Monday, May 31, 2010

Raul's Finite Playlist: May 2010

01 "Art House Director" - Broken Social Scene
02 "Drunk Girls" - LCD Soundsystem
03 "Never So Big" - David Byrne and Fatboy Slim featuring Sia
04 "Blue Beard" - Band of Horses
05 "I and Love and You" - The Avett Brothers
06 "Lantern" - Josh Ritter
07 "Bloodbuzz Ohio" - The National
08 "Silver Soul" - Beach House
09 "A Bite Out of My Bed" - The New Pornographers
10 "Spit on a Stranger" - Pavement
11 "Natural Disaster" - Andrew Bird
12 "You're Going Back" - The Tallest Man on Earth

Monday, May 24, 2010

Next Race?

It has been two months since the L.A. Marathon and I still don't have plans for my next big race. I'm signed up for the Los Angeles Rock N Roll Half Marathon in October but it would be good to also do another full marathon before the end of the year. More and more likely I'll sign up for the San Francisco Marathon in July since Katie, Rob, Gionne and now Scotty are doing it. Nothing like a bunch of friends to make a marathon fun. San Francisco will make for a good weekend getaway, too. I haven't signed up yet, but I probably will.

Today Katie, Rob, Scotty and I ran over 14 miles. It's a big jump for me. If you don't count the three legs of Ragnar, I haven't done more than eight miles since the marathon in March. I was a little worried that it was too big a jump, but it turned out to be a very good run. My legs are a little more sore than usual, but I'll live. I think my legs were already sore from the long, rocky beach hike at Palos Verdes yesterday. I also had a busy evening the night before, so I should just be happy that I even got my ass off of bed to go run. If I didn't have Katie and the guys waiting for me I would have probably gone back to bed.

All in all it was a good weekend. Busy but very fun.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

On a blood buzz. Yes, I am.

It's wonderful to be able to walk five minutes to a concert venue as I did last night to see the National at the Wiltern. I ate a great meal, hung out at home, read, and just before 10, I walked out of my door and caught a great show.

I hadn't been to a concert in a while. I think my last concert was Chad VanGaalen a year ago. That's quite a comedown from 2007 when I was going to a show, at times, twice a week. Lately I've found that I don't have the energy to stand in a crowded room for hours, and I've also fallen behind on my music listening. However, 2010 is turning out to be a year when old favorites of mine are releasing records. In addition to the National, the last few weeks saw releases from New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, Josh Ritter, Band of Horses, Beach House, Vampire Weekend--and coming up is a new LCD Soundsystem record and maybe Arcade Fire. It feels like 2007 all over again!

As for last night's show--the National's first of their current tour--it was terrific. The National has gotten huge and are no longer the band that had to play second fiddle to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah on a show the National was headlining. High Violet, the terrific new album, debuted at number three on Billboard charts. When I saw them back then at the Troubadour, they weren't the hyped band that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was, but they displayed an energy and intensity that was galvanizing. At times Matt Berninger's antics seemed more like an affectation, but on the whole it was a rousing experience. Berninger has toned down his mannerisms--some--to allow the drama inherent in the National's best songs to come through. With a voice like one too many drunken, sleepless nights, Berninger is an enthralling interpreter. His voice is tough yet vulnerable, alluring yet cautious, strong yet messy, and with every new album the National has found a way to put his expressive voice to better use.

Boxer and High Violet have fewer all-out rock songs than Alligator. The National have gotten moodier but that's not a bad thing. Last night's show did a great job of pacing the show, slowly building the drama. They opened with "Mistaken for Strangers" and "Afraid of Everyone" and then rocked out a little more with "Bloodbuzz Ohio" then brought it back down to earth again. The engineering was off in the beginning. Berninger's voice was too loud and drowned the music, but the right balance was found soon.

The National reached great heights several times in the show. "Apartment Story," "Terrible Love," "Secret Meeting," "Fake Empire," "Abel," "England" and a few others were standouts. The show never dragged, and even when Berninger affected a rock star moment by crowd surfing while singing "Mr. November" during the encore, the effect was kind of charming. They will be performing a second show at the Wiltern tonight, and if it's not sold out I highly recommend that you check them out.

If not, check out this clip of "Terrible Love" from a concert that aired live on YouTube last week. Yes, that's my husband, Sufjan Stevens, singing background vocals. *sigh*

Saturday, May 08, 2010

This is what I ate #7

Ox Tail Risotto, originally uploaded by savemejebus.

Honestly, look at that picture and tell me that isn't the sexiest thing that has appeared in this blog--other than a picture of me, of course. That there is an ox tail risotto from Mo-Chica, the Peruvian restaurant in Mercado la Paloma. I may have found my choice for my last meal in the off chance I'm about to be executed.

This was my second trip to Mo-Chica. The last time was with Marisela, but we were disappointed that they were out of ceviche, the dish Jonathan Gold and others rave about. That was two months ago. My experience then was very good, but perhaps I expected too much. I wasn't disappointed but I thought the food would be even better than it was. I know, high expectations.

I got it in my head to go to the First Fridays concert at the Natural History Museum. The Tallest Man on Earth, a new favorite of mine, and Gamble House--among the members is a neighbor of FJ's I met at one of his parties--were playing. I had to eat dinner anyway, so I hatched a plan to check out Mo-Chica again before the show.
Sea Bass Ceviche
Thankfully they had the ceviche tonight. And it was terrific. I liked that it wasn't overwhelmed by acid and the chunks of fish were meaty. It's definitely a good dish.

I had arrived at Mo-Chica not hungry, but knowing me, I knew I would still everything that was presented to me. For the entree I debated a long while between getting the special of the day, a cods served with peas, or something meatier. I noticed that the big menu above the counter had an entree that wasn't in the paper menu given to me--an ox tail risotto. Kare Kare is one of my favorite Filipino dishes and the thought of ox tail made me long for a taste. I'd give this dish a try and see how it compares to one of my Mom's best dishes.

I hate to say it, but this ox tail was phenomenal. Hopefully I will never have to be in the position to choose between this dish and my Mom's kare kare. Feelings will get hurt. The ox tail risotto is the most satisfying dish I've had in long while.

The ox tail was braised so well. I'm sure they cooked it for hours and miraculously did not lose the flavor. The meat literally rolled off the bone, clean and easy. With kare kare sometimes I have had to use my teeth to get every last bit of meat off the bone. No such problem here. And the meat was soft and buttery. It really did melt in my mouth. The barley risotto was a nice complement. I expected this dish to be heavy but instead the effect was light yet satisfying. I can't wait to order this again.

To wash it all down, I ordered a cebada, a barley tea with ginger and herbs.

So satisfied and pleased was I with my meal that I wasn't even disappointed when I got to the Natural History Museum and found out that the concert was sold out. Instead I shrugged and went off still craving more ox tail.

Mo-Chica is advertising a tasting menu on May 27. I may have to see what that is about.