Monday, July 31, 2006

Beach Jacuzzis

I was in Atlantic City on Saturday. I had never been there before. Actually I've never been inside a casino before either. So unless you're a big gambler, Atlantic City is kind of a disappointment. I suppose those who have been there will know what I mean. Atlantic City is basically a shantytown with a few giant Trump hotels, a real old-fashioned Boardwalk and outlet stores sandwiched in between. It is not the worst place I have ever seen, and it is certainly much closer for Easterners than Vegas, so it is convenient. But if you are going, don't expect to get "out on the town" much. You'll find yourself walking along the boardwalk maybe once, hitting the seashell-ridden, kind of trashy beach and spending the rest of the time inside your hotel/casino, probably.

Anyhow, me and friend were down there to see Margaret Cho, and even though I had already heard about 70% of her jokes that night, it was still a great time and great to hear her biting social and political commentary. Her best point? It was definitely her assertion that our massage-giving cowboy president just wants to create problems where there are none in issues like gay marriage and immigration to hide how he and our gun-shooting VP have really bungled Iraq.

Overall, it was a very nice day, despite our rather late arrival due to monster traffic on the Garden State Parkway. A stop at one of the Roy Rogers/Cinnabon rest stop oases on the Parkway halfway through the drive provided a nice little stretch and then we were back on the road. When we finally got to Atlantic City, we parked our car and immediately checked out the Boardwalk and the shore. I hadn't been to a beach in ages, and the sand felt good between my toes. I saw a little girl digging a giant hole in the sand, and her brother, who must have been 6 or 7, came running over and asked "What are you building? A Jacuzzi???" So cute.

Now I can mark Atlantic City on my list places that I've been to. I had a somewhat sheltered and privileged upbringing. So this little trip satisfied my morbid curiousity about a somewhat (ok, really) seedy city.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Saw An X-Man Today

I usually hate going to the grocery store on Sundays. I can't stand the crowds and mile-long lines. At Whole Foods, you'll see guys with walkie-talkies saying things like "It looks really bad back here" or "The lines are all the way back to the sushi counter. We need to get moving" with impressive military-like effiency. Then of course there's the infamous sign guy holding the "Express Line Ends Here" sign on a big placard, standing miles from the registers, so that you actually can find the end in the throngs of people stocking up for the week as if we were on the brink of nuclear winter.

Well, today I was at Whole Foods Chelsea because I had this craving for mushrooms. So I went in to quickly grab some creminis, white buttons, portobellos and shitakes and then hopefully be out in 10 minutes. While I was scurrying around, since I thought of some other things to get, I bumped into Anna Paquin in front of the prepared sandwiches and salads. I'm a total dork and get star struck at just about anyone remotely famous. So I was like, "Omg, that's Anna Paquin." I even spoke to her because she was kind of in my way, and I had to say "Excuse me." But I really wanted to ask her "Hey, where's Iceman?"

Alas, I just walked around her and went home, mushrooms in hand. Despite it being a Sunday, my trip today to the grocery store was pretty cool in my book.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


A few weekends ago, I saw Wordplay. I left the theater itching to get my hands on a copy of the New York Times and a pencil, which isn't something I generally feel. I used to do them in college when I was bored during class. I was always pretty good at them, but the crossword puzzles in my college newspaper are child's play compared to the holy grail of crossword puzzles, The New York Times.

There's a performance of a song in Wordplay about crossword puzzles with the refrain, "If you don't come across, I'm gonna be down." So, yeah, it's that kind of movie, but it was surprisingly entertaining and suspenseful. There are interviews with all sorts of celebrity crossword lovers like Bill Clinton, the Indigo Girls and Jon Stewart who delivers the funniest line of the movie when he says "I'll do USA Today, but I won't feel good about it." When you get to the actual tournament in the second half of the movie, there is a thrill in witnessing the contestants throw hissy fits when they overlook important words or pretend to enjoy each other's company when the cameras are around. There's the super-hyper college kid, Tyler, who really needs to take a chill pill. There's former champion Ellen who's this kind of nerdy girl who twirls a baton, but came up with the best come-back line when she told her condescending boyfriend, "Well, what are you the best in the country at?" My favorite player is Jon, the mellow bespectacled piano player who's won the tournament a record seven times. He never practices for the tournament. He just comes and tries to do the best he can each time. He seemed to be the least off-puttingly cutesy and most importantly least ego-centric of all the contestants, which was like a breath of fresh air after listening to Trip go on and on and on about his obsession with crosswords.

The funniest thing about me and crossword puzzles is that I once banned them at my old job. I had a pretty large staff on my last case at the last job I worked at. And inevitably, there was some downtime. I was kind of a neat freak in the caseroom, because I couldn't stand seeing papers lying all around. I'd proclaim, "If you don't know what it is, just throw it away." Of the many papers I'd throw away were photocopies of the New York Times crossword puzzles. Why the hell are there copies of these everywhere? I even had to declare it as a rule in the caseroom because I was so tired of seeing them everywhere.

Now I feel bad for depriving all the guys on my staff of their fun. I might have stunted the development of a future champion. I feel so guilty.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm back!

Wow, I meant to post more than I ended up doing while I was away. But sadly, I didn't get a chance to. Even though I wasn't away for that long, I feel like I missed a lot back in NY and am so out of my routine. I seem to have missed the heat wave back here in New York, which I am very thankful for. And I have to say that San Franciscans are wimps when it comes to heat. It was hot, but not THAT hot out there. The humidity is much less, and I felt fine. At least the people out there aren't as crazy about air conditioners as people in New York are.

Anyhow, I'll be posting soon!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Enjoying California Wines

Sometimes I wish I had gone to Cornell as an undergrad. Then I could have taken the famous wine class. A friend of mine went to Cornell and told me that it's really hard to get into because it's only open to Seniors and depending on how the stars are aligned, you get access to enroll in classes at random times because of some weird thing about their system.

Right now I'm in San Francisco again for work. It's a pretty nice place to get shipped off to for work. And if I ever leave New York, I'd probably come here to San Francisco. If I were here I could make more trips out to Napa Valley. I've done the Napa thing once and it was so much fun, despite the almost silly inherent oeniphile elitist feeling you get when you're out there. Even if you're not Andrea Immer, you'll become your own wine expert after one trip out to Napa and armed with lots of information the next time you're at a fancy restaurant.

Last night, I had dinner at One Market which is across the street from my hotel here in San Francisco. Besides the food, which was really good, the best part about it was the wine. They're running some sort of promotion to promote awareness of California wines. The deal is 50% off of ANY bottle of wine in their list, which is like a novel. My friend and I got a bottle of yummy 2003 Cakebread Cabernet for only $60 as opposed to $120. Usually I hate buying wine in restaurants because of the absurd markups (worse are the stupid corkage fees), but $60 is less than retail for this bottle. Tasting it made me think of the good times I had in Napa.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Another Trip Out West

I'm off to San Francisco again for work. I go there so much I practically live there! I'll be posting while I'm away with more stories from the West Coast.

Happy (hot, humid, muggy, steamy) Sunday everyone.

Friday, July 14, 2006

My Arctic Apartment

I've developed a cold. I actually seem to get all my colds in the summer. Does anyone else have this problem? It's my powerful air conditioner. Mine turns my apartment into a freaking ice box. It's like that in a lot of places in New York, including my office. Indoor New York can be freezing! It's like people here react to steamy temperatures by turning the insides of buildings into habitats fit for polar bears. I have central air in my apartment, but even at the lowest setting, I'm shivering twenty minutes later. But if I turn it off, it gets hot again. So I'm constantly having to turn it on and off while I'm sitting at home. I remember once when a friend asked me what BTU she should get for her A/C. She said the guy at the store told her to get a unit that was like 2,000,000 BTU or something ridiculous like that. Well, I advised her to just get the smaller unit if it's just for her bedroom because my A/C gives me pneumonia.

I know a lot of people don't have air conditioners, and I'm sure in this weekend's heat wave, I will be the object of envy by many. But this summer when I'm at home and work, I'll be pulling out my fleece and drinking my hot cocoa to keep me warm.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I've had a busy week this week, and then yesterday, the monsoon season returned and my Internet got knocked out. Can I just say that RCN really needs to hire more Customer Service people? Last night the "estimated wait time" was 56 minutes!

Anyhow, this post is a little late. But I just had to share this. On Sunday, I was walking down Broadway after my run around the Reservoir. I stopped in Zabar's for a few minutes to browse around. Zabar's isn't my favorite gourmet grocery store, but I do think they have one of the top three cheese departments in the city. After smelling the aromas, I left. Two doors down is H&H bagels. I LOVE H&H bagels. They must lace those things with crack or something because they're sooooo good. The crusty exterior with the chewy soft and sweet interior are just bagel heaven. I toast my bagels, which I know is supposed to be a cardinal sin for a true New York bagel. Supposedly the goodness of a New York bagel should shine through without toasting. But I just toast a little bit because I like the crust that forms after toasting. The most fun way to get an H&H bagel is to visit their giant plant on the West Side Highway at two in the morning and get whatever's hot from the oven.

So on Sunday, I left Zabar's and walked down Broadway and figured I'd stop and get a bagel to eat at home since I was in the neighborhood. Right in front of the H&H bagel store, there was a group of five very Long Island jappy girls. The leader of the jap pack declared, "Ok, let's go in and get a bagel and the five of us will split one!"

I'm sorry, but you don't deserve to have an H&H bagel if you're gonna split one amongst five people.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

One Year Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary to me. A year ago, I started this blog mainly to relieve my boredom while I was recovering from my broken arm. It sucked. I was sitting at home, gaining weight and in a lot of pain for about a month. Now it's all over. I have a cool scar now, but I miss my weekly gab sessions with my physical therapist.

I've enjoyed writing in my blog. I've written already about the reasons why I've liked blogging, so I won't rehash here. But I'm glad to have this blog. It gives me somewhere to vent on a regular basis. Otherwise, I probably would have become a crazy, bitter old man who talks to himself and has a pet parakeet. My blog has been a great sounding board and even serves as its own sort of therapy for me.

One of the unexpected benefits I've gotten from this blog is that I've become more outgoing, which when you think about it is kind of contradictory since blog writing is a solitary activity. I've made long distance friends, friends here in the city, gotten in touch with people who I haven't heard from since high school. But at least I have taken the next step and actually met some people instead of just keeping cyberspace penpals. This article in the NY Times chastises bloggers, among other people in today's Internet age, for keeping a virtual social network, rather than one based on actual human contact.

In essence, I blog because I think my simple life might be of interest to someone out there. And I like to re-read my old posts. It's nice to have a journal recording things that are important to you and also to hear other people's thoughts about them. I write about most major events in my life, which really aren't all that major in the grand scheme of things. But they come from me. I think that is probably what I am most happy about when I think about my blog. It sounds like me. It has subjects that I find interesting or would like to share, and most importantly it sounds as if you are having a conversation with me. My blog has come to reflect my voice pretty accurately.

I have three favorite blog posts. First is "Beware the Witch Is Here." I wrote that at a time last year, when I felt like I was really coming out of my shell more. I had just switched jobs and was starting to get in touch with old friends. I was rebuilding my life outside of work when before my entire life was work. It felt nice. I also really liked "The 60 Day Rule" because I thought it was a really well-written (if I do say so myself) post on how I was feeling at the time. Finally, my review of Live 8 was a comprehensive and thorough review with bits of my caustic humor added in.

I'm pretty proud of my blog just like every blog author should be proud of his writing. I only wish I had joined the bandwagon 3 years ago. I also enjoy hearing everyone's thoughts about whatever I've written. But sometimes I expect a bit too much. One time last year, I asked a friend if she had a favorite post. She replied, "Yeah, I really liked your one on Free Chapstick." Free Chapstick??? That was like a 2-line post and hardly one that I poured my heart in!

Oh well, as long as my readers are happy. And sometimes the posts with minimal thought but are just your first thoughts coming out of your head are the ones that get the most reaction.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My Secret Habit

Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte reveals to the rest of the gals that she likes to take a hand mirror and stare at her pores for hours? And Carrie likes to stand in her kitchen, eating carefully stacked saltines with grape jelly while reading fashion magazines. Actually, I might try that. No, not the reading fashion magazine in the kitchen part, but the saltines and grape jelly. Mmmmm....salty with sweet. Then, Miranda liked to put on Vaseline on her hands, put gloves over them and then sit down and watch infomercials. I'm sorry, but that sounds icky to me. I'm sure your hands are amazingly soft afterwards, but I hate the greasy feeling of Vaseline. I can't remember what Samantha's "Secret Single Behavior" ("SSB") was. But I'm sure it was something as equally crazy as the other girls' habits.

Having lived alone for the past 5 years and being single, I probably have a large collection of SSBs. Most of them have never been exposed to an outsider, and if they are, it's usually because I don't give a shit anymore what someone else thinks. I'm not going to reveal all my SSBs here, but I will admit to one that shows what a dork I am. One of the things that I like to do is take my tennis racquet and stare at the strings and study all the little crevices that I've made from whacking at the ball after long hours on the court. I love seeing where my strings are about to break and moving apart the strings to see the actual indentations. It's so soothing.

I'm sure there are probably a million other crazy things that I do that I don't even realize. Who knows what I or someone else will eventually discover.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Music & Emotions

The past few months have been kind of rough on my emotions. I won't go into the details, but I have had some pretty hard weeks over the last few months. At least it's summer now, despite the monsoon season in New York, and I am finally starting to come out of my hibernation. I think I was just really impatient for winter to end, and for summer to begin because I missed all of Summer 2005 due to my broken arm. So I was pretty excited for the dark cloud of winter to lift.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with a slump. Some turn to retail therapy. Others succumb to a pint of Haagen-Daaz or perhaps party away their blues at the hottest new club. Or maybe you'll go outside and go for a run until you stop thinking about your crappy day (or crappy week, crappy year). There are lots of different ways of dealing and another way is with music. I have a certain set of songs in my playlists that I turn to when I just want to wallow in my self-pity. For many people, there's a certain solace to be found in the angst-ridden sounds of "Over My Head" by The Fray or the wistful notes from "By Your Side" by Sade. Throw in "Oooh Child" by Beth Orton and you have a soundtrack for a great pity party.

There’s something to be said for sitting around, throwing in a depressing album and just feeling sorry for yourself. Sitting around with sad music permeating the background serves as sort of a catharsis. And usually I feel a little better because I can wrap my head around the lyrics and tune, and forget about everything else. Sure, I have certain songs that I classify as my "happy" songs: "The Best of What's Around" by Dave Matthews comes to mind. These songs can serve as a pick-me-up. But throwing on some melancholy "Live Again" by Better Than Ezra is the stuff I really need when I'm in a bad mood. Why is my first instinct to remedy my sad mood is to play even sadder music? Why am I letting my iPod have a certain control over the way I feel? It's a bit odd when you think of it. I suppose it's like that saying "Misery loves company" and I just want some sort of validation for my feelings. Some of these songs also happen to be my favorite songs and you'll find them on my Top 25 Most Played ipod playlist. So maybe it's the nice familiarity you hear when you put in your headphones to tune out the rest of the world. It's something to depend on.

Music is really closely connected to our moods. This isn't anything ground-breaking, but sometimes it's nice to think about it. No matter whether you're listening to something really profound or some pop music fluff, one of the main goals of music is to create a sense of unity between the artist and the listener. And the music is giving you a common emotion, ideal or subject matter to latch on to. It inspires thoughts or memories in your head and in some way provide some clarity and that might be the best feeling of all.

Monday, July 03, 2006

So Much For That

My brief foray into html code land was rejected and I have had to retreat back to my original template. After I put the finishing touches on my new template the other night, I went to bed with plans to make the finishing touches the next day. So I thought everything was ok, until the next day when I opened my blog and couldn't read it because it was in a GIGANTIC font, like 1,000,000 point. Whoa, something weird was definitely going on. It turned out that my adjustments to the original template caused havoc to anyone trying to view my blog on Internet Explorer. I'm one of thirteen people who actually use Netscape, and my blog looked fine on my browser at home, but on IE, it was so big that even the elderly would have asked to tone it down.

So I'm back to the original template. And it's fine for a novice blogger. But I think I need some more pizaaz. Sadly, the fact that I can't figure it out makes me want it more. But at least I did get to keep my fancy new features such as my subscription box thingy and my new blog roll.

So far the score is HTML: 1; Terence: 0.