Making the switch from iPhone to Android

Two weeks ago, I made the switch from the iPhone 5 to the HTC One M8. I had been hating on my iPhone for a while and I was ready to make the switch, and a fellow Vons shopper with grabby hands helped me to make the switch sooner than I had planned.

I’ve had four iPhones and two iPads. I was very used to Apple’s walled garden. No viruses, no unwanted porn(?) It was a secure environment. Nevertheless, the frustrations began to pile up.

Top 5 iPhone frustrations: Continue Reading

Waterloo & City, Callahan’s: Don’t go on me

There is no shortage of places to dine out in the LA area, I am aware of that. But the older I get, the more I prefer to go somewhere I know I’ll be comfortable and love the food. Trying new places is risky. What if I get seated next to solo diner that eavesdrops on my conversation and makes way too much eye contact? What if the food his charred? What if the meal is beautiful and very creative but I’m still hungry after the check? Eating out is stressful.

There are a few restaurants that I can go to that I will enjoy no matter what. Waterloo & City in Culver City is one of those restaurants. I’ve been there with coworkers and with my wife for our anniversary and it’s always great. Great ambience, amazing food, it’s really all I need. But last night, I learned that Waterloo & City is closing down for a bit and moving to a smaller location. Waterloo & City is a good sized restaurant, but apparently after it closes in January, it will relocate to a “much” smaller place. The headline does say that the chicken liver mousse will be back, but I really enjoyed eating it in a private corner of the restaurant during the middle of the week.

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I’ve found that when you order charcuterie in a smaller restaurant, the people next to you can’t help but watch while you sample everything on your big wooden board. This was the case at Tar & Roses, anyway. I can’t sample under a spotlight. I need some room to plan my eating strategy. Start with a cheese? Make a little sandwich? Is this mustard? People don’t need to witness this. This is also why I need to order ramen to go. Am I supposed to use the spoon? Is slurping cool? I’ve watched ramenstructional YouTube videos but I’m still not there.

On the comfort side of things, I kinda like Callahan’s diner in Santa Monica. Since moving to LA 8 years ago, I haven’t found too many diners I like. Callahan’s is a pretty legit diner. It’s not spotless, the food is not amazing, the overall green color is interesting, but interesting in a way my Irish grandmothers may have painted their houses in the 50s, so it works for me. Well, for various reasons, Callahan’s is also closing at the end of this year. I walked by this morning and it looks like they’re removing the sign. Maybe new owners LGO Hospitality will put something great into the Callahan’s space, but it feels like the end of an era, even though I have not been around for most of that era.

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I should be eating at home more anyway. My wife is on a tear with Blue Apron, and I just realized that most Blue Apron members are making the same recipes on the same weeks. I had thought there were just a lot of coincidences in my Twitter feed (Oh you’re doing the meatloaf too?) So far the meals are about 70% good and 30% why did you put eggplant in this?

My current favorite restaurant is R+D Kitchen in Santa Monica, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. I saw Elle Macpherson there. You don’t close a restaurant that Elle Macpherson likes. They have amazing deviled eggs. The best part about my current freelancing situation is that I have made R+D Kitchen my conference room, so when anything needs to be discussed in person with a client, we head there for lunch.

I’ve also been going to the new Dunkin’ Donuts in Santa Monica a lot. Too much, probably.

Play your own entrance music with Spotify Connect

Years ago, when my brothers and I were the only members of the BWA (Basement Wrestling Association), we would each take turns “coming down the aisle” to our favorite songs of the day. We’d take turns loading our cassettes into a boom box down the hall, wait for the moment where the drums kicked in, and then make our way into the ring (onto the rug.)

Pat (aka The Red Puma) used “Wait” by White Lion, Ryan (The Thunder Dragon) used Bon Jovi’s “Lay Your Hands on Me”, and I (The Pyromaniac) used the title track off of Aerosmith’s “Permanent Vacation.”

The point here is that playing your own entrance music is hella lame. It’s like when a musician sets up their own equipment before a show.

Well now, Spotify makes playing your own entrance music easy. If you’re a Premium user, just open up the Spotify app on both your computer and your phone. Tap a song on your phone, then again when it appears in the “play” area at the bottom of the screen, you’ll see the Connect icon which will give you the option to control the Spotify app on your home computer.

The next time you run out for a quick errand, leave your computer on with the Spotify app open and the speakers turned all the way up. Then return with a grand entrance.

I recommend this song:

Superchunk covers Ryan Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up”

I first started listening to Ryan Adams when I was living in Medford, Massachusetts. During long walks to the Davis Square T stop and aimless strolls around the Charles River, I fell into the Ryan Adams wormhole pretty hard. “Come Pick Me Up” was especially interesting to me in that it took the loud/quiet/loud dynamics of 90s rock to a new place, with the loud being a camp fire-y sing-a-long complete with a banjo, and the quiet being almost inaudible. Also, usually when people drop the f-bomb in a song it’s in an aggressive way, while Ryan Adams gave a nice, casual delivery of the word “fuck.” I appreciated that.

Last night, while riding catching up on my Feedly, I learned via the Consequence of Sound that Chapel Hill 90s rock band Superchunk had put their own spin on Adams’ “Come Pick Me Up,” and it’s pretty cool. Now the song feels fresh again and I have an excuse to resume my aimless strolling.

Ryan Adams plays the Wiltern December 17th and 18th. See you there.

Bacardi Triangle Review: Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris and more live on Palomino Island

This past weekend, Bacardi invited 1,862 of the world’s best bartenders, luckiest contest entrants and best-looking members of the media to Puerto Rico to experience the Bacardi Triangle, a weekend filled with cocktails, poolside DJs and a concert on a private island featuring Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris. It was an unforgettable whirlwind trip and I am ready to do it all again.

Check out some clips of Ellie and Kendrick below. Calvin Harris was included in the original version of this video but Sony Music was all over me.

Did you want a full recap? I totally wrote one:

First of all, Bacardi knows how to make a blogger feel special. Before dawn last Thursday, a black car arrived to whisk me and my wife away to a chartered flight from LAX to San Juan, Puerto Rico. That’s right, Bacardi let me bring my wife, so happy second honeymoon to us. Having worked more than a few jobs as a “social media strategist” I know how half-assed most brands make these trips, but Bacardi really went above and beyond.

The flight was filled with LA bartenders, media, Bacardi reps and contest winners. One of the guys from Bar Rescue was there. That’s all the celeb sighting I need to have a good time. One Bacardi rep with an Australian accent walked around the plane making sure everyone was comfortable before heading up and down the aisle mixing Cuba Libres and Rum Swizzles for all the passengers. I can’t remember his name but I started referring to him as Swizzle because he used that word a lot and it sounded fun with an Australian accent. Swizzle had a really good rapport with the Sun Country Airlines crew who were also a lot of fun. We were one big airborne gang en route to more cocktails in the Caribbean.

When we arrived in San Juan, we hopped on a few buses that drove us out to the El Conquistador Resort, a giant 5-star resort in Fajardo. (I hesitate to write the word “the” in front of “El” here, the same way I do when referring to the El Rey, but I’m going with it). We were greeted with cocktails from a team of Bacardi girls (Bacardi women? I want to be respectful) and a four-on-the-floor drum beat that seemed to thump until about 4am Sunday morning. After check-in we made our way past the north and south pools (renamed “El Club 1862” for the weekend) which looked like something I’ve only seen on MTV Spring Break.

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Since we had arrived at night, we didn’t have the opportunity to catch the amazing view from our room until the following morning. As the sun rose behind a wall of storybook clouds, attendees got a clear view of Palomino Island in the distance, the location of the Bacardi Triangle concert we would ferry out to the following night. First though, as my itinerary mentioned, I “gotta do some work.”

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Left to right: Dmitry Ivanov, Bradley Thompson and Mary Jo Laborde

All the media peoples piled into a media tent where we had a Q&A session with Dmitry Ivanov, Senior Global Category Director, Rums (sweet title, brah), Bradley Thompson of promotions company Broadwick Live, and Mary Jo Laborde, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of Puerto Rico Tourism. According to Ivanov, this event marks the beginning of getting Bacardi back to its party-centric roots and we should expect these events to get even bigger and better. Well sign me up. Bacardi conducted a worldwide search for the perfect destination for this event, and it just happened to end up in their back yard because Thompson was bombarded with advice about where to hold the event on his first flight to the island. Well that worked out. Mary Jo Laborde clued us in to the best spots for Mofongo and gave us directions to Fajardo’s Bioluminescent Bay where you can see water that appears to be filled with fireflies, which I suppose could be either beautiful or terrifying depending on how you look at it.

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Photo via Bacardi

Next, Ellie Goulding sat down to take our questions. She explained that even though her tour ended about a month ago, she was convinced to take on this Bacardi Triangle show before heading home to write and record her next album. Ellie had flown out to Puerto Rico with some of her biggest fans, and she apparently made the trip across the Atlantic a memorable experience by starting a conga line on the flight. (But did they have Swizzles)? Goulding apparently brought two costume options for the night’s “Black Magic Halloween Party”: Mr. Blobby and “something sexy.” From the photo below, it’s clear that she went with sexy.

Ellie Goulding Mr. Blobby

via @EllieGoulding on Instagram

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Actually, maybe this Pocahotass costume was supposed to be the sexy one. Photo via Bacardi

Bacardi had put a bottle of Bacardi 8 Años in our room, with a note that said it would make a great gift to send home. Or, I argued, would be a great gift for my mouth immediately. So that evening, all Años’d up, my wife and I headed down to Coqui Water Park for the Black Magic Halloween Party, where we grabbed dinner and wandered around a tiki torch-lit water park complete with a lazy river. If you can find someone that remembers more of the party than that, they were not there.

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The next morning, a group of attendees headed for a tour of Casa Bacardi, Bacardi’s distillery. From the photos I’ve seen, it looked like a lot of fun, and I will definitely visit next time, but my wife and I decided to break away from the crowd for a few hours and explore Luquillo Beach, which was totally worth it. We grabbed some Mofongo for lunch at La Parrilla in the Luquillo Kiosks (which made us feel very Anthony Bourdain-y.)

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When we returned to the resort, we stopped by the bar at Las Olas for some pre-ferry drinks. We felt we were ready to go until the bartender on the left decided to spray everyone with champagne while yelling “dance bitches!” “Dance Bitches” does not work with a pirate-English accent, apparently. In his defense, he did proceed to make us the most flamboyant cocktails we’ve ever had, and flamboyant cocktails do work well with that accent.

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When the sun began to set, and after a quick wardrobe change (I just switched to the other Old Navy shirt I brought), it was time to hit the ferries and make our way over to Palomino Island to catch the pinnacle of the Bacardi Triangle, a concert featuring live performances by Ellie Goulding, Kendrick Lamar and Calvin Harris. The island was quite a sight. It seemed that an army of locals had anchored their boats along the coast, creating a very Lake Havasuesque scene. The stage shot lasers across a sea of 1,862 attendees that could be seen from Fajardo. We de-boarded the ferry and made our way through a maze of tiki lamps, past a few rum bars and up to the stage to catch Ellie Goulding sing her hits “Anything Could Happen” and “Burn.”

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Photo via Bacardi

Following a DJ set and a light rain shower, Kendrick Lamar ran the freshly-misted crowd through a set that felt bigger than life when backed by his live band. Calvin Harris finished the night with a lot of crowd favorites that had people literally falling into the ocean from exhaustion afterward.

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Photo via Bacardi

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Photo via Bacardi

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Photo via Bacardi

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Photo via Bacardi

When the rain started up again, we decided to head toward the ferry to watch the rest of the show. I had visions of somehow ending up numbers 1,861 and 1,862 in line to return to Fajardo. Or possibly being left behind on the island. And I did not want to make the decision about who I was going to eat first if it came down to it.

Riding the ferry back to El Conquistador

Riding the ferry back to El Conquistador

That night, ferries continued until about 4am. I peeked out of my room at about 4:30 and Sade’s “No Ordinary Love” was cranked at the poolside DJ booth. Well, all right. This party refused to stop.

The next morning, amid Daylight Savings confusion (Puerto Rico does not observe Daylight Savings), we made it back onto the bus and somehow ended up at the Sun Country Airlines check-in desk, despite the fact that no one working at San Juan Airport had ever heard of Sun Country Airlines. The flight crew was a lot less fun than the one we flew out with, but our airborne gang didn’t seem as into cocktailing as we were on the way out anyway.

When we arrived back at LAX, we were picked up by another black car and taken home where I promptly closed the windows and put on a sweatshirt because Puerto Rico has apparently ruined LA weather for me.

Big thanks to Bacardi and the folks at Citizen Relations for having us out. I thought this trip sounded too good to be true until we arrived at El Conquistador, and now that we’ve returned I still think it was too good to be true. See you at the next event?