Saturday, October 31, 2009

Moving out

First, an auditory aid: Billy Joel.

Second, today I signed the lease on my new apartment in the Columbia Waterfront District of Brooklyn, just west of Cobble Hill, north of Red Hook, and south of Brooklyn Heights. Hurray for me! I move on November 15th, the day after my 24th birthday. It will be my first grown-up apartment, one that I didn't rent from my mom or share with roommates I found on Craigslist. No, this is a proper pad: went through a realtor and everything. It's rent-stabilized, fifteen minutes from the nearest subway, and a block away from the land of the Viking Hippies. I think I will fit in nicely.

My Columbia Street place will be my third address in New York since I moved here in 2008. Some of you may remember when I lived at 187 Franklin, but most people only knew me as I was on Madison Street. I have a few parting thoughts to share about Bedstuy, in which I have lived for over a year and will soon leave behind, as one leaves an AM New York behind on the subway platform after doing the crossword.

Bedstuy never charges you more than $4 for a beer, but all of the liquor stores have bullet-proof glass and only accept cash. You're never far from a grocery store, but the produce is always half-wilted and the fancier bread products have mold on them. There are no bookstores and the only place to get a cup of coffee is a bodega. No sitdown restaurants, but plenty of community gardens. There are women in headscarves wheeling around baby strollers and you can hear the call to prayer from the mosque on Bedford and Franklin five times a day. Sometimes the laundry soap has Chinese writing on the package and you can get fifteen different kinds of spice for jerked meat, but no fish sauce or Sriracha to save your life.

And one time, I walked home drunk from a party at 187 and woke up the next morning with a brick on the floor. I think I may have pried it out of the sidewalk to use as a weapon in case someone attacked me.

That's Bedstuy.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

International Animation Day

Hey hey, party people! It's International Animation Day! So since I'm in the middle of getting ready to move to new apartment in Columbia Waterfront District, I don't have time to make a huge post on how much I looooove animation. But I will say: Fantasia, Totoro, The Little Mermaid, Yellow Cake, Cowboy Bebop, Tiny Toons, Animaniacs, Batman TAS, Princess Mononoke, FLKL, Invader Zim, Rocko's Modern Life, Venture Bros., Home Movies, Fullmetal Alchemist, X-Men: Evolution, Darkwing Duck, and Gargoyles.

What are your favorite animated movie/series? Here are a few on mental_floss you may enjoy. And let me clarify that I'm talking about cell animation and animation made to look like cell animation. I don't like the look of Pixar computer animation. Makes my tummy hurt. Don't ask me why.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The ad copy writes itself

Last Friday and Saturday, Rachel handed out free condoms on a street corner in the West Village. Thank you, Village Voice.

Strangely enough, that's not sarcastic. Sure, it poured buckets of rain and I'm pretty sure that old lady thought I was giving her candy, in which case I feel kinda bad, but handing out free condoms in New York with a bunch of other Street Team members was one of the best NYC experiences I've ever had.

For one thing, the ad copy just writes itself when the product is condoms.

Weather specific: "Free raincoat! Keep the moisture out!"

Cab advertisement: "Free with every ride!"

"Things are looking up!" "Safe sex is important sex!" "You never know!" "Better have 'em and not need 'em, than need 'em and not have 'em!"

Product specific: "Because you've got better places to put your hands!" "Some assembly required!"

Those ones needs some explaining. These new condoms, Sensis condoms, have applicator tabs, little ribbons that you pull to unroll the condom over the, ahem, member, without having to worry about putting it on the wrong way or getting lubricant on your hands.

Two things: Is condom technology so complicated that civilization needed this advancement? And if getting lube on your hands is a problem for you, is sex really an activity you'll be doing in the first place? Seems to me like you're gross-out level might be too high for that particular pass time.

But who am I to judge? Maybe the clumsy, neat-freak demographic is grossly under-served in the prophylactic industry and this is the greatest thing to happen to personal hygiene since the tampon applicator.

Plus I found a milk crate on the street corner. And we all know how much I love crap I find on the street, so all in all, Free Condoms in the Rain weekend was good. Very good. Thanks, Village Voice!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Real Time and In Depth: The New Journalism

I used to be a writer. As in, I got paid to write. Those were good times.

Now I'm a secretary, but I still write, and I do a lot more thinking about writing than I did when I was an actual writer. Those who can, do; those who can't, think about it at work when they're supposed to be doing data entry.

So here's what I've been thinking lately. The Internet changed the game in terms of information. Now success isn't determined by "in-depth," it's determined by "up-to-date" and "real-time." My task, as a blog writer, is to strike a balance between the two and give you, the audience, something that is quick and up to date, but also informative, original, and in-depth.

Fortunately, I don't write actual news. So here my analysis, brief, in-depth, original, and informative, of the robot receptionist they made in Japan.

Yes, the thought of robots replacing actual humans is a bit scary, but despite the creepiness of her face, let's not get all panicky and declare war on the Machine. Robots and humans--are we really so different? Humans, after all, are creatures of habit, programmable, predictable, and utterly boring. Sure, every now and again we'll crap out a genius or a game changer, but the vast majority of us are entrenched in our habits and have very basic needs that don't change a lot between individuals.

Take a receptionist: Hello, how can I help you? Do you know who you'd like to see? Do you have an appointment? Please have a seat, someone will be right with you.

What does it matter if a real person is saying that or a robot? The script doesn't change. A receptionist is never asked to extrapolate how the law of entropy applies to systems in a vacuum, or to break down and reassemble a Glock 9 millimeter blindfolded. The most complicated question she'll ever answer is, Which bathroom should I use if I dress like a woman but stand up to pee?

Hey, wait, I'm pretty much a receptionist. That robot is stealing my job! Where's my torch? Where's my rifle? No foreign machine is taking food from the mouths of THIS honest American's mutant alien love babies that I keep stashed in the closet to guard against the eventual zombie uprising.

And that's how you write a blog.

Monday, October 19, 2009

GreenerPenny and knitted beings

My first job in New York was working as an editorial intern at Plenty Magazine. I'm not linking to it because it's no longer there; print and digital magazine are both gone, vanished into the Interwebz-ether (Intetherwebz?), a victim of the Great Economic Collapse of 2008, along with hope, the taxes of my firstborn son, unicorns, rainbows, and any modicum of dignity I may have had leftover from my days as the Warlord of Honolulu Weekly (to the right, Rachel holding court with my fellow newspaper folk; note how everyone's head is turned toward me, except Travis, who was punished for his transgression).

Now I pass out condoms. More to come on that fun development in my life later this week.

Plenty was the first and only professional magazine I've ever worked for. Mostly I wrote blog posts on the Daily Green Bit section of the Web magazine about how to be more environmentally friendly in your daily life: apple picking, bird counting, urban foraging, chemically safe cookware, composting, wind power for your home, flower power for your dog--if it was hip amongst the hippies in late oh-eight, I was on it like Blue Bonnet.

Savor that last sentence. That's why I used to get paid to do this.

I'm writing all of this as an introduction to my good friend and fellow environmentalist-feminist (environfeminist?), Mindy Pennybacker. She was my mentor at Plenty, a fellow island girl in this savage city, and she taught me everything I now know about blogging and almost everything I know about the environmental movement. She didn't teach me how to water the garden with leftover bathwater, that was me mum, but she did teach me about industrial chemicals and hormone disrupters in baby bottles. Oh, the times we had!

Those who have been following my life more closely that I'd be comfortable knowing about may remember when I completed the acquisition of my dowry. Well, that lovely table and chairs came from Mindy, who couldn't take them with her when she moved back to the islands. And now I finally get to repay her, in a manner of speaking, by linking to her website and encouraging everyone who reads this to become a fan of on Facebook. Because if you love da earfs, you love GreenerPenny.

Right now she has a post up on the FB site about the Union Square Farmers Market in New York City. So I'm going to sync up our websites by posting my own pictures of the Union Square Farmers Market. Make of them what you will. Happy writing, Mindy!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More cats than you can handle

I love cats. I've always loved cats, as you can see here and here and even here. That's why, on Saturday, even though it was the first time in a long time that I didn't have to work with the Village Voice on a weekend, I hauled my mewling carcass out of bed and schlepped through the wind and rain to the Javits Center for the Meet the Breeds pet show, the largest in the world, with over 160 breeds of dog and 41 breeds of cat.

I have a Flickr stream of the photos here. Needless to say, it's pretty cat-heavy. Dogs, meh. They're okay, they're just not cats. Useless trivia fact of the day: there are many different ways for doggies to look, from Chihuahua to Mastiff, because humans domesticated dogs a long, long time ago. And there aren't that many ways for kitties to look--a cat always pretty much looks like a cat--because cats domesticated themselves, insinuating their kittyselves into our Sumerian ancestors graineries and acting like they owned the place until the Sumerians looked up and realized the cats weren't going anywhere. 7w6y7777777777777777 My own cat just typed that on my keyboard. Consider it a historical contribution.

Here is a picture of me with a Turkish Angora cat also named Rachel. I voted for her as Prettiest Kitty in show, the audience participation contest. I hope she won.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stuff your gullet with free wine and cupcakes

This Sunday, I was handed a plumb assignment by my favorite of my two jobs: promoting the Village Voice at the New York Food and Wine Festival Grand Tasting. Not just any tasting, mind you. The GRAND Tasting. Two days later and I'm still full.

As you can see, the Tasting was in a big tent right on the Hudson River; you can see the water in the background if you squint. It was sponsored by the Food Network, but I didn't get a chance to meet any celebrity chefs because I was too busy signing people up to win free tickets to the Voice's Choice Eats food tasting (spring 2010). I also had to concentrate on not falling over after noon rolled around and the alcohol booths were legally allowed to get us all liquored up. New York City--still subject to a Puritan legacy that doesn't let us dance in bars or drink before noon on Sundays.

As popular as the vodka booth across the aisle from us was (left, before the event started), I think that we were the real crowd pleaser that morning, with our attractively arranged offering of mini-cupcakes from the Kumquat Cupcakery in Brooklyn. Seriously, look at those bite-sized bits of awesome with cream cheese frosting. I couldn't have given these away faster even if I was dressed as a French maid with a live kitten on my right shoulder and a baby bunny on my left.

I had three cupcakes; not because I was a model of restraint, but because there was duck and lotus root at the table next to us, scones the table after that, Mexican hot chocolate after THAT, and all manner of wines, liqueurs, beers, and pastries in between. I had an heirloom tomato and watermelon salad on goat cheese, shredded pork with beets and marrow shavings, spiced apple tarts, lemon chicken on basmati rice, and butternut squash soup, and that's just what I can remember off the top of my head. I ate and drank for eight and a half hours straight, folks, and when I went home, my hangover hit me like a ton of bricks at 8 o'clock and I was asleep before I could even watch a "Star Trek" episode.

It was grand.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A night at Edith Wharton's

I love Edith Wharton's books like a fat guy loves cake. She was the daughter of on old High Society New York family, one of the "Four Hundred" as they called them back then, the class of people that never worked for a living and didn't allow divorced women inside their houses. And Edith, mighty authoress she, divorced her husband and ran off to Paris to write. During World War I, she offered sanctuary for refugees. Edith Wharton--kicking ass and taking names.
Back to her books--"Age of Innocence," "The Custom of the Country," "The House of Mirth,"--they're all about the men and women of the upper-upper class, engaged in delicate drawing room and parlor battles for prestige, status, and happiness. (Lots of wardrobe envy, too. I can relate. I feel it whenever I ride the subway past Broadway-Nassau.) Wharton's mastery lies in creating for the reader the rarefied world in which her characters live. You can practically smell the wallpaper in these 5th Avenue mansions she word-crafts.

So you can imagine my delight upon entering the National Arts Club at Gramercy Park: the vases, the settees, the fainting couches, the oil paintings, the Tiffany glass in the ceilings--where were May and Newland and the Countess? (Bonus literary nerd points for that one.) I was sure glad I wore my good gown!

Due to my respect for the privacy of friends and family, I can't tell you exactly why and how I garnered an invitation to this time capsule. I can say, however, that Edith Wharton would be pleased to see one of those old WASP-y mansions she eviscerated in her writing used to pay tribute to writers, actors, and musicians.

It was a great party, much music and merrymaking. I met many of the BF's far-flung ohana (BS and his lady friend were there, he always likes to be mentioned), and this guy. He wrote the script for "Fiddler on the Roof." Yeah. THAT "Fiddler on the Roof." I even got to hear one of the songs that was cut from "Fiddler on the Roof" due to time and story constraints, sung by a Broadway actor who I'm sure I'd've been really impressed to meet if I knew a lick about modern musical theatre. Lotta Tony winners in the room, let's put it that way.

As it was, I just smiled a lot and curbed my impulse to visit the extremely well-stocked open bar. A girl's gotta have some class when she goes uptown. I did, however, sneak upstairs to the top floor of the mansion and discover the secret bathroom.
Rachel Brown, carrying on the proud family tradition of going where I'm not allowed.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Under the High Line

The life of a new New Yorker is very glamorous, as you've no doubt guessed by trolling through the annals of my electronic Doppleganger. Not only do I get to be part of the mighty temping sisterhood--faster than a ringing telephone! able to leap massive spreadsheets in a single bound!--I also get to pass out fliers and collect email addresses for the Village Voice as a member of their Street Team.

Yes, it's a hard kitty life on this side of the ocean, but there are some benefits. Yesterday, the Voice sent me to The Drop NYC, "a double call to urban inhabitants to interact with and contemplate the city as well as their relationship to the greater environment through the arts." If that sounds vague, it's because the event itself was a little vague. Taking place under the High Line, the remains of some elevated train tracks that were recently revamped into an elevated park, The Drop NYC consisted of some guys selling crepes (left: mmm, delicious crepes), a DJ, some other guys selling cheap beer, two mannequins, and the Voice table.

And for three hours, nothing much happened. It rained a lot. We had to move our table three times due to flooding. I had an awesome banana-Nutella-whipped cream crepe. And it dawned on me, around 2 PM or so, that this was the first time I'd attended anything in New York that reminded me of a Hawaii event: hardly anyone was there, nobody seemed to know what the hell was going on, everything got started two hours late, there was reggae music and stoner food, and the venue was dark, wet, dirty, and reminded me very strongly of someone's car port.

Yes. I was home.
Things began to unfold from there. Three big canvases were set up for public painting. The mannequins started to sport some pretty cool evening gowns made out of trash. The mouth-breather with Velcro shoes who'd been hanging around the Voice table for FOUR HOURS trying to work up the nerve to ask either my Voice partner or myself out for coffee finally wandered off. And I spotted some graffiti of what appears to be two cats doing it.

So, to recap, I have found my way home again, and home is apparently in a creepy alleyway underneath the train tracks. Aloha.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Playwright Humor

Plays we'd all like to see:

"The Cliff," by Eileen Dover

"Perilous Driving," by Dora Jarr

"The Master Debater," by Mona Lott

"Revenge of the Tiger," by Claude Balls

"Castration in Russia," by Ivan Kutchakakov

"Chaos in the Chinese Laundromat," by Hu Flung Shit

In poor taste? Sure, why not? It's Friday!

Speaking of playwrights, the BF's father is treating us to tickets to the opening of "The Royal Family," which the Village Voice says will be the big hit of the Broadway season. It's all very exciting, and I'll let everyone know how it all plays out.

That was an awful pun. I apologize. I hope these Buddha-shaped pears will win you my forgiveness.