party in Beverly Hills. Having tried the Port and Stilton Burger earlier in the week (another phenomenal offering), I decided to go with my favorite option: the Truffle Burger.
The Truffle Burger is very simple. They take a beef patty, and graze it in black truffle oil. Then they cook it, put it on a bun with nothing else, and serve it to you. If all you want is beef; pure, savory, unadulterated beef, with nothing on it, then this is the burger. It’s savory, it’s delicious, and its glazed with fucking truffle oil. The burger was delicous (duh), but the best part was still to come.
After a great dinner with wonderful food (buuuuuuuuuuuuurgeeeeeeeeeeeeeers) and some of the funniest conversations I’ve ever had, we took off for the party. At said party, there was beer pong (natch, brah), and tonight’s shitty beer of choice was Bud Light (for a horrible taste that won’t fill you up and sucks a surprising amount of diseased monkey penis, make it a Bud Light). So I play, and I’m winning, so I have to keep drinking this cow piss. And because I’m drinking beer, I start burping. Whatever.
But then something magical happened: I realized the burger was still in my stomach. All that delicious truffle and beefy flavor was still hanging out down their. And every time I burped, it tasted like the burger. It tasted so good, it made me want to keep drinking Bud Light. That burger was the gift that kept on giving.
It made me want to drink Bud Light. And that is the highest praise I can give anything. So now if you’ll excuse me, I’m hungry.
07 7 / 2011
I don’t usually spend this much time tearing apart other people’s writing, but this piece from the last New York Times Magazine merits special consideration. Its about how “strong female characters” suck and we should have less of them, and its awful. Its awful in a ton of ways, but since I spent four years learning that I have to prove my assertions (college degrees are totally sweet), let me prove them. Diving right in, here’s how it starts: ”Every time I hear someone use the term ‘strong female characer,’ I want to punch them.”
09 5 / 2011
Back in October, Kobe Bryant was asked if he could beat LeBron James one on one. The question, frankly, was ludicrous. Kobe is an absurdly good player (probably one of the ten best of all time), but LeBron is Lebron. Maybe the most talented basketball player ever, plus he’s three inches taller, at least forty pounds heavier, and probably a step faster than Kobe at this point. 2006 Kobe could have taken LeBron, but 2010 Kobe? At thirty two, after thirteen years in the league? No way.
So how did Kobe answer? ”I could beat him in my sleep.”
I have watched Kobe Bryant play basketball hundreds, maybe thousands, of times. I have seen him play with Shaquille O’Neal, the best center of the last twenty years. I have seen him play against Tim Duncan, against LeBron James, against Kevin Garnett, hell, against Michael Jordan. For better or worse, he has always thought that he is the best player on the floor at all times. For either team. Even in 2000, when the Lakers won the title and Shaq was the MVP, Kobe had this look on his face that can best be described as “I’m honestly not sure he’s that good.” The last few years, when the Lakers played the Cavaliers (or this year, the Heat) Kobe would play with a selfish vengeance, chasing down rebounds and hoisting up shots like he was determined to prove he was still better. Everyone knew he wasn’t, but Kobe never seemed to get the memo.
When Kobe has lost playoff series before, you always have this feeling he doesn’t think it was his fault. In 2003 and 2004, he thought he could win if Shaq had just got his ass in shape. In 2006, he thought he could win if he team wasn’t horrible. In 2008, he thought he could win if the refs gave him a little more protection. Nothing was ever on him; he was still better than anyone else at this game, even if only he knew it.
When Kobe walked off the floor tonight, the look on his face wasn’t one of defiance, as it has been so many times. It was the look of acceptance. Dirk was better. Kobe got outplayed. And for the first time, Kobe allowed himself to admit that.
So I know his career isn’t over, but the “Kobe Era” is. The era where in eleven years, he won five titles, and made the Finals two more times. The era where if anyone challenged him, they would be made to pay with a Jordan-esque rain of unstoppable fade-aways, mixed with the occasional vicious slam. The era where losing was never his fault, even when it was. The era where no matter who the other players on the court were, in Kobe’s eyes, Kobe was the best. And now, it’s over.
To be honest, I always sort of admired him for it. Callous arrogance isn’t always the most admirable trait, but he wore it well, and he backed it up with an unmatched work ethic and that impossible to stop fade-away jump shot. In 2006, he scored 81 points in a game because his team was sucking, and he was tired of people that were worse than he was shooting the ball. Why 81? Cause fuck off, I’m Kobe and I’m better than you. That’s why. Say the wrong thing, and I’ll drop sixty on you. Because I’m better than you, and I know it.
So now its over. He may win another title, and some of his swagger may return. But that look at the end of Game 3, even if it’s just for a second, means it’ll never happen the same way. I’m going to miss it.
02 5 / 2011
For me, this was the highlight of all the post-Osama being dead euphoria. The Today show interviewed Donald Rumsfeld this morning about the whole WE GOT HIM! thing that happened late last night. (If you didn’t know… we got him). Fairly standard news-stuff, I guess; important thing happens related to the defense of the United States, so you get a former Secretary of Defense to comment on it.
Unfortunately, that Secretary of Defense was Donald Rumsfeld. The man who will forever be known for two things. One: screwing up Iraq. Two: letting bin Laden go in the months after 9/11. Asking Rumsfeld about killing bin Laden is like asking a Cubs fan what its like to win a World Series. So what did Rumsfeld have to say?
When asked whether he was surprised that Osama was found near Islamabad: “This is an intelligence problem from the beginning, of course… we’ve been fortunate that that intelligence was forthcoming. It may very well have been partly a result of some of the interviews that took place in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”
What a spectacularly delusional, self-absorbed, unapologetic… person. I’m trying to be polite. I really am.
So he says a couple of things here. One, by saying its an “intelligence problem,” he’s basically saying that if he had had the same intelligence Obama did, he could have gotten the job done. Well, Rummy, you did. You had him. In the caves. At Tora Bora. Remember? When we had him trapped? And totally could have killed him if most of our military wasn’t walking through hell in Iraq, which is 1500 miles away? It wasn’t a fucking intelligence problem. You screwed it up. And you still blame everyone else.
Two, he gives no credit to Obama. ”We’ve been fortunate that the intelligence was forthcoming.” Translation: Obama got lucky. No, Rumsfeld. Obama was smart, focused, and meticulous. Things which are the exact opposite of you when you were hanging out in the Pentagon.
Three, he is still trying to justify torture. Interviews In Gitmo aren’t job interviews. Unless simulated drowning is something that routinely happens in your job interviews (in mine they just pretend like they might hire me for awhile, then they don’t). What he’s saying, without any prompting or, you know, evidence, is that torture might have led to the killing of bin Laden. Which means he still thinks its awesome. So not only did US armed forces, partially under his direction, brutally torture captured Muslim men and women in both Iraq and Afghanistan (many times innocent men and women, but Rumsfeld never cared about things like “guilt” or “innocence” anyways), he’s still trying to justify it five years after the fact. With something that has absolutely nothing to do with torture, or Guantanamo, or holding people captive without any semblance of due process.
Fourth, all of this is totally unsolicited. He transitions into this from a sentence about how its surprising that the dude was near Islamabad, rather than in the mountains somewhere. He wasn’t asked about how he was found, or why Rumsfeld could never find him, or about Gitmo. He talks about how the location was surprising, then segues into excuses and veiled criticisms without warning or prompting.
In The Donald’s own words, “hindsight is 20/20.” Well Donald, in hindsight, you suck.