Tuesday, August 19, 2008

On the Acela

Ok. I love the Acela service service on the Eastern seaboard. I generally think train travel could do with a major upgrade in the US. For example, between Chicago and Detroit, there is one track. In both directions. So if two trains need to pass each other while going in different directions, they need to do so at the stations only. Really. This means the train takes 6+ hrs and is not worth the cost ($30)

The Acela on the other hand, is somewhat faster than the regional train (NY-BOS is 3:30 vs 4:15hrs), miles more comfortable with a cafe car, foot room, electrical outlets, and very few delays. You pay a little ove $100 but you eliminate delay risk completely.

If I'm traveling between NY and Boston and there is even a hint of weather issues, I take the train despite it probably adding a half hour onto the door-to-door trip length.

It's the best. Please build more speedy trains.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4th, 2007

Okay so first off, I've been around a lot over the last two months, and I haven't faithfully conveyed in picture or word what's been up. The short version is that I've been on a project in Geneva and flying back/forth a bunch and somewhere in there spending a day in Zurich and Sofia, Bulgaria. The reason for so little communication is that most of these places are pretty boring and Bulgaria is not the type of place that is exactly fun to visit. Somewhere in there I went to Lake Tahoe for the weekend, so I'll post that afterwards.

Today is July 4th, 2007 - actually the anniversary of my landing here in New York (plus a day or two) so it ends up being kind of a reflection on my time here in the big city (when I was in town, at least). I'm in the process of leaving town to somewhere undecided and I've finally gotten to the point where I really appreciate all of the great things about New York without being irritated by the many annoying parts.

So in celebration of the great parts of NYC, I went with friends to Coney Island for the day. We started off trying to catch the famous Nathan's Hot-Dog Eating Contest, famously dominated by a Japanese teenager for some years. This year, of course, the rumors circulated of an eating-related jaw injury and possible title-loss to some other guy who looks like Peyton Manning. The crowd was abuzz.

I popped out of the subway and found a ginormous crowd of people who all were thinking it would also be cool to watch people cram inhuman amounts of pseudo-meat into their moo. I have to admit - I should have shown up earlier. You know when stuff is on ESPN, you need to show up a lot earlier. Turns out the other guy won by downing 66 dogs and buns. Not clear how long before he barfed everything up.

Anyhow, I tried even going to the other side but all I could get was this enormous Ketchup bottle in my face so I decided to go for some non-competitive eating of Mexican food followed by the Cyclone (surprisingly great for being a million years old), the Tilt-a-Whirl, Pirate Ship, and bumper cars - all classics.

All of the rides for some reason had airbrushed backgrounds from the early 80's, and my favorite dated ride was straight called the Break Dance. Much nausea and junk food was observed

Then we stopped by the Sideshow by the Seashore, aka the Freak Show. The first thing I noticed was the reference to the Luna song "Sideshow by the Seashore" and the references to mermaids made a lot more sense. Man I wish they didn't suck so much now.

Anyhow, the Freakshow was great because it hammered home the great American circus tradition of promising a bunch of crap and then taking your money. It felt right. The highlights of the show included sword-swallowing, fire-eating, a contortionist, and Chuy the Wolfman (Interview), who I saw on PBS once.

All in all, it felt good to get back to America's roots of cheap entertainment and delicious junkfood. I did the most American thing I could and promptly went to sleep in the middle of the day. I woke up to catch the NYC fireworks off of my roof. Here in New York, they do two big displays - one off of lower Manhattan and the other over the East River, and from my meager NoLita 5-story apt roof, I could see both okay. The East river one seemed more elaborate.

Nonetheless, a solid day appreciating all of the great things in America which I miss when I go to stupid Switzerland like restaurants open all day and everyone speaking English. I'm glad to be here in the US and I'll definitely miss NYC.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lake Tahoe

Two friends agreed to combine their bachelor parties and a group of 20 or so of us rented an amazing house near Lake Tahoe for the weekend.
The highlight was cruising around the clear deep blue lake in a speedboat amidst the mountains and enjoying the sun.

Friday, May 11, 2007

NOT hanging out with OJ

I'm at the wedding of a good friend whose bachelor party took place in Miami a month ago. I was all set to attend until I realized I had the worst sinus infection known to man and a weekend of drinking and fishing would probably make me die. I had a bad feeling about it - I canceling on a bachelor party just seems to invite bad luck somehow.

I was right. Apparently everyone showed up on Friday, went to a bar to have a few drinks and spent the evening hanging out with acquitted alleged double homocidist OJ Simpson. I can't believe I missed this. I want to kick myself in the nards. Questions I would have asked him:

1) No seriously, you did it, right?
2) Who wears gloves when they're not committing double homicide? In LA? In June?
3) Do you not think it's creepy to still date women who look like Nicole? How do you still manage to date anyone without them thinking you're going to kill them?
4) What could have possibly been going through your mind when you wrote the book?
5) Are there any plans to sell an OJ "The Juice" Simpson Juicer with Jack LaLane? For that matter do you even feel comfortable ordering juice at restaurants?

EDIT: After further investigation, I learned hanging out with The Juice means listening to him drone on for an hour about Iraq ("Eh-rabs") and how he was once Don Imus' boss among other topics while five strippers follow him around. Five. Also, none of my friends broached any of the above questions with OJ. I suppose when you've publicly decapitated your wife and some other dude while managing to get acquitted of the crime, people learn not to fucks with you.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

On stage with the Arcade Fire

Last night at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights, New York I saw The Arcade Fire in concert. In short, it was amazing - they put on a great show and are very pro-fans. During the encore, they played "Wake Up" after inviting all of the fans in the front onstage (including me and my pals). To quote my friend Matt, "It's always a good day when you end it up on stage dancing with a band."

The venue is amazing and the restoration job is incredible. If you get the chance to see a show there or just visit, definitely do so.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Actually seeing famous people

Okay, so after much bitching I finally have seen some celebrities in NY, although oddly, only on the subway. I kind of assumed they took cabs everywhere but apparently the subway is even convenient for them.

First I saw Carson Kressley, aka The Queer Eye guy. This one was a weird sighting since it was all people trying to get to work by 9am and the train was packed. Dude was wearing so much pink he looked like a lawn flamingo with enormous sunglasses. Just a wild guess, but I don't think he was trying to blend in.

Second, I saw Little Carmine Lupertazzi from the Sopranos, AKA Ray Abruzzo. I live near Little Italy so it spooked me to see faux Mafia types running around in the neighborhood. Then of course he got on the subway with me. I'm a big fan of the show (although its final episodes are really tanking quickly for some reason) so I wanted to grill him for spoilers but I didn't. IMDB tells me he has been in shows like Trapper John, Riptide, Falcon Crest, and 21 Jump Street.

Finally (today) I saw Ajay Naidu, AKA Samir from "Office Space". (Coincidentally, appeared in one episode of "The Sopranos") This one was hilarious since I was on the subway and staring at him like I knew him from school or something and he noticed. We exchanged hellos and then I felt bad - I figure he'd probably want to be left alone. Of the three, he's really the only one I would have wanted to talk to, largely about Office Space, but it seems like people largely leave famous folks alone in NY and that's probably why they live here.

I'll stop complaining now.

Eating Cookie Soup

A certain someone I know likes to make this gourmet dessert I like to call "Cookie Soup". It's like having Oreo cookies with milk, only you just say fuck it and go the whole way. Be warned: this is only for serious sugarheads. The recipe is:

- Several Oreo cookies
- Bowl
- Spoon
- Milk (whole is best)

Combine ingredients and let sit for 5 mins. Cookies will get soggy and you will get mushy Oreos and chocolate flake-infused milk solution.

According to it's creator, it's more efficient and less messy than the traditional dunking method. I have to say, it's pretty good, and I don't usually like sweets. Give it a whirl and post your reviews below.