Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Professor Kowie

A little later today, I'm going to have the enlightening/terrifying experience of being a guest speaker on Print Production in my boss's Publication Design class at Parsons. I was dreading it, and only speaking because I was basically bullied into it, but now I think it's going to be kind of fun. I'm going to attempt not to swear, or call any of my lovely printers "douches" when talking about the MAGIC of the printed page...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Eatin' Out - Monkeytown

58 N. 3rd Street, Williamsburg Brooklyn
Here's what you need to know: Monkeytown is seriously mediocre. My friend said it best: it's another Brooklyn restaurant that would close in two months if it was in Manhattan. While I do think there's some good chow to be had in Brooklyn, perhaps most often in the 5th Avenue/Park Slope area, Williamsburg has more than its share of restaurant pretenders. Unoriginal and flavorless dishes are continually carted out for $17 bucks a pop, although I'll give kudos to the lime meatball appetizer. But overall: weak.

The seating is uncomfortable, with tables made out of plywood by a midget architect with hemorrhoids, seeing as they are very low to the ground with zero leg room, and covered with futons with no backs bungee-corded to the platforms as an excuse for couch-like seating. The service was Stepfordesque, with specials delivered in strange tones broken up by awkward pauses from blank-faced waitstaff clad in grease monkey suits.

I haven't sat in the more inviting back room, where you can watch a movie or listen to a speaker while dining but I don't think I ever will.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Saturday in New York

I had one hell of a productive day today. It's gorgeous, sunny and 75 degrees, and I've got a touch of summer fever.

When Meghan moved in upstairs a couple weeks ago, she asked our landlord Eleanor if she could lock a bike to the front fence. Eleanor told her she'd have to ask me because "that's Susan's yard." Well, I'll be damned. I didn't even know I HAD my own yard, all glorious 18 square feet of it. Since I like growing something, I went and got three planters and $100 of dirt at the Home Depot with Gina's help the other night. With much "friendly" commentary from my neighbors who have lived there for 30 years+, the tulips are in, and now I have to plot what other things will grow in a shady north-facing yard in Greepoint. (nothing?) It looks pretty cute. And no, Meghan can't lock her bike there now.

I finally gave in and joined My Space, after resisting for a few years. Why?? To stalk people, of course. Like the way they say it happens on Nightline to teenagers. My co-worker has been kind enough to let me log in as him when in, um, need of information but enough was enough. The nice part of it is that I spent a lot of the day reconnecting to friends because of the site via email, plus catching up with Pat for an hour on the phone.

I also decided to have my Derby party again this year. I wasn't sure if I was feeling putting on the whole hoo-ha that it inevitably becomes (because I can't be calm and have a chilled-out party - I must always lose my mind and get a ham; glassware; derby-themed plates; invite 50 people; etc. etc.) but realized it would be damn fun to do. I'm lucky enough to have enough space that my friends can come over for a proper party, so bring it on. And remember, juleps are deadly...

Now I'm catching the last two Derby prep races (the Blue Grass Stakes, and the Arkansas Derby) before heading off to dinner at Monkeytown (gay name for a restaurant) with Troy and Crankypants Kaplan. I'm guessing this weather means many drinks will be drunk while wandering about the campus of the U of WBurg this evening.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Road to the Roses

The three-year old racing season is in full swing, with today's card including the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct; the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne; and the Santa Anita Derby in California. The winners of these three prep races will most certainly be the favorites in the Kentucky Derby on the first Satuday in May, with the Bluegrass Stakes next Saturday at Keenland completing the Derby picture for 2006.

The weather in NYC is awful today, with blustery rain and a temperature of 38 degrees. I was all wound up about making my usual trip to the Wood and my first trip back to the track since last fall, but instead woke up hungover, tired and when I tried to take the L the train to Broadway Junction, found I would be traveling on a damn BUS the whole way through Queens to Broadway Junction due to the usual crap L train problems. Hell no. I imagined this taking about 2 hours so I bagged out on going, instead placing my bets at the OTB on Manhattan Avenue amongst some real charmers before retiring to my couch to watch the action. The bonus is that I'm warm, and having Jerry Bailey, the recently retired all-time winningest jockey, on ABC for race coverage is a great new addition to the TV coverage.

The California-bred Brother Derek cemented himself as the Kentucky Derby favorite with an impressive win in the SA Derby, and I was impressed by the late kick Jazil showed in the Wood, blasting through the last furlong to grab second place behind the Bob Baffert trained favorite, Bob and John. A late gear like that bodes well for his chances in the Derby, as the race is 1/4 mile longer than the Wood's 1 1/8 mile course.

Lo and behold, I won $72 on the Wood and a whopping $7.40 on the Santa Anita Derby (less the whopping 9% OTB takeout) from the comforts of Calyer Street. I should save this to buy a new car right away so that I don't have to miss any more big races due to annoyances from the MTA. Instead, I am going to take a car service to and from the city tonight to see the Soledad Brothers and the Heartless Bastards at the Mercury.

Eatin' Out - Williamsburgh Cafe

170 Wythe @ N. 7th
I can't believe I finally went and ate here. It had received decent reviews, but I was really reluctant to go, as it seemed to symbolize to me all of the bad parts of gentrification that have come to Williamsburg in the past 6 or 7 years. Located in the former home of a Polish bakery, the outside of the building has all these clever Brooklyn-themed signs that made me think of Bennigans/TGI Friday's/any chain restaurant that decorates with pointless signs and kitschy chotchkes. (Boy I like those two words together...kitschy chotchkes! kitschy chotchkes!) Unfair, sure, but I simply assumed I would hate it.

Long story short - I had brunch here today with Helen and it was pretty good, even taking into account that brunch is the worst meal to judge a restaurant on. The interior is HUGE, with a weird mix of tons of hanging plants and historical artifacts from Ye Olde Willamsburgh days in a skylight-lit room. The historical stuff in the decor was actually interesting but cracked me up, making me feel like I was in a Williamsburg tourist trap (has it really come to that?). If Mark Twain or George Washington had set foot anywhere near Brooklyn, there would have been a historical marker. The menu is a standard yet interesting mix of panini/pizza/benedicts/ flavored waffles & pancakes, and the pricey $12 brunch price for most of these items includes one alcoholic drink. Service was friendly and attentive, surprising me again by providing something other than contemptuous hipster staff. I think I may go again and be forced to admit my reverse snobbery was unwarranted.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Taking 40,000 hits of Ecstasy is BAD

Do we really need British scientists to tell us that taking 40,000 hits of E over 17 years might cause a body some problems? The subject "suffers from severe physical and mental health side-effects, including extreme memory problems, paranoia, hallucinations and depression. He also suffers from painful muscle rigidity around his neck and jaw which often prevents him from opening his mouth. The doctors believe many of these symptoms may be permanent."

Go figure.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

My Favorite Time of Year

Today is "Opening Night", signifying the return of that best of seasons, the April to October baseball season. The properly-named OPENING DAY is tomorrow, kicking off the full-on start of the 2006 season. Up until about 5 years ago, the first pitch of the season always took place in Cincinnati, as it is the oldest franchise in MLB. Cincinnati has an Opening Day Parade every year, for godssakes -- Let them keep the first pitch. The loss of this fine tradition due to grubbing after Sunday night TV advertising cash is a bummer, as are the constantly changing names of ballparks, depending on which huge utility coughed up some bucks for two years for the naming rights. I have no idea where teams are playing anymore by reading the name. I miss stadiums with permanent names like Three River, County, Candlestick and Riverfront. Even if those stadiums were boxy behemoths, at least they weren't called stuff like "PETCO Park".

Wonder how the steroid scandals will shake out, and what will be done about all the record-breaking years of hitting between 1997-2003? McGuire, Bonds, Palmeiro, Sosa etc. are all big bunch of cheaters (check out the charts in today's Times showing how much their home run production went up for those years) but the records will probably have to stand. How can you pull them all out of the books? And what would be in their place? Will Commissioner Selig take the fall for not putting any serious penalties for steroid use until 2005? Lots of questions to be answered as it unfolds more and more. But here's to hoping Bonds doesn't break Aaron's total home run record of 755....

The Reds will suck again this year, for the sixth season running. Amusingly, we now have Bronson Arroyo as our #2 pitcher, the cornrowed rock-n-roller formerly of Boston. Eric Milton will hopefully get his ERA under 6.00; Adam Dunn will hit 40 homers, plus strike out 150 times; and maybe a healthy Griffey Jr. will play more than 130 games. Lots to look forward to in the Queen City. Ha.

God Bless baseball and Daylight Savings Time. Oh, and p.s. baseball should open on a gorgeous spring afternoon, not on a Sunday night, or in another country. Thank you.

Call For Submissions

Does anyone know how one a certain utility that gives you TV with a neighbor? Please email any hints and tips about how such totally legal practices might occur.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Gun Club Tribute

My pal Eric Moffat is putting on this show next weekend in SF in the space that was the old Covered Wagon Saloon. They'll be playing 25-30 songs penned by Jeffery Lee, and Eric is playing guitar with 3 of the former Dwarves in one of two house bands for the night. Eric as a Dwarf. So sorry I am missing his return to the stage in this arena! And while I'm on the topic of EM, I've been digging his work as producer of the new Marcus Shelby Jazz Orchestra CD Port Chicago.