Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Farmer's Market

A couple of weeks ago, I went to the Farmer's Market with my Polaroid and Canon Film Camera locked and loaded. Here's a small sample of what took place that day:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hip Hop America

The other day I was driving around and realized that I didn't have any sweet hip-hop mixes to cruise around to in my lowrider Chevy Camarro with hydraulics all while I smoked a fat blunt.  So here you go, fellow gangstas: 

Hip-Hop America by Kage

1.  Dreamer by Atmosphere
2.  Pussy, Money, Weed by Lil' Wayne
3.  Get 'Em High by Kanye West feat. Talib Kweli and Common
4.  Xxplosive by Dr. Dre
5.  Daytona 500 by Ghostface Killah vs. Radiohead
6.  Thin Line by Jurassic 5 feat. Nelly Furtado
7.  Got Yourself A . . . by Nas
8.  I'm In Miami, Bitch by LMFAO
9.  Rapp Snitch Knishes by MF Doom
10.  The Star by Wale
11.  Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G.
12.  Got Your Money by Ol' Dirty Bastard
13.  Cunninlynguists by RJD2 feat. Masta Ace
14.  Bump by Spankrock
15.  Regulate by Warren G feat. Nate Dogg
16.  The People by Common feat. Dwele
17.  Space Ho's by Danger Doom
18.  Shoot Me Down by Lil' Wayne
19.  Weed Song by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Available on Project Playlist

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Strictly For Promotional Use

What up dear readers,

Just wanted to point out some new things about this dem here blog. As you've noticed, the right side of the site has become bombarded with links galore.

1. There is now an email subscription service for the blog, so if you actually do enjoy reading these posts as much as I enjoy writing them, sign up, and you'll get the weekly posts sent straight to your inbox! It's the best thing since sliced bread!

2. You can also subscribe via RSS Feed or Blogroll, if you have any idea what that is. Because I sure as shit don't, but thought "Hey, why not?"

3. There's a section now called "Ballin' Blogs!" that links to all the blogs and sites I currently read as well as the latest headline from that blog. If you guys know of any blogs I should be reading or want me to post up, send a comment my way.

4. There are advertisements in between posts. I would really dig it if you guys could just click on one once in a while. Click it open in a new tab, don't even look at the site if you don't want to, but just click away. Mad love to all you.

5. Leave comments! I appreciate any and all feedback.

6. Don't be a douche bag like Mr. Anonymous, who tried to spoil The Dark Knight for me by writing all the spoilers from the movie. Luckily, I had seen the movie before I saw the comment.

7. Look forward to my Dark Knight review, my long-awaited Wackness and American Teen review, and more polaroids and playlists to come!

8. Lastly, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has told me they checked out the blog and made a comment about it. It really just gives me confidence to keep on doing it. If you keep reading, I'll keep writing.

Stay classy, world.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Enjoy It Now Because After College It's Called Alcoholism

I really need to stop drinking at bars.

Well, not really, but my wallet right now is definitely feeling a ton lighter than it did two weeks ago. Somehow, it panned out that I was able to hit up not one, not two, not three, not four, not you get the point but nine bars this week (one night consisted of going to four bars as it was my best friend Surferdude's 21st birthday). One of the bars, as you've already read, was the magical Veranda Bar. Here's some shortened critiques of places Los Angeles offers to the drinker:

1. Dimples (3413 W. Olive Ave., Burbank, CA 91504)--Wednesday Night

Fuck Dimples. Fuck Dimples because it can go to hell. Wednesday night was the second time I went to Dimples, and it was the second time they screwed me over. Let's time travel back to about a month ago. Buckner, Boy Band, Chickenshit, Jelf (I'm hoping you've noticed by now that these are all nicknames), E.N.D., Cogan, Ravette, and I went for some good ole karaoke. This bar is a staple in the near-Hollywood district. The minute you walk in you are bombarded by kitschy flair and lights everywhere. The walls are adorned by TV screens showcasing either karaoke lyrics or the actual performers on stage. The place is just kind of a spectacle in high quality trashy bling. We went on a jampacked Saturday night littered with groups of girls celebrating birthdays. Rumor was that you had to tip the "Songmaster" in order to sing on stage. We tipped him $40 bucks. Two hours later, as we all got pretty wasted, we still had not sung. He kept promising us we would get to sing, and we kept waiting and drinking and waiting and drinking. When we finally concluded that we would not be singing that night, I said fuck this, stole the bouncer's cigarettes, and stormed out. Everyone followed suit. This past Wednesday they served my friend Pearl a gin-and-tonic minus the gin. There were only 15 people in the whole damn bar, and we still did not get to sing. Fuck Dimples.

2. Firefly (11720 Ventura Blvd., Studio City, CA 91604) / The Spot (17200 Ventura Blvd.) - Thursday Night

I feel like Firefly came straight out of Swingers (1996). You know that scene where Mikey and his friend are looking for the bar, and Mikey says something along the lines of you know it's cool if there's no sign at the front? Yeah, that's Firefly. This hidden gem is probably the best of Studio City. While there's no sign out front, the ivy-covered front is a clear giveaway. What a classy reception area there was! Crimson red walls and velvet red couches adorn the library-themed reception area, which is directly situated across from the inside bar. It only gets better as you are greeted by the outside patio consisting of cabanas and candles on the left, a fireplace in the middle, another bar to the far right, and an A-shaped rooftop that expands to the outside sky and outside greenery. Drinks were about middle-priced with a dirty martini costing 10 bucks and a Maker's Mark Whiskey on the Rocks somewhere around the figure of 11-12 dollars.

Pro: Smoking outside welcome and the food looked delicious
Con: Erratic music. We came in hearing the seductive sounds of Portishead and then were treated to Green Day, Outkast, and Johnny Cash. It was like someone put their iPod on shuffle.

After some delicious drinks, Gladly, Wonderful, Balboa, and I decided that we needed a quick fix, so we hit up local high school hot spot / hookah bar The Spot. Although I'm of college age, I still do enjoy this smoke-tinged, strip malling, Persian-packed palace in Encino. Sure, it literally is in a strip mall, right next to a GNC and Kumon, but it's all under the Valley's skyline, and they offer amazing hookah and Black Tea. Definitely a great nightcap.

3a. Don and Cyn's Hideaway (12122 Kagel Canyon Rd., Sylmar, CA) - Friday Night, 8 p.m.

You know those bars in old western films or those trashy local cowboy bars in modern films? The Hideaway is exactly what you'd imagine, but more realistic: the bartender was this very friendly middle-aged, cigarette-reeking matron; a jukebox occupied the right corner; the back room sported the pool table and darts board; the outside patio held treasures meant to be sold only at garage sales. Surferdude had always wanted to go to this place because it's really close to his house. At first I was hesitant because he had brought a switchblade "for protection in case shit went down," but I later found the place to be quite charming. The schooner special (a huge goblet of beer) helped a bit, too. Apparently, the place gets poppin' on Friday and Saturday nights when live blues and western bands play. For a cowboy-frickin', finger-lickin' good time, and for an experience out of your safety bubble, I highly recommend this place.

3b. Jake's Billiards and Bar (38 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, CA) - Friday Night, 10:30 p.m.

A sweet hole-in-the-wall billiards hall and bar where couples and singles gather to drink, shoot around, and watch sports on the three flat panel TVs. With a bar in the far left corner, fifteen (relatively inexpensive) pool tables make up the rest of the bar. Surferdude and I met up with Kiddo and ordered a round of delicious Boilermakers (a shot of whiskey and a beer chaser, for the inexperienced) and went to play some pool, where Kiddo and I were dominated by Surferdude and his buddy Joe, who came later. The thing that makes this place stand out is the 40 oz. mugs of beer they serve. Trust me, for 7 bucks, these things fuck you up good. And with a DJ mixing classic rock with hip-hop that night and no pool hustlers in sight, a good time was had by all.
3c. Fred's Mexican Cafe / Wokcano Restaurant and Bar (119 E. Colorado / 33 S. Fair Oaks, Pasadena) - Friday Night, 11:45-12:50 p.m.

Surferdude and I were getting sloppy by this time. Somehow the topic of a Flaming Shot had become the focal point of the conversation, so the four of us went on a mission to find a place that served a flaming shot. Alcohol? Fire? Drink? Drunk? What more could you ask for in America? In my inebriated mental state, I somehow figured that a Mexican bar would be the most likely candidate to serve such a drink, so we made our way to Fred's Mexican Cafe (formerly Moose McGillycuddy's). To our dismay, the bar did not serve any flaming shots for safety regulations (whatever the fuck that means). However, the bartender somehow coaxed Surferdude and myself to drink something called the Duck Fart. It's just your typical mix of 1/2 oz. Jack Daniels, 1/2 oz. amaretto almond liqueur, and 1/2 oz. Bailey's Irish Cream. While the shot certainly picked us up (even though it tasted like ass, hence the Duck Fart), the bar was dead. We left to continue our quest for the Flaming Shot.

Wokcano did not pan out. It was jam packed with weird-looking Goth locals, the bar was tiny and expensive, and no Flaming Shot was served for "safety regulations" (whatever the fuck that means). We left after 5 minutes. Not much to say about this place.

4. The 901 Bar and Grill (a.k.a. The 9-0) (2902 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA)-Saturday Night

I don't know if I was drunk and made this up or I've actually heard it being said, but there's an old saying that says, "If you remember you're night at the 9-0, you didn't have a good time." My friends and I try to live by this motto every time we go, no matter how much we really don't want to go. Because here's the thing about the 9-0: no matter how shitty the place is (it's one room with a bar and some tables, no matter how dirty it is (people sweat beads, people spill drinks, sex goes on in the bathroom every now and then), no matter how bad the crowd is (you're bound to run into an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend at the 9-0, or someone you just hate, because everyone goes to the 9-0), you will always end up at the 9-0. It's that bar that years later USC graduates will think back and look fondly upon with so many memories. Sure, the drinks are overpriced and not that good. Sure, one Jack and Coke will be the gateway to you kissing porcelain. Sure, there's really not much to do there. But in the end, the 9-0 is there for you to get ridiculously drunk, hook-up, and ultimately make bad decisions that will inevitably lead to great stories. The bar is packed with gorgeous girls and fraternity boys looking to forget that it's a Thursday night and they have an exam the next morning. It's a place where college kids get to be college kids. I'm not a fan of it now, but I'll miss it when it's gone.

Just remember, kids: enjoy it now, because after college, it's called alcoholism.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Welcome To A World Where Batman Rules

The wait is nearly over. Ever since that final scene of Batman Begins, in which Batman is given the Joker's card, I have been anxiously awaiting the sequel The Dark Knight. I have never before been more excited and eager for a movie. I have never heard such hype and buzz about a film before (except say Spiderman 3, although, it is tarnished because of the harsh early reviews). Not only is it a Batman film, it has one of the greatest villains of all time--the Joker. Not only is it supposed to be a great crime drama, it's one directed by Christopher Nolan, you know that guy who did that other fucking awesome movie Memento.

Everyone is going fucking crazy for this movie, so in honor of mad heroes and mad villains, here's a funny article called "The 10 Mental Illnesses of Batman."

There have been many things to have contributed to this madness. Behind every great movie is a great marketing campaign, and The Dark Knight, with its seemingly limitless marketing budget has bombarded our homes with anything and everything relating to this movie. With less than twenty hours before its release, let's take a trip down memory lane and review the amazing marketing campaign of this film. You may remember this first image that was posted about 8 to 9 months ago. It was the first photo of the film that had officially been released by the studio.
I remember seeing this photo and thinking many things:

1. Holy shit, that's Heath Ledger?!
2. Dude, he looks scary as shit.
3. Maybe Christopher Nolan does know what he's doing, especially after casting the unlikely actor.
4. Dude, he looks like a crack addict with smeared lipstick.

Suffice to say, this first photo would not be the last. A couple months later, Warner Bros. released a couple of websites such as,, and which provided some promotional materials from the film and then "Joker-ized" versions of these materials. The Joker's reign of terror had begun.

On August 28, 2007, the first teaser trailer for the film premiered. The trailer had no visuals, only dialogue, and blue lights streaming towards an undefined Batman logo. We heard the familiar voices of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Michael Caine as Alfred, but then we were treated to the first hearing of the Joker's voice: "Tonight, people will die. I'm a man of my word. HAHAHAHA." I fell in love with that delirious cackle and deranged hunger in Heath's voice.

The opening sequence of The Dark Knight, in which the Joker robs a bank, was shown as a preview before I Am Legend. Unfortunately, I never got to see it, but from what my friends said, it only made them hungrier to go see the film.

A couple of weeks later, I saw the first Dark Knight posters at the Pacific Theatres 14 at The Grove. They were Joker-centered and pretty dark, I must say. I loved them.

Finally, the first official trailer premiered. "You've changed things . . . forever," hisses the Joker as the first glimpse of the Batpod races away from us. This was truly one of the best trailers I've ever seen, right beside if not better than the trailer for Spiderman 3. The first video image of the Joker was shown in all its ruthless glory. We explosions, the Joker's crazy cackle, the flipping of an 18-wheeler, and the music! oh the music! It's totally epic.

It's a bloody brilliant trailer. It even won an award (I forget what it's called, but it's a big deal) for best trailer of the year.

Then, a great sadness swept the world as on January 22, 2008, Heath Ledger passed away from an accidental drug overdose. It was the first time an actor's death had personally affected me. I had grown up watching Heath, from his first role in 10 Things I Hate About You to A Knight's Tale to his most revered role in Brokeback Mountain. Along with thousands of others, I saw his potential to be an amazing actor. He's the James Dean of our times.

Obviously, his death forced Warner Bros. into a frenzy as they had to review their entire marketing campaign. Do they continue what they are doing or change it to be more case-sensitive? After doing several forms of market research, it was concluded that displaying Heath's Joker face would not cause controversy or deter people from seeing the film. Now, though, every time I see Heath as the Joker, I feel like I'm looking at a ghost. Perversely, though, his death will probably attract more people to see the film. I still don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing, but I guess the movie should be seen as a testament to his last complete amazing performance.

After that, more posters and another trailer began hitting the public. With less than a month and a half away, Warner Bros. pulled out all their guns. We were hit with TV spots, posters, billboards, radio advertisements, internet advertisements. Less than two weeks to go, you could not go anywhere without seeing something Dark Knight related. Today alone, I went to maybe over 10 movie websites and blogs (I was really bored at work today), and not once did I NOT see an interview or web ad for this film. The Dark Knight has invaded the world.

This is definitely my favorite poster of their entire campaign.

The three major characters holding the thing that means the most to them: the Joker holds his card of chaos and his obsessive target on Batman. Batman holds one of his Bat throw things, representing justice. Harvey Dent holds a campaign pin, symbolizing his desire for power. Overall, it's like each character is holding their ace in the poker game for control of Gotham City.

Other posters and TV spots have begun showing more and more things to get you excited about the movie. One poster shows the latest gizmo The Batpod. One TV spot shows a longer clip of the Joker in a continuous scene. All the trailers and posters have hid something about the Joker, thereby making him an incomplete character, which makes sense because why would you want to see the movie if you already knew how his character was going to act?

Like I said at the beginning, I have never been around such hype and buzz for a movie before. I've had a lot of friends who have already seen it, and they've all said the same thing: the hype is true. It's not just a publicity tactic--the movie fucking rocks.

I've got my ticket for the 1:30 p.m. showing tomorrow at the Arclight in Hollywood.

Expectations are high for the film. Will it beat Spiderman 3's opening weekend record of $151 million? The movie has some elements that may not allow it to achieve this record: it's really dark and not that family-friendly; it has a running time of 2 1/2 hours; it's only opening on a 3-day weekend. However, the film has already set a record for advanced tickets. I've heard that IMAX tickets alone for the film are sold out until Tuesday. This movie, I guarantee, will be the number one film of the summer, if not, the year.

Welcome to a world where Batman rules.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Five Things You Will Notice About The Veranda Bar

I always thought it was called the Hotel Figueroa Bar until a week ago when I was reading about the Top Ten Nightlife Spots in Downtown Los Angeles in Los Angeles Magazine. For the past two years, I thought that was the name of the bar. I was mistaken. It's actually called the Veranda Bar. Despite the name change, though, this bar is still one of the best hidden gems in L.A.

I first went to this bar around the illegal drinking age of 19 years old with my cousin Tony. Tony knows all the places to go in L.A.--he's "That Guy." And thank God for him, because without his vast knowledge of nightlife hotspots and mixology, well, I'd probably still be at the 9-0 near USC (not that there is anything wrong with the 9-0, I fucking love that place, but it's not the only bar in L.A.--hear that Trojans?). Technically, the Veranda Bar was the first legitimate bar I ever went to, and what a first bar it was! The place exudes classiness. It exemplifies sophistication. It emanates the mood of chill.

The first thing one will notice is that, unless it is Friday or Saturday, there is no door man to check IDs. Before I turned 21, there was many a time that I would simply walk in and just order a drink, just as if I owned the place. That's partially the key to getting drinks as a minor--confidence. Doormen can smell fear--it's like their 7th sense, right behind the 6th sense of differentiating a fake ID from a real one.

Now you know my rule: if it has a good dirty martini, I'm going to have a dirty good time. The dirty martini here is choice. Like all the drinks at the Veranda Bar, the dirty martini is stiff and strong with sweet sweet alcohol. This particular martini is muddied with olive juice--that's extra dirty, just the way I like it ("That's what she said.")

The second thing you notice is the old Angeleno architecture of the lounge and bar area. It reminds me of Spanish deco with its acrylic patterned walls and stain-glass doors. Only one bartender at a time mans the bar. The bartenders are perhaps one of the best features about the bar--they are just so goddam friendly. They wear the old floral . . . I'm not sure what they're called actually. They're like dresses, but they're not dresses because men can wear them too. It's like ancient Spanish ritual shit or something. But I dig it.

Each time I go to Veranda, I ask the bartender how they got to be a bartender there. Each one has provided very interesting insights and stories about the world of bartending. One bartender said she worked her way up at TGIFriday's as a bartender, then started dating the manager of Hotel Figueroa. He hired her, they broke up, he got fired, and she got promoted. Funny world, huh?

Another guy wanted to be an actor (in L.A., surprise, surprise), but obviously it didn't work out. He was friends with a club promoter, who got him a job as a barback at Area. He then started practicing making drinks after hours with the bartenders. One of the bartenders landed a gig at the Veranda Bar. When he got sick, he called up this guy, the guy filled in. He did such a great job that they hired him two weeks later. Funny world huh?

The third thing you'll notice about the Veranda Bar, and perhaps its best feature, is the outside lounge by the pool. It is quite a sight to see. Although the area is relatively small, it evokes a cozy feeling of comfort and warmth. The small pool is the centerpiece of the outside patio as the tables surround it on all sides. Chinese lanterns hang from the trees, single candles adorn each table for 2-4 people, the pool's light glows different colors (blue to green to purple to pink to blue again, etc.). All this plus the bright lights of the visceral L.A. skyline give off a sheer romantic and chill atmosphere.

The fourth thing you will notice is the crowd. This is not a party bar. It's a bar for great people and great conversation. Groups can range from 2 to 30 people. They usually are a mix of hipsters, tourists, intellectuals, hotel guests, and sports fans coming back from games at the Staples Center. It's a really good crowd, just laidback, no drama. And there's always a story. Last night, for example, I was with, well, let's just call her Wonderful, and we saw various groups of people, as I always do here. So there's this group of around 15 people--kind of a sausage fest with 4 girls and 11 guys. Wonderful offers to buy the next round and walks to the bar. Meanwhile, a woman is carefully holding the hand of another girl, who seems to be stumbling and slurring her speech. They walk right by me, and I catch wind of their conversation.

The Slurrer: Oh ma fuggin gawd, I can't buhlieve I gots so drunk toonite.
Other Girl: It's okay, honey, it's your birthday. You're supposed to be drunk.
Kage: Hell yeah you are!
The Slurrer: Hellz ya! Wait, it's ma birfday?

I won't lie when I say I laughed the whole time it took Wonderful to come back with the drinks.

The fifth thing you'll notice is something that you won't notice for a while because it is "so unL.A." The bar is hidden behind the three buildings on Figueroa and Olympic that always have a three-piece advertisement. Currently, they have a huge advertisement for Tropic Thunder with Jack Black, Ben Stiller, and Robert Downey, Jr. on each building, respectively. So you're sitting outside, hidden behind these large buildings, it's an open area, and all the sudden, it hits you: you're in the middle of Downtown Los Angeles. How does this oasis thrive in the most urban of jungles?

Well, that's the thing about Los Angeles. It's not your typical beauty. Where some would say that natural beauty derives from forests and nature and grass and flowers and rivers, I say fuck that. Los Angeles is beautiful in its own industrial right. The architecture and lights of the buildings, the color the sky turns because of the chemistry of smog and sunlight, the hidden alleyways, the rows and rows of traffic on the freeway, the vegetation that pokes its head out for some air, the people alone. Los Angeles is a place where different ideas, no matter how contradictory, can come together in synergy and make something lovely out of something ugly. It's befitting that this alcoholic Garden of Eden would hide among the giant towers, crescendo police sirens, and starless sky.

Each time I go to the Veranda Bar, each experience is more enjoyable than the last. The second time I went was for my buddy Internal's 21st birthday. We and two other pledge bros spent the night smoking cigars and drinking whiskey. We talked about the future and the possibilities that awaited us with this whole new world of 21 year old manhood at our fingertips. The third time I went was on a blind date--I can happily (hopefully) say that she was mighty impressed. The last time I went, last night, was with Wonderful, and well, the night was wonderful.

If you ever wanna get drunk at heaven, all you have to do is find the secret spot on Figueroa and Olympic.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Now Entering The Third Dimension

I write this with full confidence and no hesitation: go see Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D. Nay, scratch that: go get stoned and go see Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D. Forget all your hesitations, your expectations, and what you have heard about this film. I guarantee that you will have the best fucking time watching this movie.

Don't get me wrong, now. The actual movie is a piece of shit--the 2-D version anyway. But I didn't go to see this movie for the plot or the acting. I went for the experience.

Originally, my best friend The Cobra and I were planning on seeing Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (which I saw the next day and enjoyed it on a purely entertaining level), but once we realized the potential greatness of the 3-D experience, we threw all caution to the wind and purchased our tickets. Sure, it was $2 more above the ticket price, but hey, you get to keep the Ray Ban-like sunglasses, so that's cool, I guess.

We started off with a preview for Step Brothers (not in 3-D, but it actually looks pretty decent). Then, the screen projected the following words: "Please put on your 3-D glasses." I put them on but thought, "We were only going to be treated to one preview? Fuck that." I was wrong. All the sudden, a large animated rocket came roaring towards my face! This was a preview for Summit Entertainment's upcoming animated flick Fly Me To The Moon 3-D. My eyes were still adjusting to the 3-D look of the film, but from what I gathered, the film is about a trio of insect flies that accompany Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldron on the first mission to the moon. Animated insects? Comedy? Space? 3-D? I'm in. The next preview was for Disney's Bolt 3-D, starring the voices of John Travolta and Miley Cyrus. I saw this preview in 2-D before and thought it looked entertaining, so I can only imagine how much more awesome it will be in 3-D.

And then, the film began.

The opening credits alone rocked my socks as the title blazed onto the screen in large gold ancient lettering. The title then started speeding towards me, growing bigger and bigger until my peripherals were encompassed by its sheer magnitude. Let me state again: this was only the title sequence!

Soon, we were subjected to an intense dream sequence involving large bugs, whose antenna feelers threatened to tickle my nose. Animated as well, this scene was nothing new as I had just experienced 15 minutes of previews of animated 3-D. Then came the experience that I have only experienced at Disneyland's Honey, I Shrunk The Audience 4-D: live action 3-D entertainment! I was thrown off. There, on the big screen stands Brendan Fraser brushing his teeth, but something about him is different. Then, the screen cuts to the point of the view of the sink. Fraser looks down at the screen (at the audience) and spits all over the sink (the audience). For a brief moment, I was scared, grossed out, and excited to see Brendan Fraser's spit coming right towards me. I half-expected the seat in front of me to spray water on my face like when the giant dog sneezes in Honey, I Shrunk The Audience. The Cobra and I could not stop laughing at how ridiculous this experience was going to be.

And the film continued to be awesome, especially when we got to the real meat of the story: the center of the Earth. Dinosaurs tried to eat us, glow-in-the-dark birds flew around our heads (at one point, I actually reached out and tried to grab one of them), yo-yos and measuring tapes slapped us in the face. There was even a part where they ride coal mine cars, and the audience is treated to a rollercoaster experience: think Back To The Future: The Ride meets Thunder Mountain. I'm telling you, this movie was fucking awesome. It was like a 2 hour thrill ride from an amusement park.

Overall, the whole movie was a surreal experience. I could not help thinking how I thought that I was a part of the movie. I could not help thinking that I could get up from my seat and step into the movie. I could not help thinking that there were giant versions of Brendan Fraser and Seth Meyers living this fantastical life right in front of me but never really noticing me. The depth of perception in the film was incredible. You could actually feel the distances between point A and point B. Even the scenes of simply dialogue and plot movement were incredible because they felt like well-developed 3rd dimensional characters.

It was a truly interactive feeling.

Forget the old days of those red-and-blue lens glasses. The old way of creating 3-D images was to use two different projects to screen the same image that would then filter through the polarized glasses. However, if you tilted your head, the 3-D image would be lost. RealD 3-D, however, uses a single projector to display two frames: one for the left eye and one for the right eye. The frames are sequenced and then triple flashed to eliminate flickering and create smooth motion. The glasses combine the polarized light streams, allowing the viewer to see the 3-D image fron any seat in the theater. The result: a 3-D image that seems to extend behind and in front of the screen itself.

Journey to the Center of the Earth 3-D marks a truly triumphant pinpoint in cinematic history as it is the first live-action film to be filmed in RealD 3-D technology. If this is any indicator of what the future holds, I will go see every 3-D movie that comes out in the future, animated or live-action. They have even had concerts in 3-D such as U2 and Miley Cyrus. We get to look forward to DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens, Toy Story, Nightmare Before Christmas, Alice in Wonderland, and the most anticipated film of 2009 James Cameron's Avatar, set on alien planet, in which Cameron actually created an entirely new language just for the film. RealD has also claimed that its end goal is to one day have all media in 3-D format. Imagine this: DVD's , television live programming, Internet streaming, all in 3-D. I could go home, put on Scarface or Star Wars, and soon there would be bullets or lightsabers whirling around my head. Pretty soon the surreal will become extremely real, at least virtually.

Watching a movie in 3-D was like the first time I ever saw television in HD (High Definition). Once I saw the much better quality, I could not go back to regular TV. Watching Hellboy 2 was almost bland compared to the 3-D entertainment I had sat through only 12 hours before. I kinda feel like I can never watch a regular 2-D movie again, although I'll have to, of course.

Who knew that all this awesomeness could come from a Brendan Fraser flick?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lucy, I'm Home. . . and Drunk!

From the outside, Lucy's 51 looked like a "noir bar" because it reminds me of the kind of bars you see in Los Angeles film noir. It has the seedy red lighting, swanky velvet furniture, and frogs on the ceiling(?). No, really--there are plastic frogs glued to the ceiling.

For a classy place, Lucy's 51, located on Riverside and Forman in Toluca Lake, was not very happening last night. We had a good group (ok, it was a sausage fest with 6 guys and two girls--don't act like it's never happened to you) that was pretty sauced up from drinks at Mo's down the street, but it seemed like we were the only people there. People would walk in for five seconds and then peace. Thursday night is usually party night in my circle of friends, so it was different (read: nice) to just relax, chat, and drink.

I've always heard great things about this place. The first time I went was with my cousin Tony, and boy was this place hopping. The stereos blasted classic rock (the best bar music ever! Well, jazz gives it a run for its money, depending on location), we were already drunk, and the Toluca Lake girls were gorgeous. We had gone to the Whiskey Bend in Burbank, which is fucking shit, so anything was better than the Bend when compared. Here's the thing, though: this first time was also on a Thursday night. I guess Lucy's 51 is a sporadic bar--sometimes it rocks, sometimes it doesn't.

Martini's are the drinks of choice at Lucy's 51. The list is huge and diverse. They mix anything from blueberries to mojito mix to peach schnapps to, I wouldn't be surprised if they had Benzoil. The dirty martini is my favorite drink, so I like to order it at every bar I go to just to see how it compares to others. I figure, you make a good dirty martini, I'm gonna have a good time. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time last night, but that drink was shit. It didn't taste like vodka or olives. Actually, it kinda tasted like rubber to be honest. I still drank it, but my liver felt elastic on the drive home. I hear the food is pretty good, but we didn't get around to it.

Credit card holders beware: there is a $10 minimum on credit cards, so if you order one drink, well, you might as well order two. Coincidentally (read: sarcasm), the martinis are priced at exactly $9. My last drinks were two Newcastles, not that I'm complaining or anything.

No one really noticed when we left, but it was still a good atmosphere to be a part of. I say, if you're in the neighborhood and have some time to kill, go in and have a drink. But it's not something worth making a trip for.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

No Blues at The Blue Room

The name is not a misnomer. The Blue Room, a small dive bar in Burbank, really is blue. Located on San Fernando and Alameda, right across from Hollywood Video, and adorned by a steel entrance, this hole-in-the-wall of a gem is the perfect place for happy hour, drinks after work, or alcoholics looking for a place to drink their sorrows away (I mean that in a good way). It's the type of dive bar where people become regulars there, also known as "that guy."

Gladly and I wanted to check out a new bar on Tuesday night, and we had narrowed it down to three choices: The Dresden on Vermont, Tiki Ti in Silver Lake, or The Blue Room in Burbank. The first two were somewhat far away from my home but still very attractive. We then read Zagat Survey's L.A. Nightlife 08/09's description of The Blue Room: "cheap drinks, great atmosphere, and the waitresses have been there since the place opened." Sounds like heaven to me.

After parking in the limited lot behind the bar, we were greeted by a looming blue neon glow. It felt a little like we were walking into Bruin territory. You get what you expect from the name of this place--the bar is literally one room where the walls and furniture are blue. On your left proudly stands a dart board. Across from it sits a very eclectic electric jukebox that could cater to any one's needs. The booze is right next to the jukebox. Hip hop music filled the atmosphere, which I was kinda bummed about it because I wanted trashy dive bar classic rock, but beggars can't be choosers. And that's pretty much the place.

I told Gladly, "You know, I have yet to see a prehistoric waitress here." Immediately after saying that, a woman around her 50s with saggy skin and cigarette-colored fingernails asked for our order. I looked at Gladly and said, "Oh, well there you go." I then looked around for the "regulars." He wasn't too hard to find: he was an old, somewhat fat Italian man with a chest as hairy as a gorilla. He wore a gold chain that hid in the forest of his chest while drinking straight whiskey. Gladly described him as Evil Knievel on acid. I felt like he was one of those guys that would go up to someone and say, "Your sitting in my seat" and then proceed to show the person where his name was written on it.

We ordered two beers (one Newcastle, one Sam Adams) and observed the other bar patrons. It was a pretty good crowd for a Tuesday night. There was a large party sitting at the blue lounge tables, and a pair of really cute girls sitting right next to us (ok, one was super hot, and one was kinda not so hot, so combined they averaged out to really cute). Working up enough liquid courage after two rounds of boilermakers (a shot of whiskey with a beer chaser), we started thinking of a game plan for these two girls. However, we were soon distracted by a really cute girl in a red dress. Not to say that she actually talked to us (not yet anyway), but I saw her from across the bar and was starstruck. She looked exactly like Mel from Flight of the Conchords, one of my favorite shows at the moment. I kept wondering if it was her. Then, I heard her speak--it was totally Mel. On Flight of the Conchords, Mel is the only fan of the New Zealand folk duo in New York. She obsessively stalks them and tries to seduce them in very creepy ways. Her most intriguing feature--she has a distinct high pitched nasal voice. When I heard her talk, I knew it was her. After this confirmation, I realized that her wingwoman was none other than Kelly the Indian girl from The Office!

We needed a whole new game plan. Gladly and I went outside for a cigarette to ruminate about philosophical quanderies such as what's the best pick up line, how do you hit on a celebrity, and the father/son bond (don't ask me how that got thrown in there--we were getting pretty drunk by then). Then, God threw us an easy pass: a girl came up to us and asked if I could take her photo. Who was she taking the photo with? None other than Mel herself!

Kage: Holy shit, are you Mel from Flight of the Conchords?!
Mel: Haha, yeah.
Kage: Holy fucking shit, man! I love your show!
Mel: Thanks. Haha you two should be friends (pointing to the other girl)
Kage: Smile!

I had to take three photos, which got kind of awkward, because that damn neon blue light kept fucking up the sharpness of the photo. Fucking Bruins.

Then, the random girl was kind enough to take a photo of me and Mel and emailed it to me later. Although not the greatest photo, hey, at least we got one.A couple beers later, Gladly and I decide to go buy some cheap Black 'n Milds, just to have something to smoke (we are both trying to quit cigarettes at the moment, and yeah, we had one earlier, but give us a break, quitting is fucking hard). We were a little sad to leave this charming shithole-in-the-wall. I mean, where else can you get two beers for 8 bucks? Two boilermakers for 13 bucks? That's fucking cheap, man.

Overall, I think The Blue Room has a unique dive bar charm. The bartenders are friendly and energetic and willing to take shots with you. The waitresses probably have tons of stories to tell. The atmosphere was chill but still lively. And we got to meet Mel from Flight of the Conchords. I'd say that there be no blues at The Blue Room.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

On The Up and Coming: Wale

D.C. based rapper Wale describes his music in this way: "Think of what a def persons interpretation of very good music would sound like ...multiplied by your favorite songs impact when you knew you loved it multiplied by what would happen if music never existed until you heard it add a million to that and youd be 1/100000 of the way to understanding my sound."

Sounds cocky, huh?

Not necessarily so. I wouldn't necessarily label Wale as that interpretation, but I will say that the hype and buzz around this guy are very true. In 2005, Wale surfaced onto the D.C. rap scene with the single "Rhyme of the Century." This single put him on Source Magazine's June '05 "Unsigned Hype" list. From there, the buzz really began. He's been compared to Kanye West, Pharrell, Lupe Fiasco, and Common--not a bad crew to be a part of.

Wale credits much of his influences come from go-go bands. What's a go-go band, you ask? I myself had to Wikipedia this information. Go-go is a subgenre of funk that originated in 1970s Washington, D.C. "In technical terms, 'Go-go's essential beat is characterized by a syncopated, dotted rhythm that consists of a series of quarter and eighth notes (quarter, eighth, quarter, (space/held briefly), quarter, eighth, quarter)… which is underscored most dramatically by the bass drum and snare drum, and the hi-hat… [and] is ornamented by the other percussion instruments, especially by the conga drums, timbale, and hand-held cowbells.' A swing rhythm is often implied (if not explicitly stated)" (Wikipedia: Go-go). The call-and-response between audience and MC is also key to go-go.

After "Rhyme of the Century," Wale came out with many go-go inspired singles that started putting him on the map. He certainly blew up when Entourage showcased his song "Ice Cream Girl" on the June 24, 2007 episode (the one where E and Vince finally watch a cut of Medellin--by the way, the show is back September 7th!)

And then Wale got daring--he made a rap mix to Justice's "D.A.N.C.E." entitled "W.A.L.E.D.A.N.C.E." for his next FREE mixtape "100 Miles and Running." This album has been downloaded 30,000 times off his Myspace since its release. This is initially how I first heard of Wale--his song was a "Must Download" in June's Spin magazine. That is what truly impresses me about this rapper. He is not afraid of collaborations with artists and concepts that would seem outrageous or downright crazy. He recognizes the sick beats that Justice produces. Kanye West did the same thing by sampling Daft Punk's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" for his own "Stronger." With the easy access to music and the postmodern thought in today's digital world, collaborations, remixes, and covers are turning up more and more to create a musically shared and enlightened experience. One can influence the other and vice versa to create a union of uniqueness.

On May 30, 2008, Wale released his fourth FREE mixtape "Mixtape About Nothing," which is heavily influenced by the most unlikely of things--hit tv show Seinfeld (It can be downloaded at and highly recommend this album). Showcasing Wale's clever rhymes and indelible free flow, seriously this guy can rhyme for hours without stopping, "Mixtape About Nothing" samples many clips from Seinfeld episodes and things relating to it. Each song is titled the way episodes where--the article "The" precludes every title." He even inserts catchphrases and lines from the episodes into the songs while discussing serio-topics like modern identity politics and the state of rap today: "What's the deal with this rap stuff? / Since Napster / The sales been crashing."

On the track "The Kramer," Wale samples Michael Richards' racist slurs from the Laugh Factory and then launches into a rhythmic discussion on the use of the word "Nigga." He also samples Jay-Z's "Roc Boys" on "The Freestyle" in homage to one of his biggest influences. Wale delves into all sorts of genres from soul to go-go to R&B to this new wave of "futuristic rap" or sometimes known as "rave-rap," which is also discussed on "The Skit (Untz Untz). He even comments on the mainstreaming and selling out of certain hip hop acts. He parodies "Crank That Soulja Boy" in "The Skit" with his own "Crank That Squirrelly Boy."

He somewhat parodies Lil' Wayne too. He has a song called "The Cliche Lil' Wayne Feature," which features, well, Lil' Wayne. I'm not sure if this is a diss, a tribute, or both. Many pundits claim that Lil' Wayne was able to sell 1 million copies in one week for his latest album Tha Carter III because of all the free mixtapes and collaborations he has done for the past three years. In the same vein, Wale has now released four free mixtapes and is collaborating with the likes of The Roots, Kanye West, Mark Ronson, 9th Wonder, and Justice. Will he too sell 1 million copies in one week when his debut album with the above-mentioned artists is released next year?

Probably not because people still do not who this guy is.

But trust me, you will soon enough.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Some Cool People That I Know

Locations: Burbank
Santa Barbara
The Hollywood Cemetery Screening of Easy Rider, sponsored by Cinespia