Monday, September 08, 2008

Rush Street Visit

Greetings All,

Thank you to all who visited our recent Syndicate Night on Saturday.
Out of the group of folks who did make it in... let me say, the Ketel One flowed strong. The cuban cigars were tasty, and the post cocktail gelato was pretty tasty as well.
Kevin paced himself on the Diet Cokes...

Who knew that we would drive the traffic to Rush Street that we did ! (Those who did attend can attest to the fact that the place was PACKED!)
Our exploration of two newer places was successful.

Rush Street availed itself nicely. The cocktails were reasonable, service was good - and I hear that the burgers were tasty.
Across the street - Ugo was VERY accomodating for our late night visit (service till 1am).
The Arancini were delicious, and the sauce should require a license for purchase.
The "Amalfi Coast" cocktail was a big hit. The Afogato looked too tasty.
Jason can attest to the fact that the double espresso was good and strong.

Thanks to all who attended - We look forward to next time!


Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Time for a Change?

We have a crisis. Its not the air or water getting polluted. Its not that we won't have that Texas tea to power our cars for that much longer. Its not even that we want to have a big polar bear roast.

Its that we've completely devalued the idea of public service. It used to be a calling. An honour - Stepping up to serve something larger than yourself. Whether that was political office, police, fire, etc. The idea that you might go into service for the community good.

Now, that idea is the punchline of a joke. So, not surprisingly, we don't draw the best and the brightest to pound the pavement and get into service for the community. We tear those people up - So, it takes the truly brave, or the extraordinarily well connected, to run for office.

Similarly - we have abdicated our thinking. Given over that power to talk radio or the blogs or wherever else you happen to get your particular flavor of talking points. People don't sit down to rational discourse - They throw bullet points that they recycle from someone else at one another, and wait to see who yells the loudest. I don't mind someone disagreeing with me - but do it because you've actually thought about the issues, not because you saw a 45 second sound bite and now are parroting it back to me.

For what its worth - We've had campaign signs stolen on our street. We've had random passers-by yell through the door, or scrape bumper stickers off. That's not political discourse - that's hooliganism.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Spoken Clearly

Gentle Readers,
I share with you something I found to be both fascinating, and ironic.
Many of you have seen mock-ups of print runs, websites or brochures. Often, there is text included which appears to be english - english characters, word and sentence structure, etc, but seems to be gibberish - It is called Lorem Ipsum. Its been used in the printing industry SINCE there was a printing industry (approximately the 1500's...). Its been a common belief that actual text is both bothersome to come up with, as well as distracting to the individual who is called upon to assess the design (not the writing). Lorem Ipsum is seen as better representation of actual text than WORDS WORDS WORDS MORE WORDS AND WORDS.
So, some of the text you see below, is what is used instead. I confess, when I have done mockups of a powerpoint deck, presentation or newsletter, I have used such text.

Here's the ironic part -
The exact text has varied over the years. Its said that the origins come from a printer who scrambled available galley text to create a template of nonsense for text plates.
Interestingly, scholars have identifed the likely source of the text - 45 BC. Cicero, specifically "The Extremes of Good and Evil."
So, unwittingly, this Lorem Ipsum perpetuates the writings of the Roman Scholar/Statesman for twothousand years beyond its original construction.

Please to enjoy:
The standard Lorem Ipsum passage, used since the 1500s
"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum."

1914 translation by H. Rackham
"On the other hand, we denounce with righteous indignation and dislike men who are so beguiled and demoralized by the charms of pleasure of the moment, so blinded by desire, that they cannot foresee the pain and trouble that are bound to ensue; and equal blame belongs to those who fail in their duty through weakness of will, which is the same as saying through shrinking from toil and pain. These cases are perfectly simple and easy to distinguish. In a free hour, when our power of choice is untrammelled and when nothing prevents our being able to do what we like best, every pleasure is to be welcomed and every pain avoided. But in certain circumstances and owing to the claims of duty or the obligations of business it will frequently occur that pleasures have to be repudiated and annoyances accepted. The wise man therefore always holds in these matters to this principle of selection: he rejects pleasures to secure other greater pleasures, or else he endures pains to avoid worse pains."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Beholden to Hallmark

A Happy Feast Day of St. Valentine!
What's that? You say that its not a religious holiday - its a celebration of love and everlasting devotion and... Well - Not exactly. It might be that way now, thanks to the folks at Hallmark and Cadbury, but for several centuries, that just wasn't the case.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, we note:
The Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, compiled about 1260 and one of the most-read books of the High Middle Ages, gives sufficient details of the saints for each day of the liturgical year to inspire a homily on each occasion. The very brief vita of St Valentine has him refusing to deny Christ before the "Emperor Claudius"[18] in the year 280. Before his head was cut off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer. Jacobus makes a play with the etymology of "Valentine", "as containing valour".
The Legenda Aurea does not contain anything about hearts and last notes signed "from your Valentine", as is sometimes suggested in modern works of sentimental piety
[1]. Many of the current legends surrounding them appear in the late Middle Ages in France and England, when the feast day of February 14 became associated with romantic love.

Until 1969, the Catholic Church recognized eleven different Valentine's Days. There are lots of "Valentines" in Catholic liturgy. The one for February 14th is generally agreed upon to be the "Roman" St. Valentine.

So, we know that there's some healing done. And some martyrdom. This is standard saintly fare. But what about the chocolates, roses, and the 25.00 Cosmos?!
We can thank Chaucer for that. Chaucer, writing in Parlement of Foules (1382):
For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese [choose] his make [mate]

The US Greeting Card Association (yes, apparently there is one), estimates that One Billion Valentines are sent worldwide, making it the second biggest card day, after Christmas.

So, its a celebration of yet another guy, killed by the Romans. Somehow, this one turned into dinner, flowers and a movie.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What Does It Mean?

I stumbled across a post the other day (courtesy of The Dethroner ), which I think encapsulates all one could hope for from a "philosophy" of the Syndicate (save for the wise words which come to use from the one they call... Sinatra).

It should come as no surprise to regular readers (or participants) of the Syndicate, that this comes from an ad for scotch.

Read, ponder.

Please to enjoy:

Monday, January 07, 2008

Dining and Dancing Pleasure

Greetings All,
For those keeping track - a new post on our sister site, Oak Street Ranch, with a review of Comme Ca in Los Angeles.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Video Game Heroin

Greetings from Rehab.

Rehab you say? Yep - here at the Syndicate, we may have been bitten by a new bug.
Mrs. Syndicate recently brought home a Wii.
Ok - yes, the Wii is silly. The Wii is not serious gaming. The Wii is designed from drunken parties, where you just don't have the time or patience to discuss with already intoxicated visitors WHY it makes sense, in Halo 2 and 3, to have two different weapons at once, and why you should have the plasma pistol because of its homing capabilities... etc... You get it. Its complicated.
And nothing kills a buzz faster than trying to explain15 pages of very small text on how a game works.
The Wii on the other hand, is basically lots of bright colors, funny images and easy controls that involve making a fool of yourself.

It comes with a basic set of games, where some rounded, funny looking avatars can bowl, play tennis or golf. All in good fun. There are intensly complicated games like NBA Jam or Call of Duty (neither one of which have we purchased yet, so no reviews).
Then... there are the others....

For Mrs. Syndicate - its Dance Dance Revolution. Just like the freestanding video game of the same name - there is a pad for the floor, and dance moves projected on the screen while disco music plays. Entertaining, easy to explain, and fun for parties.

There is also... dare I say it.... Guitar Hero.
Now, I confess - I did not understand the appeal of the game. But, you pick up your axe, strum a few chords, and its instantly apparent. The music selections track certain demographic (if you were born anywhere in the early to mid seventies, this music is instantly recognizable - From classic rock to hair metal and beyond). Familiarity with the music is handy, because you get the "gist" of what kind of sounds you're supposed to be making.
After one or two tries where you're not in sync - you end up catching your pace, and off you go... Joan Jett, no problem. Poison... bring it on...

So, I might be a convert.
I'll let you know...
...after the next level.....

New Restaurant Reviews

A couple new updates can be found on our sister-blog: Oak Street Ranch -
one for BLD and one covering Red Pearl Kitchen, and cocktails at the Stone Rose Lounge.