Monday, April 30, 2007

They Care

Huh. I'm ... nonplussed. Con Edison asked me, by letter, if anything was ... wrong. Apparently, I'm not using enough gas. Seriously. They think there may be a malfunction with my meter. There isn't. What comes to mind are the following responses, if I were required to respond, which, thankfully, I'm not.

a) I'm trying to minimize my carbon footprint
b) I've lost the urge/skills to actually bake
c) My oven might be broken (it smokes if set to over 200 degrees)
d) I'm too cheap to clean my oven and so it might be "broken"
e) the only thing I cook on the stovetop these day is 1-minute oatmeal

Answer = D

Saturday, April 28, 2007

2007 Tribeca Film Festival

Notes from the red carpet
I arranged to meet C. early for what I found out was the sold-out second premiere film of the '07 Tribeca Film Festival, Zak Penn's "The Grand." Shooed away (signage would've been nice, people) from the main entrance (Tribeca Performing Arts center, part of the Borough of Manhattan Community College) I found the actual entrance (around the corner on the Westside Hwy) for the world premiere of The Grand, starring Woody Harrelson and others.

The Movie
Funny stuff, especially considering it was, I believe, mostly improvised. And I'm not a huge fan of improv for improv's sake, believe me. (Flashback to "improvising" Blanche Dubois in film school - yeesh.) The poker tournament mockumentary boasted a great cast of character actors: Cheryl "Oh, Larry" Hines, Woody Harrelson, a scene-stealing Gabe Kaplan (!), Werner Herzog (impeccably creepy and hilarious as a murderous bunny-holding German lunatic), David Cross (who makes you laugh just looking at him -- and I don't mean that in a bad way), Ray Romano (not a fan before, but the guy grows on you), the wonderfully oily Dennis Farina and Chris Parnell (ex-SNL). Mainstream blockbuster? Probably not. I would imagine it'll be be a must-see for the poker-crazed Vegas-addled and fans of movies like "Best in Show."

Confusion at the door .. and on the floor
Tickets weren't really tickets until you trade in the "tickets" you bought for a totally different-looking... ticket. OK, oh well. A large man tried to turn back a huge swath of ticket-holders but C. adroitly slipped by him and I followed. We found seat in the auditorium after some frustration (way too many seats reserved for ESPN people. Whatever.) Also, the survey takers were a little too in your face and for some reason they were handing out yucky Zone bars or something that immediately made you thirsty.

Read more from the Village Voice

Is it a film marketplace, a supersized studio junket, a hip downtown international cinephile convention, a pan-borough plug for greater Gotham?
More from Variety

Friday, April 27, 2007

Zoning Schmoning

Most temperate days, I walk to work. Over on King Street (where I live) to Varick and then down to the World Financial Center in a zig-zagging fashion, down Hudson to Spring, down Greenwich to Chambers and on down to my office across from Ground Zero (to the east) and the new, under-construction monolith that will be the new Goldman Sachs headquarters.

Speaking of construction, it's nuts down here. And up there (through Tribeca to my neighborhood). The place is awash with trucks and equipment and materials and dust and workmen in hardhats everywhere you look. At lunch time, it's easy to stumble over the men sitting on the ground leaning against nearly every building as far as the eye can see. In a way, it's inspiring (progress!) and at the same time it's depressing. Bad for the environment, bad for the once-unique neighborhood, bad because I can't afford any of these new luxury apartments.

Nice write up here.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Back to Web 2.0

View from work cube
Nice post title. Someday we'll actually (post-apocalyptically and wistfully probably) be saying that when the entire Web is an untangleable hairball of mashed-up wizmos and gidgets. Anyway, what I mean is, about my trip (see below, below the creepy owl).

And I'll keep it short. First, when flying domestically, DO order the vegetarian meal (when booking) if ONLY to have marginally better food MUCH sooner than everyone else. I don't know about you, but yes, I'd like to bring my own but always feel gross pulling out a... sandwich? a wrap? an Italian with the works? which when I pack them don't come with a nice tray and silverware and often I've forgotten napkins. But anyway.

I sat on a another depressing transcontinental Continental flight sans movie (dinky screen showing Dreamgirls -- argh -- and no, I haven't yet purchased the highly necessary univeral headphone jack and will NOT pay $5 for headphones for ANY movie that's not, like, Siriana or Departed or something -- which I doubt would ever play on Continental).

So anyway, (at the risk of sounding rather ageist) what's up with the heartbreak of sitting next to old people? They tell you their life story (unbidden) which is often poignant and even riveting (in this case involving an 82-year old Dutch woman, her Kenyan husband (who sat beside her, ignored), her father in a concentration camp, her move to New York City in 1963, her (and this is where it kind of devolved) love of Nascar and Harlequin Romances -- all fine and good and she even had some wise counsel for whatever lameass insight I threw HER way about MY life and then?

And then... She did what they always do: they just leave. No goodbye, no "Dear, it was a true pleasure. Let me give you my number in case you ever find yourself in northern New Jersey," no NOTHING. It happens more often than I care to admit (is it me?) and I vow to be more vigilant.

One of the best collection of design inspired links I've seen.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Leo in Beantown

I forgot to mention the wonderful February trip to Boston, where I met up with my sis and checked into the Royal Sonesta [who? what? me? us? We're not big on hotel chains... we're too snobby AND too cheap] for a mini-vacation. We raided the mini-bar, admired the view and readied ourselves for an evening with Leo Kottke, unmatched acoustic guitarist at Harvard's beautiful Sanders Theatre. Leo was great -- funny and self-deprecating. His verbal noodlings reminded me a little of Spalding Gray* (sigh). His 6- and 12-string guitar music was amazing. While I didn't hear the hoped for "Jack Gets Up" or "Corinna, Corinna," it was all good, with the music honeyed by the wood of the very impressive stage.

* Must get tickets to Stories Left to Tell.

Owl at NH AudubonThe hotel, too, was amazing. Right on the pretty-much frozen Charles River. We had dinner at the better than expected Restaurant Dante. The next morning P. kindly picked us up and whisked us home to Ma and Pa in Edgecomb, Maine. Well, first we took a detour through New Hampshire (not my most favorite state) and stopped off at the Audubon Society (where P. works.)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

San Francisco Web 2.0 Trip

San Francisco trip for Web 2.0 conference was super short and really sweet. We stayed at the Westin St. Francis on Union Square and because of a complicated situation (one night on my Amex card, next three nights on corporate card) they bungled the reservation which resulted in an upgrade to ... Room 1221!

Where Fatty Arbuckle -- the scandal-plagued silent film comedian -- ended his career one boozy night in which a starlet died and the room in which, later, Al Jolson suffered a fatal heart attack while playing gin. Haunted? Possibly. While we ended up moving to a new room the next day, the ghosts came with us and had a gay old time unplugging every appliance we plugged in. Seriously.

Now, I lived in SF in my late 20's, after attending U.C. Berkeley for 2 years and again, later, working for Levi Strauss. But I hadn't been back in a very long time. Highlights of the trip included the whacked out horrible Pier 39 with its crazy lazy sea lions; great meals at The Slanted Door in SF and Chez Panisse* in Berkeley; the Berkeley campus and Berkeley Hills; a burrito in the Mission District; a 2.5 second walk along the Pacific Ocean (windy and freezing). Photos here.

* I had the Baked Sonoma goat cheese with Viki's lettuces; a thin-crusted pizza with nettles, the artisan cheese selection (Dante, Tome des Recollets, and Pavé) and a glass of the most delicious Muscat. All incredibly tasty.

Web 2.0 highlights included watching Google head Eric Schmidt chat with journalist John Batelle. There was also much a-twittering, flickring, digging, swiveling and so much more. I of course, also opted for a truly exciting session on networking. I had thought it would be vaguely about social networking but it was ... well, let's just say I know now more than I would want about linear load-balancing, SSL and TCP.

Moving to Blogger

I'm attempting the move from my html site to blogger so I can join the rest of humanity and have some interactivity (hopefully) going on. This blog is me pretending I have an interesting life, which I do, but only because I find everything around me interesting, to one degree or another. You can view my older stuff here: Kitlab 3.0.

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