Friday, July 30, 2010

Circle Line Tourist Time

Yesterday I took a 3 hour Circle Line cruise around Manhattan. I had family visiting, which was my excuse for being so toursity, but I did not mind at all. I actually love doing touristy stuff in NYC, despite the fact that I have lived here for nearly 7 years. I still love to go to the movies in Times Square. I like to shop at Macy’s. Just yesterday, I was taking pictures in Grand Central. And even though I know quite a bit about this city, the cruise’s tour director really taught me a number of new fun facts. Such as:

-Governor’s Island was closed to the public until 1997 as a coast guard facility, and was originally a fort designed to protect NY Harbor from British invaders. Even today it is only open to the public Friday-Sunday.
-Roosevelt Island used to be named Welfare Island and is home to many abandoned asylums and smallpox hospitals
-The old Domino Sugar factory is being turned in to apartment buildings, though the Domino Sugar sign is landmarked and will stay on the building
-Barbara Streisand is a huge clean up the East River activist, and had a crew house built off of Harlem River drive
-The Statue of Liberty is still gorgeous up close

Next on my list of touristy things to do: ride one of the double decker busses around Manhattan. Everything looks different from that high up! What touristy things do you love to do in your city?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

China invents a Constructive Way to take out Anger

Today I was getting out of the subway on my way home from two treacherous days of dodging being selected for a NYC jury. I was a little grumpy, which can happen from being cooped up in a windowless room for two days straight and forced to listen to judges ramblings/tolerate all the weirdos that were called for jury duty too. I'm innocently climbing the stairs at my stop, perhaps with a slightly pissed off look on my face, and this little punk decides to block my way up the stairs and give me a hard time because I'm scowling and he is taking it personally.

Naturally, I told him he had better get out of my face immediately if he knew what was good for him (I've lived in some not-so-nice neighborhoods, sometimes you are not in the mood to be harassed).  And after a short yelling match/lecture on how to treat women he backed off. I went on my merry way. I don't think he realized what he was getting himself into. I was definitely not going to be sassed by a little boy thinking he's a thug who is half my age. People need to learn to respect each other. But really NYC, how many times has a random stranger yelled at you or someone else for no apparent reason?  I've seen it quite a number of times, though I must say this is the first time I have been targeted with the yelling.

People need an appropriate way to take out their anger. I get it, we all get mad, living in a big city can be very frustrating at times, especially during a recession when many people are out of work and things may not be performing at their best level due to budget cuts. The subway is always late and crowded; people are in the way; you missed the bus AGAIN. However, there is a right way to deal with it (e.g., kick boxing class, a glass of vino, chatting with friends), and there is a totally inappropriate way to handle it. That way would include yelling at strangers, or attacking MTA officials like this guy did. I know that our mothers raised us to be more polite and respectful than this.

In China, they have come up with a solution. There are "frustration-venting" stores installed into shopping plazas, and anyone who purchases something in the mall can utilize its services for free. I came across this little blurb in the August issue of Marie Claire magazine, and I was more than amused. After my little experience today, I can totally understand why it is popular, and even necessary.

The services the frustration venting shop offers are basically this, an opportunity to smash things to smithereens for 60 seconds. Rooms are set up with common household appliances, such as TVs, lamps, beds.  There are various stations that are designed to resemble a home environment, and you can choose if you want to trash the living room, bedroom, or kitchen, though I'm sure if you are this pissed off it won't really matter what you're hitting. They give you a bat, set the timer, and off you go. Wreak as much havoc as you please, no consequences. I would like to see some stations like that here. I bet they would be quite popular. Let's just hope they don't push the rates of domestic violence up with people taking a liking to hitting things in their home with a bat as a form of stress relief. That speculation aside. Way to go China. I wonder if you have people verbally attacking others in your public transit?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One step closer to complete summer fun

Last night I checked one more item off my summer wish list. I visited the “secret” rum punch paradise, Cienfuegos. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be. It is located on the second floor on 6th Street between Avenue A and First. Don’t look for a sign outside though. You won’t find it. There is no storefront, you enter through a Cuban sandwich shop, which conveniently serves frozen daiquiris if you have to wait to get upstairs, and then walk up a hidden metal staircase in the back. Once you get to the top of the stairs it’s like a green and gold wonderland, to the tune of Cuban music wafting in the background. The d├ęcor is slightly over the top, but is part of what makes the atmosphere so fun to be a part of—Cienfuegos transports you from the streets of NYC. All of the chairs are high backed, and there are tall tapered candlesticks on the tables.  You can find a table to suit any party from a conference room style round table for 8-10 to a corner window table for 2.  In the back is a pink room that can fit larger groups. I cannot wait to go back with a whole bunch of people and get a giant bowl of rum punch. All in all, it is a rather small place. It looks almost like a gutted apartment turned into a bar/lounge. Yet, it works. The homey feeling of it contributes to the contrived sense that you are entering a secret speakeasy.

The cocktails were fantastic. They were perfectly blended to challenge your palate, and boasted the bright colors to match the room. I recommend the Viola Royal, a blend of champagne, gin, and violet liqueur that is a pleasing pale purple and complex with flavor. The wait staff was equally fantastic, and extremely chatty and knowledgeable about the drinks. Our waiter helped me pick a drink I would like when I was having trouble making a decision because the selection was so vast. The food, on the other hand, failed to impress. We ordered popovers stuffed with cheese and chorizo, and the came out looking like little turds, not the fluffy muffinish shape you expect from a popover. They were ok, but left much to be desired, and took quite a long time to be served. Needless to say, they did not lead me to try any of their other cuisine, though the more traditional Cuban fare may have been more delicious.

Then we moved down the block to Death and Co, an establishment by the same owner that boasts mixologists not bartenders, and a intimidating binder of drinks to choose from, complete with ice chipped directly from a large old fashioned block. The cocktails were just as delicious. I had the Rita Hayworth, and it was love at first sip. The atmosphere could not be more opposite of the sunny colorful Cienfuegos. Death and Co is completely black, with no windows, on the ground floor, and lit solely by candles.
The menu, however, despite the fact that the two establishments share a head chef was far superior. We tried the pork belly, lobster sliders (I’m not sure if this is exactly what they were called on the menu the online one is not up to date, the cocktails are QUITE strong people!), and the truffle mac and cheese. Everything was delicious. The pork was tart and crispy. The truffle mac and cheese was tasty, though a little heavy on the truffle flavor. I love truffles/truffle oil, but you can't overdo it. It was served in 8 individual spoonfuls, so the cute presentation made up for the over flavoring. The lobster sliders were the star of the meal. They were served on mini buttery brioche buns that were a perfect mix of toasted yet soft, and the lobster was a refreshing mix of lemony and mayonnaise.

Overall I had a lovely evening hopping between these two venues. It is always fun to have someone put so much time and energy into crafting a beverage so delicious with such quality ingredients that will challenge your taste buds with new flavors. You will never be able to look at your standard kettle and soda the same way again. The cocktails are refreshingly frothy, since the block ice allows you to shake it longer without the risk of dissolving too much water into the mixture. The glasses are ornamental. Yet I simply don’t understand why these fancy pants bartenders still insist on putting egg yolk and egg white into so many of their concoctions. Not only does it make me wonder if they are unknowingly infecting the masses with salmonella, but I just find it a little gross. I don’t care how fabulous the stuff is that you are mixing it with, I don’t want to drink raw eggs, and that’s that. Am I right people?

I will be buying tickets soon

This weekend I had the opportunity to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater perform in Central Park. They were magnificent. It was a 1920's themed performance. The women wore fringed dresses, and feathered boas. The men wore suspenders, wife beaters, and business pants.A live band performed behind the dancers. They played a variety of bluesy tunes. Even in the 90 degree heat and humidity the dancers were enthusiastic and on point. Despite the fact that the crowd was chased out at intermission for a thunder and lightening storm, it was a great performance. And the SummerStage arena was packed full. Clearly they were a popular act. I hope to see them again soon in the future.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Too much information: There's an App for that!

I was perusing my August issue of Marie Claire while riding the stationary bike at the gym when I came across a little blurb called "Got PMS? There's an app for that." Um, really?

It outlines several iPhone applications designed to help men track a woman's menstrual cycle, and to give special alerts as to what phase she is in with labels ranging from "horny" to "smooth sailing," and the warning of "PMS" accompanied by a picture of a lady with lucifer's horns sprouting out of her head. This particular app is called Code Red. Another app, PMSBuddy with the tagline "Saving relationships one month at a time" allows the male possessor to track several women's cycles so they can keep both wife and mistress happy and stocked with tampons when that special time comes along.

I am a fan of the iPhone's convenience. It is a magnificent contraption. But really, have we reached the stage of TMI yet?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Creepy McCreeperston

Can we talk about Bob Saget's role on Entourage? Seriously, could he BE more creepy? I just watched last week's episode today, and he is actually telling a story about getting a blow job from two mormon women. It is just wrong. There are a lot of very manly moments on the show, and it is blatantly about sex a lot of the time. But it's entertaining. Bob Saget's role though, it just well, a little disturbing. I mean could we go to any more opposite extreme from Danny Tanner? The neat-freak, cleaning pro, and general nice guy dad to DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle and part of America's favorite family on Full House. I still can't watch the parts of the show he is on without cringing. Danny Tanner would never use language like that. He would be ashamed!

Presentation techiniques

Thanks to a wonderful group of New Hires that my company has brought on board in the past couple weeks. I've taken the opportunity to observe the presentation styles of many different people. There is been the Midwestern man from Kansas City who finishes every power point slide with the question, "Y'all good with that?" There's the lady from Texas who throws "Golly gee" into every sentence. There is the woman who lived in Hawaii for years and has the extremely relaxed, go with the flow attitude to match. Each of them has little tactics to set the group at ease, and to establish rapport with the trainees. One likes to toss candy and toys at the group. Another likes to make the class record what she is saying to keep their attention. Yet they all have one thing in common. They use one of two tactics to keep the people on their side.

1. They make fun of themselves
2. They make fun of people in the class (for being the last one in the room, for answering every question, etc).

Every single presenter I have seen in the two weeks of sessions uses humor as a bonding tool to unite the group. Watch the next presenter you see, you'll notice it. And maybe try it yourself next time you are trying to get a group of people on your side.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Today's Free Performance

Tonight and tomorrow the Alvin Ailey dance company are performing FOR FREE at Central Park's main Summerstage. The show starts at 8pm, but with attendances as high as 30,000 at previous performances, I recommend getting there early to snag a spot. They are world-renowned, and the website tells us that you don't just see an Ailey performance, you feel it. It is the Dance Theater's first appearance at SummerStage since 1993, and who knows when they'll be back again, which I'm pretty sure means don't miss it. Fingers crossed it doesn't rain!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Because it's Thursday and you're looking for a way to procrastinate at work

I came across this hilarious website in my morning Cute Overload, daily cuteness email. It's called Tagpuss. It's kind of like that hot or not website, but with cats. And, instead of rating how adorable the little furballs are, you get to play kitty psychologist and rate what they are feeling from quite a substantial list of kitty emotions (contempt, happiness, guilt, thoughtful, sleepy). Then after you tag the cat's feelings it tells you what other people rated the cat. Cat lovers beware, this could create a big black hole in your day. As soon as you tag one cat, another appears ready to be rated. It's good for I'd say, about an hour of mindless entertainment, even if you are just in it for the cute cat pictures.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I'll bet you wish you actually read that user manual now

I was on the train last night, journeying back to NYC from my glorious visit to my hometown over the weekend. I’m back! And I’ll be posting more often now that my mini-vaycay has ended. I was reading the July issue of Vogue when I came across a disturbing looking article entitled “Wake-up Call” with a full page picture of melted disintegrating cell-phones opposite. Naturally, I was intrigued. However, what I learned is more than intriguing, it was downright scary. I’m not talking conspiracy theory scary, I’m talking real, investigated by scientists and valid enough to be published in Vogue scary.

Did you know that cell-phone emit radiation that is absorbed by your body? I mean besides the occasional rumor that men who wear a cell-phone in a clip on their belt may experience decreased sperm count. Well they do, and the decrease in sperm count among men wearing cell-phones in belt clips is because of the radiation the cell-phone is putting off that is being absorbed by their *ahem* boys.

The article goes on to extol how research on the dangers of cell-phone radiation emission was done before cell-phones entered into the mainstream as a “lifestyle accessory” rather than a convenience that few had access to. It was before many households (20 percent) exclusively used cell-phones (rather than landlines) as their primary means of communication. It was also completed before children had their own cell-phones, or before it was likely that children even ever used a cell-phone, so there is not current data on how much radiation may be absorbed by their thinner skulls. It explains that the dangers of cell-phone radiation are largely unknown, and that they could be much more dangerous than you might imagine.

It turns out that the user manual that comes with cell-phones even recommends that you hold the phone away from your head while speaking (though it does not say that this is to limit the amount of radiation you absorb). I bet you wish you actually read that thing now! Constant exposure to this radiation through repeated prolonged use of cell-phones has been linked to brain cancer, migraines, and behavioral problems in children born to mothers with significant cell-phone exposure while pregnant.

And yet, the United States is not devoting any significant amount of time or resources to investigating how damaging cell-phones really are (Europe is waaaay ahead of us on this one). There are fears in the scientific community that a couple decades down the line (similar to the jump in lung cancer rates a few decades after WWII really popularized smoking as a pastime) there will be huge increases in the rate of brain tumors in the general populace. While not everyone who uses a cell-phone will develop brain cancer (like everyone who smokes will not develop lung cancer), isn’t it a big enough concern (BRAIN tumors people!!) to at least merit looking in to?

In the meantime, what can you do? Well, you can start by being really paranoid your brain is frying every time you use your cell-phone. And more productively, you can visit the Environmental Working Group Web site to see where your phone stacks up (the “healthy” radiation level is below 1.6 watts per kilogram). You can text instead of calling, wear a hands free headset connected to the phone by a wire (blue tooth doesn’t count), resist storing your cell-phone in your pocket, and avoid using your phone in low service areas. When the phone is working harder to function, and thus emitting more radiation. When you’ve finished that, start putting some pressure on the FCC and FDA to re-investigate cell-phone by increasing awareness about this little know issue.

Remember compact discs?

This morning I received a CD in the mail that I had ordered from Amazon thanks to their creepily accurate recommended picks (they know me so well!!). I finally broke down and bought the last Maxwell album that I didn’t own yet. They make it so easy, I’m ordering something else, and those nice people at Amazon suggest other things I might like. And usually they are spot on. My thoughts were, “That’s right, I don’t own that album yet. I really would like it! It’s only $7.50!” Sold. Yes, I am very susceptible to marketing ploys.

So, I tore open the cardboard packaging to reveal a shiny cellophane wrapped cd underneath. Remember those shiny discs we used to listen to music on before iPods were invented? I forgot how much fun these things are! It has been years since I purchased one. Though I am still really not sure why they have to them so gosh darn hard to open. Really, the shrink wrap is difficult enough to crack, then that sticky bar along the top that never comes off in a single piece. It’s a miracle that people didn’t stop buying cd’s before mp3s came along because of the sheer difficulty of getting to the music.

Then I popped open the cd drive of my desktop, and for a moment I forgot what to do next. It took a little perusing of my computer’s applications to remember I needed to launch Windows Media Player to actually play the cd. Now I am happily enjoying the sounds of Maxwell Unplugged while flipping through the disc jacket, full of pictures and info about the songs. Though I do plan on uploading it to my computer and subsequently, my iPod for future listening, this whole buying a cd thing was a fun trip down memory lane, to when I used to get SO EXCITED to buy new albums and then look at all the pictures inside, and hear the songs that aren’t released on the radio. I might just buy some more cd’s soon. Any recommendations of good albums you’ve heard lately?

Monday, July 19, 2010

There's no place like home

Why is it that a visit to the place you grew up is so refreshing? You sleep in your little twin bed in your old room (which if it is like mine is still covered in posters and photo collages you made in high school). You hang out with your old friends (who I've known my entire life). You visit all your old favorite places, the deli with the best cheese fries, the little restaurant with out doors seating that used to be an ice cream shop, and the town video store complete with the crazy video store guy who has worked there as long as I can remember. There's a pleasing sense of comfort in the routine of the past. It reminds you of less complicated times when summer was for planning the next place you were going swimming. Home sweet home.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Where would you go?

I am officially a lady of leisure until next Wednesday. I took a couple much needed days off from work. I decided to take a trip to my hometown, one of my favorite places to be in the summer. On my list of places to go: Vegas, New Orleans for Mardi Gras, Bali, South Africa, and Tahiti. If you could jet anywhere for a long weekend, where would you go?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's time to start taking this little saying literally

So girls, it looks like we have been getting it all wrong when we head out to for happy hour looking to meet guys with a pack of lady friends. While cruising with a same sex partner (a wingman if you will) may work for men, studies show that when men see women with another attractive mate (i.e., another hottie man) they rate the woman as more desireable for a long term relationship. This finding has been confirmed by the journal PloS ONE, and reported by Women's Health magazine. They don't elaborate as to why this is so, commenting only that a more attractive partner may signal that the person is a valuable catch. My hunch is that it just triggers men's competitive instinct, and tendency to want what they can't have. So find your hottest guy pal and make him be your wingman for the night. It just might lead to true love.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

In Bad Reality TV show news...

Chad "Ocho Cinco" of the Cincinnati Bengals now has his own reality TV show. Will I watch it? 

Well, it's on Vh1. Check. AND it features a sexy (albeit slightly strange) professional athlete. Check. I'm going to have to be a fan. 

I watched the first episode today, and it is pretty hilarious, though painful at times to watch. It's called "The Ultimate Catch"-I'm sure there was no pun intended there on his wide receiving position and "catching" a lady friend.  Anyhow, here are some highlights of the episode.

  • Chad rips on the Steelers saying he hasn't seen this many girls (85) on a football field since he played the Steelers. (see clip above) Gotta love football humor.
  • Chad explains his two catch phrases, "Child Please" (loosely translated as bitch please, hell no, or fuck off/you) and "Kiss the baby" (in Chad speak means, The fat lady has sung, it's OVAH, you might as well kiss the baby because it's not gonna happen)
  • Chad invites pal (and also pro athlete/reality TV show star of the TO show) Terrell Owens to help him narrow now the ladies, and Terrell instead decides to hit on several of the ladies and tries to get one of their numbers
  • Chad pits the women against each other in a bracket very similar to your March madness bracket betting papers during elimination
All in all, it is ridiculous, trashy fun. I recommend if your looking for a dose of sweet abs and poor entertainment.

Wowza that is going to be one good looking baybeh

Perez Hilton, the god of all celebrity gossip reported today that not only did Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz run off and get hitched in a small ceremony at a friend's home in the Bahamas earlier this month, but now it has been confirmed: Penelope is indeed knocked up. And damn. That is gonna be a very attractive child with a momma and poppa looking like that. I guess I'll have to start looking for a new husband again.

"Sitting in front of a fan" is the NEW "Blow-drying your hair"

With the ridiculous heat waves that have been going on in the North East, it is just too darn hot and too darn humid to blow dry your hair. Even in an air conditioned room, it is nearly impossible to cool down after blasting hot air in your face for the anywhere from 5-20 minutes it takes you to attain the perfect coif.

Now normally, I consider going to work with wet hair unprofessional. You just can't pull off a neat and organized employee (not matter how snappy your outfit) if your hair is sopping wet. It just screams, I didn't manage my time effectively. And I know, it happens to the best of us. Some days our alarm just doesn't go off, or an outfit crisis steals all the time that would have been spent blow drying. It is better to be on time than late for sure.

Yet this summer, I just can't bring myself to use my blow dryer. Hence my new summer hair techniques. My favorite is showering the night before and putting my hair in pin curls or a braid for a curly look that also cuts down on time spent getting ready. But when I don't sufficiently plan ahead, I point a fan directly at my mane and sit for about 5 minutes until the very top layer is dry. Then twist into a bun at the nape of your neck, or pull into a side braid and I'm out the door with no heat styling required. The photo above just gave me the idea of throwing a little fine glitter into the breeze for a fancy do (though this probably wouldn't be work appropriate). As an added bonus, your hair won't stick to your neck on the walk to the subway AND when you take the bun out later before meeting the girls after work you will have lovely waves, no curling iron necessary!

Efficiency and staying cool. Beat that blow dryer.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Follow me on blog lovin'

In the spirt of improvement, I have added another icon to my blog. I just joined blog lovin'. Follow me using the link below, or the flashing picture in my sidebar.

Follow my blog with bloglovin

Check me out!

In my never ending quest to make this blog more awesome and more fun, I have made a couple changes to the layout. I now have three tabs. About tells you a little about this blog, where the name came from, and what its goals are. You can also learn how to get in touch with me. Blog Roll is a categorized list of some of my favorite blogs. It's a ever-expanding list, so check back to that tab for updates. Home is where you'll find all of my posts, my mini blog list, my followers, and my brand new twitter button (Follow me!!).

One thing I've learned about blogging is that there's always more to learn about blogging. I am constantly discovering new things that I want to add to my blog from reading other people's blogs, and because the blogosphere is so rapidly evolving. Other things I've learned about blogging:
  • Google Analytics is the shit. It gives you a play by play of how many people visit your site, from where. It's an indescribably valuable (free)tool to find out how much traffic your blog gets and how it gets it.
  • Other bloggers are really nice. Any time I've had a question about a cool layout, or how to do something that they did, the people I contacted were extraordinarily helpful, and gave extremely detailed directions as to how to accomplish it.
  • It's just plain fun.
Enjoy my new features, I'm sure there are more changes and improvements to come!

One of these days, I'm going to win

One of my favorite pastimes when I’ve completed my daily crawl of my favorite blogs, NYC events, and news sites is to enter online sweepstakes. They are giving away some really cool stuff out there! There are trips (woman’s day), jewelry (elle), home goods, cool gadgets, and most recently cool jeans (glamour). Call it a guilty pleasure if you want. I just call it fun.

I think it’s tied to my total magazine obsession, and my love of scratch off tickets. Combine magazine and an unlikely chance of winning something awesome, and it’s pretty much my perfect idea of mindless entertainment. The fun part is, that I really actually think I’m going to win when I enter, and contemplate how awesome it’s going to be when I load up all this free loot. In most of the magazines I subscribe to, there’s always at least one page telling you to visit their website to win awesome things.

My most recent obsession is the Levi’s jean dress pictured above that is giving away. I am loving the return of jean everything this season. It would be adorable with a belt and some sparkly sandals, or a hat and leggings. It just looks so comfy. At only $70, I might just pick one up if I don’t win (but that probably won’t happen).

Monday, July 12, 2010

Summer Guide

Lately I have been attending a great many free events in NYC. No place really does it like New York in the summer time. There are endless really fun, really free things going on nearly any night of the week. And they couldn’t have come along too soon.

NYC is the kind of city that gets on your nerves from time to time. Sometimes it is just too expensive and too crowded. Sometimes it makes you want to move away where everything isn’t dirty and people aren’t swarming everything. And then, it goes and does something fabulous like these AWESOME free summer activities, and lures you back in again. All plans of moving are forgotten, and the love affair begins anew.

I received a copy of the Vanity Fair guide to summer.  It is a good start to events and awesome places to go all over the city, but it is not exhaustive. I suggest checking the websites of common venues listed to find out more info that didn’t make the cut, and stopping by the South Street Seaport to pick up a guide of the river to river music festivals going on. There were so many things listed inside that I had to make a google calendar to capture everything I want to do, just so I don’t miss anything important. I am not messing around with my summer fun.

So far without shelling out any dough, I have seen:
-Maxwell perform 3 sets (sound check, warm up, actual show for Today)—This kind of changed my life it was so great
-The Macy’s fireworks display –If you think it looks fantastic on TV, it is simply amazing in person
-Annie Hall screened outdoors on Pier 1 of the Brooklyn Bridge Park –The city just redid this park, and it is brand spanking new. The grass is plush, the view of Manhattan is perfect.
-The Roots and Talib Kweli in Prospect Park as part of Celebrate Brooklyn (this was a $3 donation, but totally worth it!!)

These events haven’t just been mediocre. I have had nothing short of a FANTASTIC time at all of the things listed above. Maxwell performed for much longer than televised, and I was within 15 feet of him the entire time. I shudder to think what tickets that close must have cost at Madison Square Garden. I viewed the fireworks from a blanket on a grassy area that I had been picnicking on all day long (with cocktails), and waited only a half hour until everyone dispersed. Annie Hall was crowded, but we arrived around 7 (movie starting at 9), and managed to snag a spot right up front. They had dj’s playing until the movie started, food vendors, and a very relaxed policy towards drinking wine in public. The Roots and Talib Kweli were just wonderful. They are really two performers who are even better live than on CD-out of control good. I couldn’t stop marveling that it was free the entire time I was there. The concert went on for about 4 hours straight with a couple brief bouts of dj’ed music in between. I could not believe how long they performed for, while dancing around the stage. It was incredible.

Put simply, when NYC does something, it does it right, and almost makes up for how hot and gross it is during the summer. I plan to try to attend as many of these summer events as I can.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Today's Free Concert

A free concert? A free Roots and Talib Kweli concert? Why yes please! Today I will be attending this wonderful line up presented by Celebrate Brooklyn! in the Prospect Park Bandshell. I am on a mission this summer to take advantage of all the fabulous free activities that NYC has to offer during the summer months. I cannot think of a more lovely way to spend a warm Sunday evening.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Check out my new shoes!

I have the unfortunate (or awesome, depending on how you look at it) luck of working within walking distance of the shopping meccas that are Herald Square and Union Square. It is awesome for the entertainment, and constant wardrobe updates that it affords me. It is unfortunate for my paycheck.

But not these gems. I spotted them in In Style magazine, and I was like HOLD UP, Old Navy sandals for $24.50 that are THIS cute?! Featured in such a stylish magazine?! I ran out and bought them on my lunch braek today, and I totally love them already.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

No plant is safe from the evil urban squirell

There is a unique pride involved in gardening. You plant these fragile little seedlings, and nurture them to be big strong, fruit or flower producing plants. You fertilize them. You water them daily. You get them a nice fancy pot so they look nice while growing. Granted, it is for selfish reasons. You want to enjoy their flowers, or eat the veggies the plants produce. But along the way you become invested in the organism that you are prodding to flourish, and become proud at the green thumb you are developing.
And then. The weather, or some marauding little beast comes along and steals your pride and joy away. It’s a feeling akin to raising a child and then having it snatched up and devoured by goblins.
Ok. Maybe it’s not quite that devastating, but I am still feeling very freshly wounded by the evil squirrel that stole my prize tomato this morning.

I climbed out on to my fire escape this morning (per usual), which was not an easy feat, since I only remembered to do it AFTER I was dressed for work, and in a constricting knee length skirt. I poured in the small pitcher of water and lifted up the leaves to check in on the one large tomato that I’ve been eagerly watching get bigger and bigger, and dreaming about what a tasty sandwich it would make when it finally ripened. There are other tomatoes on the plant, but they are all much smaller, and some are prone to turning black and falling away (though I’m still not really sure why this is happening). I searched. My prize tomato was not there.

HORRORS! I heard a rustling above me. I looked up, and crouched on the fire escape above my head sat the evil squirrel that haunts my only outdoor area. Then I look over and see the half-knawed remains of my prize tomato discarded below him. I wasn’t sure whether to cry or throw the little creature off the fire escape right then and there.

Don’t worry. I’m not that crazy as to try to touch an animal living on the streets of NYC, but I did gesture angrily until he took off. I’m not sure why he has to hunt for food 4 stories up. I really thought that my plants were safe from the intrusions of wild life that high up.

I just don’t get it. There are plenty of tress on the ground level. There is lots of garbage to forage. Maybe it’s some strange adaptation to wildlife living in the city, the need to check out fire escapes for plants. I should have known that little bugger would cause trouble when he made off with the top of my jack-o-lantern last year. Darn squirells.

Reasons why you shouldn't put on that extra spritz

I have a very sensitive nose. I can typically smell things before other people. If I’m walking near a bakery with the smell of fresh bread wafting out. I generally smell it about 5 minutes before the people I am with. My sister is the same way. Her husband is always accusing her of making scents up, until his nose catches up to her acute sense of smell (with a 5 minute delay). I am often assaulted by the scents of others, and have very strong perceptions of each little scent (partially why stinky NYC in the summer time is so awful for me). Sometimes I put a little lip gloss on under my nose just so I don’t have to smell what is around me.

And yet, once I spritz on my perfume for the day (Dior Pure Poison, or Stella McCartney Rose Absolute depending on my mood), after about 10 minutes or so, I can’t smell it anymore unless I pointedly sniff the area where I just sprayed. Sometimes I have to ask someone else to sniff me to see if I actually put it on, since it has become such a part of my routine that I do it completely unconsciously. I’ll occasionally get whiffs of it throughout the day if a strong breeze blows up, or I toss my hair the right way, but for the most part I disappears once it is on my skin.

Why can I smell other scents so strongly, and not the one that I have picked out, love, and spend quite a pretty penny on to wear daily? Well, I did a little googling this morning and here’s what I found out.

Your body has a natural defense mechanism in which your scent receptors stop signaling the brain after they have been exposed to the same sensation for a prolonged period of time. It’s a way of helping you function more acutely by ignoring stimulus that do not change so you can take in the changing environment around you. You other senses do the same thing. Think about it. Your nose takes up a significant part of your face, and your field of vision, but you don’t see it unless you make a point of looking directly at it. It’s your eyes blocking out a constant stimulus so they can look around and take in everything else.

Now stop staring at your nose already.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Can you run in those stilettos?

I wore stilettos today for the first time in a long time. I’ve been sticking to chunkier heels lately, summer wedges, or fancy flats. And MAN, I forgot how hard these little spikes of death were to walk in. I mean, I can easily shimmy my way down a hall without being scared of falling down. I am an experienced heel wearer after all.

However, they really do take a little extra care than other heels. And my Wii fit told me I had poor balance. I would have to say that any girl who can manage to walk in spikes, and still look cute has phenomenal balance. After all, you are stablizing your entire body weight on a stick the size of a pencil. I’d like to see anyone outside of Cirque du Soleil try to manage that. I’m not sure how the ladies of the heel-a-thon in NYC managed to race in these things. I am sure there were lots of wipe outs.

Need a little inspiration in your Hump Day cuppa joe?

Well try this on for size.

It is the Manifesto of Michelle Buettner, who recently started a new blog called Might and Main that is designed to give you the kick in the ass that you need to get out there and live your dreams. I found it on my daily crawl of Yes and Yes, and let's just say I'm adding it to the list of blogs I will be following.

Go ahead and read it. Tell me that you aren't a little bit inspired to live the life you always imagined for yourself by the time you are done.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hot time, summer in the city

I am all for warm summer weather, especially since last summer we had nothing but rain and cold weather for the majority of June, July, and August. The lovely sunshine and blue skies we have been enjoying have enabled me to check many things off my summer list of to-do’s already, and it is only July 6th! So far, I have:

-Been to the beach several times
-Rode the Codzilla
-Went to the vineyards of Long Island
-Visited my Gram, complete with iced tea and cards on the porch
-Picnicked in the park
-Saw Maxwell in concert (outdoors as a bonus)
-Watched the Macy’s 4th of July fireworks
-Lounged poolside
-Read a smutty romance novel

But I do have to say, I HATE summer heat waves in NYC. I grew up in a town where I could dip in to my pool, or go jump in a lake at my leisure. Though it may have been hot, there was always a body of water near by for refreshment. In NYC, it is not so. It is a hot box of pavement with little breeze, out of control humidity, and a wealth of stinkiness that just keeps getting hotter, smellier, and more stifling. This heat wave is supposed to last all week, and I am not looking forward to everything I hate about NYC in the summer just getting grosser. Things we have to look forward to:

-Not being happy and refreshed like the people in the picture above
-Nearly vomiting on your way to work/being attacked by roaches and mice on your way home from work because of the stench all of the hot trash left out to be picked up the next morning
-Stinky people in the subway. I know it is hot, but deodorant and perfume were invented for a reason
-Sweating through your shirt before 9am
-All beverages becoming warm within 5 minutes of pouring them (an excuse to chug that beer?)
-No cold water in your building because the pipes are super heated
-Feeling sluggish because of the oppressive hot with no relief
-Brown outs, and recommendations to turn the AC off (Not on your life NYC!)
-Lines stretching around the block at every ice cream, tasti delight, and pink berry across the city
-AND at least 2 more days before the over 100 temps start to break.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Independence Day America!!

And I'm proud to be an American,
where at least I know I'm free.
And I won't forget the men who died,
who gave that right to me.
~Lee Greenwood

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Things I love about America

As Independence Day gets closer, I find myself constantly pondering the things I love about America. I’ve even accidentally (ok, on purpose) dressed in red white and blue the past couple days for work to show my spirit. Hey, it’s a good color combo. I don’t see why we should have to limit to one day of celebration here people. My grandmother is always giving me a hard time about how “my generation” doesn’t have any patriotism. At least from my point of view, that is completely untrue. Maybe we are antiwar or rather lackadaisical in our politics, but that doesn’t mean we do not appreciate the soldiers who fight for our freedom, and love every little bit of it that we have.

In fact, every time I leave the U.S. for an extended period, I find myself appreciating this wonderful country even more, and yearning to return home. Don’t get me wrong, I love experiencing all the countries of the world. I just haven’t been to one yet where I could see myself happily living out my life as an ex-pat.

Things I love about America:
-Our magnificent public sanitation system (you do not appreciate it until it is not there)
-Our abundance of free-flowing public tap water
-Our penchant for deep frying anything we can find a container large enough to submerse in oil
-Our tradition of children moving out and living on their own at age 18 (EVERYONE is happier when they have some space from family sometimes)
-Country music
-Our culture of convenience, and love of excess
-The GIANT sizes that fountain sodas come in everywhere (6 oz is not enough soda for me thank-you-very-much)
-Over the top parades and fireworks displays for holidays sponsored by my favorite retail outlet ever, Macy’s
-Keg parties (do they exist in other countries?)
-The American dream 
-That with a porch, something cooking on the grill, and a cold beverage in your hand, everything just seems alright alright

Now, off to celebrate America's birthday!!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Shake Shack comes to the Upper East Side

Shake Shack enthusiasts, get excited! There is another location coming to town at which you can wait in line for hours for a delicious milkshake and burger. It's on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on 86th Street between Lexington and 3rd, a strip which is quickly morphing in to one of my favorite in the city. This piece of sidewalk is also home to some of my favorite stores ever including: Sephora, Steve Madden, Barnes and Noble, and the ever convenient H & M if I need a new outfit for the weekend. I walk this stretch at least twice a day.

I passed place that is to become Shake Shack on my way to work this morning, and the letters are up, it is official. The sign out front ambigiously says opening summer 2010. Here's to hoping it's sooner rather than later. I have never tried the glorious Shake Shack, and it is on my list of summer to-do's. Now that the location is so convenient, I will be stopping by as soon as I have the chance, even if I have to wait forever for my burger.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fighting off the tanorexia

So it’s that time of year, when I am trying to maintain my resolution not to lay in the sun too much, and to faithfully reapply sunscreen when I do. But, I am being wooed by everyone else’s tans. Why is it that people just look so much prettier with a little hint of bronze around the edges and a few more freckles?

Then I went to the beach this past weekend. I reapplied, and it was foggy. I left congratulating myself on a job well done not getting burned AND spending a day on the water. About 3 hours later, my skin finally responded. My stomach was an angry shade of red, which 3 days later has just finally started to recede to pinkish/normal. I was disappointed in not even making it through a full month of summer without forgoing my fight against tanning, wrinkles, and cancer. What will power?

And now, to make it worse, everyone at work has been commenting on how fabulous I look with such a “healthy summer glow.” They tell me I look refreshed, my hair looks blonder, all in all I just seem more fabulous. (And it's true!!) I wish they would stop encouraging me! I mean was I really that sickly pale to begin with? Yep, in the photo above, I’d be the girl in the middle.

Valley of the deep deep depression

I just finished reading the Valley of the Dolls, and man, what a depressing book! A more appropriate title might have been Valley of Depression. *Spoiler Alert* if you are in my book club, and have not finished the book, you’ll probably want to stop reading here.

The story revolves around 3 women living in NYC: Anne, a nice girl from Connecticut wanting only to escape rural life and support herself, Jennifer, a beautiful girl on a quest for fame, and Neeley, a waif with real talent bent on self destruction. The three fight to make it in NYC and Hollywood while maintaining romances and finding true love.

Anne manages to marry the man of her dreams, the love of her life though he winds up cheating on her with every new starlet taking chunks of their marriage with him until there is nothing left but silent tolerance. Jennifer proceeds through a series of relationships in which men only want her for her body. Then when she thinks she finds true love, ends up killing herself because she realizes the man she thought loved her for her would be devastated if she underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer. Neeley runs through two husbands only to steal Anne’s and drive him away through her alcohol and drug abuse. We don’t find out her final fate, but it is safe to say that she ends up dying alone of some sort of overdose.

All three women are highly successful in their careers. Neeley is a broadway, movie, and television star with a spectacular voice and rampant fan following. Jennifer starred in French films and was such a raging success that America recruited her again for films. Anne starred in commercials as the face of a major cosmetics chain and had her own television segment. They were financially comfortable, and the only woes in their lives seemed to be cause by romances which finally made them all so miserable they turned to pills for comfort.

However, both Jennifer and Neeley went through long periods of life where they could not make ends meet on their own incomes. Without family to help support them, they were forced to use their bodies to obtain support from lovers, both male and female. It really calls attention to the need for financial independence to ever have total control over ones own body. It highlighted the ability of women to stab each other in the back even after the most fervent professions of friends forever. Themes of the story include: women on an endless quest for fulfillment through love, fear of aging, the importance of physical beauty.

At times it reads like a smutty romance novel. It hooks you in, and you must find out what happens to all three. I found myself hoping against all odds that all three would live happily ever after, yet all three lives ended in tragedy. After pondering it all for a little while, I’m not really sure what message Jacqueline Susann was trying to send with this novel. That women are evil creatures bent on destroying each other? That women are overly dependent on relationships for their own happiness? That men are pigs who only care about young, thin, physical beauty? That true love does not exist?

Or maybe she just wanted to take a look at the real hard issues that women faced during the 1940’s. In the time period this was set, marriage was still a practical commodity, women needed a husband to support them financially to live, and found themselves making all kinds of compromises in the process of keeping that marriage alive. And yet, women were beginning to gain freedom to become gainfully employed and support themselves, giving them the option to shun marriage if they wished. However, none of these characters, despite their material success, wanted to live without love in their lives (who would?). So what, pray tell, is the moral of the story?

I’m not sure. Jacqueline Susann seems to want to show how vulnerable women can be, while also emphasizing their ability to survive nearly anything. The book reads like a warning, feel free to make moral sacrifices to obtain your goals, just be sure you can live with their repercussions for the REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Even though it was a bit of a downer, it was an easy read that I enjoyed. And for a 25 cent bargain, the hours of entertainment it gave me cannot be beat. Now, on to the next book in my queue.

Pink Forever

Yes, I am blogging about nail polish again. I came across this gem when I popped in to the duane reade downstairs from my office for my daily snack/cheap beauty thrill. I was perusing the nail polish selection, looking for a neon magenta to replace a bottle that lost when I came across this brand, Sinful Colors. I had never noticed it before, and at $2.99 a pop, you can't go wrong. I've gotten rather sick of spending $9 and up on essie or orly polish only to spill the bottle, leave the top off, or otherwise ruin the polish. AND it's a color pink that I just don't have in my collection yet. It's called Pink Forever. It looks rather like raspberry sherbert, no? The perfect summer hue if you ask me. I brought it home, tried it out, and it goes on smoothly and stays shiny for much longer than you would expect a three dollar polish to last. I've had a couple coats on my toes for about 5 days now, even surviving a trip to the beach, and it's still going strong. After this weekend, I must say, the color looks lovely when half buried in the sand.


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