Wednesday, December 28, 2005

A day and a bad excuse in a few paragraphs (with far too many parentheses)

I kinda promised a post yesterday but I spent most of the day cuddled up in my room with the electric heater on. The heat in the house broke down. That is to say the heat worked, but the circulating pump (the pump that circulates the heat to the rest of the house - for those like me who aren't so mechanically inclined) decided to make the annoyingly loud sound as if a jackhammer was going off in the walls instead of circulating the heat as it is supposed to do (see previous parenthesis). To my good fortune the pump decided to start with the loud jackhammer-ish noise at approximately three o'clock in the AM. Waking up in a house sans heat (read: very cold) by the jackhammer of the circulating pump coming out of the heating vent instead of the heat I expected is quite possibly the worst way to wake up; ever (save some sort of horrific torturous experience involving toothpicks, super glue, hot sauce, and a digital camera).

I was so cold, and so very tired (I had to wake up early to drive a sibling to the train and then stay up in a stupor waiting for the heating repair man to arrive) I quickly curled back up into bed around 11:30 AM and fell promptly back to sleep until 2:30PM. I woke up cold and sniffling, head aching due to sinuses. The rest of my day was spent first in bed reading, a quick run to drive brother number two to the LIRR so he could get into Manhattan to pick up cookie dough he left in his dorm room fridge (also hang out with his friends); then back in bed where it was warm until my folks came home from an extended weekend away. Along with my folks came an unassembled entertainment center from Ikea I then assembled with the help of the first sibling who had since come home from work. By then it was warm in the house, but I was too tired to go online and fell asleep early to get to work on time to open the Starbucks this morning.

It wasn't a very busy day yesterday, but it was one that was the quite the opposite of being conducive to writing.

Chanukah (or Hanukah, or whatever - I never know how to spell it in English, so Amber, you're one up on me) is going fine I guess. Received no presents so far, but did not expect any. We aren't a big present giving family. The only reason presents are exchanged on Chanukah is due to its proximity with Christmas Jews wanted to get gifts too. Ever since Rebecca (Roni's Girlfriend - Roni being a brother of course) mentioned to my mom that she buys her folks a gift, my mom has been dropping a few hints. Thus, the four of us (from oldest to youngest: Me, Hillel, Roni, and Asaf) all chipped in and purchased them (the parental units) an ice cream maker. We figured it's a gift that they would enjoy (they do) and something we could partake from as well. They way I figure it's far better than a bowling ball with "Homer" inscribed on it (anyone who gets that is just as big as a dork as I am - so there).

The sweet spicy smell of hot sweet potato Latkes (for those of you who speak Yiddish), Levivot (for those of you who speak Hebrew) potato pancakes (for those of you who speak neither Yiddish nor Hebrew) that my father has made is slowly wafting its way to my desk. Hence I shall sign off here, sweet potato latkes and home made ice cream are both in my immediate future. Take care kiddies.

Post script: I saw The Chronicles of Narnia and my review will be posted on as soon as I write it. I'm just a lazy bastard.

Monday, December 26, 2005

so tired, so very tired.

First off, I have come to realize, though I'm not happy about Johnny's move (and as James pointed out it wasn't a trade, which I knew, only I wrote it wrong, whoops) I can't really blame him. It's the Red Sox fault for not doing a better job of holding on to him. He wanted seven years, they gave him four, and when the Yankees called and started courting him the Red Sox didn't really do much to try and keep him. Though I would never play for the Yankees (well I would but only because I suck at baseball, but if I was good I wouldn't) I understand why he left. I mean, if there are two companies trying to get your business, which one do you go to, the one who is activly courting you, going out of they're way to win you over; or the one that just seems lukewarm to you, not seemingly caring either way? Simple.

Just needed to get that off my chest. Not the most intersting of posts, but I'm wicked tired and I reek of coffee and espresso. Luckily I don't have to go in to work tommorrow. Expect a new post 'cause I'll have nothing else to do.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mildly depressed

Johnny Damon has been traded to the Yankees. I'm not angry about it yet. I probably will be in a few days, but now it's like a shot to the gut. I can't stop the bleeding.

For any Yankee fans out there, nuts to you guys.

And for people who don't care either way, I give you the best advice I've ever received.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Kong is Long

There are three things I know to be true. Adrian Brody can't help but be adorable, Naomi Watts can't help but be gorgeous, and Peter Jackson can't help but make the most outrageous and breathtaking action sequences.

Thus, if all you care about is Naomi Watts's sexiness (even when caked with mud, sweaty, running from dinasours), Adrian Brody's adorableness (even when he's caked with mud running to dinasours trying to save Naomi Watts) and jaw dropping mindless action, all tied together with a thin plot involving monkey love, then you should go out right now - before you even finish this ridiculously long sentence - and see this movie.

Just like the original Kong, this one is filled with the most technologically advanced available special effects of the time. What the new one has that the older one doesn't: about 84 more minutes. Which is not to say I didn't like those extra 84 minutes. I have seen the Lord of the Rings theatrical releases, and I've also scene the extended versions. Watching King Kong felt like I was watching an extended version (albeit an extended version I liked) rather than the regular theatrical release. There are a few too many sub plots that don't add much to the rest of the story, and some character bits that are entertaining but slow down the plot.

And the action is gruesome. Not gory, there is no blood, but it's all violent none the less. One particular scene where I couldn't help but cringe was King Kong killing a T-rex in a very cruel fashion, basically ripping its head open and jamming it into the ground. It was harsh, but maybe I'm a bit too sensitive as all the kids at the ten year old birthday party seated a few seats behind me all broke out in laughter.

Jack Black, as Director Carl Denham sentimentalizes all the death and destruction for a brief moment, then glazes over larger considerations in his quest to make the prefect movie. Peter Jackson pretty much does the same - and I think this is the only real flaw in the film. Perhaps there should have been a disclaimer in the beginning of the picture: "No digital people were actually harmed in the making of this film." In Jackson's previous films the action was either for humor (yes black humor and kitsch value count), or had some sort of emotional connection to the audience. In this film, there isn't enough of either; mindless action for its own sake surprisingly does grate on you, especially after nearly three hours of it.

Here's what it really boils down to (to use a tool taken from the Donald Rumsfeld playbook), did I like this movie? Yes I did. Did I think it was too long? Very much so. Should you see this film in a theater? With out a doubt. Is this a must see movie? No, unfortunately it isn't.

So there you have it. I hoped that helped, and if not, I hope it at least entertained.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

To infinity and beyond

Off to see King Kong today. Don't know when I shall return. Skull Island is a very dangerous place.

Wish me luck.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Tom Arnold Scares Me - but that's really neither here nor there

I hate washing my hair. Contrawise, I hate lice and dandruff. These two opposing thoughts haunt me each morning as I take my daily shower. My aversion to shampoo has nothing to do with a fear of cleanliness. It has nothing to do with any sort of fruity or chemical smell associated with hair care products. This hate (and I'm a little embaressed to admit) stems entirely from aesthetic considerations.

It's time I just came out and admited it. I tried to hide it my entire life, especially in high school, I could barely admit it to myself let alone my freinds, and I know my family knew. I have curly hair. There I said it (wrote it). It's like a huge weight has been lifted off my chest. I have curly hair. In my youth I used to look at all the kids with longs thin straight hair and wish my hair would look like theirs. I cut my hair short, I buzzed it each summer so no one would know. Then as I got older I grew my hair out and tried all sorts of cuts to hide the curls dying to be free.

I wore hats. Dear lord did I wear hats. All sorts of hats. Big hats, little hats, vitnage and retro hats, strange and multicolor hats. Anything so my frizzy curly (I used to say wavy but that was a lie) hair wouldn't be noticed.

It has been a long journey for me to admit what was so glaringly obvious to the rest of the world. My hair just isn't straight. Those of you out there with perfect straight hair will not understand this next bit. As a person with curly hair, shampoo kills me. It drains my head, my brown locks of all their essential oils and such. Thus upon exiting the shower, and drying my head, my hair is nothing more than a giant puff of frizz. Sure I use special anti-frizz shampoo and conditioner, but even the strongest dose just isn't strong enough.

I used to dream of having prefectly managable straight hair. The kind of thin strands than just fall across the head and sit perfectly regardless how often you do or do not comb them.

There is about one day in seven when my hair actaully works. The day when it's just oily enough not to be gross, but oily enough to keep my loose curls in check. Before that day there isn't enough natural oils and it's frizz city, and after that day there is too much oil and my that's just kinda gross.

One of the first things I'm going to do after I get my first paycheck (whenever that is,I should probably enquire the bosses of Starbucks as to when I get paid) I'm going to go out and get a hair cut. I don't know what it's going to look like, but I'm going to take the risk with a new barber. All I really need is to find one good cut and stick with it. So far, my rebllious hair does not like being told what to do. I hope that in time I can train it before it invariably falls out (I have a full head of hair, but as baldness has afflicted every generation of men on both sides of my family before me, I assume it's only a matter of time until I join them).

But it never listened to me before, so why should it start now?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I totally miss boston

Million Dollar Rabbi (having quicktime will definitely help)

These are the type of shananagins I've missed by moving to Queens. Both fellows in the video are my former roommates. I didn't think I missed my freinds so much, but apparently I do.

As the song goes "Boston you're my home."

Also, my thoughts on the holiday season, summed up by someone else. I don't know who wrote it, but I really wish it was me. If you get gooey over christmas, this might not be the read for you. (I should thank Jeremy for posting this on his blog first, otherwise I would never have found it.)

Just another reason...

That cats are much cooler than dogs. I'm sure there are plenty of dog lovers out there, but honestly, how many of your dogs actually keep your bones healthy?

Scientists have demonstrated that cats produce the purr through intermittent signaling of the laryngeal and diaphragmatic muscles. Cats purr during both inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz. Various investigators have shown that sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing.

This association between the frequencies of cats' purrs and improved healing of bones and muscles may provide help for some humans.
quote taken from the Scientific American website, article entitled: Why do cats purr?

Also, you'll never see a cat use a lame set of stairs to get on and off the couch.

I have nothing against dogs, or those who love them. It's just that unless you are looking for drugs, or skiers lost in a mountain, or are a hunter, cats just make more sense (and are more usefull - and in my opinion more enjoyable - to have around).

So take that dog lovers! Cats are just cooler.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

More Quickies (thank you ananova)

Woman sent to wrong prison - Either someone needs to explain the birds and the bees to Peru, or that is one messed up woman.

Noise pollution - I know this would certianly keep me away.

Capitalism at it's best and most fun - makes me kinda wish I was still unemployed (Also one of the few times I've wanted to be german).

Have fun kiddies.

Friday, December 09, 2005

file under: Couldn't have said it myself

Mary Kate - college dropout.

Which I suppose is better than being a Beauty School Drop out.

(Did that Grease reference make me look gay? And do these pants make me look fat?)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

And I thought I was going through a dry spell....

I realized that I used to write about current events with a lot more frequency than I do now. The reason suddenly occured to me. I used to read the New York Times online then, as I was already sitting in front of my computer, type out my response. Since moving to Queens I have had the New York Times delivered to the house, thus when I read it I'm probably on the couch, at the living room table, or even on the toilet (quite possibly the best place to read the newspaper), none of which is anywhere near the computer.

This morning when I went downstairs to eat breakfast I found the paper open to the style section. I'm not one for the style section. I tend to be a front page, metro, arts and leisure (and occasionally, sports) section kind of guy. Once in a blue moon I'll read the magazine, but rarely do I read any of the other sections. As Fashion was right in front of me I glanced over it and came across an article I felt a strong desire to discuss.

Chastity Rings. Small silver bands one wears on their ring finger in lue of a wedding band. The chastity ring signifies that the wearer will abstain from sex until it is replaced with a wedding ring.

Whether people have sex before marriage or if they decide to wait, I really don't care. What I do have an issue with is this: when speaking about the ring Jonathan Wagner, 16, of Wexford, PA. said this (quote is taken directly from the NY Times article), "It's a good tool to help you explain your decision and a reminder to you to remain pure."

It's the purity bit that gets me. I dislike the idea that sex is an impure action. The person back in the day who declared sex to be impure clearly wasn't doing it right. Though, as one who once was a dorky teenager with a veritable sexless high school career, I can see the desire to have an excuse why you're not having sex. It wasn't because I was a scrawny, acne riddled, comic book dork, and few girls found me desirable. It's a lot better for my self-esteem to think I choose to be celibate, instead of celibacy choosing me.

If people want to wait until they are married, to have sex, make love with someone they love and who loves them more power to them. I respect that. But if you are choosing celibacy due to some notion at "purity" or "remaining pure" I think you should get off your high horse and join the rest of us in the human race. Sex is natural, almost every living thing does it (well some reproduce asexually, but where's the fun in that?). In my experience, the repression of natural desires is more harmful than not.

I'm not advocating a balls out, hedonistic orgy of sex and other pleasures of the flesh. It's just when I read quotes like (again from the same article)
A statement on the website of True Love Waits, and abstinence group that encourages the wearing of purity rings, says purity also means saying no to "sexual touching," "to a physical relationship that causes you to be 'turned on' sexually," and to "pornography or pictures that feed sexual thoughts."

Maybe it's just me, but if I abstained from any physical relationship causing me to be turned on I'd be so stifled I'd become aroused at any image, possibly even:

or worse:

So, if you are waiting until marriage because you want the sex to be meaningful, to be with someone you truly love, then I say more power to you. If it's because you think sex is impure and wrong, and anything remotely sexual is wrong, then what kind of relationships do you have, and how do you date?

All quotes taken from The New York Times; Thursday, December, 8 2005 - Fashion section, pages G1 and G2. Article titled: A Ring That Says No, Not Yet.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Why I am a huge dork (or strike one off the list - sorta)

I am no longer intimidated by Manhattan. I was for the majority of my life, thinking it was just too big and crowded and scary. Since moving to Queens I've been operating on the basic (and Noodles please forgive the cliche) "fake it 'till you make it" principle. The surprising thing: it worked. I haven't made it in Manhattan (in any sense of the phrase "made it") but I am comfortable figuring out how to get around and even confident that if I get lost I can still find my way home. Granted this is only for walking and taking the subway. Driving on the Isle of Manhattan is an altogether different issue.

This sudden growth of character occurred yesterday as I made my way from the butt end of Queens to the Starbucks at 31st and 7th for a Starbucks training class. First I awoke to the horrid sound of the telephone, my manager called to remind me that I did in fact have a class in Manhattan that day (a fact I knew and was hoping to sleep in a bit as I worked 'till closing the night previous). I was supposed to be dressed up to Starbucks standards (black or light khaki pants, white or black shirt, black shoes). As I wasn't going to be working behind a bar or waiting on customers, I decided they don't get to tell me what to wear, thus I wore my new semi-hipster looking brown checked pants (only six bucks on sale and the first article of clothing I've ever purchased from the Gap) and my blue sneakers (I was gonna wear my red converse high tops to really flesh out the hipster look, but it had snowed and canvas converse sneakers are the exact opposite thing one should wear in the snow). As a compromise I wore a black turtle neck, because it was in fact cold and a turtleneck was a good idea.

The class: boring, boring, boring. Five hours that could have been one, tops. Most of it was learning all about Starbucks corporate (who cares) and proper customer service. The meaningless phrases "enthusiastically satisfied customers" and "legendary customer care" were tossed at us as frequent as McCarthy would discuss supposed members of the red menace. I don't know how legendary I can be without removing a sword from a stone and then being crowned king of England (though I would make a good king). And how enthusiastic can a caffeine addict be before taking that first sip of coffee in the morning, and is the enthusiasm really because of my service or because they are addicted to caffeine? Though I think I finally got the hang of the coffee tasting thing.

After five and a half hours I left the Starbucks and made my way up to Midtown Comics to meet my brother Hillel who just got out of work. We decided (rather I decided and he was gracious to accompany me) to go to the Cake Shop in the lower east side to see the punk band The Vandervoorts. They were up with two other bands, the Ottomen and Paper Fleet. We had little interest in the other two and were hoping the Vandervoots would be up first so we can leave early. But the show wasn't until nine and it was barely six o'clock. We called our youngest brother Asaf (a freshman at NYU) and headed downtown to Chickpea - a falafel and Shwarma joint, to meet him for dinner. We ate, hung out, got a call from Lily - Hillel's girlfriend - to let us know she'd meet us at the Cake Shop, retired briefly to Asaf's dorm, then leaving Asaf behind (the show as 21+ and he’s only 18) hopped on the F train to Delancy Street to make it to the show on time.

We got there exactly at nine. No one started playing until around ten. Cake Shop itself is quite possibly my new favorite place in Manhattan. Upstairs (ground level) it's like a bakery/coffee shop in the front - selling pastries, coffee and such. In the back they sell cd's - lots of independent music I've never heard of, some of it really cheap. Downstairs in the basement is a bar and small area for the musicians to perform. It isn't very big, maybe 60-70 feet long and only about 15-20 feet wide. It's dark, lit solely by a few recessed bulbs in the back and over the bar, and Christmas lights over the "stage". It's small, cozy, and so eclectic you could plotz (hooray Yiddish! the ultimate dorkifier). Apparently they have a good beer I've never heard of but my brother likes for only three bucks a bottle - which is a really good price for a beer I've never heard of and have already forgotten, or so he says.

Why, you may ask, did I venture all the way to the lower east side, to this small underground (by which I mean literally beneath street level) bar for three bands no one (two of them, even I) has ever heard of? The answer is simple. If you check out my previous post, the first name on the list is Doroth Gambrell. Dorothy, author/aritst of my favorite web comic Cat and Girl is also the guitarist of the band (you guessed it) the Vandervoorts.

The place was anything but packed. I think Hillel, Lily, and I were the only people there who weren't friends with any of the bands. If I were to say there were 25 people there total (including the bands themselves) that would be me being generous.

So we sat, talking, Hillel, Lily, and I, waiting for an hour before the Ottomans got on (the Vandervoots were to play second). I was hoping it'd be a quick set because I didn't want to stay in the city so late, I still had to take the LIRR back to my place in Queens. What I thought would be a cheesy indie rock trio turned out to be very enjoyable. The Ottomen in my opinion sound a bit like early Weezer, but much more light hearted, happy. All their songs, save "lonely surfer girl" were fun, upbeat, some funny, and most tongue in cheek. Their songs ranged from a short bit about Dandelions, a bizarre slapstick song about bloody red socks and how they got that way, and a song about King Kong sung from his perspective on the whole affair. The acoustics weren't the best, and they sounded a bit like a garage band, with the playfulness of people still playing in their garage for their friends. I wouldn't call it amateur, just kids my age having fun playing rock star but not taking it seriously.

Next, the Vandervoorts. A punk rock quartet. All their songs were short, probably no more than a minute, and each ended very abruptly. It was very punk, in the more old school idea of punk. Not in the poppy perfectly mixed and harmonized young punks (Sum 41 I'm looking at you) you see on MTV who wear spiky green hair and some chains "punk." This was very much the unmixed, raw punk sound, played by people into the music, who dressed just the way they liked, not to make a "statement". But just like the band before them they played a bit tongue in cheek, never taking themselves too seriously. The bassist in particular made the most adorable faces when she played. Maybe not something one looks for in a punk rock band, but for these guys in this setting, it just worked.

They finished their set a little after eleven. We were itching to go (both Hillel and Lily needed to wake up early today, and I wanted to get home at a reasonable hour). Now here is the big news. After the set, after they cleaned up but before Paper Fleet went on, I walked over to the band. I shall repeat. I walked over to the band. Granted there was barely anyone else there but this was a big step for me. I am generally the shy and awkward guy who hides in corners during social gatherings. But I walked over to the band - well really just the bassist and guitarist as the other two members disappeared into a back room.

This is how it went down.

"Hi, I don't want to bother you, but I'm going to be a bit of a geek for a second, as I generally am a geek, which is neither here nor there really," I ramble when I'm nervous, obviously, "and I wanted to say I really liked your set tonight."

"Thanks." They both said and smiled, real friendly like.

"It was really good. Er... one of you makes Cat and Girl?"

The bassist pointed to the guitarist, smiled, then walked to the back room.

"I just wanted to say I'm a big fan of the comic. It's my favorite web comic. I like it a lot."

"Thanks." Dorothy said as if trying to hide in her beer. She was very quiet, and seemingly very shy (or she just wanted to get the hell away from me). "What's your name?" And she put out her hand.

Again, I ramble when I'm nervous. "Ami, Amichai, really but no one can really pronounce Amichai. Ami. I'm Ami. Dorothy, right?" She nodded and we shook hands. "It’s how I learned about your band and this show. I can’t stay to hear the next band, I gotta get back to Queens." I’m master of the more information than necessary school of conversation. "But I'm glad I came, and just wanted to say I really like your comic, and the band was really good."

I don't generally get star struck. Big names most often don't phase me. If, say I bumped into John Malkovitch on the street - and I have, literally on the crowded streets of Harvard Square in Cambridge, a bit embarrassing really - I wouldn't get all tongue tied (I wasn't in fact; I apologized and we both went on our merry ways). For some reason however, when I meet minor celebrities (or those who are only famous in my head) I am a loss for words. When I met Scott Mccloud at his book signing I couldn't come up with a thing to say. And now, shaking hands with a girl who lives in Brooklyn, draws a web comic, and is in punk band no one has heard of, I giggle with nervousness. The best part, was that she seemed so shy and embarrassed, demurely shaking my hand, quietly thanking me while seemingly wishing she could hide inside her beer bottle. Had I more money and more guts I would have offered to buy her a drink. Not due to any romantic inclination, just because I really admire her work. But I did not have more money, and I certainly am a coward so I excused myself saying I had to get back to Queens.

"Thanks for coming." Was the last thing she said as I smiled equally shy, and walked back to Hillel and Lily and the three of us walked back to the subway, not bothering to wait around to hear Paper Fleet play.

I took the F train to 32cnd and 6th, then walked up to Penn station, took the 12:21 train back to Queens, and walked from the station, about a mile home in the snow. Over all I'd say it was a very good day.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

People whom I admire

A list of famous (at least famous in my mind) people whom I either aspire to be, to be with, or just am inspired by (an abbreviated list). In no particular order.

Dorothy Gambrell

Haruki Murakami

John Flansburgh and John Linell (They Might Be Giants)

Russel Edson

Douglas Adams

Sarah Vowell (More of my thoughts on Ms. Vowel, also here.)

Alton Brown

Wes Anderson

Aaron Sorkin

Grant Morrison

Alan Moore

Tony Harris

Rob G (sorry I couldn't find a better link for this particular artist)

Jason Lutes

Scott Mccloud




Warren Ellis

Peter David

Andi Watson

Scarlett Johansson (really just want to be with, this might make me a bit shallow but she's so freaking sexy)

Jeph Jacques

The Dresden Dolls

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson

Lee Krasner

John Stewart

Steve Martin

Caroline Dhavernas (I have a big crush on her, and she's more realistically my type - as opposed to Scarlett - but neither hold a candle to Sarah)

Richard Russo

There are many more, but I'll stop there.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Battle of the Titans: Apple Juice Vs. Apple Cider

I've only been working at Starbucks for a week, so far I've only filled one order of Tea. That being said, I really wish I could say stuff like this the next time some poor soul orders tea.

Also: don't order hot apple cider from Starbucks, because they won't give it to you. Anytime you order hot apple cider you are actually getting hot apple juice with a few pumps of cinnamon syrup. The Starbucks recipe book claims there is no official difference between apple juice and apple cider. Cider in other countries equals fermentation, what we in America and Canada call hard cider, is just called cider most everywhere else. So if both are the liquid from the apple, and neither is fermented, what really is the difference? The great state of Massachusetts defines the differences here. So take that Starbucks, trying to cheat your customers of the true hot cider experience.

And as Ned Flanders once said, "If it's sweet and yellah, you got juice there fella'. If it's tangy and brown, you're in cider town."

On Monday I plan on going to the Cake Shop in Manhattan to see the Vandervoots. It's only six bucks and starts at 9pm. So if any of you fun loving readers out there happen to be in New York on Monday, and you like upbeat "punkity rock" you should join me. I'll be there with my brother Hillel, and we always enjoy company when we go to concerts.