Sunday, January 03, 2010

Zennie Abraham goes to White Castle on Palindrome Day

After avoiding it, two weeks ago I bought Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle (with John Cho and Kal Penn) as a Christmas present to myself of sorts, and really got hooked on the movie. It brought me back to my childhood here in Chicago in the 60s and 70s, and where I'm visiting on The South Side as I blog this.

My friends and I always went to the White Castle hamburger joint on Stony Island and South Chicago, across from a mosque that was ran by The Nation of Islam, and my Mom told me never to cross Stony Island to the side of the street the mosque was on. (Sorry but that's the way it was in those days.)

We didn't care about that; we wanted the White Castle burgers by the bunch!

Living in Oakland means giving up White Castle hamburgers. Hey, healthy food and eating local's certainly good for you, but I've got to admit the movement's presented in a boring way and the advocates tend to take things a little too seriously from time to time; it's hard to find a good burger in Oakland and there's no White Castle!

So I made it my mission to get to a White Castle here in Chicago and vlog my experience on Palindrome Day with my trusty Flip Video Camera. (Nope, they're not sponsoring me and neither is White Castle, as of this writing at least.)

The White Castle I visited was on 95th and Jeffrey on the South Side of Chicago. The manager, a young lady named Bria, was really welcoming and explained that even with Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle , business was slow. So I encouraged everyone to visit that store and buy a burger! It's on the video!

Taking Bria's advice, I asked for the "Number One", which sounds like "Number One" from the original Star Trek episode called "The Cage", and which I got without cheese.  (And for some reason it made me think of the "Royale with Cheese" from Pulp Fiction.)

Then I did something I've always wanted to do: open the bag and take out the White Castle burger with the camera running! That was about as much fun as going down that slide at the Google / YouTube San Francisco offices!

Talk about passion food! That's White Castle. Of course, it means extra workout time when I get back to Oakland, but it was worth it!

'The Hurt Locker' wins National Society of Film Critics Best Picture

The Hurt Locker continues to storm the Oscar Awards season. The latest for the Katheryn Bigelow-directed war movie, which is on more "Top 10" lists than any film of 2009, is "Best Picture" at The National Society of Film Critics, which held their meeting Sunday.

Katheryn Bigelow takes home yet another Best Director Award and Jeremy Renner wins Best Actor for the documentary-style war movie.

The Hurt Locker is the story of a bomb squad during The Iraq War and the life-threatening bomb-diffusion missions they take on. The margin of error is zero, and soldiers talk of explosions as sending you to "the hurt locker."

Here's a scene from The Hurt Locker:

Cast: Jeremy Renner, Anthony Mackie, Brian Geraghty, Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writers: Mark Boal
Studio: Summit Entertainment

How a sniper scene in The Hurt Locker was filmed is the focus of this San Francisco Chronicle article by Michele Ordona

National Society of Film Critics list of winners:

Best Picture: The Hurt Locker
BestDirector: Kathryn Bigelow - The Hurt Locker
Best Actor: Jeremy Renner - The Hurt Locker
Best Actress: Yolande Moreau - Seraphine
Best Supporting Actor: TIE: Paul Schneider - Bright Star; Christoph Waltz - Inglourious Basterds
Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique - Precious
Best Screenplay: A Serious Man
Best Foreign Film: Summer Hours
Best Nonfiction Film: The Beaches of Agnes
Cinematography: The White Ribbon
Production Design: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz make "Another Day"

While we pass into a new decade and a new year starting with 2010, Natalie Coughlin is the Top Olympian of the Decade, Newark Aiport is on lockdown, Larry Johnson runs with the Bengals vs the Jets, and Pat White recovers from a hit versus the Steelers, Michael Jackson is still very much a part of popular culture.

On Saturday, January 2nd 2010 (Palindrome Day) a song that allegedly was the result of a team-up between Michael Jackson and Lenny Kravitz hit the Internet. It's called "Another Day".

It's difficult to find any recent reference to the song by either Michael Jackson or Lenny Kravitz, but in this interview with Spinner Magazine, Lenny Kravitz wrote:

I got to work with Michael on a track that has not been released and it was the most amazing experience I've had in the studio. He was funny. Very funny and we laughed the whole time. I also saw what a beautiful father he was. He was a beautiful human being. I am deeply saddened this evening.

This is said to be that track called "Another Day":

Stay tuned

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Dolphins Quarterback Pat White had a concussion after Steelers hit

This Dolphins Quarterback Pat White Update.

Dolphins Quarterback Pat White suffered a concussion after being hit helmet-to-helmet by the Pittsburgh Steelers Ike Taylor. On a 3rd down and 9 play with 2:05 left in the 3rd Quarter, Pat White ducked down with the ball and ran left to the sideline to try and make a 1st down. He just missed as he was blasted by Taylor just as White headed for the sidelines.

White was immediately immobile after the hit, with Steelers and Dolphins players waving over doctors and trainers to help him.

The hit that Taylor made was within bounds; no penalty was called. reports that a "league source" said that Pat White had suffered a concussion, but had recovered from it.

Pat White was the second of two Dolphins quaterbacks removed from the same game due to injury. Earlier, Chad Henne was taken out after fighting blurred vision from a hit by Steeler's Linebacker Lamar Woodley. The problem wasn't immediate; it got worse during halftime of the game, so Henne was deactivated from play.

The Dolphins missed the playoffs as a result of the loss, 30 to 24.

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Should San Francisco restaurants only serve Napa/Sonoma wines?

Should San Francisco restaurants only serve Napa/Sonoma wines? That the question at the heart of a lively Linkedin discussion thread that consists of (as of this writing) 74 comments. The idea of the talk has its roots in the burgeoning local food movement.  

While I recently indulged in a White Castle burger eat out in Chicago, I regularly shop at the Oakland Farmers Market and wish to help promote the local food movement as I learn more about it. I'm not an expert. But because of my interest, the discussion caught my eye.

Unlike Twitter, which doesn't have a membership gateway and what one tweets is available for public view unless they're set to private, Linkedin groups generally require membership. For that reason I'm not going to post what others have written on Linkedin here. Instead I will give a general overview and provide a link for you to go right to the conversation.

The "Eat Local" movement is a call to encourage residents of a city to consume locally-grown food. The producers consist of food co-ops, community gardens, and farmers' markets. People who steadfastly adhere to this idea call themselves "Locavores" and have a long and growing list of followers.  Moreover, it has production farms, like Alemany Farm in San Francisco:

Currently, the focus has been on promoting foods locally grown in the Bay Area, but Jon Wollenhaupt, the Vice President of Excel Meetings & Events in San Francisco, opened the movement's collective lens to consider wines with his Linkedin question and discussion:

Should the "Eat Local" ethic apply to wine as well? Should San Francisco restaurants only serve Napa/Sonoma wines? The localvore ethic certainly make sense for restaurants that focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. The eat local movement here in the Bay Area has very passionate, vocal supporters. More often, I am seeing this conversation extended to include wine. To what extent does this make sense, if any? How do wine producers react to this?

Increasing criticism is surfacing in articles of San Francisco restaurants who are not "supportive enough" of local (Napa/ Sonoma) wineries. Some wineries seem to be trying to leverage the localvore position to influence and minimize the purchase and placement of imports on wine lists. Is that position defensible if those same wineries are shipping to out-of state distributors? Or even to Southern California accounts? (a lynchpin of the localvore position is the 100 mile diet)

The conversation has attracted a number of luminaries in the San Francisco Bay Area Wine Industry. Some think including wines is taking things a bit too far. I and others were concerned that local urban wineries were being left out of the conversation.

I write this in an effort to open the conversation to a wider audience. Hopefully, San Francisco Chronicle Food Critic Michael Bauer will take up this subject - the last time he blogged about the local food movement was 2007. I'd love to hear or read his take on this, and by extension that of his readers.

Oakland Raiders battle Baltimore Ravens, lose 31-13

The Oakland Raiders battled gamely but lost to the now-playoff-bound Baltimore Ravens 31 to 13. It was a game the Oakland Raiders could have won, but an injury to quarterback Charlie Fry and questionable offensive strategy changes related to installing Quarterback JaMarcus Russell to replace him, engineered Oakland's loss.

The Oakland Raiders opened the game with Quarterback Charlie Frye and a great mix of spread passing formations, short passes and runs. The only problem was a consistent pattern of throwing out of passing formations and running out of running formations. The only aspect of this game more disappointing than the Raiders offensive plan was the sparse attendance. About half of the third deck of the Oakland Coliseum were empty as were large sections of seats around the stadium. All of that as readily visible on television as the Raiders offensive problems.

The Baltimore Ravens Defense was not the reason for the Raiders' offensive woes. The Raiders had more plays than the Ravens and just five yard less in total offense (330 to 325). The Raiders had 7 yards per pass versus 4.7 for the Ravens. The difference was turnovers and yards rushing, but most of the Ravens yards on the ground were earned after the Raiders turnovers. So all fingers point to the Raiders offense.

The problem isn't one player but the gameplan. Charlie Frye's injury revealed one major, glaring fact: the Oakland Raiders have not worked with JaMarcus Russell extensively on the kinds of passes that Charlie Frye executed so well when he was in the game.

JaMarcus Russell's problem is borne of a lack of confidence in the ability to react to what he sees. In several instances Russell pulled the ball down because he had not developed enough of a feel for the Raiders system to throw on time, such that passes could be completed even with cloe coverage. JaMarcus Russell's so fearful of throwing an interception that he's waiting for the obviously open receiver before he pulls the trigger. That doesn't happen a lot in the Raiders passing game as its designed.

Charlie Frye has more collective experience than Russell, so he should and does make throws that are in close space. The issue is the development of Russell. He's a project the Raiders have not committed themselves to and lived with his errors. Head Coach Tom Cable pulls Russell for other quarterbacks, watches those throwers get injured, then puts Russell in only to suffer with his lack of playing time. So the downward performance spiral continues.

The Baltimore Ravens are not a great team, but a squad aided by great coaches. The Ravens Willis NcGahee's 167 yards rushing consisted of one physical, stiff-arm of a run for 77-yards, and the rest a gashing mix of off-tackle runs and attacks around the end of the Raiders Defense. The run gains were strategically intelligent and complemented their seam-based passing attack. But with all of this, the Raiders arguably beat themselves and have earned the 8th pick in the 1st Round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Wes Welker injured; Texans beat Patriots 34-27

In a stunning turn of events, New England Patriots Wide Receiver Wes Welker was injured in their game against the Houston Texans and on the same Sunday that Pat White was hurt and taken out of the Steelers - Dolphins game. The Texans won the game against the Patriots, 34-27.

Welker was injured after catching a pass during New England's first drive of the game. Welker made the catch then turned upfield in such a way as to twist his knee.

The injury starts talk and tweets questioning New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick playing his starters when they know they're already in the playoffs. Last week Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell and Colts executive Bill Pollian were questioned for removing starters, thus blunting the Colts chance to finish the season undefeated. This is some of what's presented on Twitter:

sherriadelman I'm by NO MEANS a Patriots fan, but the Wes Welker injury is a good argument for resting players prior to the playoffs. #fb
1 minute ago from web

AlioTheFool Everyone should admit this now RT @Adam_Schefter: Charles Woodson hurts shoulder, Wes Welker hurts knee, Bill Polian looks brilliant.
1 minute ago from UberTwitter

WayneTwitteker RT @Marc_Bertrand: Spread the word: Sources tell @985thesportshub that Wes Welker is done for the season. #Patriots #NFL
5 minutes ago from web

Stay tuned.

Dolphins Quarterback Pat White hit by Steelers Ike Taylor - update

In Sunday's Miami Dolphins v. Pittsburgh Steelers game, Dolphins Dolphins Quarterback Pat White was hit by Steelers Defensive Back Ike Taylor as he was running out of bounds with 2:05 remaining in the 3rd Quarter.

The video shows a different angle than what was initially shown in the CBS Television presentation of the NFL football game. In the video the contact was helmet-to-helmet and not helmet-to-shoulder.

The game was delayed 8 minutes as doctors and trainers worked to assist White.

According to the Alabama Press-Register and the Associated Press, White was taken by ground transportation to Broward General Hospital. Dolphins' team spokesperson Harvey Greene said White "seems to be OK in terms of movement" but he remains in the facility under examination.

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Miami Dolphins Quarterback Pat White injured, out of Steelers game

Pat White, the Miami Dolphins' Rookie Quarterback from West Virginia, was injured on a 3rd down play against the Pittsburgh Steelers with 3:05 minutes to go in the 3rd Quarter of Sunday's game.

White, who was known as a Spread Offense quarterback at West Virginia, was running a version of the Miami Dolphins 'Wildcat' System. As he was running to try and pick up a first down, White was hit by two Steeler defenders, but CBS Television replays show it was Steeler Defensive Back Ike Taylor's helmet-to-shoulder-pad blow that almost immediately froze White as he fell to the ground.

Once White was knocked out of bounds he was immobile. Players from both the Steelers and Dolphins motioned for medical help as White lay on the grass. Play was stopped as trainers and doctors worked to determine White's condition. After a few minutes a flat-bed cart was brought out and White, who's body was placed in a restraining apparatus, was carried off the field.

Pat White was the second pick of the Dolphins at the 2009 NFL Draft in the 2nd round and selected for his position flexibility. White's also a winner At West Virginia, White was an 18-win, 2 loss starter over his four year career, with a 4-0 bowl record.

In the Dolphins Offense, White occasionally spelled starting Quarterback Chad Pennington, as was done when White was injured Sunday.

Stay tuned for updates.

Eagles - Cowboys: look for Eagles team speed to beat Cowboys

Everyone in the NFL and in the sports World is excited about today's Philadelphia Eagles battle for the NFC East Championship against the Dallas Cowboys. While the game's played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, look for the Eagles to overcome the Cowboys' home field advantage and win the game.

The Eagles have perhaps one of the fastest offenses ever formed in the National Football League. With Rookie Wide Receiver Jeremy Mackin, Second-Year Wide Receiver DeShaun Jackson, and the Phoenix that is Michael Vick, Quarterback Donovan McNabb and Head Coach Andy Reid have a variety of ways to attack the Cowboys defense. Few coaches are better at developing schemes to take advantage of team speed than Andy Reid.

Eagles 24, Cowboys 17

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Susan Boyle, Miley Cyrus most watched YouTube videos in 2009

In a decade that was defined by the emergence of YouTube, 2009 saw the development of international stars because of exposure on YouTube. According to YouTube's blog, 2009 was the biggest year yet for online video and for the first time, YouTube is sharing its "Most Watched" video list. Not surprisingly, Susan Boyle is at the top of it.

Susan Boyle

Susan Boyle's the 48-year old Scottish woman who first shocked Simon Cowell and the judges of Britains' Got Talent, and then the entire World after clips of her performance were liberally uploaded to YouTube for view. The result was a primal, rapid reaction to her voice, and over 120 million views generated. Of those, my video on Susan Boyle accounted for a tiny share of 2 million views:

What's amazing is the staying power of the search for Susan Boyle videos. Generally a good video search wave lasts up to 12 days in my experience; Susan Boyle's lasted almost two months. Part of the reason for this was the searches fueled by the weekly airing of Britains' Got Talent, because even when Boyle wasn't singing, the other groups were compared to her on YouTube for the World to judge. The other reason was Susan Boyle's story - of a common, kind, lonely woman who lost her parents and seemed to have been in a state of depression, making it big - resonated with the industrialized World.

The other YouTube videos were behind Susan Boyle, except Miley Cyrus

Susan Boyle's 120 million views dwarfs all other videos on YouTube. Here's the list of the Global Top Five Most Watched YouTube Videos according to YouTube:

Most Watched YouTube videos:
1. Susan Boyle - Britain's Got Talent (120+ million views)
2. David After Dentist (37+ million views)
3. JK Wedding Entrance Dance (33+ million views)
4. New Moon Movie Trailer (31+ million views)
5. Evian Roller Babies (27+ million views)

The second most popular video is a total howler: David After Dentist. It features 7 year old David who's father made this video in May of 2008, after their visit to the dentist to have his tooth removed:

Susan Boyle headed the most watched Global videos, but popular and controversial singer Miley Cyrus represented the number two and number three most watched videos on YouTube in 2009. Miley Cyrus 120 million-views for the two equals Susan Boyle's total for 2009. With a crack publicity team and her approving father Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus was the young princess of New Media for 2009. Her pole dance at the Teen Choice Awards was the subject of massive Internet chatter, causing people who'd never heard of the star of Hanna Montana to listen to her music. The result: The Climb and Party in The USA were two of the five most watched YouTube music videos in 2009.

What will 2010 bring in online video?

As far as what 2010 will bring in video, that's question we will explore later in the week. But here's a preview: expect more videos created to showcase singing talent. If this will lead to a kind of online business is anyone's guess, but using Youtube or any online video distribution service to present musical talent is still an untapped resource with vast potential. Also, look for video to be used more and more as part of an event. I experimented with this concept at my Oakland YouTube Meetup at Lake Chalet in December. The proper use of the approach will change the face of event planning and online video.

Rush Limbaugh uses YouTube to tell Heath Care fib

Rush Limbaugh, the Couch Potato Conservative radio talk show host, claimed he received no special health care treatment when he gave his press conference after his emergency hospitalization and treatment for chest pains on Wednesday, December 30th 2009. Rush Limbaugh's statement, presented in a video, is false.

Rush Limbaugh's distorted view of Health Care

Even Rush Limbaugh's Couch Potato Conservative colleague Glenn Beck was honest enough to explain what was wrong with the Health Care System when he was in for treatment two years ago.

Rush is the champion of attacks on Heath Care Reform legislation that has sailed through Congress in 2009. His bellow is there's nothing wrong with the American Health Care system. While, the health care system works for Limbaugh, Joe Lieberman, Megan Fox, Tiger Woods, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Texas Tech's now former football coach, Mike Leach, it does not work for the 30 million to 40 million uninsured Americans and it does not work for those who are not celebrities.

Rush Limbaugh is a celebrity.

When Limbaugh called 911, he received special treatment from the Kalaha Resort Hotel to start his king-like medical service. The hotel staff got him out of the venue in such a way that he could not be seen by on-lookers. When Rush arrived at the medical center, the hospital managers made sure the entire wing that Rush was on was placed on restricted access status.

That means even if you had a loved one who happened to be on the floor Rush Limbaugh was on at the hospital, you could not just walk up there to see the person you were concerned about. You had to check in, and may have been turned away depending on who you were.

All of this was done by others to benefit Rush Limbaugh's peace of mind so that he could recover faster. He did For him to then use YouTube to say he didn't receive special treatment is essentially not telling the truth.

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