Friday, May 27, 2005

When judging a kids' pet contest, I think it is okay to disqualify entrants who have pets that are morbidly obese.

I interviewed two child stars yesterday, but I don't want to say more, because I'd hate for some crushing preteen to find this site from a google search. Ask me in person about it if you want. In a few minutes I am leaving for Northampton - actually, first I'm going to the basement to get the Russian super, Alec, and bring him to the apartment to show him how to feed my cat. Then I'm walking to the subway and taking it to Brooklyn, and then walking to the parking garage. And then I'll actually leave for Northampton. I urge all of you to come to the Elevens tonight for an excellent rock show with The Fawns and School For The Dead. Ken is in town and will be playing, and that's enough reason to come right there.

My NYC education continues. I walked through the Time Warner Columbus Circle mall thing - a mall in all but name, it has only the nicest stores, like Eileen Fisher and Williams-Sonoma. They also have restrooms, but they're hard to find. After I used them and decided I had no business shopping there, I walked down Broadway to get to an H&M (on Fifth and 51st).I passed a ton of tourist attractions and a ton of tourists, identifiable by their NYC World of Disney shopping bags. There's about a ten-block radius (or more) from Times Square of sights every toursit needs a picture of: The Ed Sullivan Theater, where the Letterman show tapes; Radio City Music Hall; NBC's setup where the Today Show tapes; Rockefeller Center. I'm sure I'm forgetting a few. Almost all of the stores in this area are the same stores you can shop at at any mall in America. (See: H&M) After I shopped I wanted to take the subway from the Rockefeller Center station, but it was so well hidden I had to ask a friendly policeman (just standing there in front of the plaza with the gold statue, like a museum guard) where it was. He wanted me to take this glass elevator down to the shop-lined "concourse" and I was all, "Can I get to it above ground?" And he said yeah, just go to Sixth. So I did. I am sorry that you read this far because that wasn't really a story. I did take the V train, which I had never even seen before, so that was exciting. To me.

Time to get Alec!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Thank you, boingboing. Thank you. Below, an unaltered frame from an old Archie comic.

Monday, May 23, 2005

My friend finslippy (see links at right) has a dad in the hospital and it is going very annoyingly and frustratingly. Send some positive thoughts her way, please. She just had a birthday so this really isn't cool.

So! L and H, my friends from home, were here this past weekend! This was the first time I have had houseguests, and it worked out well. I made a little bed on the floor for myself and gave up my bed for the lucky young couple. I got updated on the latest Valley news (wasn't much of it - it's only been three weeks, after all) and I tried to show them some interesting parts of the city while racking up points for coolness. I couldn't have done it without my bro-in-law, whom I had to call a few times for backup directions and advice. Things we did:
Ate lunch at Cosi, a NYC-based chain of fancy sandwich shops.
Subway'd to DUMBO; the first of several subway rides that were fraught with difficulty due to poor map-reading skills.
Walked around DUMBO, including that nice park by the river and a stop into ABC Carpet & Home, enjoying the extremely pleasant weather. I think I figured out why ABC is so alluring; there's no hidden storage or warehouse for overstock, so they just put all of the pink satin floor pillows they have in a huge pile out in the cavernous shopping area. In short: Their stuff is neato and there's an abundance of it.
Subway'd to the East Village, which was really just an excuse for more walking around, because I don't really know any specific points of interest besides, "This is the East Village." We did have a good time in the M2M Asian market where we stocked up on Pocky. I also got some whistle candy that came with a toy surprise - a colorful plastic ring with a "B" on it. It was promptly given to eL Bezo, who wore it for the rest of the trip.
Supped at the Chat n' Chew, a nice comfort-food place near my office.
Walked to the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theater, where we saw Mother, a long-form improv thingy that was funnier than I imagined it would be. Highlights include the house with a guy living inside the refrigerator and a jazz trio in the dishwasher.

Sunday brought discovery of a diner near my home that has a generous brunch special, though the food was mediocre. We got to sit in the pretty glassed-in porch area, where I lost a point by excitedly pointing out a dog pooping in the middle of a crosswalk. What can I say, I was surprised, and didn't stop to think. Also I am five years old.
Then there was some Anthropologie time for the ladies, though we were too spaced-out to try on anything. And then subway action up to Central Park for the Ben Kweller/Fountains of Wayne show. And what do you know, as soon as we emerge from underground, it's raining. And it doesn't stop until - well - never. There was a sizeable crowd there anyway (with many children and young girls), considering how grey and cold and wet it was. L and I warmed ourselves by drinking red wine. My sis joined us too. She said "It's been so long since I've been to a concert, I feel like yelling, 'wooo! ROCK!!!'" Poor lady.
Ben Kweller is a dreamy feller (heh) but he appears to be about 15 years old. FoW were as tight as ever. But we left in the middle, our spirits having been broken by near-clearing skies that never actually brought an end to the rain. We had dinner at a Union Square noodle shop called Republic, which hit the spot nicely. Then L and H left for the country and I went to Brooklyn to watch the season finale of Deadwood, which was very satisfying. And that was my weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Meet my neighbors! Rich people are crazy. (Of course I'm on the side of unfussy wildness, though I don't want a tree to fall on me, either.)

p.s. This is a New York Times article, so you may have to register to read it. Go to for an anonymous name/password.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Two little things: I am 99% sure I passed Bam Margera (of MTV fame) smoking with a couple of friends outside of the W Union Square (a fancy hotel) last night. This is my first celebrity sighting during my living-time here (when I've been here for visits, I've seen Jon Turturro on a line with his kids for the midnight sale of the 5th Harry Potter book, and Yoko and Sean Lennon in a car at a stoplight).

Also, an apartment in my building is for sale. It's a 3-room (NOT a 3-bedroom) on the first floor, and it's priced at $700,000. The kicker is that there's also a $850-a-month maintenance fee, which is more than my entire rent back home. Ah, Manhattan.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I finally took some photos of my neighborhood, but my wifi connection continues to be very spotty and I am afraid of attempting to upload them. Anyway. Last night I did a thing the hip young people do: I took the L train into Williamsburg and went to a bar. I had to wait and wait for the train (I was meeting someone at 10:30), and once it got to the station, it was already full of hipsters. So I had to stand along with a lot of others. I had never seen so many hipsters in one location: It was a sea of vintage clothing, plastic eyeglasses, fancy yet comfortable shoes, and black jackets. For the stretch underneath the East River towards Brooklyn, the ride got very wild, bumpy, and shaky. Someone standing behind me actually said "Ya-HOO!" at one point. And then it stopped at Bedford Ave., and almost everyone got off the train, the crowd forming a bottleneck at the stairways up to street level. It was like rush-hour for the hip. On the street people were hanging out everywhere, smoking outside of bars or just wandering around; the street was all well-lit like a fair was going on, but there wasn't. It was just the neighborhood-of-the-moment (or soon thereafter - if I know about it, how hip can it be?). When I found C, the friend I was meeting, I started cracking up.

We walked several blocks away, passing many warehouses and former industrial buildings with the occasional bar or old house interspersed at random. Our destination was Union Pool, which used to be a swimming pool supply company, and has no pool table of any kind inside. They have a very nice and spacious back porch - a perfect hangout situation because you can smoke with your drink. Lots and lots of cool/artsy/dorky people there. The crowd was kind of like the people I hang out with in N'ton, except instead of there being 5 or 6 of them, there were 200. Weird.

I stayed there and met a few new people, and around 1:30 C and J, one of the new people, and I decided to go to another place. So we checked out this one bar that looked, from the outside, like it was just someone's house, but the dancing and awesome music we though might be happening was not happening. So we went to another place, Capone's, because J had heard they had free pizza. And indeed, all you had to do was get a drink and they would hand you a small pizza. And the pizza was good, but the music was loud, and nobody was dancing. So then it was 2:30 and I decided I'd better get my ass back to Manhattan. Outside a yellow cab was just letting someone out, so with some encouragement from J and C I took it. 20 minutes later and $14 poorer, I was home. And that was my big night out as a city girl.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

This morning I found a dead rodent in the doorway to the bathroom. Judging by temperature and stiffness-level, he's been dead at least a few hours. This is all normal small-town life for me, except I think this rodent was a baby rat, because though it was mouse-sized, it had the hairless long tail and the big external balls that rats have. So here's a question: How the hell did a rat get in here?? I am on the fifth floor. And my windows have screens. Can they climb up through the pipes? I am praying that my cat killed it, and it didn't die naturally of some horrible plague that will now be spread to me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

[Here's a typical blog post for ya. Feel free to skip.] It's my first weekend living in Manhattan and how do I spend it? Watching TV with my sister and her husband. Actually, that's not true. Friday after work a local friend took me wall-climbing at a rec center way West on 59th. I learned how to belay and everything, and nobody fell on my watch. I did great with the climbing part, too, until my arms just kind of gave up. Afterwards we met some of her friends at a Thai place in Brooklyn and we had a fun dinner. And then I went home, but it was 11 p.m. by then, so it didn't feel like a waste of an evening.

Saturday I met my sis in the East Village and we wandered around until it was time for shape-note singing at the Living Room in the Lower East Side. Which was very nice to do. They're a new group, with only a few proficient singers, so I felt very useful during the songs I knew. They sang a bunch I had never done before; different singing schools have different favorite songs to call. I stayed there until it was done at 6, and then I walked around the LES some more. Man, that neighborhood has changed a lot. It's half untouched regular neighborhood where people live, half overpriced clothing boutiques filled with handmade stuff. Plus Moby's vegan tea cafe place, Teany, is down there (stopped in, they didn't have chocolate chip cookies, so I didn't get anything). While I was aimlessly wandering, my bro-in-law called and invited me over to Brooklyn for dinner. At this point I was so tired of walking I couldn't imagine making it the 20 or so blocks back to my apartment, and THEN having to figure out how to get dinner, and then be alone for the night - so of course I said yes. So he made a big pot of shrimp and scallops pasta sauce and we chowed down while I tried to catch up on this season of Deadwood. I love that cocksuckin' show.

And Sunday I came back to Brooklyn for bagels and then a nice walk in the park with the fam. My parents came in. There was a lot of the five adults watching the tiny niece whilst rapt with wonder. And then there was some other stuff but it's all boring, and then it was Monday and time for work. Tonight I went to Metropol down in the East Village, a bar where they show a horror movie each Monday night at 10 for free. Today's was Hellraiser, which is as gross as I remember, with acting much worse and more hilarious than I remember. So that was fun. There are a lot of awesome places within walking distance of my apartment. I discovered a 24-hour diner three blocks away. This may help me in the future. And there's the update for you.

Friday, May 06, 2005

My new office's vending machine is awesome. Not only does it have Now n' Laters and peppermint Mentos, it has Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, which I haven't had in years, but loved when I was a Jersey girl. It makes me so happy!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

[written May 4:] The Q train is a nice one. It comes up from underground and goes over the Manhattan Bridge. I have taken it twice now during the evening rush hour. I never noticed before how quiet people are on a crowded subway train. It's like a library in there, and those that aren't reading are staring at their shoes or off into space. But when the daylight hits the keyed-up windows, all heads turn to look outside at the New York skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge and the Hudson River.

I already have a list of about 25 things I want to do this weekend. It's hard to vacation here when you're working all the time. I did some real work at work today, which is going great, even though my new office has military-grade toilet paper and no container recycling. And for lunch I went and got a fancy mixed salad. I think I might have mentioned this a year or so ago, but they do this thing here that they really should do in Northampton, where you pick the type of lettuce and four ingredients and dressing and a guy mixes it all up, chops it, dresses it, and then mixes it some more, before usually throwing a piece of bread on top and sending you on your way. I am still trying to get used to how things are priced here; my salad was $8.50. I am embarrassed to admit that when I saw the "850" the guy had written on the lid, I thought it might be some kind of code for the cashier and couldn't possibly be the price. P.S.: With tax it was $9.23.

I live and work in a kind of a fancy neighborhood. Across the street (Fifth Ave.) from my office is an Anthropologie, a J. Crew, and a Banana Republic. At this point I have browsed all of them. And at all of them, the cheapest and most common price for a skirt is $88, and for a simple top, $48. After looking at clothes for a while today, I started noticing the price, and if the skirt was $88 instead of $98 or $149, I'd actually consider it. This is why people go crazy with the spending here. There's also a small boutique place on my way home, called Agnes B or something, and I went in because the clothes looked simple and not ostentatious. And absolutely everything in there - a dress, a sweater, a silk shirt - cost $240. Good lord. So far I have bought nothing (save a couple of magazines and lots of food) but I don't know how much longer that can last.

There's Shape-Note Singing this weekend; Saturday is in Manhattan, Sunday in Brooklyn. I will try to make the Saturday one; It’s in the East Village, at The Living Room. Rock.
I wrote a long post at home but then I lost my "borrowed" wifi connection and couldn't publish it. Couldn't connect this morning either. Darnit. I did save the post, but that doesn't do me much good, as I can't just email it to myself at work or anything. ... I am looking into alternative strategies. Things here are fine, by the way. Keep them comments and emails comin'.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Today while wandering around Noho (the real one) I found a small dumpster filled to the brim with brand-new, trendy shoes and sneakers. All of them were paired, all looked perfect, except someone had slashed the uppers so they would be unwearable. The retail clearance system is cruel.
My drive down to the city was easy and traffic-free, and once I got to my new house in Manhattan I got even more lucky with a metered spot right across the (very quiet) street. Which meant that my sister could help me schlep stuff instead of keeping watch over the illegally-parked car. Rock. Everything in this apartment seems to be in order, except that there’s no microwave oven or toaster oven, so my dining habits are going to have to change a bit. That’s probably for the best…

My plan was to empty my car, drive it to Brooklyn, leave it in a garage with a newly-purchased monthly space, and subway back to Manhattan. But when we pulled into the garage, the guy very flusteredly said “Can’t – too busy! Come back at 10.” We offered to stay and wait but he waved us off. Sunday night is their busiest time. So I left, and weaved up and down the streets until I found a nice parking space where my car doesn’t have to move until Thursday morning. And since my plan is to watch The Amazing Race at my sister’s place Tuesday night, I’ll get my garage space then.

Right now I’m eating a scone and drinking orange juice bought at the two-story Whole Foods at Union Square. Tastes just like the stuff from Hadley, except for these I had to push through massive crowds (including at least one family of tourists moving at a bridal-procession pace). And to deal with the crowds, they have a whole check out system where you wait in roped-off lines for a helper person to direct you to the next available cashier. Even with at least 22 cashiers working it took me about 20 minutes to get to the front of the line. Besides the extremely thorough prepared food bar, the most excellent part of the store is the shopping cart escalator. Downstairs is where the serious shopping happens, so that’s where you can pick up a cart. To get it upstairs, right next to the human escalator is a cart one, where little knobs grab into the wire mesh on the sides and drag it along upstairs. Pretty nifty.

Last night I woke up when it was still dark to loud music playing. I assumed it was someone’s radio alarm, but it kept on going, not being shut off. Annoyed, I checked the time - 4:55 a.m.! Gah. I considered what I would do if someone had left their clock radio on while they were away on an extended vacation. But then as I listened I realized that it wasn’t just bass-y, I could hear the treble – in fact the sound was fairly clear. So I opened my bedroom door, and there was my computer, playing a song on iTunes all by itself. Somehow my cat had stepped on the mouse button, and the cursor must have been poised over “play” on iTunes…. The best part: it was a Cat Power song.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Here I go. I am about to pack up my computer, shove a whole lot of stuff into my car, and drive down to Manhattan. You might think that there wouldn't be that much stuff to bring to a fully-furnished apartment, but you would be wrong. Expect updates soon about country mouse living in the city.