Monday, October 31, 2005

Party Hard

Everyday, as I leave my apartment for work, I walk by a public playground. There are also a couple of basketball courts and an asphault area where kids play baseball and kickball (actually I've never seen kickball; do kids still play that?). I guess there's a school nearby because I often see kids playing there during the day having recess. On Monday though, I left my apartment around 8AM that morning and saw some kids having a Halloween party. They looked pretty cute and some had some pretty elaborate costumes. As I walked by the festivities, I thought to myself, "Man, kids party early these days." I remember when I was in school, I cringed--and still do--whenever I had to wake up before 10AM. I can't even fathom going to a Halloween party at 8AM, no matter what age I am.

So as you can imagine, I LOVE my extra hour. Daylight Savings Day is the best holiday of the year, and this year was doubly great because I completely forgot about it. It was a much welcomed surprise. I remember waking up on Sunday around 7:30AM and thinking "Wow. Check me out. I'm up early today." Then someone texted me and I'm thinking again "Wow. Everyone's up so early today." So I was feeling pretty good and then I saw one of my clocks that doesn't automatically change for Daylight Savings, and the light bulb clicked in my head. "AHHH. Daylight Savings." The rest of the day and actually this whole week, I felt so rested. I went to the gym and then went down to the Village and walked around a bit and stopped by Jefferson Market to buy a ham because ever since I saw this recipe for a Ham Baked in Coca-Cola, I've been dying to try it. I went to Jefferson because I was so utterly confused about my ham situation and I heard that Jefferson Market has a really good meat department. I had no idea what I was supposed to buy. Do I buy smoked, baked, cooked or roasted? Or am I supposed to buy a raw ham? But isn't ham, by definition, cooked? Luckily, the butcher at Jefferson was very nice and clearly knowledgable about the great ham debate and was sympathetic to my lack of knowledge. I made the ham later that night and it was like gastronomic heaven. It was soooo good. I think I wanna make it again.

Anyway, I digress. Thinking of Daylight Savings reminds me of the time when a few years ago, I told a friend of mine that it was Daylight Savings time. It happened on a day when something significant happened to me and so I was calling all my friends to talk about it. And then I'd end the conversation by saying, "Oh, by the way, it's daylight savings." Later that evening, I turn on the TV to watch the Simpsons, and I realized I missed it. Hmmm...what's going on? Then I look at my calendar. Oh crap. Daylight Savings is NEXT weekend. I told everyone that it was THIS weekend. Some of the people I talked to that day, I hadn't heard from in close to a year. So I proceeded to call everyone back, and say "Oh, SORRY. It's not Daylight Savings today." It turned out that virtually everyone I told had not only believed me, but also told all of their friends that it was Daylight Savings. One of my friends said to me that the Mayor was gonna have to go on NY1 and make an annoucement: "It is NOT Daylight Savings. That was just a false rumor spread by Terence C."

Well, here's the solution. We should just gain an hour twice a year, not once.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Hair Trauma

So if there is anything about myself that I get really obsessed about, it's my hair. I'm Asian and I can do just about two things with my hair: 1) make it stick up; or 2) part it. I go for the latter (I part to the right). But styling is another issue. I am forever in search of the perfect hair product. I used to use gel, but I got tired of the wet, "Ross from Friends", crunchy look. So I finally upgraded to pastes, creams and pomades. I soon realized that I need to have at least two or three types of product because the pastes/pomades work better when my hair is close-cropped and short, whereas the creams work best when my hair is longer. In any event, I have yet to find a product that I can depend on all the time. I've had some good runs. For a long time I was using Aveda's Flax Control Paste. At first I thought this would be the only styling product that I would never need. It gave a nice hold, but still left my hair soft. But then my hair started to look limp and flat. Also, I got tired of the incredibly strong smell. It wasn't that unpleasant, and a guy I used to date actually really liked the smell, unlike some Aveda scents that you could choke on. But it was just so STRONG. One time when I was in the gym locker room, a guy told me he recognized the smell of my hair and "guessed" that I used Aveda. I thought maybe he had the nose of a bloodhound, but a couple of other people recognized it too in the strangest of places. Yeah, this stuff has got to go, I thought to myself.

So since then, I've tried everything--Stephen Knoll (also too smelly), Charles Worthington (too greasy), Bumble & Bumble (too shiny looking), Terax (doesn't hold well), Rene Furterer (too "crunchy"), Frederic Fekkai (too girly), Kiehl's (which I'm a big fan of), Davines (too sticky), MOP (was ok, maybe i'll try it again), Aesop (they don't make a pomade), Phyto (no pomade or paste either) and the list goes on and on. You name it, I've probably tried it.

I've also visited my fair share of barbershops and salons. When I first moved to New York, I frequented barber shops including Feature Trim & Chelsea Barber, but I got really tired of the barber just taking the clippers and running with them. The last time I was at a barbershop, I got so nervous about my barber's free will with the clippers that I said, "You know, I don't want my head shaved." Although, I have always wondered how I'd look with a buzz cut. Hmmm....

Then I went to Arrojo Studio of TLC's What Not To Wear fame, but I got so turned off by the wait and the prices there that I decided not to go back. Then I checked out Robert Kree in the West Village, which was decent and although not a bargain, was somewhat reasonably priced for New York at $65. But I just wasn't really wowed by any of the cuts I got there. Robert Kree, though, wasn't a total loss. I found one of my staple hair products that will hopefully continue to be in my medicine cabinet. The Moldit stuff is great. It gives me that matte, texturized look that I'm going for.

It was time for me to go on the hunt once more, and then I found Sam Wong. Sam has a small salon in NoHo on Elizabeth Street after being above the Mercer Hotel for ten years. He only works three days a week and has been cutting hair for a long time and has lots of celebrity clients. I went to him because he's from Hong Kong and I figured he'd know what works and what doesn't work for Asian hair. I was right. He always gives me the best haircuts. And his assistant who gives the scalp and neck massages has magic fingers. So why did I leave? Well, I got tired of paying $100 every 4 or 5 weeks for my haircut .

I then checked out the John Allan Club. John Allan's is an interesting place. They bill themselves as a Gentleman's Club where you can have a beer, play pool, get your shoes shined and get haircuts/manicures from blonde women in little black dresses. You can really feel the testosterone-y ambiance the minute you walk in. For the services, you can either pay a la carte or you can pay an annual membership and get all the haircuts/manicures you want. At $65 for a shampoo/haircut + manicure + hot towel + shoe shine, it's not a bad deal. The women who do the services are all very nice, but there's a definite and amusing hierarchy. When you sit down, you first start chatting with your shampoo girl, and then the manicurist meets you in your haircut chair (or whatever it's called) and chats some more. Finally the Queen arrives, your stylist. The manicurist shuts up while Queen Stylist chats me up.

At any rate, John Allan's was ok, but then the last haircut I got there was TERRIBLE. I actually got it cut again a week later when I was in San Francisco and got a great cut. There I went to a place called Elevation. But I remember looking at their website and seeing "Largest street level salon+cafe in San Francisco." what? Is that something really to brag about?

Come to think of it, my best haircuts have actually been at places outside of New York. I've gotten great cuts in Toronto, Chicago, Vancouver, and Sydney. Oh in Sydney, I still remember "Mac", this cute Aussie surfer guy who actually lived in New York a few years ago and knew the guy who cut my hair at Arrojo (Nick Arrojo is Australian and hires lots of Aussies.)

So last night I got a haircut at a new place with a funny name, Sergio Limpopo. Overall, I'm very pleased with my cut. I think I'll continue seeing them for a few more visits. I got their name from a friend of mine and was most attracted by the price--$40. The one thing that was annoying was the girl took FOREVER to cut my hair. I think I scared her when I told her that I was visiting her salon for the first time because I hated my last haircut so much at John Allan's. I think she actually tried to look at each individual hair on my head. I thought I was gonna fall asleep. Well, the cut was actually only about an hour, I guess, but still...I thought it was a long time.

As you can see, I've spent a lot of time researching the topic of my hair. The funniest thing is that I've asked for the same cut for the last 14 or 15 years and it really doesn't look that special. Just tapered in the back, short on the sides and top and textured and parted to the right. That shouldn't be that hard to do, right?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Subway Interior Decorating

So this morning I was late to work as usual. With my new job, I tend to work from home in the mornings from about 8-9AM. I really like to work from home. I get to sit at home with my laptop on top of a pillow on my couch. Or I get to lie on my bed with my laptop in front of me all in the comfort of a tshirt and boxers. I always have my iTunes going on and the TV on mute, so I'm paying attention to 3 things at once!

At any rate, today when I got on the "S" Shuttle at Times Square, I entered the slopes of a snowy mountain. Inside the car, snowy mountain wallpaper covered the walls and the seats had been replaced with long cream-colored benches that were supposed to look like a snowy rocky mountain slope. It definitely woke me up this morning. I was wondering what it was all for. Was this something new the MTA was going to do for the holidays? After I sat down, I looked up and realized that in addition to the snowy motif, Eddie Bauer ads were everywhere. OH! I get it now. The new interior decorating was for Eddie Bauer's new Rockefeller Center "Down" Store. I felt very much "in the know" since my comforter happens to be Eddie Bauer.

This got me thinking. The MTA should decorate the insides of the subway more often. How about a Prada one? Or a US Open themed one? That would be so cool, I think.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Another Great Find

So the other day I bought some plastic wrap. I didn't really think about it and just picked up a box at Duane Reade. That night, I opened the carton and pulled out some plastic wrap to cover a bowl of chopped bell peppers and scallions in preparation for an omelette that I was gonna make the next morning. I started to tug at the plastic wrap to cut off a piece when I realized there was no blade. Instead this plastic wrap had an EZ Slide Cutter. Whoa. How come I've never heard of this before? What rock have I been living under? I'm totally enraptured by this. I wish I could think of stuff like this. Now I have nice clean and smooth cuts for my pieces of plastic wrap.

(Sidebar: I have been having this Nigella omelette every day for the past week. It's an omelette with chili & bell peppers, scallions, turmeric, cumin and coriander. Then add some chopped cilantro and drip some Jamaican Pick-a-Pepper sauce, which is sort of like Worcestire sauce and I bought by accident at the store because that's what I thought it was. Finally, roll it up the omelette in a piece of whole wheat lavash bread and eat like a wrap. So good.)

Thursday, October 20, 2005


A couple weekends ago, I went to the Great Read In The Park event at Bryant Park. More than 150 authors were doing panel discussions, signings and talks to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of The New York Times Best Sellers List. The event also featured a temporary branch of Barnes & Noble, an appraisals table by Bauman Rare Books and a Used Book Sale. I've been looking for a particular book for the past year, and so I decided to stop by and check out the Used Book Sale here. The book is called Familes: A Memoir and is by Wyatt Cooper, Anderson Cooper's father. I read an interview with Anderson Cooper where he talked about his father's book. It's about his father's upbringing in rural Mississippi and then his subsequent marriage to Gloria Vanderbilt and raising of Anderson and his brother. In his interview with Oprah, Anderson said he really cherished this book because it's like a letter to him from his dad. It's a reminder to him of what his dad was like before he died when Anderson was 10 years old.

I was really touched by this and have been wanting to read this book. I wish I had something like that that would make me feel close to my parents because I'm not close with them at all. My parents were very typical asian parents and made competition an aspect of every part of my life. And although I appreciate what my parents did for me, I still resent to this day the single-minded competitive childhood that my parents instilled in me. There was actually an interesting article in the NY Times about two Korean women who wrote a book advocating this method of raising children that definitely raised my eyebrow, mostly because I don't agree with preaching this child-raising doctrine.

At any rate, I think it would be really great to have something like this to remind you of someone important in your life. Anything written like emails, letters, even text messages often serves that purpose. A simple three word text message can mean so much because it's permanent and pre-meditated and thus is always there to make you feel better if you want to smile.

So I went to the Bryant Park Book Fair hoping to find this book. I've looked everywhere--Strand, used bookstores around the city, online, etc. But I can only find first editions that cost $200+ dollars, and I don't want the book that much. Alas, I couldn't even look for it. The book sale was retarded--you had to buy a tote bag for $25 before being allowed to enter the book sale.

Oh well. I'll keep searching.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

James Bond

Today, I was watching Best Week Ever and the topic of discussion was doctors' reports that Hollywood promotes unprotected sex. In particular, the doctor's used James Bond as an example of irresponsible behavior.

In response to this, Sherrod Small said "How are you going to have a responsible James Bond? What? So Dr. No becomes 'Dr. No Means No'?"

I was dying with laughter.

Only The Best

Last night around 9PM, I decided to head out and get a couple of bagels at H&H and pick up some lox and cream cheese at Citarella. I don't know what possessed me to go out last night other than my craving for a yummy H&H bagel because it was MONSOONING last night. It was the type of night where you're like "Screw it. My feet are gonna be soaked, and so who gives a shit." My umbrella kept the top of my head dry, but that's about it. When I got home, I literally could wring the water out of the bottoms of my designer Helmut Lang jeans (my favorite jeans).

Boy do I miss my old umbrella. Right now, I have a cheapie umbrella that I bought at Rite-Aid. It's so cheesy. One of the umbrella panes has the "I Heart NY" logo. I used to have an umbrella that I loved. I bought it at Hammacher Schlemmer. It had lots of features that made it the best umbrella. I loved the shape of it: it had a nice dome shape versus the spread out shape that most umbrellas have. Also, the handle was this nice wooden hook shape, so I could hang it off my arm when I didn't need it, leaving my hands free to hold my magazine and blackberry or just free in general to wave around. But the best part was the little lever that opened and closed the umbrella as opposed to the traditional blade-like thing on most umbrellas.

Over the years, I would come to lose my precious umbrella, but would always promptly buy a replacement. But a year ago, I left the last one of these (my fifth) that I owned on the BART train when going back to SF after visiting my friend in San Mateo. As soon as I got back to my hotel, I realized what I had done. Well, not to worry. I'll just order another one. Or so I thought.

When I got back to my hotel room, I turned on my laptop and went to Hammacher Schlemmer's site (via MPOnline Mall because I'm a frequent-flyer miles junkie) and went to the umbrellas section. It was gone! I searched frantically for my umbrella, but Hammacher decided to stop selling it. Oh my god. I couldn't believe it. What was I going to do? I then started to search Google for my umbrella and found something similar, but it was something like $100. No way was I gonna pay that. I then wrote an email to Hammacher and BEGGED them to bring my umbrella back or tell me the supplier for that umbrella. Well, of course they didn't tell me the supplier, since most stores won't reveal that. But they did tell me of "another" umbrella they sell. I promptly replied, "If I wanted that umbrella, I would have asked about it."

I eventually came to terms with my loss and accepted that I would never find this umbrella again. It was a one-of-a-kind, I figured. Everytime I thought about losing this umbrella, I'd lament its loss. And last night, in that torrential rain (first rain here in NY in a while), I thought about it again. When I got home, I thought to myself "That's it. I've mourned long enough. I need to replace my old umbrella (too bad I never gave my umbrellas names)." After searching and searching, I found it! Well, it wasn't exactly the same, but very close. Neiman Marcus has a version that's very similar called the Gustbuster Classic. Yay! I'm so happy! I'll have to buy a whole case of Gustbusters.