The Birria Boom Is Complicated, but Simply Delicious – The New York Times

“The hype for birria is relentless. On Instagram, there’s a collective fetishization of cheese pulls in extreme close-ups, and images of tacos half-dipped in Styrofoam cups of meaty broth. The parade of magnificent, bonkers mash-ups is endless — birria waffles, birria pizza, birria fries, birria pho, birria tortellini. Birria cooking videos work more like pieces of choreography on TikTok, changing slightly each time a new person performs them.”

I myself began experimenting with making my own house birria at the start of the pandemic in spring of 2020. It seemed like a great dish with many potential applications, and I was even able to package up some and share it around with local friends by dropping off small prepackaged containers to them.

Over the course of the past year, I’ve perhaps made the dish a dozen times, each time tweaking my approach, my ingredients, and the types and cuts of beef that I’ve used. I haven’t yet tried cooking with lamb or goat, but I have yet to tire of this rich, warm, delicious dish and it’s many possible incarnations.

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency Opines on Impeachment

Oh my god.

You know, everyone keeps repeating this story about Ben Franklin over and over again  —  you know the one  —  about how in 1787, as the Constitution was adopted, Americans gathered on the steps of Independence Hall. When they saw Franklin, they asked, ‘What do we have, a republic or a monarchy?’ and Franklin replied, ‘A republic, if you can keep it.’

But what did Ben Franklin even mean by that? Was he trying to say that a Democracy is only as strong as its institutions and that if the people in power become nakedly corrupt and are not checked, that Democracy becomes a hollow pretense that’s no better than a despotic monarchy? Or did he mean that the newly founded nation was a banana republic?

I Can’t Tell If It’s Satire: The Best Coldplay Songs Of All Time, Ranked

Leaving aside the fact that ranked lists are inherently subjective, I honestly cannot tell if this one is an elaborate satire or if perhaps the author concluded that actually choosing a “best” Coldplay song was an exercise in self-flagellating effrontery.

Here it is: A line of demarcation between those of us who embrace Coldplay as the music that serves the least desirable and neediest parts of ourselves, and those people who try to deny that such a part of themselves exists (in public anyway). Loving Coldplay means acknowledging that Aaron Sorkin was right to score a screamingly melodramatic montage from The Newsroom to this daringly sappy and ultimately overpowering emotional gut-punch. Yes, it’s embarrassing. And, sure, mocking this sort of thing will get you hundreds of likes and retweets on Twitter. But the next time you’re alone, and your phone is out of batteries, and you feel broken, you will put on this song and the part where Will Champion’s drums and Guy Berryman’s bass crash in behind Jonny Buckland’s soaring guitar will … fix you. And, like Chris Martin sings, tears will stream down your face. And then the song will end, and you will tell no one. But we’ll know.

Source: The Best Coldplay Songs Of All Time, Ranked

Paradox of tolerance

Philosopher Karl Popper defined the paradox in 1945 in The Open Society and Its Enemies Vol. 1 (in note 4 to Chapter 7).

Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. — In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be unwise. But we should claim the right to suppress them if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to rational argument, because it is deceptive, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists or pistols. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.

Source: Wikipedia

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre or, Socrates in the Desert

Socratic lessons can be articulated in all manner of ways. Pedro Blas Gonzalez examines John Huston’s 1947 fable about avarice and greed.

This is a story told from the perspective of time and the ironic constitution of the former, as this relates to human existence. What is so daunting about Dobbs’ fate does not seem important, that is, until we attempt to make sense of it. How does Dobbs’ story play out in actual human existence? Because cinema employs a closed-ended logic, that is, a resolution, the viewer is afforded a propaedeutic for future action.

propaedeutic | ˌprōpēˈd(y)o͞odik | formal

adjective: (of an area of study) serving as a preliminary instruction or as an introduction to further study.

noun: an introduction to a subject or area of study.

Via: Senses of Cinema

“The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” – Original 1948 New York Times Review

I just got through watching John Huston’s 1948 adventure film, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, starring Humphrey Bogart and currently sitting at #120 on IMDb’s Top 250 Movies list. A cursory search for commentary on the film turned up the original 1948 review in the N.Y. Times, which ends with a strange sentence.

To the honor of Mr. Huston’s integrity, it should be finally remarked that women have small place in this picture, which is just one more reason why it is good.

Indeed, women barely factor into the 2 hour runtime of the film. Every speaking role is male. The tale is certainly steeped in masculinity, manifesting as naked ambition, paranoia, and a deft commentary on the soul-warping power of greed. Perhaps the reviewer simply thought that the fairer sex were simply too good to be an integral component of a story so bleak, rugged and philosophical. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Via The New York Times

Extreme points of Earth – Wikipedia

Volcán Chimborazo
By Dabit100/ David Torres CostalesPictures of Ecuador [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons
I’m a sucker for Wikipedia articles like this one listing off a number of extreme points on Earth. Fascinating to think about the difference between the highest peak above sea level (Mount Everest), as opposed to point farthest from the center of the planet:

The point farthest from the Earth’s center is the summit of Chimborazo in Ecuador, at 6,384.4 kilometres (3,967.1 mi) from the center of the earth (the peak’s elevation in relation to sea level is 6,263.47 m (20,549 ft)). This is because the Earth is an oblate spheroid rather than a perfect sphere: it is wider at the equator and narrower between the poles. Therefore, the summit of Chimborazo, which is near the equator, is farther away from the center of the Earth than the summit of Mount Everest (the summit of Mount Everest is 2,168 m (7,112.9 feet) closer, at 6,382.3 km (3,965.8 miles) to the Earth’s center).

Source: Extreme points of Earth – Wikipedia

2016 – The Year in Review – The Year in Music

A sense of time marching on.

Years go in the blink of an eye.

Death patiently waits to claim all alike.

Set out running but I take my time
A friend of the devil is a friend of mine
If I get home before daylight
I may just get some sleep tonight

Top of 2016 – Apple Music playlist

Best albums:

1. Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker
2. Karl Blau – Introducing…
3. Angel Olsen – MY WOMAN
4. Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth
5. David Bowie – Blackstar
6. Kevin Morby – Singing Saw
7. Merely – Uncanny Valley
8. Various Artists – Day of the Dead
9. Whitney – Light Upon the Lake
10. Local Natives – Sunlit Youth

And that’s about it.

2016 – The Year in Review – The Year in Films & TV

In 2016, I watched only a paltry 9 films in the theaters. I know, it’s pretty lame, for someone who claims to love movies so much.

But times have changed! People watch films on their phones, on a train, waiting in the airport for their flight to board, etc. Several neat streaming services came into their own this year. HBO Now, Mubi, and FilmStruck, to name a few. I watched some great stuff (and some of my favorite films of the year) via such services.

I have modified my tradition of separating films into lists defined by when they were released and instead offer a list of 16 films that I tremendously enjoyed viewing for the very first time in the year 2016.

Will Oldham, Daniel London and Lucy in Old Joy
  1. Old Joy
  2. Silence
  3. Wendy and Lucy
  4. Saving Private Ryan
  5. Bill Cunningham New York
  6. Phoenix
  7. The Witch
  8. The Sunset Limited
  9. Woyzeck
  10. 99 Homes
  11. River of Grass
  12. Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday) in Japanese with English subtitles
  13. Training Day
  14. Song of the Sea
  15. The Invitation
  16. Psychohydrography


Regular = movie watched on a TV or other device
BOLD = denotes theatrical viewing
Italic = denotes a “mini series” or “television movie”
Underlined = denotes a short film (30 minutes or less)

Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy, and River of Grass are all Kelly Reichardt films which were shown as a part of a themed retrospective on Mubi. In 2016, her new film, Certain Women, hit limited distribution in theaters however I didn’t manage to catch it. Seeing so many of her films in short succession has given me a new appreciation for the form of narrative storytelling that allows the viewer to simply experience the characters having interactions with one another. Old Joy takes the cake for best film I saw for the first time in 2016. Two friends whose lives have diverged over time reunite for a camping trip into the Columbia Gorge. A spare, simple, elegiac film that touches on the truest hopes and pains of a deep friendship. I found it moving amidst a year of failed relationships amongst a few of my dearest friends.

Andrew Garfield and Yôsuke Kubozuka in Silence

Martin Scorsese’s long-gestating passion project Silence was released in NY and LA in time for Oscar consideration on 12/23/16 and I made a concerted effort to go and see it. My showing was in a screening lounge at The Landmark in Los Angeles on that date. One couple walked out in the middle of the film. The guy returned for his big gulp of soda a few minutes later. I stayed. I was blown away.

Edward Burns, Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, Tom Sizemore, and Barry Pepper in Saving Private Ryan

Saving Private Ryan was a first-time viewing for me in 2016. An incredible film that has informed and inspired practically every other war film since. Amazing. Utterly amazing.

Bill Cunningham crosses the street after taking photos during New York Fashion Week in the Manhattan borough of New York
Bill Cunningham. 1929-2016. RIP.

Bill  Cunningham passed away in 2016 and after his death, Mubi presented the documentary Bill Cunningham New York ~ wait for the interview where the filmmaker starts to ask personal questions. It’s a true moment of revelation.

Klaus Kinski in Woyzeck

Another retrospective that I very much enjoyed watching was of many of Werner Herzog’s films, also shown on Mubi. His collaborations with Klaus Kinski remain the stuff of legend for filmmakers. Woyzeck is perhaps their best joint effort. Kinski is the madman who was never tamed nor cured. Their working relationship ended after Cobra Verde.

Below is a complete, alphabetized list of all 109 Films, Short Films, TV miniseries, and shows I took in throughout 2016:


Regular = movie watched on a TV or other device
BOLD = denotes theatrical viewing
Italic = denotes a “mini series” or “television movie”
Underlined = denotes a short film (30 minutes or less)

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. 99 Homes
  3. America (2013)
  4. American History X
  5. Anomalisa
  6. Arrival
  7. Be Here to Love Me: A Film About Townes Van Zandt
  8. Bernie
  9. Bill Cunningham New York
  10. The Black Stallion
  11. Burn After Reading
  12. Captain America: Civil War
  13. The Comb
  14. The Conjuring
  15. The Crossing Guard
  16. The Decline of Western Civilization
  17. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years
  18. The Decline of Western Civilization Part III
  19. Die Hard
  20. Documentary Now! Season 1
  21. Elf
  22. Extraordinary Tales
  23. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (in 70MM)
  24. Finding Dory
  25. Futurama: Bender’s Big Score
  26. Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs
  27. Futurama: Bender’s Game
  28. Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder
  29. Galaxy Quest
  30. Game of Thrones: Season 6
  31. The Great Dictator
  32. The Grinch
  33. The Hateful Eight
  34. The Heartbreak Kid
  35. Home Alone
  36. An Honest Liar
  37. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
  38. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
  39. Indecent Proposal
  40. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  41. The Invitation
  42. It’s Such a Beautiful Day
  43. The Jungle Book (2016)
  44. Jupiter Ascending
  45. Kentucky Fried Movie
  46. Kung Fu Panda
  47. The Ladykillers (2004)
  48. The LEGO Movie
  49. Liar Liar
  50. The Little Prince
  51. Rupan sansei: Kariosutoro no shiro (Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro) English Dub
  52. Mad Max: Fury Road
  53. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
  54. Mad Max 3: Beyond ThunderDome
  55. Making a Murderer
  56. Master of None: Season 1
  57. Meeks Cutoff
  58. Moonrise Kingdom
  59. The Muppet Christmas Carol
  60. My Side of the Mountain
  61. Sin Dios ni Santa María (Neither God Nor Santa Maria)
  62. The Night Of (Season 1)
  63. Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu the Vampyre)
  64. Old Joy
  65. Omoide no Mânî (When Marnie was There) English Dub
  66. Omohide poro poro (Only Yesterday) in Japanese with English subtitles
  67. Peaky Blinders (Season 1)
  68. The Peanuts Movie
  69. Phoenix
  70. Pitch Perfect 2
  71. Psychohydrography
  72. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  73. Ratatouille
  74. Rehearsals for Extinct Anatomies
  75. River of Grass
  76. Rocket Man
  77. Rome: Season 1
  78. The Room (with Rifftrax!)
  79. Saving Private Ryan
  80. The Secret of Kells
  81. Sen to Chihiro no kakimakushi (Spirited Away) English Dub
  82. A Serious Man
  83. Sherlock: The Abominable Bride
  84. Silence
  85. Song of the Sea
  86. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
  87. SpongeBob SquarePants: the Movie
  88. SpongeBob SquarePants: Sponge out of Water
  89. Spy
  90. Star Trek Beyond
  91. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  92. Stranger Things: Season 1
  93. The Sunset Limited
  94. Swiss Army Man
  95. Tectonics
  96. Training Day
  97. The Two Sights
  98. Up
  99. Velvet Goldmine
  100. Vulgar Fractions
  101. Wendy and Lucy
  102. Westworld: Season 1
  103. When Harry Met Sally
  104. The Witch
  105. World of Tomorrow
  106. Woyzeck
  107. Wrong
  108. X-Men: Apocalypse
  109. Zootopia