Sunday, November 23, 2008

Some notes from a Saturday stroll through the city

So I went for a nice, about five mile-long, Saturday afternoon stroll through the city.

It was an even 30 degrees out, so I got bundled up and hit the pavement.

One of the things I found fascinating were the fancy warm strollers that everybody seemed to have. They are like a cocoon for the kids and a lot of them let the parents adjust the angle that their kids are at. Surprisingly, a lot of people had their kids almost upright, bundled tight in these cocoons, and every time I saw another one I would think of Hannibal Lecter, seriously.


I wonder if Lecter's folks paraded him around in a stroller like that when he was little?

Anywho, another interesting sight was at the Southeast corner of Central Park there were dozens of parked cop cars with there lights flashing, cop vans, command and control centers and several dozen cop cars were driving in and out of the traffic circle there with their sirens and lights flashing... It was a little odd to say the least. I asked a cop standing at a crosswalk and he said it was a counter-terrorism drill. I guess that's a good thing, right?

I felt bad when I was walking through Times Square... there was an Elmo that had all these people swarming for photos and such and as I walked past, I saw a lonely looking Cookie Monster like 30 feet away. Even with the big costume on he/she just looked genuinely lonely and ignored... and kept looking at Elmo.

Maybe Cookie Monster gets ignored nowadays because of his new healthier lifestyle... which is crap.

I also wandered by the Forbes Gallery near the Forbes magazine headquarters, which was not what I was expecting at all.

(In case you're wondering, yes, the water from the pressure washing in the right of the photo did freeze in places)

In the museum there was a distinct lack of anything having to do with Forbes. Except for the entrance (which had a rack with current issues of various Forbes publications from around the world), the museum was kind of all over the place. They had exhibits of toy soldiers, toy/model boats, a ballroom dancing exhibit and some other random things.

It was neat... but definitely not what I was expecting at all.

They had a little Monopoly exhibit, which was pretty cool. It had a copy of the The Landlord's Game, which was the precursor to Monopoly. They also had various other editions of Monopoly... including a round one from 1933.

Down at Union Square they had a Christmas market, which was kind of neat. It had a stand selling Gluewhein (a German wine served hot in the winter) by the cup... but it was non-alcoholic. What kind of crap is that, word? A nice hot cup of Gluewhein would have been great, seeing as it was freezing out.

Oh well.

I ended up at the bar I frequent by Union Square and finished the evening there causing varying degrees of trouble.

So those are a few interesting notes from my exploring Saturday. When I get time, maybe eventually I'll write some notes on my Sunday night in Brooklyn... which was interesting to say the least...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Well, it's actually starting to get pretty darn cold...

So... it was pretty freaking cold today, like out of nowhere. I'm talking the 30's, with a wind chill bringing it to the 20's.

It really does seem to have come out of nowhere too, which is crazy. It's been a little chilly for a while, but as recently as this weekend I flirted with the idea of not wearing a jacket Saturday night... but this morning was like freezing, literally. We actually had a little bit of a snow flurry.

Plus, as a bonus, downtown where I work is pretty close to the water so it is crazy windy. I actually finally have to find my gloves, wherever they're stuffed. I may even have to purchase a scarf, especially since presumably it's only getting colder. I mean, it's only November, right?

This should definitely be an interesting winter. At some point, I will make a fugly looking snowman in Central Park and I will post sad, sad pictures of it here and make the world a worse place in the process.

At least the heaters in my apartment are relatively entertaining. I think they were probably installed before the Carter administration and they sometimes randomly make some of the weirdest sounds. I'm talking hissing, popping, purring, the occasional clunking noises, etc... It's like I have Michael Winslow from Police Academy with me in my bedroom, keeping me warm at night - except not nearly as creepy. And that's Michael Winslow the cop, not Carl Winslow the cop... which would be at least equally creepy, if not way more creepy. P.S. On that, fuck Urkel.

Oh yeah, and I took my first ride on a normal city bus route the other day (I don't count the free shuttle buses that fill in for gaps in subway service or ones to the airport). I always stick to the subways, but I needed to cross Central Park and a crosstown bus happened to stop near where I was walking so I let it drive me across the park. Oddly enough, they didn't dig any subway routes under the park... but they do have lots of roads where buses pass through.

It was a crosstown M96 bus and I learned after I rode it that I had the distinct honor of getting a ride on the Pokey Express, as it was recently named the slowest bus in the city. No wonder I was able to hop on as I was walking west on 96th Street.

It wasn't anything exciting or terribly different than any other city's bus, but it does provide a good segue to a fun Overheard in New York quote I read today...

(cabbie cuts bus off, both cab and bus are stopped at traffic light. Bus driver opens his window)
Bus driver: I'm gonna hit one of you! You know, it's my goal to hit one of you people before I retire, it really is--you almost just made it happen! You people gotta learn someday! (turns to passenger) We're allowed one accident per year. I'm saving all of mine for that.

--M15 Bus to South Ferry

If his normal route is to the South Ferry Terminal (where the Staten Island Ferry is), that means he gets to deal with Staten Islanders all day every day... so the anger issues aren't too terribly surprising.

So I've finally submitted to Overheard... they say that even if they do take submitted quotes, it usually takes several weeks before it shows up on the site, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Black Woman on Cell Phone: Excuse me! Obama's the President now and I don't have to call you "massa'" anymore, you understand!?!

My "overheard by" name for that particular submission was something to the effect of "Sounds like someone should have been job hunting a while ago..."

P.S. Just for fun, here's a song I've grown to love that they play at my bar by Union Square.

Turn it up and enjoy the brilliant lyrics! (unless you're at work... that might end poorly, seriously...)

Personally, my favorite two "comparison" verses come at 2:05.

Monday, November 17, 2008

'That rug really tied the room together'

So I went to New York's Big Lebowski Fest 2008 this weekend.

(NSFW I guess...)

I was surprised to see how many people actually dress up as different characters, and even different props from the movie. It was pretty neat. It was kind of like Rocky Horror except with less of focus on cross dressing and more of a focus on White Russians (which I can totally get behind)... and pot too, there were a lot of pot heads, which is kind of to be expected at a "Big Lebowski Fest" I suppose, right?

The night consisted of Creedence Clearwater Revival Revival and Tragedy (an all metal Bee Gees cover band that was pretty awesome) followed by The Big Lebowski on a big movie screen... oh yeah, and it also consisted of many, many White Russians (of course). By the time CCRR was done, I was ordering them two at a time.

The bar was packed, and they were mixing giant pitchers of vodka and Kahlua and using them to make White Russians en masse, it was a beautiful thing. They made good, strong ones too.

As for the bands, CCRR was alright, but Tragedy was pretty awesome. I'll probably actually try to see them again sometime.

"Stayin' Alive"

"How deep is your love"

"You should be dancing"

I don't have any Tragedy on my iPod, but I did get a couple Bee Gees tunes before the show to refresh my Bee Gees memory and now I've been adding a little hop and a bounce in my step to the original "Tragedy" as I wander the city. Tony Manero's got nothing on my fancy feet. As Walter would say, he's a "fuckin' amateur." Word.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's been a while, but that while was filled with plenty of random fun...

Word... it's been a while now, so you know what that means? That means this is probably going to be pretty long, so here goes...

It's definitely been a pretty interesting past couple of weeks, and here are some of the ways I've been keeping busy.

Today: The Chocolate Show! Seriously.

Think like the Simpsons episode, with the gummi Venus de Milo at the candy show, except just chocolate.

All you can eat free samples of fancy pants chocolate of all varieties and nationalities. Plenty of truffles, chocolate bars, barks, various flavored chocolate samples and even chocolate flavored peanut butter. There was also a lot of "spicy" chocolate, with things like cayenne pepper incorporated... which wasn't too delicious.

Of course, no New York City event is complete without some sort of crazy fashion thing, so the Chocolate Show opened with a super hero themed fashion show with clothes made of chocolate, like this Bat Girl...

I basically stayed until I started feeling a bit ill and then wandered to a pub in Midtown for dinner.

I wandered through Times Square on the way to the subway to get home and there's always something fun in Times Square. Tonight? Election-themed condoms for sale.

I thought about picking some up as a goofy souvenir/piece of history... but they wanted five dollars per rubber... jiggawha?

Apparently that's still a dollar off the price on their Web site.

The guy seemed perturbed that I took his photo without buying any of his "wears"... despite the fact he was in Times Square surrounded by camera wielding tourists. Whatever.

He probably would have made a mint if he was there on election night. Times Square was pretty packed that night and full of energy.

... and there were plenty of big screens to watch the returns.

Eventually though, I had to eat dinner so I wandered to my favorite bar in the area, Smith's in Hell's Kitchen. I got myself a free campaign button while I was there that I wore quite proudly throughout the rest of the evening:

The Dewar's girls offered a free glass of Dewar's and ginger ale... but I counter-offered and ended up with a free Dewars on the rocks instead. Mmmm...

I eventually ended up at the Rockefeller Center where the NBC studios are and watched the end of the returns with the throngs there in Midtown. I couldn't get a good picture, but they project a giant electoral map on the Rockefeller Center ice skating rink and color states red and blue as the returns come in through the night, which is pretty neat.

They also lit up a skyscraper blue and red and had balconies for each candidate rise up the side of the building as they received electoral votes and there was a big "270" marking victory.

The crowd reaction was pretty interesting as the Obama symbol rose above 270 mark (when they counted California's mass of electoral votes). Some people were cheering, a lot people were very confused and I think there were people saying "What the hell is going on?" in at least four different languages right near me.

Side note on the Election Day subject - most polling places here are in schools, which I originally thought was kind of odd since I was thinking that I would be walking into a place filled with kids. However, here in NYC, Election Day is a day off from school for kids, which I thought was kind of interesting.

The next morning, newspapers were in crazy short supply. I figured I would pick up a New York Times, since it was pretty historic to elect a black President and all, but that plan didn't work out because I was not alone. Newspapers were sold out all over the city. Some people apparently bought like 15 copies at a time, I guess to try to turn a profit. Some that day sold for hundreds of dollars online, but the New York Times is selling them online for $15 making those buyers hopefully feel very, very dumb. I'll stick with my Post and Daily News thank you very much.

Wednesday though, the New York Times building was swarmed with folks trying to get papers, but they didn't have any either. The Post and Daily News made extra runs to restock throughout the day. The Times did a few small extra runs late in the afternoon, but only sent papers to a few Midtown transit hubs - but even then it was in small numbers.

Some other quick random things...

* So now that Dyson has finished making the perfect vacuum cleaner, anybody know what his latest mission is? It's the perfect hand dryer! I had read about his new life's mission a while ago but had never seen one until the other day at the Shake Shack in the Upper West Side (you know, where like Madonna and A-Rod live).

It worked, but it was kind of creepy... you stick your hands in the top and it automatically shoots a "blade" of air from both sides to dry your hands. It works, but the air is actually pretty strong, to the point where I was hesitant to put them back in. But it worked and was pretty neat.

Oh yeah, the Shake Shack shake was pretty good too, but that was kind of secondary to finally getting to see an Air Blade.

* There is a little open area with benches behind the building I work in and the other day they were filming some Law and Order there. Unlike last time I stumbled upon some Law and Order, this time there were people I recognized there: Goren and Eames, which means it must have been Criminal Intent.

It's blurr-tastic! They were really ancy about flash photography, and I figured since my coworker and I already ruined one of their shots as we wandered into it on the way out the building I would behave.

* Halloween was fun. I lamed out and didn't wear any costume because I fell asleep after work and rolled out of bed and headed straight to the Village to join an estimated two million of my closest friends celebrate late into the night. They had a parade, but I don't think most people noticed. It was basically just an extremely crowded mess of drunken folk in crazy costumes wandering the streets. So it was a lot if fun.

I think I saw my favorite costume on the train ride home. I was chatting with a Sarah Palin look-a-like and out of nowhere she squealed in horror. I realized she was looking at a guy who was dressed as an escaped mental patient in a hospital gown... and nothing else. He had been riding the train bare-ass the whole way and you could see all the goods as he walked off the train into the station. All I can say is that dude had to have been pretty cold all night and where did he keep his wallet and Metro Card?

* Oh yeah, and in a fit of awesomeness, Maker's Mark has taken over the entire underground walkway from Grand Central Station to the S shuttle to Times Square.

This is just one of the ads they have there.

They have dozens of different clever ads of all kinds in the walkway on pillars, walls and even an ongoing projection of some sort of Maker's Mark commercial.

Maybe they are trying to make sure they are on everybody's mind as "Repeal Day" approaches (even though it seems Dewar's is doing the marketing for the actual day...). Either way, I know I'm excited.

Well, if you got this far, thanks. Hopefully I'll try to post a little more regularly so my posts don't end up being Homeric epics like this one, but we'll see. I've actually been keeping myself pretty busy.