Archive for October, 2010

In the quiet Tenleytown neighborhood is a new Indian restaurant that seems to stand out among the Subways and Dominos Pizzas dotting the neighborhood.

Enter Masala Art, a restaurant that fuses its menu with culture and unique flavors with every bite. The owner of this spot is Atul Bhola, a former manager of Heritage India in Glover Park. He also managed to bring in former colleague and 11-year veteran chef Surinder Kumar, but to Bhola, he is just a good friend.

“I first opened the restaurant in October 2009. My chef also used to be the master chef at Heritage India,” Bhola said. “After I moved on and opened Masala Art, he came along with me, we enjoy each other’s company.”

Inside the 45-seat dining area is the dim candlelit room that adds a calm atmosphere. The Indian artifacts on display and the light green walls with Indian print bring in a cultural perspective that one could easily appreciate. However, the restaurant’s constant drumming and string of sitars that represent the sounds of India can sometimes make domestic patrons feel displaced, especially if they are eating at an ethnic place for the first time.

Mr. Bhola was nice enough to suggest the chicken 65, an appetizer that is basically an Indian recreation of chicken nuggets. They are boneless and tender gems of chicken doused in very hot and sweet spices while the cilantro adds a desirable aroma. It packs a powerful punch of flavor. One of the customer favorites is the Pani Poori appetizer.Puffed hollows stuffed with diced potatoes and chickpeas, topped with chutneys are delicious.

“We want the customers to definitely think about coming back when they leave the restaurant,” Bhola said. “We want them to enjoy the unique food and the best part is when they leave with a smile on their face,” Bhola said.

The menu includes special dishes such as Ghandeeri Seekh, chicken mince kabab on a sugar cane skewer or Tandoori Malai Paneer Kut, which are cottage cheese dumplings stuffed with crumbled paneer and raisins in a tamato based sauce. The sweet tanginess of Tamarind chutney sauce with the vegetable samosas melts in your mouth and overwhelms the taste buds pleasantly. The rock salt on top of cilantro naan (seasoned flatbread) is also highly recommended. The Gaulati Kabab with Ulta Tawa Parantha, is an entrée of hearty proportions. It’s a stacked plate that has a delicate mound of thyme-flavored rice, a side salad, a bowl of baal sauce, small slabs of flat bread and lamb kababs from Nizam. They all taste great with enhanced spices, especially when you mix and match combinations of food on the plate.

“Our chef cooks with ingredients that are mostly imported from India and many people enjoy the preparations and flavors, which are true to Indian tradition,” Bhola said.

For instance the Gaulati lamb, but I was slightly disappointed with the meat being really soft and meatloaf-like. One of the waiters was quick to explain the reason for the softness dates back to historical India and tradition. Hunters found it difficult to weaken tiger meat because it was too tough so they hunted and domesticated lamb instead. The meat is easier to beat to a lean and tender texture so the elderly or people with sensitive teeth can enjoy this delicacy as well.

The restaurant also offers over 29 choices on the wine list at half-prices Sunday through Thursday. The waiters are attentive and helpful (though experiences may vary). Other than that, Masala Art serves food that is undeniably full of savory goodness that will keep customers coming back for more as Mr. Bhola had planned.

Masala Art is open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 10 pm. Appetizers range from $3.50 to $5.25. Entrees are $8.50 to $21.50.

Masala Art
4441-B Wisconsin Ave. NW

This isn’t what it looks likes, no seriously it isn’t. Regardless, how would anyone know and not get offended first glance at this hilarious parking sign fail? It’s accident racist awkwardness at its best!

All jokes aside, they should seriously reconsider re-wording their color-coded parking system unless they want to send out the wrong message.

Staff writer Sam Youngman from the Hill newspaper, reports on President Barack Obama’s planned trip after the mid-term elections. I also got to contribute to the story with some interesting and historic facts. The full article below:

President Obama is giving Republicans a 10-day window to set the agenda for a lame-duck session and the new legislative year by leaving the country right after the midterm elections.

The timing of the president’s trip to Asia is worrying some Democrats, who believe it could cede further momentum to a resurgent Republican Party that might win a House majority on Nov. 2.

“Unless we’re planning to hold the lame duck in India, it makes zero sense to take a 10-day overseas trip right after what could be a disastrous midterm election,” said one Democratic strategist, speaking on background so as not to anger White House officials. “It will demoralize Democrats and needlessly cede message and momentum to Republicans.”

But the White House says the trip, which will also cover Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, is an important part of the president’s effort to strengthen the economy, the issue that has left Obama and his Democratic allies in peril.

“The president understands that his job requires him to focus on more than one important thing at time,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest. “Make no mistake, a top priority of the president’s trip is ensuring markets in Asia are open to American businesses that are instrumental to creating jobs and growing the economy here at home.”

The trip, moved up a couple of days by the White House, is not without precedent, and a similar decision once resulted in a happy ending for Democrats.

Former President Clinton took a page from a Southwest Airlines “Want to get away?” commercial and left Washington for a summit in Asia immediately after Republicans won House and Senate majorities in a 54-seat tsunami in 1994. Clinton was eviscerated by the press for leaving the country after his party was left in shambles and the future of his presidency was in doubt.

“Bill Clinton’s escape from a shell-shocked White House during the post-election turmoil that descended on his administration and his party serves as a metaphor for his unraveling presidency,” wrote conservative columnist Donald Lambro.

Former Clinton White House officials, however, said time away from the country gave Clinton time to gain perspective and remind voters of the power of the presidency on the foreign policy front.

Dee Dee Myers, Clinton’s press secretary at the time, said that while a lot of people questioned the decision for the president to be out of the country, she thought it was a plus for Clinton to be away to “refocus his mindset beyond the contours of domestic policies.”

“It’s a little counter-intuitive, but it makes sense,” Myers said.

The story turned out well for Clinton, who emerged from his well documented war with Newt Gingrich’s Congress to win reelection in 1996. But Obama faces higher national unemployment figures, a new breed of angry Republican and a media environment that has been on a steady regimen of steroids since the Clinton days.

Obama, who has stayed close to home in 2010 after a whirlwind globe-trotting first year in office his administration said was designed to “restore America’s reputation abroad,” has struggled to maintain message discipline when out of the country.

During the summer of 2009 while the healthcare debate was raging, the president was forced to issue a clarifying statement during a trip in Moscow to walk back remarks then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel made to The Wall Street Journal about the public health insurance option.

This trip has the potential to be much worse for Obama and Democrats, the Democratic strategist said, by giving Republicans a head-start in pushing for an across-the-board extension of the Bush tax cuts.

“Mark my words, they will seize the moment and ram an extension of the Bush tax cuts down our throats,” the strategist said. “Fair or not, [the trip] is just a terrible idea.”

But Larry Berman, an expert on the presidency and a political science professor at the University of California-Davis, said there is little political risk in Obama’s travel even though the “bloggers and Obama-haters are having a field day.”

Obama has been “putting most of his time and energy these past two months into the elections, trying to re-energize his base and hold losses,” Berman said. “It now makes sense to let the dust settle before returning to what looks certain to be a different political dynamic in D.C.

“Being away will allow for some perspective, perhaps a change in game plan and personnel.”

Jamal Simmons, an aide to Clinton in 1994, said Obama has a job to do as president, and his presence in Washington during the aftermath of this year’s elections is unnecessary.

“The president is not a pundit, so there’s not much use for him to sit around and haggle about the election results,” Simmons said. “Whether the Democrats win or lose, the president ought to be getting back to work governing the country and managing foreign affairs.”

Myers said that while the Washington echo chamber is filled with media and pundit speculation about the meaning of the election results, Obama will at least have the comfort of distance as he waits for the dust to settle.

“It’s not a very productive time to be in Washington,” Myers said. “There’s not much you can do.”

Cross-posted from The Hill

Here’s a short excerpt for a short story I’m working on:

Casey Peters stared at his device with a hopeful sense of achievement. He had just created his greatest device. A device that would let him recreate any special moment or complex scenario that usually happened in relationships with any girl he knew, any girl wanted, any girl he desired.

“Oh man, I can’t believe you actually finished it! Do you think it’s going to work?” his friend, Terry Clint asked. His cream-coffee colored eyes began to widen like saucers at Casey’s greatest invention. The device emitted a turquoise glow that beat off his face and flickered in the dark room of Casey’s basement.

“I don’t know, I hope so,” Casey said nervously.

He placed the small machine on his desk. The device was a sleek laptop encased in a protective glass finish. It was a hundred times more stylish than an Apple Macbook and its technology in comparison made it a relic. Peters moved his fingertips across the glowing touch screen in orchestrating fashion. The displayed digital rotating cogs and weird panels  reacted to his every touch. It stated coded numbers and sequences with complex diagonistics only Casey could decipher. It was exactly like the heads-up displays in sci-fi movies Casey had seen in the Matrix or Minority Report. He then magically dipped both  his hands into the screen then enlarged it significantly by spreading his arms out. The turquoise glowing screen suddenly shape-shifted into a massive bright sphere. It completely illuminated the room. Casey found himself rotating a 3-D globe with traces of lines that connected with each other like co-ordinated vectors with his outstretched palms.

“Whoa, what is that?” Terry asked, literally crippled with astonishment.

“This? Okay, this is really cool,” Casey scooted up on his seat excitedly, gearing up to explain the sophisticated diagram to his friend.

“This thing right here is a visual archive map of my memories that I uploaded with the program ‘Seize’.

“What’s Seize?”

“Just software I created to make all this possible, without it I don’t think I’d be able capture my memories,” Casey explained.

“Oh alright,”

Casey pointed at glowing bulb-lighted core hollowed within his enlarged sphere.

“See that? That thing in the middle is the center of where all my memories originate. It’s like the core processor which is basically the ‘brain’ of the system. The lines that extend from the core represent transitional segments of various chronological sequences that connect all these little reticule cogs, which are like axioms or brain nodes.  The cogs or nodes, whatever you wanna call it, represent all my memories of  all the girls I ever dated or been with and it let’s me interact  or re-interact with those saved memories I have of  them once I choose to access one. For example, this cog right here,” Casey tapped a cog on the enlarged sphere and it lit up in a neon hot white light. It rotated rapidly and the screen immediately zoomed in on the cog. It then transformed into an individual sub sphere then opened up like a shell. “This cog here is a memory capsule that works like a computer file. It stores this memory I have of a particular person related to my love life in any way. With Seize I can go into that memory and relive it or alter it but it doesn’t alter anything in real-time,” Casey finished explaining.

The cog then showed displayed a video relay of a girl with dark hair and caramel colored skin. The two friends were looking at a live action stream of her sitting on a wooden bench at a recreational park. She seemed nervous and held onto her purse tightly. She then looked back at the screen and smiled, flashing incredibly white teeth.

“Wow! oh she’s a knockout man, who is that?” Terry asked

“Clarissa Johnson. May 17, 2005. My first kiss,”

“You had your first kiss when you were 18?” Clint said.

“Shut up,”

Terry shrugged.

“This was a special moment Terry but I just wished it never happened,”


“She had. She had a boyfriend,” Casey said with a hint of guilt.

“SO?” Terry said nonchalantly.

“He was my best friend,”

“Damn Casey, I thought I was your best friend, anyways big deal”

Casey shook his head with disgust.

“So those light up dot thingys are like all the girls you ever hooked up with? That’s crazy. You got like a million of ’em” Terry said still amazed.

“Yeah I guess. I can also add new ones,”


Casey held up a another futuristic looking device that that he held up. It was a transparent round piece that he slid onto his right eye like a pair of contacts.

“That my friend, I will have to show you,”

Every year, the music industry provides us with new songs and hits we want to add to our playlists. Given everyone has different music tastes, I feel as if we have to battle through the onslaught of overplayed radio hits and the shameful promotion of talentless and annoying musicians such as Justin Bieber, Flo Rida and Ke$ha.

With this playlist, I’ve made it my personal mission to share and listen to music I actually like, not because it ranked high up on the billboards.

Fear not, because there is always good music that prevails and discovering good music makes listening to it a more enjoyable experience. Whether you hear a good song in a club, on a blog, a video game soundtrack or simply by word of mouth, chances are that it may be gaining some  deserved recognition. So it doesn’t hurt if you take the time to check it out.

I noticed some songs such as “Like a G6” by Far East Movement suddenly gained explosive buzz over a year after its release. This track has become one of the hottest mid-summer jams. However, this isn’t just another overplayed club banger (Never mind the vocals or how many times you heard it)

What makes “Like a G6” really good  is the snaring and futuristic bass beat with a catchy chorus. The song puts you in the ultimate party-mode and fills you with unshakeable confidence. Don’t take my word for it but it’s definitely a requisite for a dope party playlist if you ever want to have one. There are also some other great songs here on this playlist. Most notably, “Tighten Up” by the Black Keys , which is a rhythm and blues laden  track that rocks the soul. To top it off , this playlist features artists such as Tegan and Sara, Gorillaz and of course Lil Wayne. Enjoy!

Gorillaz feature with "Stylo" single

The end credits roll on the plasma TV screen and a satisfied smirk spreads across my face. I just beat Mass Effect 2 on “Insanity” but I’m also tired.  My thumbs are sore with stiff pain and begging for mercy, but I can’t put down the controller yet. I will have to play it all over again for the 15th time. Just when I thought I saved the world from the inevitable onslaught of robot alien space invaders and insectoid monsters. I have been bombarded with tedious assignments of space exploration and more downloadable content, stacking my gameplay time to a total of 195 hours. Yes, I have no life but it’s not my fault. It’s these damn addicting video games.

Today’s modern games are substantial in depth. They are filled with challenges, compelling storylines and technologically advanced gameplay but the only problem is that nowadays, these new games may surprisingly offer too much content.

Hear me out before you label me with the derogatory term “casual gamer.” I’m hardcore! I sleep, eat, drink and poop video games. I’ve played hundreds of online ranked matches in FIFA, spent hours a day destroying over a thousand geth in ME 2 and helped Scott Pilgrim defeat the league of evil exes to win his beloved Ramona Flowers countless times.

But when you work 9 to 5 six days a week and take 15 credits of online classes, you start to realize you don’t have as much time to plough through  stacks of xbox games.

On top of that these games don’t make it any easier with their repetitive and time consuming sideline missions and near-impossible challenges.

For example, after beating GTA IV and the episodes, there are still some fun missions that include gang wars and street races with nitrous-fueled sports cars but it starts to wear on you after 10 and you start to groan painfully at the fact that you have 90 more to go. On top of that you have to kill 200 hidden pigeons and pull off 50 vehicle stunt jumps scattered all over the map. The challenges are long and excruciatingly difficult.

In the Mass Effect series, apart from the main missions, you get swarmed by people who constantly need your help and want you to take on their missions for them. Some have you space-travel to many planets to complete an enemy clear out then report back, and others  can be as minuscule as traveling to a market to buy ingredients  for your staff chef, who is also the janitor.

According to Rockstar, Red Dead Redemption‘s single campaign player takes a whopping 20 to 25 hours to complete. However,  hours may vary among gamers depending on their skill.  In addition to that, the game challenges you to complete a 100 percent of it by hunting every single animal, taking out gang posts, winning poker stakes and other numerous challenges. With all these side missions, that’s another extra 10 hours of gameplay.

Honestly, that’s just too much to ask for us avid gamers, but it’s not all bad. There is a reason why these games offer us so many of these challenges to take on along with countless hours of gameplay. After completing the main story of a particular game, some gamers will take on the side missions and multiplayer because they offer precious replay value. Gamers who also put in the extra time to take in on harder challenges get rewarded by gaining points, leveling up or unlocking new weapons or armor. For me, There’s no denying the level of pride and joy  when that Xbox gamerscore pops onto your screen to notify an unlocked achievement or winning trophies on the PS3.

As time consuming as the extra content is for today’s video games, they offer huge incentives and that’s why we keep playing. I may not have as much time as I used to with but I’m still torn in between this love-hate relationship with today’s video games and I wouldn’t change a thing about them.