August 31, 2008

Continuing "alas, poor blogger"...

Week two of clips from and inspired-by Hamlet...

...from Mel's version...

...from Hamlet 2...

...from the Reduced Shakespeare Company's version...(part 1 here)...

...from Lucy Pinder...

...from Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask...

...from Two Girls and a Guy...a SFW clips from a severly NSFW film...

...from Ethan Hawke's Hamlet...

...from MTv...a one-minute version...

...from Laurence Olivier...

...various scenes - including Simpsons clips that I can't find anywhere else...

...from Gilligan's Island...

Sadly, no embedding of the MST3K Hamlet...and you'll have to read the Stick Figure Hamlet...and most sadly, I can't find any audio of "Hamlet" by Richard Thompson anywhere on the clips from Strange Brew illustrated how clearly it is based on Hamlet...

August 30, 2008

A bit of a similarity

To quote YesButNoButYes,
After seeing some photo's of Sarah Pilan, me thinks Lorne Michaels better get on the phone and try to coax Tina Fey back to SNL.
Outstanding recognition, boys.

And quick...

The keys to success

And because that's not nearly enough Black Keys, here's today's Seeqpod list of the Black Keys.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

August 29, 2008

Four food fthoughts

A few vaguely food-related things...

The Girl has been trying to push healthfulness for a while. Apparently she doesn't want me eating batter fried bacon-wrapped sausage logs with the icing anymore. On this wacky healthfulization of The Homestead, she's working on getting more fiber and veggies into m'body. Every day, lunch is celery, carrots, and astoplight pepers - plus any leftovers like today's shepherd's pie. And for the fiber, she's found some amazing snack bars called Fiber One bars. The chocolate and the peanut butter are a'ight, but the apple streusel are outstanding. They're like healthy candy. Because of the copious fiber, however, I would warn you
  • not to eat them just before or after consuming massive amounts of water because you'll get all puffy-bellied and
  • not to eat like a half dozen of them 'cause you'll poop...a bunch.

The Girl has also been working on healthier salad dressing and finally taught me last night how to make her final creation. It's amazingly easy and way tastier than just about anything I've found in a bottle. In a bowl - preferably the one you're gonna toss the salad in because there's less to wash that way - put a blob of Grey Poupon mustard (about a teaspoon and a half), add a crushed clove of garlic, a teaspoon of vinegar (balsamic, cider, white wine, whatever your taste), a teaspoon of olive oil, salt, pepper. Mix 'em up and throw in the salad. All good. All easy.

Can anybody explain to me why the state pastries of Texas are the sopaipilla (understandable) and the strudel (totally unfathomable to me)?
WHEREAS, The State of Texas has customarily recognized a variety of official state symbols as tangible representations of the state's historical and cultural heritage; and

WHEREAS, Among such icons are the rodeo, the state sport; the guitar, the state musical instrument; and chili, the state dish; and

WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of the sopaipilla and strudel as the official State Pastries of Texas shall provide suitable recognition for these historic symbols of the state's cultural heritage, for the sopaipilla and strudel are some of the earliest pastries known to have been made in Texas;

And closing things out, The Girl and I threw together a new compost bin next to the finally-moved shed. Simple project from 2x4's and 2x8's with minial cutting a bunch of hammering. Easy as pie, supposed to cost $55 (ours went for $109.46 for a double bin), supposed to take a couple of hours (ours took five for the double). Seems well worth the investment and time.

We got the plans out of The Green Guide from National Geographic and would recommend them heartily. Though, sadly, you can't get the plans for free online 'cause they're behind a subscription wall.


Check the results...

August 28, 2008

A long-playing birthday

Happy thirty-three-and-a-third birthday to me, folks...

Take yourself out for a spin in honor, would ya?

August 27, 2008

My hundred foods

Thanks to Wine Me, Dine Me, Cincinnati, here are my list of a hundred foods...annotated as they suggest...

1. Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2. Bold all the items you’ve eaten
3. Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4. Optional extra: post a comment on Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

1. Venison - as sausage, yes
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros - and the Cooks Illustrated recipe looks awesome
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding - tasted like ashes, mostly...had it in Cincinnati and in Scotland, both
7. Cheese fondue - at the Melting Pot and at home
8. Carp - The Girl makes fish every Sunday, and this was one time
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush - not so much with the eggplant, man
11. Calamari - didn't care for it...had it both as whole li'l squids and/or as deep fried rings...icky both ways
12. Pho - that means fake in French, right?
13. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich - the one I've had most recently
14. Aloo gobi - is that a real word?
15. Hot dog from a street cart - every summer, though we missed the chance in NYC
16. Epoisses - seriously, who makes up these names?
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes - thanks to Olive Winery
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes - just had some today with mozarella
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - I miss Habenero.
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper - only if I'd coated m'mouth in wax first.
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda - Wasn't that one of the lyrics in "My Sweet Lord"?
31. Wasabi peas - can't do horseradish, but I tried 'em.
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi - Lassie?...that's cruel...
34. Sauerkraut - Every New Years Day growing up, Grandma would make kraut and pork. I'd eat the pork.
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar - Cognac, yes. Cigar, never.
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat - Me and curries, we don't hang.
42. Whole insects - not intentionally, but I ate a bug at a batting cage once...crunched down as I swung. Blech
43. Phaal - Only if I can get up afterwards.
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu - Poison...poison...poison...tasty fish.
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - fresh off of the line in Atlanta. Wonderful...
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear - In jelly, yes. It had chunks of the cactus leaves, though, so I'm counting it.
52. Umeboshi - especially since there are so many of these I've never even heard of.
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle - Fried up in a little bit of butter and with a bit of salt. Very tasty.
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV - I've never acquired a taste for beer. Cider, yes, and the strong stuff even. Would that count?
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips - Mocholate...
61. S’mores - Better with twix or snickers instead of just chocolate.
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin - dude, I looked that up, it's do you eat clay?
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs - Surprisingly tasty.
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - Oh, just about any fried dough with some sweetness (sugar, cinnnamon, powedered sugar) is fair game to me.
68. Haggis - I liked it an awful lot.
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette - sounds kind of tasty
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe - Me and licorice, we don't hang either.
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill - maybe in fifth grade, but that could've just been a rumor about that squirrel and the hamburgers in the cafeteria that day.
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare - There's a story about Paris there. Ask sometime.
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab - It was called a spider sandwich. Very, very tasty. One of the first shellfish that I was turned on to.
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta - I prefer a firm one, fried up to a mushy one.
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

August 26, 2008

He's just so cute and primeval

Now, if you were looking for a plushy Cthulhu, you'd have lots and lots of options - even a hand puppet to truly terrorize your bonnie wee bairns.

But if you wanted the cutest Old One around...the sweetest little plastic engine of destruction, you'd clearly want to check out My Little Cthulhu complete with its very own Little Victims.

There are also more standard resin statues, but who wants that?

Personally, I'm all about My Little Cthulhu.

He's just so darn cute...

August 25, 2008

How cool is this?

It just doesn't get any cooler than a whole bunch of periodic table videos, one for each element plus a few special ones like this one about gold, silver, and bronze in honor of the Olympics.

'Cause we're just studying the periodic table at the moment in my honors chemistry class - and because I'm trying to reward my students for checking out my website and this blog - I'm offering up five extra credit points on our first homework notebook for the first five of my current students to email me (at my school email) and I'll double it if those same folks post a comment here, too.

If you're one of those current students, include a mention in your email of what your blogger id is so I can make sure to give you the right credit.

And for the rest of you, just enjoy the coolness of the periodic table.

August 24, 2008

Alas, poor blogger

We're lucky to have been able to read "Hamlet"...and to have seen these "Hamlet" and "Hamlet"-influenced scenes...

In case you aren't familiar with the plotline, check out this nice summary first...

...from LA Story...

...from Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead...

...from The Lion King...

...from Hugh Laurie and Rowan Atkinson...

...from Animaniacs...

...with Arnold Schwarzenegger...from Last Action Hero...(with the unimproved-upon version)...

...from Sesame Street...poor quality, however...

...from Branagh's version...

...from Monsterpiece Theater...

...from Renaissance Man...

...eleven or so more to come next week, folks...

August 23, 2008

A sweet music list

Today's Seeqpod list is totally sweet!

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Add in cream...dessert

August 22, 2008

Randy Newman is all his genius glory

From NPR's All Songs Considered, quoting Randy Newman...
We should all be smart enough to know that money doesn't make us happy. In America, the smart people opt for a life that isn't based on getting rich; they teach chemistry or they work for public radio.
I love this man.

Check out a performance of the entirety of his new album Harps and Angels on NPR's All Songs Considered as well as the accompanying eight-minutes interview on their sister show All Things Considered.

I've mentioned it before, but this man is a natural treasure with a tongue sharper than any blade and a pen mightier than any sword.

August 21, 2008

Some more advice

I know there are a few folks reading this who are either in college or headed that way most soon, so I thought I'd offer some advice for living on your own...

Plus it's been a while since I offered up any advice 'round these

When you're cooking for yourself, you may find that some things are a little bland or just not quite good enough. Try these things to make the food taste better:
  • Fry it
  • Glaze it
  • Top it with cheese
  • Put bacon on or in it
  • Dip it in maple syrup
  • Batter it
  • Fry it again after wrapping it in bacon
And if somebody (parent, friend, friend with benefits) is coming over and you need to tidy the place up:
  • Put it under your bed
  • Put it in a closet
  • Light a candle
  • Open the windows
  • Take out the trash
  • Put on a clean shirt...and undies if it's that kind of a friend
  • Vacuum
If it's the first spring day, the first day after a long winter freeze and the sun is finally out, the temperature's finally above like fifty five
  • Get out
  • Go hiking
  • Play frisbee golf
  • Frolic
  • Skip (unless you can't, which is sad)
Just thought you should know...

August 20, 2008

Gotta get back, back, back to school...

thank you, Rodney Dangerfield...and if I'm getting back to school, then we're probably going to see my media exposure dropping. Such is the way of the world...and because of this horrific turn of events, the reviews will be quick...

Modest Mouse We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank - Outstanding stuff from the boys...their previous album was excellent, and this isn't far from the same territory, but it's a little more aggressive at times, and it's excellent from tip to tail...I especially enjoy a line like "Someday you will die and somehow something's gonna steal your carbon" just speaks to me...great recommendation from Katydid (even if she didn't overtly recommend it)...two online reviews for ya if you don't believe me...

Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable - It's still the only series in the X-Universe that I can consistently pick up and read...well, as consistently as Wheedon and crew have managed to put issues out leading to my library picking up the trades...and this one capped off Wheedon's run in outstanding style...great story arc (continuing the previous arc and bringing together everything that had been building in the entire run and did so in an amazingly action-packed - jam packed - final couple of issues...great job tying everything together with action and action and action without sacrificing character development (the relationships between Emma and Scott, Peter and Kitty, surprisingly Hank and Brand)...this isn't one to jump directly into without reading the previous arcs, but that's okay because it's been a great run - one well worth starting at the beginning...and a great finish...

All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder - the reviews I've found have been resoundingly awful...Batman's a misogynist, Batman's a thug, Batman seems to be having a little too much joy in shattering the arms/legs/faces/whatevers of the bad guys, Black Canary's a cigar-smoking tramp who does the horizontal mambo with Batman with their masks on because "it's better that way"...sure, it's trash...actually, it's trashier than's's's a reimagining of the concept that takes the visuals (stunningly done by Jim Lee) and throws out everything else that's important about the's awful...horrific...bothersome...and I just couldn't take my eyes off of it...

it's got's got's got Batman and Robin painting themselves fully yellow, stealing Hal Jordan's power ring like two-bit pick pockets, and then popping him in the throat and crushing his larynx then tracheing him to save his's got awful dialogue like saying a half dozen times that Black Canary is from County Monaghan, Ireland just so Batman can recognize her accent later and think to himself "County Monaghan...just a touch of a lilt"'s got him sticking his tongue in Canary's mouth and feeling sandpaper meaning she's a smoker, something he hasn't kissed since Selina a couple of weeks's got Dick Grayson catching and eating raw rats because Batman has locked him in the Batcave a day after his circus parents were murdered, because he's the g-d Batman...

It's horrible and is one of the worst things that Frank Miller has ever done, but it's like watching a trainwreck...I couldn't put it down because I wanted to see what awfulness would come around the corner's like watching Gymkata...the pain isn't quite boring enough to make me want it to stop...

From Hell from the master madman himself, Alan is, of course, odd...Alan Moore hasn't written a straight-forward comic story in a number of years (Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow and Swamp Thing probably being the closest), and From Hell doesn't's the tale of Jack the Ripper which only barely involves a guy named Jack, and it's loosely based on some of the supposed theories of who Jack really was, but it's way more than's another weaving together of history (real and speculative) and mysticism (the Masons, Dionysian religion from centuries before) that occasionally step across the line into full mysticism (the chapter in which Gull, our main character, tours London explaining how major cathedrals and landmarks form one giant pentagram at the centre of which he'll be doing his killing)...but Moore steers back to the action soon enough and wraps the whole up into a masterful's probably short of his greatest work but that just mean's it's something in an eight out of ten rather than a perfect ten...very good stuff

American Way - don't quite know what to think about this one...feels too much like a poor man's Astro City to me, a similar idea of a world that struggles to deal with the presence of 'superheroes' the government (the Kennedy brothers and their Camelot crew) has recruited the heroes and stages public 'fights' in which the American heroes almost lose but end up triumphing in the end - all to keep American apirits up in light of the Cold War...but things start going wrong as the new guy in the agency has to deal with a sudden heart attack, bringing in a black hero, and a released villian gone awol...morality play ensues with the Southern heroes resisting the inclusion of a black hero and the northern trying to come to grips with being lied to about it...

it all feels a little forced and the wrap up much too's worth flipping through, but don't go looking for genius...nice artwork, however...neat NPR interview with the author, though...

In Bruges...I'll start with the trailer...give it a try...

So, it's a light-hearted comedy with some foul language and probably a badder bad guy coming after our main characters to comic results, right?

yeah, that's what The Girl and I were expecting...but the movie turns out to have a whole lot more going on for it than just's also a pretty impressively done morality piece exploring the guilt and results of a hit man's accidental shooting while doing his first job...the city of Bruges is gorgeous, and the emotion played very close to the surface for all involved...well worth seeing...especially for Colin Farrel's wonderful Irish brogue...well acted, beautifully it's got a it's funnier...

info all went to Criticker to rank the film, planning to give it an 80...Criticker correctly predicted exactly that rating...I'm more and more impressed with the site...

And, if you hadn't heard, Watchmen has another convert...who's next?

August 19, 2008

Spot the difference

Yeah, it's a shilling game for McDonald's new chicken sandwich (anybody tried it, by the way?) and for ESPN, but it's a decent little time waster.

There are five differences in between each pair of Olympic pictures, and you find 'em before time runs out. My high after playing twice is 100K.

I'm guessing most of you could beat that in about ten minutes time.

See if you're up to the challenge.

August 18, 2008

Thanks, Roadshow

The Girl and I saw a neat segment on Antiques Roadshow in which a woman brought in three works by and a personal letter from Lyonel Feininger, an artist that I'd never heard of and that apparently her parents were good friends with.

The two watercolors were really beautiful, small, simple gems, and I thought I'd hunt down some more of his work to share with you guys and gals.

August 17, 2008

The late late late late late show

...with Craig Ferguson...the funniest man on late night television...and possibly on all of tv...

...opens up about substance abuse in his past...

...monologue 2/1/07...

...on missing the A-Team... a surprisingly strong Bob Barker...

...monologue from 9/19/06...

...trying out for James Bond...

...Scottish porn from the 70s... Larry King interviewing himself...

...seeing Sean Connery speak at AFI...

...Michael Caine on XM... Larry King... Bono... Prince Charles...and with someone impersonating Craig...

...doing like all the rolls... first run-in with Craig Ferguson - on The Drew Carey Show...

August 15, 2008


If you haven't been watching Michael Phelps's performances, I just feel sorry for you.

He is amazing.

Update: Sports Illustrated had a great underwater photo just before the finish.

This is sand

Dig the sand art emulator that's online. You can choose your color of sand and just click to start dropping sand right in. Very cool.

Plus they have begun an art gallery of the better works and a blog to keep you updated on what's in the updating. They've also got a modified version online using random sand colors.

I bumbled upon the load of fun via Neatorama and colourlovers.

Try to get your time a wastin' before school starts in earnest, would ya, folks?

August 14, 2008

The world continues to tilt further and further upon its axis

It looks like, at the current rate, if things keep up as they have been, and there isn't a drastic change in Roger Federer, I'm going to have to get used to this happening, but I'm not nearly there yet.

It's still kind of shocking.

Violent veg

There just aren't enough funny pictures of fruits and vegetables with snippy little captions.

Luckily, Violent Veg is out there to get us a little closer to enough.

August 13, 2008

Mr Franklin eats babies

My mailbox this week received a lovely mailing from the Ohio Education Association (OEA) regarding Barack Obama. The front of the flyer has an image of a local teacher (from Kings School District) who is quoted as saying "I am desperate for change and want to support [Mr. Franklin]. But I do have some questions about him."

(And I'm giving up with the Mr. Franklin conceit at least for today's post. If you haven't figured it out just yet, Mr Franklin = Barack Obama. No, seriously, it does.)

Once the flyer is then opened, we get some of those questions:
  • Does he wear a flag pin on his lapel?
  • Is he a christian?
  • Was he sworn in on the bible?
  • Does he visit American troops overseas?
  • Does he place his hand over his heart when he says the pledge?
The inside also provides the explanation that...
A number of false rumors are being circulated on talk radio and the internet about Barack Obama. Regardless of who you support in this election, it's important to know the truth.
I knew the answers to these questions already, having checked a few of them out over at the page on the various Barack Obama rumors because I'm all down with Snopes like that.

And, because the OEA has, of course, endorsed Obama as their choice of Presidential candidates this year, all of the answers come in as being positive for Obama (which Snopes does actually support, I'll admit).

Now these kinds of smear attacks have been going on for centuries. I know because just yesterday I was just flipping through Anything for a Vote: dirty tricks, cheap shots, and october surprises which we picked up for The Pater Familias while we were in NYC. (Turns out that the Hayes-Tilden tilt in 1876 was fully scandalous. Plus there was the first LBJ senate campaign with a particularly nasty rumor.)

The smears aren't anything new, but I do like how Obama has taken the rumors on fully head-on with his Fight the Smears page on his website.

Head on, damn the torpedoes. Might as well face the face straight ahead.

I like the fully above-board tactic.

It's actually kind of refreshing.

Take the next fifteen minutes and listen...then read...

Thanks to Lakes for posting this...I'd link to him, but he's a foul-mouthed ex-pat, so I can't do that...but I'll happily give him a shout out.


Then read...

August 12, 2008

Reds hosting Cardinals

No, wait, The Taft is hosting the Cardinals.

At least that's how The Taft's webpage has things listed: Cardinals featuring Ryan Adams.

The concert's gonna be October 3rd, and tickets are $32.50 plus about $10 in fees per ticket because their box office isn't open this month, so ya gotta go through TicketMaster to get your tickets.

But, hey, at least you get one free iTunes song for every ticket you purchase through TicketMaster.

I'll be in row W, somewhere in seats 9-11. Check in while you're checking out Ryan.

Simulated comic product

Sick little gems from Simulated Comic Product...enjoy 'em...

August 11, 2008

Randomizing that image header

Ok, things aren't perfect up topside as there's still a bit of a grey line in the middle of the image header and the header doesn't link back to the blog homepage, but I've at least gotten rid of the craptacular text header that I've had for three years now.

Big thanks to G-Race for hooking me up with the how to via the Tips-for-new-bloggers blog.

It took a bit of playing around with the code, but I'm almost happy with how things are looking up there. I'll keep working to fix the couple of aforementioned issues.

So, Lakes, can I get back to talking smack now?

Oh, and there are currently twenty-three images in the randomizationilism for the header. Hopefully by the end of the week, I'll have another dozen or two as I check the work computer for photos from the past week. Heck, some of them may even not have Beaker in them.

August 10, 2008

Last Comic Standing

Some highlights of one of the only two reality shows I'll watch (the other being America's got Talent, in case you were curious)...

Josh Blue might be my favorite yet on the show...

Awesome enough that he gets two vids...

Lavell Crawford...

Amy Schumer...

Gerry Dee...

Dat Phan...

Rich Vos...

Chris Porter...

Jay London...


Jon Reep...

My school should be getting mo' money

Clearly we are not tapping into every available revenue stream available in the Sharonville area.

Police recently busted a big prostitution ring just up the street from good ol' PHS.

If we're going to miss opportunities for revenue like this, then of course we're going to have money issues. We clearly need to be more creative and diligent in searching out funding sources.

August 9, 2008

August 8, 2008

Droppin' some NYC

It's my blog, so I put this out there.

As always, I fully understand if you choose to skip forward to tomorrow's post. Just a teaser'll be a tasty little seeqpod list with a whole lot of hand claps involved.

If you stick around today, however, you'll get to head the dramatic tale of a ChemGuy and The Girl heading to the greatest city in the world, getting a couple of tasty slices, checking out a bit of priceless artwork, seeing said city from one of the tallest buildings in the world, and heading northward to the land of the pilgrims.

Day 1...Friday...driving and dinner...

The drive to NYC isn't necessarily an easy one, but there are a lot harder and longer. Rolling through Pennsylvania is a long haul, and the fact that we have to pay toll (about $9 there, I've done worse across I-90) annoys me. Rolled into NYC - first time driving in The City. (For some reason, New York is more than just the's The connection to me, no The Girl, no The Homestead, but if any city in our nation has earned The City status, it's New York.)

Got to roll through the Lincoln Tunnel, something that was a little eerie to do having read enough of DMZ where the Lincoln Tunnel is the edge of the DMZ, last place anybody would want to go.

We rolled into The Pod Hotel - quick review: smallish rooms, decently appointed, good price, awesome location, solid if not perfect recommendation. Had enough time to walk a couple of blocks and pick up our only pizza of the NYC trip. Good stuff at Red Box Pizza.

Day 2...UN...Bryant Park...Empire State...Times Square...street fair...Shea...

We woke up and wandered the five or so blocks to the United Nations. I remember in seventh grade - or maybe tenth, I'd been to The City twice before - taking a tour right into the UN and seeing all the flags flying, drawing us in when we walked freely around the entire grounds. No longer, as we got our first real glimpse of the changes that have undertaken NYC since 9/11. The free access and flying flags were replaced by empty flagpoles, an eight-foot fence of black wrought iron, and long-handled mirrors looking under the few cars we saw heading into the compound.

Breakfast on the walk up 42nd Street as we came under the Grand Central bridge which brought another creepy moment thinking back to I am Legend. Then up to Bryant Park - which I had no idea was so gorgeous. They've got a semi-permanent screen set up for free flicks once a week, and the planted beds are beautiful, plus they have some of the nicest public bathrooms that I've ever seen in a park - an attendant, nice tile work, not quite spotless but close. Dig the awesome.

The NYPublic Library wasn't open just yet, so we walked the four or so blocks down to the Empire State Building. The lines only wrapped down one and a half of the four block sides, so we hopped into line and took about an hour or so to get to the elevators - passing by every possible upgrade in our admission fees - and taking in what's now the tallest building in The City. I felt awful for asking this, but I wondered whether attendance at the ESB since the Towers fell. And up top - in the required gift shop - we got to see a rockin' Lego ESB (which eventually lead me to the Lego Professionals of the recent post).

Then back through Times Square. Back because we'd driven through on our first night but not noticed just where we are, just wondered why there were a whole bunch of people for like a three block stretch. The Girl enjoyed the Hello Kitty store and picked up a few souvenir items. I wasn't too impressed with Times Square because it was nothing but commerce, something I ran into throughout the city here and there but that is dwarfed by the coolness of The City.

Nice, late lunch at Dos Caminos (freshly made guac and free drinks when you order it)...big enough to split an entree...

Especially when we stumble upon a street fair - with, as far as we could tell, no theme or reason or holiday at all - which offered things like Nutella-filled crepes (which we again split)...

Then down to the library which was open now - and where we got pretty much all our souvenirs from The City...and where The Girl's true librarian geekiness came to the fore. I will admit that I dig the lions and was amazed by the gorgeous interior reading room. Though I was surprised that the main branch - the one that everybody goes to - doesn't offer any check out services. Instead, you have to head diagonally across the block to the other branch. Kinda wacky...

Back to the hotel for a half hour break and onward to Shea Stadium to check out a game against the Redbirds before they plow the stadium.

Only, I'd forgotten the tickets.

Yeah, we knew that about halfway to NYC when The Girl said "you did remember the tickets, right?"..."nope, totally forgot them...still pinned to the bulletin board at home"...

Luckily, we bought the tickets via credit card (probably one of the eleven million hacked) through the Mets website, so all we had to do was take the seven train out to Shea (same exit as the US Open site, so I've now physically seen the sites of three of the four major tourneys) and head to the Mets ticket office, give up the card and the ID, and wait about ten minutes or so. They reprinted the tickets and pointed us toward Loge, section 30 which looked like great seats...

Until you realize that we're sitting in the back row of the section which means we're under the next level up which blocks our view of anything more than about forty feet above the field level - no pop flies for us - and behind the wall which blocks our view of the left fielder.

Nice seats for $39 each...

Luckily, the seats do generally point toward home - or the infield, at least - which is an improvement over Yankee and Dolphin (three new stadia in a week, dig that)...

We didn't sit in our seats for long, however, as we quickly slid down four or so rows, far enough forward that we could see upward. Not quite as far as our neighboring fans slid down (all the way to the front of the boxes), but still a whole lot better than where we were supposed to be.

Once we'd slid down to a point where we could see the game - still no left fielder, but that's cool - we were treated to a pretty good game (check fangraphs for some proof). The place was packed, pretty well jammed, and The Girl even commented that if games in Cincy were like that - fun, full of energy, packed with people - she'd be way more willing to go. Even in the seventh or so when they put on the dorky sing along to "I'm a Believer", the whole crowd got into it.

Blast of a game - which we sadly left at the end of the eighth so we didn't get trampled on the subway. Needless concern, apparently, as the game went another six innings beyond that.

And a late-night dinner at a little restaurant next to our hotel. We split a coque monsieur and pomme frite. Their kitchen was - thankfully - open 'til 4am. Good times.

Day 3...Donut Pub...Wall St...Battery Park...Ground Zero...Chinatown...Central Park...Steak

We'd heard from friends that the Donut Pub down on 14th was the place for a morning sweet treat, and it didn't disappoint. I don't know that I'd rave about it the way that some do, but it's certainly solid for a bite. It's a New York place, Jewish accents on the stools, donuts that I don't know going under Yiddish names. The bites aren't bad, certainly, but the sounds are better.

Back on down to the Subway and further down the island into the Wall Street area. We'd heard that going to Wall Street now (post-9/11) was also an interesting thing with the streets totally blocked off and armed guards with M-16s patrolling the street. If that's the case, it wasn't when we were there on, admittedly, a rainy Sunday morning. Instead, we saw half-dead finishers from the morning's half marathon and Asian tourists in big groups.

Plus we got to see the bull, complete with his amazingly well polished pair of danglers. I guess the fact that half the tourists got their pictures taken while rubbing the bull's testicles has something to do with that.

Downward to Battery Park where we got to see the workers taking down the finish of the half marathon and our closest glimpse of the Statue of Liberty - we'd both been out to the island and up in the statue, something that's not allowed anymore, so we took a pass.

And up to Ground Zero...

Visiting Ground Zero was a very interesting thing. When The Girl had asked me in advance of our trip where I wanted to go in NYC, I'd said Ground Zero immediately. Nothing else really came to mind until I sat down with a map of Manhattan. There was some need within me to see Ground Zero, some need to pay tribute even though I certainly didn't know anyone who died in the Towers, and as we got to the site, it became apparent that a whole lot of other people felt that same need.

Ground Zero wasn't the most crowded place we came to in Manhattan (Time Square wins that easily), but it certainly had drawn its fair number of tourists, and each one was doing all there was to do at the site. They - and we - walked around a construction fence around a hole.

The memorial park has been designed but still looks to be years away. The Freedom Tower, long debated in design, doesn't yet rise above the level of the construction fence and won't be completed until sometime in 2012 (see construction progress here), and yet the site draws a huge number of visitors/gawkers - including me and The Girl.

And each visitor does just what we did - walks partway around the site. Some might make the full circle, but they don't see much more than we did as the viewing platform has been down for a few years now and the construction fences are eight feet high and block any possible view of the site.

Yet we each made a pilgrimage to the void.

Each of us, that is, except for the dozens of vendors taking advantage of the high foot traffic. Many are selling typical street fare - bottles of water, hot dogs - but some are vendors of the more creative variety, popping open black briefcases of watches and wallets and closing the same briefcases whenever somebody comes by saying that the police are on their way. We even saw one close up his briefcase while still negotiating a sale, walking with the woman away from the approaching officers, never walking away from the sale.

We made our way around to a public information booth with images of the planned development - right in front of the new 7 World Trade Center - where there is posted a timeline for the 9/11 attacks and subsequent collapse of the towers and a timeline and representations of the Memorial Park.

And then we left. There wasn't anything to see; we'd made our pilgrimage; and it was time to go.

On up to Chinatown for an awesome lunch at NY Noodletown and a hunt for The Girl's lucky cat. She finally settled for a matte golden plastic one with a battery. She bargined the storeowner down a few bucks (from $25 to $20) and was happy with her purchase.

We crossed the street to Little Italy and left the main drag fairly soon, finding gelato a few blocks up. We then took the subway back to the hotel for another brief respite before heading into Central Park.

On my first couple of trips to NYC, we visited Central Park briefly, but this time we took three or four hours to wander the park, and I got to see a lot more of it. I was amazed at the variety of spaces providing everything that an urban park could possibly hope to have: zoo, forest, open green lawns, statuary, ball fields, contemplative spots, quite reposes, bustling lawns, restaurants, rollreblading paths, paddle baots, a museum, and tons more.

It's a gorgeous green area amid the city, and they're lucky to have it. We saw the obelisk, the Alice statue, the Great Lawn, the castle over Shakespeare in the Park, Strawberry Fields, Tavern on the Green, and an adult kickball league. It was wonderful.

And then came dinner. thankfully we'd walked up an appetite because we splurged for our one nice night out. Smith & Wollenky's was just a few blocks from our hotel, and the reviews said things like "pricey but worth it" and "a great place to put on your expense account". For one night, we could go high on the hog.

High apparently means steaks that come out weighing a pound but taste like heaven itself. We split a giant, bone-in NY strip, green beans, baked potato, and onion rings (the latter all mine) and couldn't possibly consider dessert. The sides were okay - the beans luckily blanched and still green as could be - but the steak was phenomenal. Good times.

Day 4...Ess-a-bagel...MoMA...Yanqui Stadium...

We couldn't go to the Big Apple and not have bagels, so we managed a bagel and a schmear at Ess-a-bagel, just around the corner from our hotel. (Seriously, if you ever consider going to NYC, talk to me about the area we stayed in. Loved it.) Great, fresh bagels with wonderfully rich cream cheeses. I went raisin bagel with apple-cinnamon cream cheese. The girl went everything bagel with strawberry schmear. The next morning I stayed the same, and she went for lox cream cheese.

And off to the MoMA where we got our fill of museuming in The City. Six floors of exhibits ranging from barely modern to thoroughly, pop-ish, Warholian modern with enough design mixed in to keep me interested.

We chose the MoMA over the Guggenheim and the Met, mostly because I tend to prefer new stuff to the old artworks (I think The Girl would've gone Met, but I won this one). I enjoyed a lot of the artwork - particularly the barbed wire sculptures dipped and dried in the Dead Sea until they were crusted with salt crystals - but could've done without a lot fo the other. I'm sorry, but a five-by-five canvas painted a uniform and matte black with an explanation that it was open to the viewer's interpretation, utterly neutral in every possible way does nothing at all for me and seems like a total copout.

And, acutally and disappointingly, the prefab housing exhibit wasn't a thrill.

I dug the museum, honestly, but it was a lot of museum for one day with six floors of exhibits. Ideally, we would've seen a couple of floors each day and gotten the entire museum in a week - or over a year's time if we'd been there longer - but such is the nature of trying to see the greatest city in our nation in four days. If you go, feel free to skip the fourth floor entirely. We should've...

And then Yankee Stadium. We met up with two friends who had - thanfully - remembered to bring the tickets and took the 4 train up to the stadium, hoping to get there in time to see Monument Park but arrived too late, getting there about five minutes after the gates opened. By that point, they already had their couple thousand people in line for the Park and had closed the line. So we wandered in search of a new Yankees cap for one of the party and eventually made it to our seats - which I never left for the entirety of the game (again departing in the 8th se we didn't get missed by the trains).

The game itself wasn't a great one - an Oriole blowout with a grand slam leading them to an 11-0 lead before the Yaquis even threatened anything. But I've been to Yankee Stadium which is all that mattered.

Getting to Yankee - historical, legendary Yankee Stadium - wasn't the same as stepping into Wrigley for the first time. Wrigley was an almost religious experience, coming through the tunnel to open into the gorgeous green grass and the bleachers across the way. Coming into Yankee - admittedly with a lot of construction around and wal-to-wall people - was great but somehow lesser. It's a gorgeous old stadium that has been added to and rennovated until there is hardly anything original left. Everyone I spoke to seemed happy that the new stadium would open up next year. The concourses in Yankee Stadium are dark and crowded, clearly designed decades ago for a smaller crowd than the park now routinely packs.

But I can check off another park on my list...
  • Riverfront in Cincy
  • Wrigley in Chicago
  • Busch (the old) in St. Louis
  • Ted in Atlanta
  • Great American in Cincy
  • Jacobs in Cleveland
  • Comerica in Detroit
  • Miller in Milwaukee
  • PNC in Pittsburgh
  • Metrodome in Minneapolis
  • Dolphin in Miami
  • Shea in NYC
  • Yankee in NYC
The plan for next summer is to hit Baltimore, Philly, and Washington, DC in a single trip. Should be doable.

The trio of guys sitting next to us were in the middle of a three-day, whirlwind tour of the east coast hitting Camden Yards in Baltimore, Yankee Stadium, and then Fenway in three nights. Big fans of the Angels come east to have fun.

And we drove out of town the next morning, heading northeast to East Freetown, MA where we had a much more relaxing few days with a friend from high shcool. We didn't do nearly as much walking in Mass as we'd done in NYC, and there didn't appear to be a major league team in East Freetown so no luck adding in another stadium there, but we had a great time relaxing and catching up.

We did get to the beach for an afternoon even seeing a tiny jellyfish in the water and a larger one beached and dying. Plus we got to see Plimoth Plantation, a recreation of the pilgrim's first village circa 1627 as well as an Native American settlement from the same time. Fascinating stuff and neat to interact with people playing characters from the period.

And then we headed home, stopping briefly and noteworthily at Burgers, Shakes, & Fries for the titular meal of awesome food.

And let me add that the Tappan Zee bridge is particularly gorgeous at twilight. Wow...

We did manage a stop off at the Fiestaware outlet in extremly rural WV to pick up a few items ofr ourselves and friends.

And now I'm home and thinking that there's only a week or so until school starts...

Man the summer rolls along quickly...