Thursday, July 31, 2008

Bostodelphia's Gone Romanian!

Our interview with Jake Von Slatt has been translated to Romanian for the online cultural journal Egophobia. Their tastefully designed website also has an interview with Steampunk-er Johnny Payphone.

Go check 'em out.

Cheesesteak's Road Trippin'

Deadly sandwich is a bit rested up, and returning to a productive blogging mood ... but I'll be on vacation for another week. May warm up for my return with sporadic blogging, don't expect anything regular till I get back. Till then, you're in Cod's fins, hopefully he can ride this blog better than his bike.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Darren Aronofsky has 30 seconds to comply

First, he brought us Pi. Then, the disturbing Requiem for a Dream. Third up was the spacy Fountain.

Now Darren Aronofsky is going to do the resurrection of...Robocop. huh? I will leave it up to Cheesesteak to discuss this further.

Monday, July 28, 2008

I own a bike!

In my, oh, 6-week hunt for a bike for mostly commuting purposes (12.5 miles each way, suburban/urban roads), I've ridden several bikes and browsed countless of posts. Here's my extremely brief impressions of each test tide. I was looking for either a cyclocross or touring bike for maximum flexibility.

Giant OCR3: The first bike I've ridden in 17 years (can you guess my age?). Jittery ride, I was counting my fillings afterwards. 30 seconds into this test ride and I wanted off, although I stuck it out for 10 minutes.
Fuji Cross Pro: Out of my price range, but a very nice ride indeed. Very smooth and comfortable. Ultegra components shift so nicely.
Trek XO-1: This seemed very, well, vanilla. No real impression, good or bad. The particular bike I rode had very sloppy welds with gobs of aluminum sticking out everywhere.
Lemond Poprad: Now we're talking. Also too much $, but this was the 1st bike I test-rode that made me want to just keep on riding. My favorite of all the bikes I rode. Since the immediate future looks grim for Lemond bikes, I may look into a similar quality frame like the Soma Double Cross in the somewhat distant future.
Bianchi Volpe: The frame size I rode was a size too big since that was all that was on hand at the LBS. It seemed a bit twitchy, but I can't say much since it didn't fit too well.
Surly Cross Check: Except for the bar-end shifters, I loved this bike.
Masi Speciale CX: Unfortunately, the LBS didn't get this in stock before I found the bike I bought. Looks really nice in the pictures though.

Finally, the winner: A 1995 Trek 520 from a local LBS (completely tuned up), complete with fenders, the Trek rack, a pump, 2 water bottle cages, 700x35 Bontrager slicks, a cycle computer, underseat bag, steel tire levers, Tiagra STI-style shifters, and a very comfy Avocet saddle. $500, how could I go wrong? I added bar-top brakes for $75. All I need to do is touch up a quarter-sized spot of surface rust on the top tube and maybe get a computer that'll display cadence. Oh, and exchange the Giro Atlas II helmet for a Bell Triton to better fit my pumpkin head. The 520 definitely doesn't have the same sports-car feel of the Fuji or Lemond, but it will be a sturdy and reliable steed. And this price was tough to beat!

In addition I picked up a bright yellow wicking fabric shirt from the New Balance factory outlet ($13 - 20% off sale!), a pair of lightweight gloves, and a basic cable lock. I plan on lunchtime bike rides to build up my endurance and re-learn some cycling skills (like dealing with cars) for a few weeks before buying a pannier or two and moving up to a bike commute or three per week. Ideally I'll be up to 5 days sometime in September, which will see me DIY-ing a light system.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bostodelphia Hero of the Week: Scott LeHigh

Previously discussed Obama/New Yorker cover outrage hit Philadelphia media in force yesterday. First up on the Cheesesteak's radar was WHYY's Marty Moss-Coane dedicating a whole hour to the flap. To be honest, the talk was a lot more civil and thought out than the tirade NPR's Talk of the Nation aired the day before. Still Philebrity is largely right in pointing out that the relatively abstract discussion on the nature of satire was largely a waste of time when compared to a discussion the show should have had: addressing the people who actually believe the claims the New Yorker was satirizing. Well, that's not exactly what Philebs was saying, largely because it got sucked up in a "blame the media" campaign while not acknowledging that yes, while a correspondent in the mainstream media did bait the Obama campaign with the cover, the pile-on that splatted out probably wouldn't have happened had the Obama campaign not denounced the cover, elevating it into a position of media legitimacy the ugly anti-Obama aspersions on the margins have lacked outside of bigot choirs.

Looking at, the Dinqy News consolidation of Philly's two papers of record, reaction was similarly missing the mark. Jenice Armstrong provides offended boilerplate, blaming the New Yorker for injury dealt the Obamas. Earl Offari Hutchinson provides a possibly syndicated Op-Ed (the Philly papers have to do more with less, you see) claiming the New Yorker didn't so much draw attention to the idiotic fear-mongering lurking on social margins against Obama as exacerbate it. Dick Polman tries to mediate the controversy by exercising retro-active art direction ("the cartoon should have been framed by a Fox News set, you see..."). Even Will Bunch expresses disapproval at the cover via this weird comparison that lays Gore's 2000 electoral defeat at the "Al Gore said invented the internet" joke, thereby ruling jokes have no place in American electoral politics.

Well thankfully, I was born and bred in a city that still puts out a relatively decent paper I can turn to for a reasonable perspective. Thus Bostodelphia will award its first Hero(Hoagie?) of the Week, given to a Bostonian or Philadelphian who writes something that "clears the air" over what our first awardee would term a "kerfuffle," to Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh. Lehigh's column, "What's so shocking about satire?" nails the problem of media scandel and false-controversy mongering coverage and the campaigns' playing up to same: they do a complete disservice to the American electorate. From George Stephanopoulos's straight faced request for Obama to confirm his patriotism to this latest sound and fury (and Lehigh does a good job at providing some equal time for some silliness the McCain camp has had to confront), there is an audience looking for substantial coverage being neglected. I'm sure editors and producers may make claims about media markets or what have you. Maybe as an end-run appeal then, I'll ask the advertisers such editors and producers are beholden to: do you think the demographic who buys this bullshit is in the position to buy anything else?

Mr Lehigh may be aware that not too far from Philadelphia is the Lehigh Valley, the his namesake in Kensington, Lehigh Avenue, is also the namesake the Philadelphia Brewing Company's summer season brew, Fleur de Lehigh. If Scot makes it to Philadelphia while the beer's on tap, we owe him one. Or another Philadelphia-based brew of his choice as reviews of the Fleur de Lehigh have been mixed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Mobilizing the Home Barware for Bastille Day

So, as Cod's mentioned, while the fish is coping with some sort of fancy polysyllabic version of gout, my running regimen's earned me a stress fracture on my right fibula a couple of inches above the ankle. This has literally crippled my plans to run the Philadelphia Back on My Feet Midnight Madness run this Saturday, the Philadelphia Distance Run in September, and the Philadelphia Marathon in November. If I'm lucky, and my fibula heals in time to pretty much start at training ground zero at the end of the month, I may be able to train to "do" the half marathon on the day of the Philly marathon, and then train slightly more aggressively for the Broad Street Run next spring (and then try my more ambitious schedule of distance running events next summer/fall). Damn frustrating though, but it's either rest up or let my leg grind itself into dust at this point.

Relatively immobilized (can't really walk more than a tenth of a mile without an aircast boot, and the boot's clumsiness doesn't make the act of walking very appealing), I have spent most of the past month settling into the Bostodelphia-Philly HQ literally only a few blocks from Philadelphia's Cheesesteak Ground Zero. This weekend I literally sat out Phoenixville's Blobfest
and Eastern State Penitentiary's Bastille Day festivities. However, today, on Bastille Day proper, I was able to both celebrate a Franco-origin cocktail and imbibe in a bit of eerie, otherwordly light.

While cooking up a casserole of leftover veggies from our Greensgrow CSA share, my spouse and company demanded celebratory Bastille Day drinks. I had planned on making Sidecars, as they have a Parisian origin, fit my liquor cabinet and ingredients on hand, and a recipe flexible enough to accommodate the varied tastes assembled. The sidecar is a cocktail consisting of brandy/cognac (on hand Hennessey VSOP, an orange liqueur (triple sec, would prefer to have Cointreau on hand), and lemon juice (fresh squeezed). Combine, shake, and strain into a chilled and sometimes sugarfrosted cocktail glass. Judgement comes in how you balance the ingredients. The recipes claiming to be the most "historically" accurate say it should be two parts spirit to one part each liqueur and juice. That's what I went with for my sidecar. Spouse of the cheesesteak tends to like bitter citrus, so a whole lemon went into hers, making it almost 1:1 spirit and juice with a half measure of triple sec. My bartending produces mixes "too stiff" for my spouse's friend, so I opted for a simple 1:1:1 mix, which seemed to suit her just fine. Thus Bastille Day was honored at Chez Cheesesteak with a cocktail originally devised at Harry & Harry's New York Bar in Paris during WWI (according to Salvatore Calabrese) and named for an army captain chauffeured to said bar via motorcycle.

During cleanup, I felt like one more. Having looked into French cocktails earlier in the day, I found that a customary end of Day French libation was the absinthe substitute Pernod mixed with water. While Le Bar at Chez Cheesesteak doesn't have Pernod in stock, we do have a bottle of Herbsaint, the spirit used as an absinthe substitute in New Orlean's Sazaracs. Herbsaint and water was my initial plan, but my eye was drawn to a large pile of limes yet to be given purpose in our kitchen. One lime measured out to almost precisely 2 oz. of juice, so I prepared myself a mix of half lime juice, half Herbsaint on the rocks. I like this. It needs a bit more work and fiddling -- maybe another spirit or liquor or maybe just something a bit sweet -- but I think I may have found myself a good summer evening sipping beverage until I pick up another pull of Jim Beam Black. Expect more progress reports on this lime and herbsaint concoction to come.

What the Obama Camp Should Have Said...

"About what cover? Oh, this cartoon? It's just a dumb cartoon."

There are jokes attempting to tap into the political zeitgeist that fizzle, and then there's "tasteless and offensive." The New Yorker cover is the former. Decrying it by placing it in the latter category does nothing to the cartoon or its publisher (except maybe boost clicks and sales). However, it does put the protester in the camp of those who believe grievous harm can be done to icons and their followers via arguably comic illustrations. I thought Obama's campaign was trying to avoid association with that lot.

Anyone remember this remark at the AIPAC:

"I want to say that I know some provocative e-mails have been circulating throughout Jewish communities across the country. They're filled with tall tales and dire warnings about a certain candidate for president. And all I want to say is — let me know if you see this guy named Barack Obama, because he sounds pretty scary."

The set up and punchline were a little stilted in delivery, perhaps excused since various right wing anti-Obama smears may have set up AIPAC as the proverbial "tough crowd." Still I think this approach, a slightly more flippant version of the "I have no response to that" Obama initially gave the cover was a workable belittling of the "fear and ignorance" movement online against Obama's campaign.

As for the press corps who opened up this debate, specifically CBS News' Maria Gavrilovic who initially requested comment from Obama, some advice. Learn from Gibson and Stephanopoulos. The "market" you're trying to reach is tired of this bullshit and has been migrating elsewhere for other news. Rather than wasting your access to the candidates on sophomore questions based off the print and mass circulated equivalent of crude bathroom drawings, maybe actually read a magazine like the New Yorker if you're unable to come up with questions on your own. I think seeking Obama's (and McCain's) reaction to, say, Seymour Hersh's article "Prepping the Battlefield" regarding alleged covert operations underway in Iran would provide the substantive information the voting public wants. If you can't do that, move over and give some competent journalists a shot at this beat.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Recumbent bikes are growing on me

I'm working on buying a bike for commuting to work, following the example of Jake von Slatt. I should be making the purchase by the end of the month, with the final two choices being a Masi Speciale CX or a Surly Cross Check (with a slight chance I'll fit on one of the used touring bikes at the local bike shop, which would leave me with one of those).

After perusing through Bicycle Science and the Recumbent section of, I must admit the aerodynamic and comfort advantages of recumbents are pretty clear. The highracer types are particularly interesting. Three disadvantages for me: cost (the recumbents that intrique me are $500+ more than the reg bike), they don't appear to be as good in ice and snow, and I don't know of any local dealers. I'm not buying a 'bent at this time, but future longer commutes may make the higher average speed worth checking into. Then the Masi/Surly bike could be relegated to Trail-a-bike duty.

Note to JvS - yeah, yeah, you've been saying all this for years. You know the saying: you can lead a horse to water blah blah

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bostodelphians laid low by illness and injury

Well, we haven't updated in a while. Cheesesteak has been down and out with a stress fracture from running. He has ambitions to do the Phillie marathon and the hard streets of his fair city took him down. Hmm, a Bos v Phillie Marathon smackdown post may be warranted soon.

As for me, well, I've got a classic case of epiploic appendagitis. What, never heard of it? Me neither.

More interesting posts are coming, including a possible Romanian translation of our Jake von Slatt interview.