Sunday, June 22, 2008

Off to Igazu

I leave in the next half hour for Igazu with Jennifer and Betty, so I probably won't be writing here for awhile.

Fun last week, just didn't get around to blogging. Monday I went to a restaurant that had opened 3 days before. It was a gorgeous, though semi-chilly day, so I ate on the sun-splashed second floor terrace. Tuesday, watched soccer with John, then he and I met up with Dave for dinner before going to a bar to watch the NBA playoffs. It was packed with American college kids, and honestly it made me feel like I wasn't an American. So. Annoying. I thought I might slap some of them. I forget what I did Weds besides the Brazil v. Argentina game. Thurs Betty came, we went to a nice lunch before I passed out. Friday Jennifer arrived and we met her friend Diego. We went shopping in Soho, where I attempted to flirt with a girl at a clothing store. That was fun, I'll probably go back and ask her out, because (among other things) she spoke the right amount of English: very little. Then we went ice skating with some friends of Diego's. Yesterday went down to Centro to Guerrin Pizza, then I watched Holland play the most uninspiring football in a loss to a Dutch-coached Russia (I'm not surprised, this is the norm for Holland. Raise expectations, watch them get crushed.) We went out to dinner in Canitas at a parilla with some fantastic red wine and red meat and then met Diego for ice cream.

Hmm, the week was much more exciting than I made it sound. On to Igazu!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Cheap airfare to Buenos Aires

Chris sent this to me, and I thought I'd pass it along:
One of the best fares for travel to Argentina in a long time has popped up today. points out that for $758 including taxes and fees, you can travel round trip this summer on United Airlines from Bush Intercontinental Airport to Buenos Aires. You have to make a connection, but it's worth more than $350 in savings when compared to the nonstop from Houston. Here's an example itinerary. Depart July 7, at 4:27 p.m., connect at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, and arrive in Buenos Aires the next morning at 9:20. On the return, depart Buenos Aires at 9:05 p.m. and arrive back in Houston at 10:49 the next morning.

If you want to stay with me, make sure you check well in advance. Also, remember that it is winter right now.

Plaza Holanda

As I said, my sister said she wanted more pictures. Since my sister is awesome, I'll try to comply. Last Thursday I woke up and went running at sunrise. It was glorious. Cold, but definitely one of those times that makes you happy to be alive.

Remember that park I said I run in? The one that becomes a tranny park at night? That would be Plaza Holanda. Dutch Plaza. Oh yeah. I went running at sunrise, so let's just say there were were still a few "girls" there. They weren't really wearing very much considering how cold it was. No pictures of that; I know you're disappointed.

This is down Avenida Libertador, looking towards Recoleta. The beginning of the park is on the left of the picture.

The first time I walked around at 8am here, I was surprised by how many people were outside watering their sidewalk. This picture probably sucks (it's hard for me to keep my hands still enough to take non-blurry pictures), but it's on la calle Paraguay. Hopefully you can at least see that the guy is watering his sidewalk. While it looks odd, it does make some sense because dogs poop all over the sidewalk. This is many ex-pats biggest complaint about Buenos Aires: dog poop all over the sidewalk. Yeah, there's alot.

This is Avenida Juan B Justo. You can see the beginning of the sunrise over the building/train tracks.

Juan B Justo becomes Bullrich on the other side of Santa Fe. And there's this huge islamic complex. By the way, the crescent at the top of the steeple looks really strange to me. My question is: where are the Muslims? For such a gigantic complex, I'd assume that I'd occasionally see an Arab-looking person or whatnot. No. I guess in a city of 13 million, this could be the place for all of them dispersed throughout the city. I will say that there are definitely ethnic enclaves in this city, so perhaps one of them is south of me in Palermo. Wouldn't be terribly surprising.

There's an island in the middle of the pond at Plaza Holanda with a rose garden. The schedule said it was supposed to be open, but there was a padlock on the gate. Life in Latin America, I guess.

This is the only thing that looked particularly Dutch.

I took more pictures, but my camera doesn't have them. Odd. I need new batteries, so maybe that's why.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Creating time

If you could create a blog of drafted, but not posted entries, this'd be an interesting blog. Maybe. So I have a bunch of things to write about, it's just a matter of doing so.

More movie reviews

Home of the Brave -- movie review in a different form, shall we?

[x] movie had Christina Ricci listed 4th but she was on screen for 2 minutes..........
[x] dialogue worse than Hemingway's.
[x] I don't understand why guys love Jessica Biel.
[x] Christina Ricci is sexy and exudes intelligence.
[ ] movie respected veterans.
[ ] I finished the movie.

The Final Season -- My guess is that movie critics hated this movie about a small-town high school team. I liked it. It wasn't phenomenal (wooden characters, predictable plot lines), but mark me down as someone who likes feel-good movies about sports. I'd watch it again. And Rachel Leigh Cook is cute in a business suit. Most girls are.

After Sex -- I probably should've realized that this movie was a series of vignettes couples. Some of them were well-done, others yawners. The first two actresses somehow both looked like Rachel McAdams on screen. Score points there.. And Emmanuelle Chiriqui is a great actress. Other than that, the fast forward button got used frequently.

Blow Dry -- If I recall correctly, I saw this movie in theaters a few months after 9/11 with some friends at Rice. This movie ranges from over-the-top satire to feel-good sappiness; in other words, it was a good movie to see at the time. I recall that we came to the cinema to watch something else, but it was sold out, so I talked folks into Blow Dry. Believe it or not, I don't think I knew at the time it had Rachael Leigh Cook in it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

One of the best meals of my life

After that post earlier, I got hungry. So I decided to go to a nice restaurant. It'd been awhile, I was hungry, and after posting reviews, I was in the mood.

I chose El Quia, which is in Palermo Hollywood, but still 10 blocks away or so, which is a bit to walk when it is chilly (40-45 degrees, I'm guessing).

My sister says that she wants more pictures, but less pictures of food. She will get what she wants, because she's awesome, but I'm still going to post the pictures of my meal. Sorry, Em. As the title indicates, this was a phenomenal meal.

This was my appetizer, which was amazing. I honestly had no idea what I was ordering, except that it was chicken. But, as I told myself at the time, why not go for it? The discovery is half the fun. This was the most tender, moise piece of chicken. Breaded, grilled, yum. Obviously I didn't remember to take my picture until after I'd started. In the upper left, you can see the sauce for the bread. I'm honestly not sure what this sauce was. After quite a bit of thought, I decided it was liver. I hated liver as a kid, and am not sure I like it today. But somehow this sauce -- especially combined with the french onion and garlic bread -- worked. I can't really explain how.

Picture quality isn't so great. This was a cut of chorizo (the cuts are different in Argentina). I'm not the biggest steak eater, but this may be the best I've had. Definitely close.

My dessert, chocolate volcano. This was excellent. Not earthshattering, as I've had similar in the US, but very very good.

I got a cup of the house red, which was good and a generous pour. Furthermore, the owner gave me a flute of champagne after my dessert. A nice touch, since he may have figured I was a tourist who would never come back.

Some media reviews

I originally mentioned media reviews over a month ago. I'm slow.

Donnie Darko -- Some people told me this movie was really deep, and I'm not sure I get that. It leaves you with a question at the end that is mildly provoking: would you sacrifice yourself for someone you care about if they would never appreciate it? At times I wasn't sure whether I was enjoying this movie, but in the end I did like it. Were I rating it, I'd probably go 7/10.

Truman Show -- Rudy said something like "this movie tries, but doesn't quite get there." I think I agree. It was entertaining, but it seemed like it was shooting for more, and it didn't get there. It was Jim Carrey's first serious role, but he was still kinda manic.

Batman Forever -- I wanted to see this back in 94, and never got around to it. After Christopher Nolan's superlative Batman Begins, I thought Batman Forever was facile. I also felt sorry that an actress like Nicole Kidman had to do a role that dumb. Hollywood doesn't really turn out that many interesting parts for actresses. Much better to be an actor, I think. And I'm not going to use this opportunity to talk about how excited I am about "The Dark Knight." But it's going to be brilliant, because Christopher Nolan is the best director in Hollywood. And my favorite.

The Bank Job -- Nothing really stood out for me in this one. I know some people who really liked it, but it didn't get there for me. Standard.

Sideways -- Best Picture Oscar winner (or nominee? I might be wrong) a few years back. I met one of the financiers in LA. There aren't many movies that I dislike for most of the movie but end up liking at the end. Combine that with being artsy enough to be an Oscar winner, and that's impressive. Still, I didn't think this was a Best Picture winner, although I recall that that year was weak for movies. If you like Bildungsromans, this is a decent movie version.

Also, I watched all the Best Picture Oscar nominees from last year:

Atonement: I don't know, this was good, but not amazing. I like Keira Knightley. I can see why this was a nominee, but I don't think I agree. Knightley could be a nominee for her acting though.

Michael Clayton: This was honestly the wort movie I've seen in years. Oscar nominee? How terribly baffling. This may be the most cliched, dull, stupid movie I've ever seen. I've always been annoyed at how I'm the worst at predicting movies, but I predicted everything about this movie. Even various lines I said aloud before the actors said them. Horrible, horrible, horrible. In my mind, anyone who likes this movie has serious explaining to do, because I didn't find a scintilla of worth. Maybe one of the early scenes was half-way interesting, but that's the best I can offer.

There Will Be Blood: Some people love this movie. I don't. I thought it was slow, and it left me somewhat depressed. There was some absolutely impressive acting, including by Day-Lewis. But in the long run, entertainment should be entertaining. Or provoking. This was neither for me.

No Country for Old Men: I describe it as Big Lebowski meets Fargo, but everyone hates my inclusion of Lebowski as a reference point. I liked this, I was on the edge of my seat almost every second of the movie. However, as time has gone by, I have become less impressed.

Juno: I thought I was going to love this. My expectations were probably part of the problem why I didn't enjoy it that much. It was cute, and it was sometimes funny, but many of the funniest lines you saw in the preview. In the end, I think that's really all there is to say about it: cute.

Death Cab for Cutie -- Narrow Stairs. This album is growing on me, but after Plans and Transatlanticism, it falls short. In 20 years, I'm unlikely to be listening to this album, whereas I'll still be putting on the aforementioned two. That said, I liked what they were doing here. I liked the Beach Boys style "You Can Do Better Than Me," a song that I thought was much longer than 1:59. Perhaps this album augurs well for the future, even if this isn't their seminal work.

Chris Walla -- Field Manual. Death Cab for Cutie is probably more Ben Gibbard, but Chris Walla is the other guitarist in Death Cab. I loved this album at first. Some of the songs haven't really held up though. Too saccharine or occasionally too reliant on good production (Walla is a good producer).

Indie rock is notorious for being non-danceable. I can't remember the band (they were du jour around 2001) that did the song "Doing the Standing Still" to describe fans at indie rock concerts. People standing around, nodding their heads. Anyway, all this is a windup to say that if a few songs on Walla's record don't make you stand up and start dancing, then you must not be paying attention to the song. Especially "The Score."

Copeland -- Dressed Up and In Line. I think this b-sides and unreleased songs album was done to get them out of their major label contract. The usual story: the guy at the label who had liked them and convinced them to sign left the label and they got no promotion. As seen by this album, it's a shame, because Copeland produces impressive music that could be a huge success if they got promotion. In my opinion, they have the talent and style to be one of the biggest rock bands around. How many bands can put out a bsides album that is equal to their other work? In some cases, I much prefer the alternate recordings on this album. "You Love To Sing (slow version)" is sublime, and I'm baffled that a song as good as "Thanks to You" was only released here. As expected from a bsides album with 15 tracks, there are some songs that don't work for me, but maybe that is because they were from Copeland's emo period. This album is brilliant.

Some restaurant reviews

Unless otherwise noted, all places are in Palermo.

Campo Bravo -- Laura and I went here. Probably had the best service I've had, they give you free glasses of red wine and champagne (I think this is standard), the waitress was very cute. Until it took like an hour to get the check, the service was great. Ambience was very good. Everything was pretty good -- impressive wine list -- but my entree was pretty underwhelming. I've also seen a Campobravo in Las Canitas, so I think there may be a few of them.

Piola -- Service was bad even by Argentine standards. I didn't pick this place, but apparently it's an international chain of restaurants that started in Italy. Personally, I didn't like the pizza. It's in Recoleta. There was a free round of after-dinner drinks of some frozen lemon thing that was excellent.

Romario -- I get this pizza alot because I can order on the internet. It's ok.

Pizza Pet -- Very near me, I also get this pizza alot. I've started to like it more and more.

Casita China -- getting the fried rice with chicken delivered to me is a pretty standard meal when I don't want to go out. It's next door to my current apartment.

Aire Creacocina -- my favorite restaurant here so far. I wrote a post on it. Awesome.

Sudestada -- My American friends say this is the only spicy food in town. It's good, this is one of my favorite restaurants because it's different -- a fusion of Southeastern Asian foods. On the other hand, if you drive down Bellaire Blvd in Houston and pick any of the 1000 little restaurants where they don't speak English, you will definitely get more authentic food.

Divinia Patagonia -- Foods from Patagonia (plains and Andes mountain area in Argentina). There was an NYTimes review on the door, so Joe and I checked it out. I was a bit underwhelmed at the time, but the food has improved with memory. Not sure how to explain that, except to say that I think perhaps I underappreciated some of it -- especially the appetizers -- at the time.

Barcelona -- In Belgrano. I was pretty underwhelmed by my food, though this place is more of a bar/restro than an actual restaraunt.

Hmm. I've been more places, but this is all I can think of off the top of my head.

Hup Holland Hup

Yesterday was a fanastic day for me. Did you see Holland destroy Italy 3-0? We hadn't beaten them in 30 years, and how glorious it was to beat the reigning World Champions.

Of course, Holland is the best country by far to never win the World Cup, always finding a way to lose or get ridiculously unlucky. And actually, my blood pressure is rising thinking about our recent World Cup exits, because of the horrible refereeing. The referee in the match against Portugal was either paid off or inexorably incompetent. I'm close to breaking my mouse just thinking about it. I just looked up the name of the ref (Valentin Valentinovich Ivanov from Russia) and he should never be allowed to referee an under-8 girls recreational league match. What. A. Joke. Rigged.

Speaking of referees, there was some controversy about Van Nistelrooy's first goal. It was definitely in a gray area. The referee decided he was onsides because an injured Italy player was a yard behind the goal and thus off the field. As far as I know, there is no precedent here, but I think that (unfortunately for the Italians) this is the correct call. Decisions must be made to structure incentives ex post. If the goal had been disallowed, then a player could game the offsides system by stepping on or off the field. It is unlucky for the Italians, although Van Nistelrooy later missed one of the easier chances to score he'll ever have in his career. Also, I generally think that when an offsides call is anywhere near close, the goal should be allowed. And I say that as someone who played defense.

Sneijder's second goal was one of the most beautiful coast-to-coast plays I have seen, and I felt that something magical was happening when the ball was played wide out left to Van Branckhorst.

All in all, it was a incredibly entertaining game. Before the Dutch scored, it just felt special. The pace was hectic, but the level of play was superb, although the Italians are now claiming that they didn't play well. Actually, they are being results oriented due to the final score -- there could've been a much closer result. Van der Sar was phenomenal as goalie.

Further, I think that the game will only serve to raise hopes for the Dutch. They probably shouldn't. Van Basten is a great coach, in my opinion (widespread Dutch criticism to the contrary), but we've just lost too many good players to injury. Also, soccer tournaments are crapshoots because there is such a high level of variance. Witness, for example, Italy winning World Cup 06 despite not being one of the best 5 teams in the world at the time. At the time, I thought Argentina was the best team, and I see no reason to change that now that I live here.

Now that I've pissed off DiGiacobbe, I think it's time to end this post.

An epic failure

I re-read my post about pointy-toed shoes, and wow, what an epic failure. It was supposed to be funny, somewhat tongue-in-cheek (I do hate pointy-toed shoes) and instead it just sounded kinda misogynistic. Maybe I'll delete the post, or try to re-write it.

As Raybould used to tell me all the time, I'm not really that funny.

Monday, June 9, 2008


"I think you always run into moments where you wake up in the middle of the night and question what you are doing, and come to the conclusion that this is a disaster and that you should go and work on Wall Street and join the herd."
-- Richard Kelly, director of Donnie Darko and other movies

Conventional is so boring.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Things that I don't like; will this blog continue?

I'm not really sure why I write this blog, and I spend enough time on it that I need a justification for this time. I think it's because: 1) I like telling stories, 2) I hope I get to communicate with people back home, 3) I'm narcissistic and like to talk about myself.

Actually, not 3. I've been accused way too many times (usually by girls) that I don't talk about myself much. Sorry, I am not interesting to me. I'd rather talk about things that interest me. Argentina! Soccer! Statistics! Finance! Politics! Girls! Beer! Beef!

Anyway, it is inevitable that friends in Argentina will begin to find this blog, for various reasons. I fear that this will hinder my candor. This leaves me in an uncertain state.

A. Continue the blog.
B. Take steps to ensure (mostly) only Americans read this.
C. Shut 'er down.

If a few friends hadn't told me that they enjoyed the blog recently, I'd probably be leaning towards C. Interestingly, they were all married guys. Apparently my female and single male friends have better things to do. Hmm?

So I'm not sure. I've had some short-lived blogs before (remember the blog where I chronicled my adventures in hitting on girls? That was fun!). This blog doesn't make me money. And although I like not having to retell the same stories over and over, I like having personal interaction, even if it's on IM.

Women's fashions that I despise

First, it was the pointy-toed shoes. Honey, take off those pointy-toed shoes. They don't make your legs look longer, they just make you look like [an idiot]. Seriously, your calves look the same no matter what shoes you're wearing. You may think you look powerful, but everyone is laughing at your overdone wannabe trendiness behind your back. Seriously. Grow up. This isn't Sex and the City and you are not Sarah Jessica Parker.

And then...white girls with nose rings. It may occasionally look sexy on Indian girls, but your curry isn't that good, so let's just leave the nose rings to the Indian girls, shall we?

Consider this a segue...Dear Argentine girls, you are so beautiful. [How do people ever get married in this country? There are too many beautiful people to choose just one.] But what's up with the piercings, yo? Why do half the girls on the street have this weird cheek piercing (go into the mouth, go up and to the side as far as you can go and then pierce)? It's not sexy. And seriously, a symmetric face is the most basic component of attractiveness. You are ruining that.

I'm not even going to get into the tramp stamp. For some odd reason, some of the most demure looking girls I've met have them.

Sometimes I want to cry when I walk down the street and see so many beautiful girls who have this random piercing floating around the middle of one side of their face. So sad.

Argentina is not perfect. Not even the girls. But I like it. And them.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

"I saw you today. Only fat. It was weird. There's a fat you out there"

So while I was out shopping today (note to self*: when you are dressed like Bill Belichek**, the girls at the mall who are paid to try to lure you into stores don't even talk to you) I saw one of my friends from Houston. Only with an extra 60 pounds.

I quickly thought, "I'm going to email [friend], and tell her that I saw the fat version of her." And then I realized that this was probably not a good idea. Let's envision this conversation:

Me: So I swore I saw you for a second today.
Her: Yeah?
Me: Yeah, but then I realized it wasn't you.
Her: Why?
Me: She looked exactly like you, only with 50 more pounds.
Her: What's that supposed to mean?

So yeah, I didn't think this conversation would turn out well. That's probably not even something anyone else has to think about. Obviously it wouldn't work out well. Donk.

The funny thing is that the friend in question is probably one of the best looking girls I've ever met. Still, I'm pretty sure she'd be annoyed.

* What is Norm MacDonald doing these days?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Things that annoy me...

I don't have any money in Tradesports, so I can't bet on the Celtics.

Right now, the Lakeres are listed as 62% favorites. Seriously? No way. I've taken a look at some of the statistical models, and the Lakers are probably a favorite. But the Celts only have 38% equity to win the NBA Finals when they have home court advantage? No way. The edge is small, but definitely there.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I've ever bet on sports. Maybe I've bet $5 with friends, but I can't remember right now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

All Quiet on the Southern Front

No posting here til Saturday

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Traditions I cherish

An ex-girlfriend and I always remember each other's birthdays. We've been late occasionally, but since we broke up 10-15 years ago, we've always remembered each other's birthdays. Every single time, I think. That's an accomplishment.

On my birthday, she wrote me near midnight her time, just squeezing it in there. Her note made me laugh, and it made my birthday. The tradition lives...her husband is a lucky guy. She's such a fantastic person.

Added note: I wrote this back around my birthday, but never posted it. I did stuff tonight, but I don't feel like writing about it, so instead I'm posting "olds."