Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Books! Boats! Books on Boats!

I leave for vacation in 3 weeks and 3 days, and I'm already foaming at the mouth to get on that plane, take some Lunesta, and wake up in Istanbul ready to spend an endless day waiting to reach the Kybele, a beautiful ship that will be sitting at the harbor in Bodrum waiting to whisk me and my fellow travelers away.

I have the lists of things I'll need, like beach towels, hair conditioner, bathing suits and sunscreen, running through my head.

But the thing that keeps tripping me up is this: What will I read? I figure that with 7 days of sitting on a boat, I'll finish 3 average-length books. Part of me is also tempted to bring Don Quixote as I've never read it and it's one of those considered far-and-wide to be a tour de force and quintessential example of the perfect novel. But do I want to do that to myself? I'm having a hard enough time gearing up to start that damned book (the writing of it that is...) that maybe the great masters of fiction will daunt me out of it...

Do I re-read "The Wind Up Bird Chronicle" by Haruki Murakami because for some reasons visions of its story have been popping back into my mind like a movie? Do I take something like "The Omnivore's Dilemma" to get it off of my shelf of things-to-read and to feel better about the delicious, fresh Turkish figs I'll be munching on as I learn about the evils of agribusiness?

Do I take the past 5 issues of The New Yorker which have been piling up in my apartment?

It's a serious problem in my life, perhaps to distract me from the fact that in the meantime I'll be buying my first home and moving into it with just enough time to unpack the necessities before going camping...

But this is where we get all Web 2.0 and I eagerly solicit reader opinions on what books YOU think I should read while at sea... Comment away!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I (heart) Harry Potter!

What a glorious final journey our hero had! Trials. Tribulations. Exuberance. And the use of the word "nargle." Fabulous really. Simply fabulous.

But I suppose I'll do the humane thing and not go on about the content of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but I will comment that J.K. Rowling has a gift for storytelling and managed to weave everything she's brought to life in the past ten years into a magnificent finale that I wish had gone on even longer than it did.

Whew. Almost as big a mouthful as a 759-page hardback book is a pain in the ___ to carry around on the subway. Ever try balancing a giant hardback book in one hand while gripping a slimy subway pole in the other? Not awesome.

But the book was!

I finished it last night just before watching the latest episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," a show that actually inspired me to download music from Timbaland and Citizen Cope to bob my head to on the subway. I had to keep myself from dancing on the train this morning, which was a rather awesome way to start the first day of Life After Potter.

But really I just want to read them all over again, like I read and re-read the Little House on the Prairie (which is being reissued later this year!) and Anne of Green Gables books when I was a kid. How fascinating was it to a suburban Jersey kid that you could make a balloon out of a pig's bladder or that people actually lived in Canada? Go figure, right?

Now, the only piece of pop culture mystery in my life is where the heck Starbuck has been for the past few episodes of Battlestar Galactica until the show comes back next January.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Ten Hours to Harry Potter Time!

I ordered my copy months ago from Amazon.com, and have managed to keep the fact that the final installment of Harry's epic battle against the forces of evil and the Dark Lord who threatens both wizard and muggle-kind with death and destruction somewhere in the back of my mind.

This week, however, that's been virtually impossible. Even my computer industry rag has gone and written a story about how Harry's been leaked and how computer security professionals think it could have been averted. There are photos of pages of the book on the Interwebs. There are articles about how several companies shipping the book screwed up and let it arrive before the 12:01 a.m. official release time being marked by celebrations at book stores the world over. There are spoilers threatening me at every corner. The New York Times even got a copy at a book store, or so it said, and reviewed it.

But I am determined to stay away from the fray and wait until my copy arrives to find out what happens.

This, however, is harder than I thought it would be. I imagine this is what it's like to be addicted to something like crack or heroin. Your mind constantly wanders to your next fix. Imagining its sweetness. Imagining the smell of the pages, fresh from the press. Their thick, pulpy texture. The black typeface. The illustrations... The nubby feel of the book jacket...

I'm almost drooling now. Here's to hoping Harry makes it and the forces of evil are put to rest at last. One good thing I've gleaned from trying to avoid the coverage of the biggest book launch in the history of mankind, unlike The Sopranos, the most loved mafia tale since The Godfather Part II, this one actually has an end that makes sense. Closure, if you will. Thank god.

But I guess I'll see for myself tomorrow! Anyone else suffering from Harry-lust?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I had no idea they still made Easy-Bake Ovens...

One million Hasbro toy ovens recalled

Easy-Bake Ovens caused 77 reported burns to children says Consumer Product Safety Commission.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Hasbro Inc. will recall about 1 million Easy-Bake Ovens because children could get their hands caught in the front opening and suffer burns, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday.

A voluntary recall for the ovens was first issued in February so a repair kit could be provided to address the issue. But since then, there have been 249 reports of children getting their hands caught, 77 reports of burns and one girl had a finger partially amputated, the CPSC said.

Hasbro's Easy-Bake Oven

The new recall urges consumers to stop using the oven and to contact the company at 1-800-601-8418 for details on how to return it for a voucher toward the purchase of another Hasbro (Charts) product, the agency said.

The $25 Easy-Bake Oven, made in China, was sold at stores including Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart (Charts, Fortune 500), Target (Charts, Fortune 500) and KB Toys, among others, from May 2006 through July 2007. The recall does not include ovens sold prior to this period, the CPSC said. Top of page

Badge of Honor - Why New Yorkers WANT to Give You Directions

The simple answer is that it makes us feel good about ourselves.

We love knowing the city and the subway well enough to tell you how to get wherever you're going. It's even more of a rush when you ask two of us and then we get to debate in front of you whether taking the 4/5 to the 2/3 at Bergen St. or taking the Q to 7th Ave. is the best way to get to Flatbush Farm, or if it's better to talk one block to the F train or to take the tram to Roosevelt Island. Not that tourists go to Roosevelt Island, but you get the gist.

We love that we know how to get around this sprawling, crazy city, and by god we're going to demonstrate that to you.

The New York Times recently ran an excellent article on our dear subway and how tourists think it's like descending down the Styx. Yeah, it's hot down there. Sure, it's filthy. Granted, sometimes you wait forever for the Q train or find yourself sandwiched among so many travelers that someone is actually touching your body on every single side... But having been a Manhattan car owner, I'll take the foibles and stench of public transportation over that 45-minute parking odyssey any day.

In spite of the run-down stations and the Carter-era cars, there are improvements being made on the subway: I RODE ON A BRAND SPANKING NEW N TRAIN!

It was so new there weren't even scuffs on the floor. Not a speck of dirt. And get this - they had a digital display next to the digital list of stops we were approaching in order (no more guessing which direction you're going!), and that digital display showed videos of how neat-o the new trains were! And to top it all off it was like twice as wide as the former nicest trains on the subway - the ones that run on the 4/5/6 and the 2/3 (occasionally). I hear the L trains are nice too, but I can't really imagine an occasion when I'd need to ride one. I'm a sorry excuse for a hipster.

It renewed my faith in the subway. Now if they can just wash down those platforms or something. Anything. And maybe install some fans.

Monday, July 16, 2007

I want this somethin' awful...

[Addendum: 7.18.07 - The cow rug is mine. Oh yes. The cow rug is mine. I <3 eBay.]

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Slippery Slope

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you my neighborhood in the form of a wee video courtesy of Gawker.com.

Gotta love the Slope.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mid-Week Holidays Rule!

It's Tuesday and I don't have to go to work tomorrow. Neither do you. Awesome.

I've been pondering a new post for the past few days, and there's just so much going on in the world to talk about that I haven't been able to decide, so I'll hit on the highlights, and then go on for a bit about a band I saw...

1) Dick Cheney, otherwise known as the man you'd least like to leave in charge of your children (let alone your country) declaring himself no longer of the executive branch of government. Civics students across the nation try to keep their brains from melting out of their ears into puddles of goo on the floor. Next stop, Justice Cheney will use his powers to dissolve the Congress and the Executive and then start selling shares of America, Inc. to Dubai... wait... I think we already do that...

2) Using race as a basis of integration in schools is no longer allowed. See: "Stupid decisions made by white people and black people who think they're white people about how racism no longer exists because they have a black upper-middle-class friend". A major setback for America.

3) Congress blows its wad on immigration. Good job Congress. I think we should send every anti-immigration, send-em-backer to a destitute Mexican village without electricity and plumbing for 10 days and then see if they'd want their children growing up like that.

4) The Polyphonic Spree, i.e. an overwhelming display of narcissism and chamber rock in a tiny Polish club in Greenpoint. A.K.A. The Hipster Revival Meeting.

The Spree, brainchild of Tim DeLaughter, is a sight and sound to behold. A 20-something piece band that has a harp, an 8-lady choir, a string section, a brass section, and a flautist. Imagine it. In a room not-so-vaguely reminiscent of your middle school auditorium. There was nowhere for the sound to go but deep, deep into your bones. And with lyrics like " Follow the day and reach for the SUN!" and "Hey, it's the sun and it makes me shine. Hey now it's the sun and it makes me smile," you kind of feel like you're deep inside some Electric Company acid trip. DeLaughter holds himself like the Hipster King, standing in front of his ensemble conducting, and sometimes turning around and conducting the audience.

The band began the show in black military garb, "The Fragile Army" of their new album, and with gusto whipped the crowd into such a frenzy that for a full five minutes they sang something about "raising our voices" while the band did a costume change into their more-typical white choir robes, making the sweaty DeLaughter seem even more like a Messiah seeking the adulation of his disciples. And the crowd gave him what he wanted as the band weaved through the audience from the back of the auditorium up to the stage to open the encore, which lasted almost as long as the show featuring a cover of Nirvana's "Lithium" that actually made me bounce.

If I seem cynical, I kind of was. Hipster King really got under my skin sometimes. I think it's got something to do with some of my ex-boyfriends. But then again, even a 24-piece band couldn't outshine DeLaughter's electric need for your adoration, and somehow, you wouldn't want that to happen.