Monday, June 30, 2008

Failure to Register? Go to Prison FOR LIFE

Arizona has its share of stupid laws, but at times like this I thank God I don't live in the South.

Legal analysis of the day, provided by Orin Kerr:

"If you're a registered sex offender, failing twice to properly register your home address is really dumb."

(thanks Volokh)

Junot Diaz on Grand Theft Auto IV

(via WSJ Online)

He's a fan, but thinks the praise is a little overwrought.

Can't say I disagree, but I genuinely felt feelings of conflict and distress when faced with the choices the game poses (kill a useless but loyal friend to advance your career, or kill a highly useful yet major asshole?). In general, I felt the game handled moral choice better than the slightly overpraised Bioshock.

Major Victory for Tort Plaintiffs at AZ Court of Appeals

That huge sigh you hear may not be the monsoons, but Arizona plaintiff's attorneys breathing a sharp sigh of relief.

Today, Division 2 of the Arizona Court of Appeals delivered a major victory to plaintiffs suing state agencies in tort. The case, Jones v. Cochise County et al., represents a pushback against the harsh new requirements imposed by the Arizona Supreme Court in Deer Valley School District no. 97 v. Houser, 214 Ariz. 193, 152 P.3d 490 (2007). The ruling presents a far more accommodating (for plaintiffs) reading of Arizona's notice of claims statute, A.R.S. sec. 12-821.01 which, if upheld by the Supreme Court, will curtail the number of successful defense motions for summary judgment in state tort claims.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

The awful saga of Katy Perry, continued

Brief paranthetical explanation: Tucson's "modern rock" station, KFMA, airs an actual Alcoholics Anonymous meeting every Sunday morning at six o'clock sharp. Why, I don't know. Probably part of some ancient FCC-imposed public service obligation.

This is frightening enough to wake up to on any morning, especially after a typical Saturday night of ribaldry. But THIS morning, I awoke to Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" followed IMMEDIATELY by the groggy, dirge-like sounds of Tucson's alcoholics. The juxtaposition was so terrifying I couldn't fall back asleep. Thanks again, Katy Perry!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Things that have the same names as other things (or: where have you gone, Jill Sobule?)

Does this annoy anyone else? I was looking for Sunshine, the Danny Boyle-directed sci-fi picture that came out last year, at Casa Video. And I kept finding the other Sunshine, the snooty British Ralph Fiennes vanity picture from 1999. Why can't these producers exercise a little foresight and put just a little more effort into naming their pictures? Don't even get me started on Kicking and Screaming, the offensive Will Ferrell comedy/disaster, versus Kicking and Screaming the ruminative post-college comedy by Noah Baumbach.

But this is but a warm-up to the greatest offender of all, Katy Perry's I Kissed A Girl:

...aaaand here's Jill Sobule:

Thursday, June 26, 2008


This is a photo of me with my cousin Steve and his wife Hannah.

People often tell me, usually upon first meeting me, that I "look like I'm from New York." Maybe it's just because I wear glasses, don't dress like a surfer, and lack a deep golden brown tan, as so many Arizonans do. Or maybe it's because it's a polite way of saying that I look like a Jew. Either way, I never really agreed with that statement. The idea of New York generally makes me feel uncomfortable, hordes of harried, angry people shouting at each other under skyscrapers that blot out the sky. And I never liked the Jews I grew up with who came from that part of the country, either. Too many of them were spoiled, maladjusted twits, and their parents were little better.

This may seem silly to say, but I was genuinely relieved and surprised to learn that Israel isn't a giant clone of the Lower East Side. I felt much more of a kinship with the Israelis than I ever felt with the guys I went to Hebrew school with, and it's hard to explain just why. Many Israelis are just as rude and bigoted as their American counterparts, after all. I can instinctively understand why Steve decided to stay in Israel, even if I can't quite elucidate it.

Now Playing: West Indian Girl

Saw these guys at the Tucson Club Crawl a couple months ago. They're kind of like a modern, shoegazy Fleetwood Mac, if that makes any sense. I dl'ed their latest album, 4th and Wall, through iTunes. It's very breezy, with lots of sustained harmonies and busy keyboard melodies: the perfect sort of album to listen to while staring out a moving train window.

Official site


Monday, June 23, 2008

Crush Object of the Day: Marianne Dissard

I chatted her up at Congress on Saturday. She's Tucson's resident chanteuse (Myspace link). I've never seen one of her shows but there's lots of ink about her in the local papers. She's really sweet and humble in person, and of course, very French.

Official site

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Snack Shack at the Old Courthouse

Snapped this with my phone camera. I like the wrought iron frame.

Luke's - mini-review

Tucked into the corner of Ft. Lowell and Stone Avenue, Luke's rests inauspiciously near a gas station, a grungy minimall, and some repair shops. From the outside it looks pretty dingy. Inside it's a much cleaner affair, with mostly spotless tables, pictures of various Chi-town sports heroes, and a ceiling-mounted television playing Nancy Grace. I ordered a Polish sausage with fries and was handed an enormous bundle of food, which unwrapped into the meal you see above. The sausage was perfect, with strong notes of pepper and spice. It was a revelation compared to all the tasteless Polish sausages I've had in Tucson and elsewhere. As you can see from the picture, Luke's serves their sausage on a hard baguette rather than a gooey potato bun. This makes it easy to eat the sausage two-handed, without having to resort to knife and fork. I like to eat my sausage without having to remove the peppers or pickle spear first, and this arrangement makes it much easier to do that. The fries were quite crispy, but a little on the dry side.

First impressions overall were quite favorable. I'll have to return to sample their hamburgers.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

9th Circuit <3 Texting and Fourth Amendment

(via Volokh)

According to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, text message users have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the content of their messages, even though that content may be saved on the servers of their service providers.

Good news, especially in light of the continuing telco amnesty struggle.

Still, the thought of sending dirty or otherwise compromising text messages makes me feel queasy. You never know when an off-color text message will come back and bite you in the ass.

Bela Lugosi Is Not Dead

He's got a cafe in Tel Aviv!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Here's a travel tip: if you're in Israel in June, and you're thinking about hiking to the top of Masada, don't.

Swallow your pride and take the cable car.

Eggy breakfasts in Tel Aviv

The Hilton in Tel Aviv serves a wonderful casserole in their breakfast smorgasboard. It consists of a layer of what appears to be hard-boiled eggs that covers a warm interior of tomatoes, onions, and peppers, stewed in cumin and black pepper.

They also served an eggs florentine that was different from what I was used to. It consisted of, once again, hard-boiled eggs in a creamy bechamel-type sauce with thyme -- no olive oil. It's not bad, but I think I prefer it over easy with copious fresh thyme and olive oil.

I'm looking forward to experimenting with the casserole concept. I'm a huge fan of cumin.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"This is a Shabbat lift!"

On Friday I blundered into a lift with an attractive, middle-aged British couple.

"It's a Shabbat lift," the man told me. Awkward pause.

"It stops on every floor. You can still ride it if you want."

Hastily, I stepped backward and waited for the next lift.

Okay, so the idea behind the Shabbat lift is to be able to ride an elevator without pushing a button, thus violating your covenant with God. But if you're observing Shabbat, shouldn't you eschew heathen technology altogether? Just a thought.

A Jewish Wedding

Did you know that the breaking of the glass symbolizes grief over the destruction of the Second Temple? Neither did I.
When they told me I would be attending a wedding in Jerusalem, I had some typical preconceptions: lots of black hats and peyeses (ed. payot? payesim?), modest dress, lots of Hebrew, and typical Jewish seriousness. So I was pleasantly surprised that the actual service was none of those things. The bride, a Harvard Divinity School grad student, recruited her girlfriend to perform the ceremony. Both the bride and groom were vegans, so the service was entirely meat-free (and delicious!). Best of all, instead of breaking the glass at the end of the ceremony, the bride and groom crumbled a sprig of rosemary at the beginning, as a less-forlorn and more forward-looking gesture of remembrance.
It was a wonderful, inspiring service, and I was very grateful to have been invited.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Conventional wisdom states that Arabs are extraordinarily hospitable, while Israelis are assholes. There are exceptions to both, of course. But my experience in Tel Aviv confirms this. Israeli drivers are rude, abrasive, and honk constantly. The shop owners are largely taciturn and brusque. On the other hand, the Arab-run shwarma joint in Jaffa couldn't have been run by a friendlier group of people. Our server, from Nazareth, told us he had his own restaurant until about a month ago, when a group of thugs destroyed the place. He said the police did nothing about it. But he wasn't the least bit bitter about it, either. I was reminded of all the friendly Morrocan homes I visited a decade ago. It's good to see this hospitality has survived the panic over 9/11.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Holy Land

Tomorrow, my father and I leave for Israel. I don't really know what to expect. Growing up as a Jew and a native Arizonan, I felt doubly alienated: no deep regional ties, no cultural connections. There were no Jews in my neighborhood, and the Jews I knew weren't really from Arizona. They were from Chicago or New York; they rooted for the Cubs or the Yankees. But Israel is full of Jews. They may come from Russia or Ethiopia or Spain or Morocco, but they all serve in the military together, play soccer together, live and suffer and strive together. Will it feel like home?

(photo credit: Lou Marano)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Perfect Ribeye

I've been trying to master it since I saw Gordon Ramsay's video. After a little practice, and a better understanding of how basting works, I think I've got it down.

Don't be fooled by the video's title; it takes far longer than one minute to cook, more like 8-9 minutes.

Pour a tablespoon or so of olive oil into the pan. Turn the heat up to medium or just beyond medium, depending on your stove. Let the heat build up for a good minute or two.

Drop the ribeye on the pan (don't forget to season both sides with salt and ground black pepper), and listen for the sizzle. Brown each side for one minute. Then, cook one side for about three minutes. Now drop the butter in the pan, about 2 and 1/2 tablespoons (just cut it like Ramsay does in the video), along with the rosemary and crushed garlic. Swish around the butter and oil, and baste the meat every thirty seconds or so. After about one minute, pick up the rosemary and garlic and place it on top of the steak so it doesn't burn. Continue for another three minutes. Flip the steak again, and cook and baste for another minute or so. Check the temp, it should be about medium rare (130 deg. F).

Very juicy, very delicious.

Also, I think the distinction between prime and choice is pretty overrated, at least to my untrained eye. At A.J.'s, the prime cuts were larger, but only slightly more marbled than the choice cuts. The steak I picked was both thick and lusciously marbled, and about $12 less than its prime equivalent.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Potato Ricer, cont.

Tried the ricer with the apples last night, and, well, it didn't work that well. Perhaps the apples were too small and didn't allow me to get enough torque on the handles. I popped in a few slices and only a trickle of apple juice came out. So I threw them in my Magic Bullet instead.

The curry came out great, though. These days, I start with mirepoix and sweat it in the pan, like I were starting a sauce. I added the apples with water and reduced, then added white chicken stock and reduced again. I strained that and used the resulting sauce as the liquid base for the curry. The result: just the right hint of appley sweetness.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Potato Ricers

Devoted Cirroc reader David bought me a potato ricer a few weeks ago. He and I were talking about cooking, as we are wont to do, and he mentioned his love for the peculiar device. To his surprise, I was completely ignorant of its charms. Shocked, he left immediately and returned with a brand-new ricer.

I admit I was skeptical of the device initially. But when I received a bounty of potatoes from the CSA last week, I decided to try it out. (A word of warning: be sure to boil the potatoes to a near soup-like consistency before inserting them in the ricer or risk shoulder dislocation.) The ricer produced a fine stream of potato which produced the lightest, most delicious hash browns I have ever tasted. I tend to prefer home fries over hash browns, but the potato ricer may turn me into a hash brown convert.

Tonight I'll integrate the ricer into the curry-making process, as an apple mincer. We'll see how it goes.