Monday, March 31, 2008

Random Recommends 10

Sharon's Chocolate Sorbet

Usually when i think about sorbet (more often then you might think, certainly more often than is considered normal) I think icy which isn't always a bad thing -- icy limes or pineapples are a fine treat on a hot day (or on a cold day spent in my apartment where the temperature is always set at "2pm on a sunny day in August") but icy doesn't work for every flavor. In particular I usually can't get my tongue wrapped around the concept of icy chocolate but my recent desire to lose 3lbs (yes, I'm a little insane) combined with my constant desire to eat chocolate ice cream lead me to Sharon. This sorbet is almost everything one could hope for in a frozen chocolate snack. It's sweet and earth and smooth and even.. creamy! I attribute this on the inclusion of coconut milk in the ingredients list which also brings a little fat to the table -- but even with this allowance a half cup serving is still only 100 calories of OCD dieting goodness.

Jason Anderson

This guy/band/guy with a band opened for Tilly and the Wall at the Knitting Factory on the 21st. Or, the be more accurate, they/he opened for the opening band for Tilly and the Wall. One of my biggest pet peeves about the indie music scene (after the pretension and the lack of concerts with seating) is the tendency for everyone to get a little overzealous about supporting new bands which forces me to spend upwards of 2 hours standing around impatiently listening to whining/screaming that is not the whining/screaming that I paid $15+ to be listening to and often results in a 8pm concert not letting out until well after midnight which is apparently not supposed to bother me because if I was truly a cool indie music listener I either wouldn't need sleep at all or would not have a job where the man makes me get up before 11am. But back to Jason. I made every effort to be super late for the Tilly and the Wall show so that I would not have to endure 2 openers but in my world "really late" actually means "almost an hour after the doors opened!" and since in the world of rock and roll "on time" means "at least 30 minutes after the posted start time" the first opener was only on their second song when I walked into the venue trying (likely in vain) not to look like the oldest person in the room. Thank God for my crazy obsession with promptness! Jason and the band were adorable. I know that as very serious rock and rollers "adorable" is probably not their goal but there is no other word. Their music is fun and happy and demands a lot of audience participation (I have never "lalala-ed" or "oh yeahed" as much as I did that night) and they have the most excited and cuddly kid playing tenor sax. Writing this I'm now wondering if i should be concerned about my desire to mother the entire band rather than jump their bones. Jason Anderson may be the harbinger of my old age. I still recommend getting down to his songs -- even if you have to do so from the rocking chair.

Hunter Wellingtons

A couple of months ago I noticed a troubling tear in the plastic coating of my Target rainboots. No longer water proof and ready for puddle jumping they had to be replaced. I was half tempted to order a new pair of novelty boots from Target since for $20 one can afford to go through a pair per year without much cause for complaint but then I remembered the stylish, knee high boots that an old coworker once wore on rainy spring days and my quest for a better boot began. I soon found out that I would have to really embrace my new Richie status if I was going to keep my feet dry in a pair of Hunters as the boots cost $98. Thus ensued a personal struggle of Hamlet-esque proportions. Was I really willing to spend ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS on rain boots? When I didn't yet own a house? When the media won't shut up about how bad the economy sucks and just how soon I'm likely to get laid off? Yes. I can happily report that the Richies have dryer, svelter, more content feet and calves. The rubber boots are so much sturdier than the plastic predecessors and the extra height somehow seems slimming and more mature. The fit on my foot is also much tighter than the Target alternative which makes the boots more practical for the amount of walking done in the typical NYC day (even if it's pouring rain). My only complaint about the wellingtons is that every time I pull them on I have to wonder why my lower legs are hugged so snuggly when the calves of other girls seem to be swimming in their boots. Do I have the largest calves in the world? Should Guinness be notified? Do you think I could make enough money off of this deformity and my upcoming TLC special to justify a second pair of Hunters in Navy?

Red Mango Yogurt topped with Pomegranate Seeds

Two low fat frozen desserts in the same post? Be not shocked -- my life is really just one never ending quest for an acceptable low calorie ice cream substitute periodically interrupted by the distractions of building software and gawking at really trashy television programs. Red Mango is one of the dozen or so Korean frozen yogurt chains that has cropped up after the Pinkberry craze took hold a year ago. I have eaten and enjoyed Pinkberry once in the past but do not know it well enough to declare Red Mango a taste improvement but I do know that a small Red Mango is ~$3 which seems crazy cheap to me whereas I remember being slightly outraged at the cost of a small Pinkberry (but this was a year before I spent $100 on rain boots so it's possible that my idea of "crazy expensive" has evolved). The yogurt is creamy and a little sour and the pomegranate seeds burst and crunch satisfyingly and the whole concoction was dinner on Thursday for only 90 calories. I am considering a blanket replacement of all dinner with Red Mango until I'm rid of that blasted 3lbs, I may even go for 5.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The South Rises Again

A month ago when a friend invited me to the Drive-By Truckers concert I thought, "I like you, I like music, there will probably be a bar at the venue and I'm generally pro doing things -- Sure!" I had only vaguely heard of the band and had exactly one of their songs in my music collection obtained years ago as part of an elaborate online song recommendation game that one is apt to get involved in when one is unemployed and generally starved for excitement (and when one has such a liberal definition of exciting things to do that "downloading new music" somehow makes the cut). I am a big believer in concert prepartying so to properly prepare for the impending live music event I purchased a DBT cd (Southern Rock Opera) and added them as a station on Pandora. I did a lot of listening but I wasn't really sold on the band -- they seemed ok, rocky, fun, etc but as far as I could tell very few of their songs were about girls dumping them and the crippling depression that followed so I was understandably skeptical about my ability to fall in love. On the plus side the album tells one long story about Lynard Skynard and life in the south and I do love a good theme. (so much so that I preceded the concert with a southern meal at the Delta Grill where I had fried okra and jambalaya and bourbon and ginger ale -- probably the best preparty concert prep ever).

Perhaps it was the thematic alcohol consumption talking but the live show was so amazing that despite all preshow indications to the contrary I totally want to sleep with everyone in the band (even the woman, even though she sort of has a thematic but not so attractive mullet). The band is somehow capable of pulling off without irony rock and roll moves that should be hilarious, especially to a cynical, dance challenged, emotionally walled off girl like me. They're doing the face to face, crotches close together, leaning way back guitar rocking last seen at a Guns N Roses concert in 1998. They're picking up the mike stands and spinning them over their heads and playing their guitars on their knees. At one point a band member walks around the stage pouring Jack Daniels whiskey down the throats of the other band members while they play their instruments. I really should have been laughing and rolling my eyes but instead I was kind of rocking out in my own little awkward half dancing while leaning against the wall because I am too cool/embarrassed to move any body part except for my hips way.

It wasn't just the band that left me wishing for a 40 of PBR, a belly shirt and my very own double wide -- their fans are pretty convincing in their own right. The 55 year old bearded redneck in front of me was entertaining enough in his jumping up and down fist pumping glory that I could have been happy watching just him for 2 hours. Least you think this fellow stood out let me assure you that at least half of the audience appeared to have been imported from 1973 rural Alabama -- I was lost in a sea of full beards, flannel shirts, leather jackets and well worn Wranglers. Every set ended not only with a cacophony of applause but also a sea of cell phone tributes (sadly even in Hicksvillle circa 1970 this seems to have replaced the lighter homage) and devil horns held high. This was a very devil horn friendly crowd. I had to wonder where in New York City these folks hang out during daylight hours, or what neighborhood they live in -- is there a high rise full of time traveling hillbillies with a garage full of Harleys hidden somewhere in the city? I ultimately decided that it might be best that I stay in the dark about the secret biker hangouts since I have no hope of keeping up with their drinking even if they'd let my irony stained ass inside.

The highlight of the show for me was the song "Hell No I Ain't Happy" probably because it is the most cynical song on their roster. Trucker's lead singer Patterson Hood (seriously, awesome southern name there buddy, way to stay on theme) throws his arms out in crucification stance and belts out the title line and like any good singer the message is so much more than the words. "No, I'm not happy and you are an idiot for thinking I might be and double an idiot for thinking life can ever be rolled up into a ridiculous label like 'happy.' Fuck you." And yet through all of that Hood was pretty fucking happy. And so were the seas of angry looking bastards surrounding me. And so was I.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stuff this White Person Would Like if Given the Chance

Saturday night I was out with friends of friends having just consumed a whole pig when the subject of where I lived came up. As is typical among the young urban elite the shock of hearing that people reside off of the island of Manhattan was too much for them and a long uncomfortable silence ensued. If only the answer to "what neighborhood do you live in?" had been decidedly Brooklyn based I could have justified my existence under the guise of hippsterism or possibly even extremely early family planning but the scourge of Queens leaves one with very little to turn to save reasonable rent and a love for a spacious living room. Don't get me wrong, I happen to like Astoria a fair bit mostly because its relatively quiet residential streets make it possible to lie to my country girl heart about exactly where we are living but I suspect it would be a much easier place to justify if the much promised gentrification that people have been yakking about for years would hurry up and get here already.

I have lived in Astoria for three and a half years and I feel that I have done my part to gentrify the shit out of this place. In addition to hiring a cleaning lady and paying for laundry service on a regular basis I am also white in the nondescript way that makes it all but impossible to determine the culinary specialties of my mother (she makes a mean salad). I exclusively purchase my caffeinated beverages from the independently owned and wittily named cafe on my block. I joined the local CSA in an effort to send the message that, "YES! Queens residence are finally too good for grocery store vegetation!" and hopefully encourage the opening of a Whole Foods. I even started a blog about the neighborhood in an effort to court the young tech money. All to no avail; the blocks around my house are still home to only greasy Chinese and $.99 stores. I know on some level I'm supposed to fear gentrification for the way it will embolden my land lord (though realistically I can't imagine him being emboldened into much beyond a cocktail before 2pm while taking in a round of 18 in Delray Beach) but really how much will my rent go up if we got a book store up in here? Everyone thinks gentrification is all Starbucks and Panera Bread pushing out the local flavor, they forget that white washing these streets would also mean higher quality brunch options for all.

For almost two and a half years the building next to the Ditmars train stop has stood empty save the char and ash the were left over after a particularly extra crispy fire broke out in an Italian restaurant. I'll admit that a month or so ago when I saw construction workers laying down plywood and tile I got my hopes up. A pilates studio? A bar with a disproportionate number of blue drinks on the menu? A kitschy boutique selling overpriced novelty salt and pepper shakers in the shape of gnomes next to notebooks made from 60s era junior high school sex education manuals? My heart swooned.

The new neighborhood entrepreneurs did not consult me before setting up shop but if they had I could have provided them with a long list of things that Astoria already has too many of. Dentist offices (particularly overly fancy ones decorated with flat screen tvs). Banks that are not Bank of America and which charge roughly $75 for every ATM transaction. Cafes where smoking laws do not apply. Stores specializing in knit tube tops. Sad hallway sized bodegas selling printer cartridge refills. My 2 block walk from home to the subway already takes me past a Famous Footwear and a Foot Locker and yet on Friday what should I see taking up residence in the former shell of the burned out pizzeria but a Payless Shoe Source (You could pay more, but not in Queens.)!

So now what? Obviously my dreams of a nice farmer's market and a cute gellato shop are floundering and on top of stocking up on heirloom tomatoes and green tea ice cream via Fresh Direct I also need to find a new way to justify my neighborhood choice. Can I get get away with a claim that I'm "keeping it real" by choosing to live with the "true New Yorkers"?

Monday, March 17, 2008

TLC Late Night Programming Guide

9:30: Oh My God This Dude is Really Fat

On tonights show you'll meet Gordo, a 783 pound behemoth. Gordo will eat ridiculous amounts of food, way more food then you can a imagine, no, seriously, you have got to see this -- 17 friend chickens and a 5 gallon vat of partially hydrogenated oil followed by a generous serving of ice cream made from the left over chicken fat. Gordo will probably not be able to get out of bed or leave his home, even through the garage door. You will walk away form this show comfortable in the knowledge that sure, you could stand to lose a few but at least you still fit into the XL sweatpants on sale this week at Kohls.

10:00: That is the Smallest Dwarf I Have Ever Seen!

Meet Tim, a 13 year boy so small that he is actually only visible through a microscope! We'll make him stand next to average sized children and pets to illustrate just how tini tiny Tim is! When Tim goes to the microscopic people convention in Little Rock he meets a special young lady named Tina-- and if there is anything more awkward than teenage dwarfs it's teenage dwarfs in love!

11:00: Why the fuck would you have that many children? Part 1

Johanna and Lou Smithson have 28 children, neither of them is attractive and this program will force you to picture them having sex a minimum of 26 times (2 sets of twins). We will imply that birthing this many children has left her lady bits less the snug. The thing is, they just L-O-V-E love kids, they love the little toes, they love the snot,and most of all they love creating a little army of freaky religion warriors. This is the 2nd scariest program on television.

11:30: Why the fuck would you have that many children? Part 2

Louise and John Morgan have 12 kids -- and they're all 3 years old! In 2003 this couple was so fucking desperate for a baby that they made the questionable decision to implant as many eggs as the could find (13 human and one chicken) into Louise's womb and then they dosed her up on hormones, fertility drugs and double cosmopolitans, stuck an Angelina Jolie mask on her and told John to go at it! Between the potty training and the constant demands for another cookie life with Sally, Sasha, Samson, Savior, Sorren, Simon, Sibol, Sophia, Sigfried, Sawyer, Sandra and Cluck-Cluck could not be more of nightmare! At least they got a free minivan!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I Suppose Blow Jobs Are a Form of Cleaning

All day at work I listen to Pandora usually on quickmix so that George Strait plays right after the Hold Steady and I can continue to live under the belief that I cannot be pigeon holed with genre even though in reality I am actually very easy to peg as I'll listen to pretty much any song with coy lyrics about love. Especially if the love is doomed. Double especially if the song is kind of silly. This is why I love Liz Phair by Weston and I'm All Yeah and She's all No by The Mr. T Experience and it's why when yesterday Pandora played a song called "The Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song" by Jeffrey Lewis I immediately had to own the tune in order to play it over and over again in the annoying teenaged way I'm wont to do. Sadly, I had a lot of difficulty finding a source for the song online (partially because any search for the title gets you about 7000 porn references) I've been trying to buy more music from instead of iTunes because their files are DRM free but alas -- no illicit oral sex was available there, nor on a number of.... shall we say "less expensive" sources so to iTunes I once again turned. And iTunes was happy to sell me the song... except.... they only had a "clean" version. Which was puzzling as this is a song ABOUT BLOW JOBS which contains the awesome line "If I was Leonard Cohen or some other song writing master I'd know to first get the oral sex and write the song after." How do you clean that up? (If I was Leonard Cohen or some other song writing master I'd know to first get the intimate kissing and write the song after." ? ). With no other song sources presenting themselves and me becoming impatient for new tunes at 10::00pm and my curiosity peeked I went in for the $.99 clean experiment. Turns out "clean" means "totally still exactly the same as the dirty version." I can only hope evangelical parents everywhere are outraged.

My friend Bob this morning found the following awesomeness for me and even though the video quality is less than great I still think I've found a new boyfriend.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Be Careful What You Wish For OR Nintendo has Officially Won the War

I finally got a Wii last month thanks to the incredible awesomeness of my friend Joe who all but held a Target employee hostage in his quest to get me to shut the fuck up about wanting a Wii. It is entirely possible that this was a ploy to lay claim on my first born child which seems like an entirely fair trade especially since kids poop and cry and my Wii does neither of these things. Which is not to say that life with the Wii is a feces-less utopia.

Actually owning a Wii has done little to change my love/hate relationship with Nintendo, in fact the frequency and decibel levels of the cursing has only increased. You see, in addition to the fact that Wii sports thinks I'm 70 years old (I blame baseball, and my bad hip, and possible the difficulty of boxing in Depends) Mario Galaxy is an evil little turd of a game. Right now I have 3 open planets none of which start with a level that Mario and I have any hope of getting past. Sometimes I wonder if I really like video games at all since the majority of my play time is spent clenching my fists, foaming at the mouth and taking out my aggression on the relatively innocent pillows that clutter my couch. I very rarely want to punch or throw things in real life (choosing instead to brood silently and beat myself up for having any feelings at all) but put a controller in my had and some cartoon goofballs up on the screen and I'm a regular Wario on an invincibility star high.

Below I present a completely unbiased review of the levels that are currently making me doubt my princess saving prowess.

First up is the candy level where Mario is forced to jump to his doom or be shocked by some sort of electric fence over and over again until there are no more Mario lives left and I have no choice but to growl like some sort of rabid Bowser/Peach hybrid and then cheat by resetting the game without saving. This level pretty much sucks. I think we can all agree that with the possible exception of a love handle or a cavity (both of which are certainly outweighed by deliciousness) candy has been nothing but good to people so to misrepresent chocolate and gumdrops and the occasional river of corn syrup in this way seems especially cruel.

Next there is the surfing atop a stingray level that requires me to hold the controller steady which brings up some serious genetic questions about people in Japan because the American human arm was never meant to perform in this way which is why the actual game has Mario balancing on his FEET not on his ARM. (which is not to suggest that I would be more able to pass this level if actual surfing were involved because I know from experience that were that the case I would only be more likely to end up as a broken body washed up on the shores of Marioland only to be calously picked on by every passing goomba and koopa, my lifeless body unable to fight back with even a little jump or spin). This level pretty much sucks. I hope the CIA is researching and planning for the superhuman arm balancing abilities of the Japanese (not to mention their apparent alliance with the stingray community) because I fear for the future of our nation.

The last open level of torment is the switch level which on its surface seems like it should be easy but in reality this level pretty much sucks. The idea is for Mario to run around until he's touched every square on the planet and as long as you can avoid the roaming open electrical currents (a constant plague in this game making me wish for a few electrical shock resistant pikmin to neutralize things) it's an easy win. Of course this is a ruse as actually avoiding being shocked to death is impossible.

I am embarrassed to admit this but in an effort to get images for this post I looked at a game walk through and I am not even 1/7th of the way through this torture. There is pretty much no way I'm not going to end up with an ulcer and a sofa full of fist shaped holes.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Why I Do Not (Yet) Own a Bike Even Though Everyone In NYC Is Legally Required To Purchase One

I have wanted to buy a bike for almost a year now. One of my main reasons for wanting a bike is that I own a pair of kelly green bike shorts that make my ass look amazing and I currently have no way to justify wearing these outside of the house. Tiny tight shorts worn to the grocery store say, "look at this ass, I am slutty and desperate for attention!" but worn while biking the message is "I need short shorts because I am a cyclist, I did not even notice how hot my ass looked but now that you mention it I am pretty smoking. Jealous?" I also like to picture myself riding over to Amy's to eat Columbian chicken and watch Project Runway followed by a huge bowl of ice cream which I totally earned because of the one million or so calories that I will have most certainly burned off in the 2 mile bike ride or maybe even biking to the stores of kindly old local merchants to purchase sundries for my evening meal. I do not like to picture myself sweating in the 1000 degree heat of New York City in July or lugging a bike up and down subway stairs or getting hit by a car so I have suppressed all of these images and will likely continue to do so up until 2 days after I bring the bike home.

Sadly there is no bike fairy willing to trade a bicycle for a manila envelope full of cash under the cover of darkness while I sleep. Instead I am forced to confront the daunting task of shopping for a bike. You'd think I'd love this part even more then filling a basket with flowers and a baguette and ringing my little tinkly bell at the bouncing happy children who veer ever so slightly onto the path of destruction by stepping off the sidewalk and into the bike lane. I do love shopping. If you ever need a partner for scouring the internet in search of a leather handbag to offset the awful violet bridesmaid dress that your cousin in forcing you into so that you can send the message to all wedding attendees that big butt bow or not you have style and flair that cannot be contained I'm your girl. If you want to obsessively search the sales rack of every Anthropologie in the city for the 75% off dress of your dreams I'll be there ready to serve a piping hot knuckle sandwich to any biddy who dares get in your way. But bike shopping? This is not about opinion, this is about facts, this is about the best bike, this about hydrolics and shocks and not ending up dead or scammed. This is not fun times.

My current bike shopping method of choice is to go on craiglist and randomly look at bikes for sale in New York City and then become completely overwhelmed by all of the high tech biking terms like "hybrid" and "bottom bracket" and "pedals" and then decide that I am too uninformed to buy a bike and then wonder if feeling stupid justifies eating some ice cream.

I have not actually looked at any bikes in person because that would require talking to bike people and the biggest problem with purchasing a bike is trying to envision having a conversation about the bike with someone who knows a lot about bikes. Every version of this vignette ends with me paying too much for a crappy bike and hanging my head in shame as I exit the store to a deafening peal of laughter from the sales staff who will probably follow me out on their bikes, circling around me and squirting packages of that awful looking athlete gu crap at me (aside: this is the most convincing evidence that athletic types should not be trusted, all those free calories that could be consumed in any delicious way -- chocolate cake, french fries, duck confit, etc and they choose this? concerning.).

Sales Clerk:Hi girl who looks completely lost in here, let me show you a super expensive bike!
Brianna: ok... umm I don't know anything about bikes.
SC: Perfect! I have just the thing! Novice cyclists are legally only allowed to ride this one bike. it costs $3500.
B: Seems kind of pricey, especially since a subway pass is only two bucks...
SC: All bikes cost that much except the ones that suck and will get you hit by a car, but hey, it's your cranium, maybe you can get by on a nice ass in a pair of bike shorts alone but I wouldn't bet on it.
B: oh.
SC: I'm actually a little concerned about you buying a bike, are you aware that uncool people like you aren't really supposed to own bikes? I could lose my license just for talking to you.

Let's be realistic about the future of this bike. I'm not planning on entering bike races or attending elaborate protests against cars, even though I know that these are the two most common uses for bikes. I plan on doing a lot of staring at the bike in agony thinking about how bad I look riding it and trying to gauge exactly how much people laugh at me (a lot? only almost a lot? have any people suffocated due to being unable to stop laughing at me?)
and one of its main functions will be cluttering my entryway and perhaps starting up a romance with my neighbor's bike. They will likely have a lot in common as neither gets out very often, they can talk about just how lazy and inept their owners are. So really how hard can filling this open bike position be? Must I really have conversation? Or research? Or pay crazy sums of money? Won't almost any old bike do?

Third Party Resources

It's rare to find a New Yorker without some kind of biking equipment, if it's only the biker shorts! Exercising equipment that doubles as a means of travel are extremely popular in cities. Why waste time with a home gym set when you could just ride your bike to work?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Common C-List Celebrity Tragedies

  1. Lure of "Free Meth Tuesdays!" at Scientology headquarters too sweet to resist.
  2. Theory that "If the people like to see a little leg why wouldn't they enjoy a peek at the lady pie?" completely convincing until point of execution.
  3. Obama campaign so full up with Hollywood types that they are no longer willing to let you in if you haven't appeared in at least 1 actual movie not also starring Paris Hilton.
  4. Paparazzi slowly realizing that constant flipping of the bird is really a desperate plea for a little action.
  5. PETA beginning to reject offers to pose nude for animal rights claiming shock of seeing celebrities sans clothing has completely worn off.
  6. Plan to gain publicity by dating Mary Kate foiled by Olsen twin's demand to see your AARP membership card.
  7. Plan to get pregnant in order to drum up some love in the press severely hampered by your penis.
  8. Cameo in Please Let the Dogs Out not paying enough to afford the specialty bras big enough to contain the huge ass boobs purchased with check from cameo in Porking the Rind.
  9. African term that adopted offspring has been using in place of "mom" actually means "whore."
  10. Reality TV cash cow now longer producing milk as viewing public slowly loses interest in watching you do crazy shit on the E network.
(Special thanks to The Mike Stand for much help in the brain storming department)

(This drivel is cross-posted at Burt Reynold's Mustache)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Geeky for Graphs

Last night while lying in bed I started thinking about the topics that I talk about with each of my different friends and, of course, decided that this information must be captured in graph form. It's only natural. The below example pertains to Lisa and I (and makes us seem like the girliest girls to ever squeal with glee at a 50% off Sephora sale) but I assure you that I have already begun creating versions for almost everyone I know. Next step? Merging all graphs and using the data to identify friend subgroups and interesting overlaps. Jealous?