Thursday, June 30, 2011

Best Midwestern Vacation

Greetings from beautiful Pawnee, Indiana!

(This is what happens when you let Jerry take your picture.  JERRY!)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Best Life and Opinions

As we all know, they say you can't judge a book by its cover, but I was at the bookstore and saw this good looking new edition of Tristram Shandy that a little design company whipped up, I thought maybe I ought to give my copy of the Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy that I had never even cracked open a shot.  I mean, if these Visual Editions people thought this book was worth the stylish redo (trust me, it looks better in real life) there might be something to the book?

Now that I've read it, I can say Yes, there is something to this book.  While sometimes taxing, it definitely had a lot of parts worth an underlining.   But the main thing about Tristram is its style.  Published in the mid-18th century, the book certainly possesses many a trait one would assume was unique to 20th century postmodernism—for starters, you could call the book extremely non-linear, Tristram seems to set out to tell the tale of his life, beginning with a description of his birth, but you'll find yourself more than 300 pages into the book before he's finally born.

Next, stylistically, consider these examples from the book.  While they've been embellished a little by British designers, equivalent representations can be found in any edition as they're part of what Laurence Sterne's (that would be the author, at last I am using his name) whipped up when he was making this book two hundred and fifty years ago.  Might look like some David Eggers or Jonathan Safran Foer "innovation" but nope, this came from the brain of a dude that wore tight pants, buckles on his shoes, and a wig.

This sketch here is from later on in the book when Shandy/Sterne illustrates the path of the story through each of the volumes up to that point.

Also, the book is funny.  And if I had been around in 1760, I probably would have thought it was even funnier.

In conclusion: I believe Tristram Shandy to be a good book to have under your belt if you can find the time to fit it into your reading.

And another also: Of course I know today's my Mom's birthday.  That post is coming!  Happy Birthday, though.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Here is Some Technology

Found this pretty cool screensaver.

Download it (free) here.

It'd probably look especially good on like an iMac that's just chillin in the corner of the room most of the day.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Best Most Recent Reads

This is what I've read since the Pale King.

Incredible Change-Bots Two by Jeffrey Brown

The sequel to the 2008 Transformers parody/tribute that I could not have loved more.  I could have loved this one more.  But I still at least liked it.  The best jokes were at the beginning when Shootertron has amnesia and is working on a farm.

If the Transformers cartoons of the early mid-eighties were a part of your life, I could not possibly recommend Incredible Change-Bots One more.

Boy by Roald Dahl

Another thoughtful bookgift from my sister Emily, I was as surprised by the amount of mayhem and mutilations in this as I was the coldblooded murder in Flying Solo.  Still, aren't stories about kid sent off to school in England some of the best stories there are?  The combination of rascally activities and dumb innocence, the getting in trouble for things you didn't do, the not getting in trouble for stuff you did do, all the candies and treats that mean nothing to us American readers?

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

I felt like I could use a refresher on my grammar and punctuation rules.  I may consider myself a descriptivist, but I do like socially constructed rules.  Like grammar.  And punctuation.  A fine read.

The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

A satire of the cemetery industry set during the golden age of Hollywood, a book really couldn't be less like Brideshead Revisited (that would be the only other Waugh book I've written and also the book the fellow is most famous for).  The only book I could possibly compare it to would be Flannery O'Connor's Wiseblood.  I liked this book, next time in LA I need to visit Forest Lawn or Hollywood Forever.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Best First Day of Summer

Tuesday I headed out into the world without a single care to run errands, make preparations, and enjoy the city.  I walked a lot more than I thought I would.  Five miles.

I started by trying the new duck lunch at the Ssam Bar.  If you've talked Milkbar with me lately, you have heard me complain about its move across the street.  With the time on my hands Tuesday, I decided to check out the new lunch concept they remodeled the restaurant to serve.

I had the Roast Duck rice bowl with a scallion pancake.  This photo makes the duck look deceptively large.

Actual size: two slices of duck are in this quarter piece of the pancake.  My thoughts: Liked it, didn't lose my mind.  They have a new ginger scallion sauce on hand made with duck fat instead of oil. The concept tastes better than the sauce.  But they've got all the crispy shallots and ssam sauce you could ever want handy, and thats good.

Also, thanks to everyone that emailed me (or posted upon my Facebook wall) that article about the secret Momofuku test kitchen from Gizmodo.  The author of the article starts by saying he can't tell you where it is . . . but I can: On 10th street, in the old Momofuku office space.

Mysterious signage is what gives it away.

Now, things I saw in East Village/SoHo/Lower East Side.

Walking up Orchard there was this terrible racket, I could hear it from blocks and blocks away.  Some store was hosting a little mid-afternoon rock show.

It was a hot one.

Pretty correct Lower East Side demographic cross section right here:

And then, crossing Houston and Clinton, I saw something beautiful and unexpected.

I bet things were crazy in Alphabet City that morning!

On my way home I stopped off in Rockefeller Center for a second.  Apparently Wimbledon is going on right now?  So you (or your tiny children) can play tennis there . . .

or watch the matches.

While on my big walk I got a call about a temp job starting Wednesday (meaning yesterday) so I'm glad I left the house while I had the chance.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Best Redefining Wish Lists

The Leica M9-P.  Because the only thing fresher than a red Leica dot is a Leica without the dot.

And if that's not enough, consider the Special edition M9-P with a silver 50mm f/.95Noctilux .

Along those lines, my trusty M8 comes home from summer camp July 7th, tuned up, optimized, and better than ever.  Thank goodness for rad warranties.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Best Here Are Some Record Reviews

Every many months I think to write a little about things I've listened to.  This is one of those times.  Almost all of these are followups to big records from a few years back.  That's just a coincidence.  It's a big summer for sequels!

The Antlers—Burst Apart

I really thought Hospice (the Antlers' 2009 album) was beautiful until I listened to the lyrics, then I listened to the lyrics and never listened to Hospice again.  At first I thought Burst Apart seemed nearly as beautiful as Hospice but not as depressing until I noticed the last song was called "Putting the Dog to Sleep."

Cut Copy—Zonoscope

Listen to this record again.  It's much better than you(I) thought it was when you(I) listened to it in February.  And that song stuck in your(my) head that you(I) can't recognize?  It's Track 3, "Where I'm Going" and it's been growing in your(my) brain like a virus since it took root on that first listen months ago.

Fleet Foxes—Helplessness Blues

Oh, will their ever be a record like that first Fleet Foxes record again, which arrived so perfectly timed in 2008 and left a mighty song in each of our hearts?  That made us imagine flannels, grow beards, and think of woods?  That inspired some of us to even camp?  Well, if their will be it's not Helplessness Blues, but this record is good listening, nonetheless.  But choosing between listening to Fleet Foxes again versus listening to Helplessness Blues is, for me, like choosing between a very good hamburger and a great cheeseburger.  Think I'm being tough?  Listen to "Ragged Wood" again.

Bon Iver—Bon Iver

This, however, certainly seems to be woodsy lightning striking twice.  Or thrice.  Four times?  You tell me, expert.


This is a record for your cool big sister, and I'm not anyone's cool big sister.
It's a different kind of cheerleading, but it's Sleigh Bells 2011.  I can appreciate a few of the songs, but I'm not your cool big sister.  However, if you are a cool big sister or anything like a cool big sister, you should probably definitely be playing this when you have to pick anyone up from school.

Panda Bear—Tomboy

I've told you before I was late to the Animal Collective party, but Person Pitch was always easy for me to love.  Once I clued in that Tomboy didn't have 12+ minute Bros-style jams I thought I could just chill and enjoy it for it was, but eventually all the echoey sounds wore me out.  Tomboy, your shorter songs wore me out!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Best First Visit to the Second Phase

First of all, does anyone know if Jared Clark reads my blog?  Can someone make sure he sees this photo?  And let me know if it makes him wig out.

Okay, anyway, so as you may have heard, as you may have seen blogged elsewhere, the second part/phase of the Highline park has just opened AND at the "end" of the "park" there's this other park called Rainbow City that was put there by AOL, which used to make internet but now apparently makes parks.  Times are tough, companies gotta diversify.  Anyway, most blogs you've seen about the new part of the Highline probably featured the person walking from the old part of the Highline up to the end of the new part and then discovering Rainbow City.  This post, however, starts at Rainbow City and walks down to the old Highline.  Can you handle that?

So yeah, this is Rainbow City.

It's a sunblasted inflatable wonderland.

This mushroom . . . 

. . . is a bounce house.  There's another bounce house there that looks like a turnip.

Rainbow City in action.  It's a place a kid can play and play and play without accomplishing anything, playwise.

Here's sign explaining Rainbow City, I photo'd it to read later.  I haven't read it yet.  If you got Jared to look at this post and see that photo of me can you also get him to read this sign and give me the bullet points?

Something I learned the hard way about Rainbow City: The round things, you can punch them.  The pillar things?  They have steel posts inside.  Punch carefully.

Here is an example of punching something that should be punched.

If you're watching that video hoping that the balloon swings back hard at me and knocks me over,  sorry.  Doesn't happen.

So okay, now we've gone up the stairs from Rainbow City to Highline 2.0.  Who's "we"?  Steven and his visitor Emily.  That's who.  Our trip to the Highline was actually a Curious Kittens discussion meeting.

See how the graphic shows hearts coming out of the fountain?  That's because the water fountain talks to you as you drink from it and tells you very nice things.  I'm not lying.

Here is a sign that explaining the present Highline.  We're getting so close to getting this thing done, people!  Will we see a fully realized Highline by 2013?

And now we embark on our High Line learning journey.  One thing I've learned already by looking at that sign: High Line is two words.  From here on out I'll spell it right, I'm not going back and fixing all the times I wrote it wrong.

New High Line: More seating.

More neighbors.

Neighbor, I accept your challenge.

This part is called the flyover or something dramatic like that.  Because the walkway elevates over the vegetation.  Can you handle this flyover, New York City?

A new street viewing station.

Like I said, so much seating.

Still flyingover, as graceful as doves.

Betwixt bricky canyons.

Towards modern homes.

This could be your patio, eye level and just feet from thousands of passersby daily.  Is that cool?  Is that something you'd like?

This could be your superfresh kitchen.  You could wave at someone's aunt while you wash your dishes.

And this could be your other patio.  Sheesh!  What kind of super apartment is this?  And how are you going to keep people from hopping the fence and visiting you?

A lawn!  Saturday the lawn was taking a break.

Another modern High Line home.

More seating!

This is a view you're more used to from other blogs:  Looking uptown along the High Line towards the end of the future.


Very popular that afternoon: $4 paletas.

Into the shrubs we go

To emerge at the bird houses!

And here, right here, is where the old High Line used to end.  This is the point where the future meets the past today.

Sorry, dudes.  But someone had to protect the souvenirs.  But think of the reward when you get home and no one will believe your stories about the M&M and/or Hershey Store(s).

Look at these guys, blooming out from the bottom up.  Natural gradients.  Emily, the visitor, she's a printmaker and she was taken with these buds.

A billboard tribute to the old days.  Actually, I believe that's a stretch of phase three High Line right there.  It's a picture of the present meant to make you reflect on the past.

I believe these trellises to be a new addition to the old High Line.  You know, to keep everyone from hating having to be in the old, out of style, totally boring old part of the park.

Just kidding!  Everyone loves all the High Line!  The original traffic watching amphitheater will never go out of style.

Time to talk podcasts.  The most important thing we can do right now, to fulfill all our podcast plans, is become quite popular.  Are you willing to help?  You just have to listen, or just download episodes and not listen to them.

Grandpa!  Get down from there!

Post-High Line, post-going our separate ways: stickers.

Anything's free if you're just willing to take it.  (Don't tell your mom I said that!)


Then Saturday night I went to Nick and Whitney's joint birthday party.  We watched the first episode of the Wonder Years up on Whitney's roof.  It was her present to  Nick.  I guess he loves the Wonder Years?  I guess I don't know about Nick's favorite TV shows enough?

Friends reflecting on their own wonder years back when they would watch the Wonder Years.  Those were the days!!

Francesco and a birthday bike.

Carol and a birthday boy.

And from the subway back to the island, I just want you to see Alpha's bandana hairdo.  It was the talk of the night, 'do-wise.

Thank you for taking the time to take this trip with me.  I hope you had a nice time.