No postings = no news; but why not read about vinegar?

I just kind of realized today that I haven’t posted to my unofficial blog for quite a while. There’s been no particular reason for this lack of postings here, and I actually have been posting frequently enough on my official blog and on I guess there just hasn’t been a lot of unofficial news. Let’s see….

  • We had a much smaller version of our annual fall Indian food fest.
  • Annette had her birthday last weekend, which included a much needed new computer and a lovely dinner and night out with a sitter and everything.
  • And I’m going to be getting geared up for some midterm travel. I’m going to New York City on Thursday for a conference (more on that on the official blog I am sure, and then we’re all going down to South Carolina next week for a Wannamaker Thanksgiving.

So like I said, no postings is no news, which is fine with me. But if you are really looking for something else to read, why not follow this link I found via boing boing about all the cool things you can do with vinegar?

Vinyl, Television, Painting, Soccer

Here is a sampler platter of things that have been new around the house for me and the family.

Vinyl. We are now the proud owners of new vinyl flooring in the kitchen. I’d include a picture, but it seems kind of stupid to take a picture of the floor. It looks quite nice, very much like tile, and it sort of smells and feels like a raincoat. Thanks to the excellent help of some excellent designing friends, we got hooked up with a great “floor dude” who runs a company called Husky Flooring. I recommend them highly.

The prep work was a time consuming pain in the ass, and painting the ceiling was not a lot of fun. But it does look a lot better, that’s for sure.

Television. I think that I have been successfully sucked into the new show Pushing Daisies. It reminded Annette of a Roald Dahl book and I thought the whole magic realism/goofiness of it all was fantastic. Hey, how can you be against a show where there protagonist runs an establishment called The Pie Hole? Sadly, I think the show will be far too weird for most. I give it 13 quality weeks.

I have also been enjoying the latest Gordan Ramsay show Kitchen Nightmares. I never watched Hell’s Kitchen and I understand that the FOX version of this new show pales in comparison to the BBC version, but I still like it. So far, I’ve learned that what really matters in running a successful restaurant is to have one that is actually clean and to have a manager who is not stupid.

Generally though, that’s about the only new TV I’m watching. And when it comes to the rest of network TV, there’s CSI and I am looking forward to the new season of Lost. I guess I’m getting old and falling out of a demographic.

Painting. This afternoon, after spending much of the day in the basement working on sabbatical project stuff, I decided it was time to go out and scrape some paint off the side of the house. Now, doing the front of our house wasn’t that bad because it is essentially a single story. But the sides and back are two stories, and I got to say getting the wobbly old ladder up to that height and then getting my fat ass up there and then attempting to scrape was nerve-racking.

Sadly, there are no good solutions. I don’t really want to pay a lot of money for someone else to do the work, and besides, I called 10 different local painting contractors this afternoon and none of them answered their phone. No kidding. I did get through to College Pro Painters (I remember those fliers advertising summer work when I was in school way back when) and I’m hoping they will get back with me about an estimate.

If the price they quote me is too much, I guess my next step is going to be to price new ladders.

Soccer. Will’s soccer team is 0-2. The good news is they seem to be getting better, but the bad news is they are playing what is (apparently) one of the best teams in the league on Saturday. I am the assistant coach, which means I’m helping out our friend Jim, who actually knows how to play soccer. Oh, and while Jim is away in a couple weeks on a work thing, I’ll be “coach for a day” at one of the games.

Speaking of which: time to get ready for practice.

Just when you thought it was safe to watch TV again…

Paris Hilton’s prison tales are going to be showing up in People magazine. Goody.

I can’t deny that I too (like most Americans) have had an odd fascination with Paris. She’s sort of the new Anna Nicole, isn’t she? As part of the junk TV watching in our household, we often watch Entertainment Tonight, which Will has come to call “The Anna Nicole” show. As Paris went to jail, the ET folks were in a quandary: talk about a now well-dead blonde woman who was famous for almost nothing, or talk about a not-dead-yet and younger/skinnier blonde woman who was famous for almost nothing. Tough call.


Anyway, I’m glad that Paris was punished and was forced to serve her time like a “real” person and everything, but now I’m sort of thinking that it has become a sort of publicity stunt in reverse. I wonder if preteen/teen girls all over America are now going to be pleading to spend a month in jail?

Funny addendum from the MSNBC morning show. Makes me want to watch, actually.

NYC, Baby!

NYC Times SquareSo, how was New York? Other than the luggage and the money, it was great. I’m not going to talk in detail about all the lost luggage crap here– that’s on the official blog here and here, if you’re curious. The short version is that the trip began very poorly, and we were detoured to JFK airport while our luggage went and sat for about a day at LaGuardia airport. This cast an obvious shadow on the trip, and this is a saga that I am sure will continue since Annette and I are planning on getting together to compose a formal complaint letter this week.

By “money,” I mean the rate of spending. As my wife is fond of pointing out, I like to spend money more than the average person, but these few days in New York City were ridiculous. It was if money itself were coal, and we were working at stoking the furnaces of the S.S. Titanic right after the iceburg was spotted and full reverse was called. Part of it was previously planned excesses (see below) and part of it was our semi-lost luggage experiences (see above), but part of it is that New York is just so freakin’ expensive.

But like I said, it was still fun. I have a set of photos on flickr here, but here’s a run-down of what happened:

We arrived into town a bit later than planned and without clean clothing, so it was too late to do any real conference “business.” Instead, we went to the gala Bedford/St. Martin’s Press party at the Tavern on the Green where we met Annette S. (For those not familiar with my line of work: this is a big party that one of the major publishers in composition and rhetoric puts on every year for folks at the conference I was attending, the CCCCs). I talk about this a bit on my official blog. It was a lovely affair. After this, Annette S. (our muse and guide in New York since she is our good friend and since she is indeed a genuine New Yorker) took us to Chez Josephine,which was (supposedly) owned and operated by the son of Josephine Baker. Nice place– very good vibe.

We went back to the hotel where Annette and I were staying, the Paramount, and met up with some of the “usual CCCCs suspects:” Bill HD, Steve B, and some of the fellas they hang out at with at this conference. Eating and drinking continued, though I missed much of it since I kept trying to talking with/yelling at the Northwest airlines people about the status of our luggage.

The other piece of drama was there was some party of people (we later found out it was a bunch of lawyers) where a woman was screaming, kicking, lunging, and hitting anyone in her path. By the time we left the restaurant on the mezinne level for the bar on the first floor, she was being held down in the lobby by some of her fellow patrons. I believe Annette found out the next day that six cop cars showed up when the bartenders finally called. So, what was it: a scorned lover? a drug trip gone bad? just crazy-time? There’s no way for us to know of course, but it was good theater, which, since we were in the “theater district,” seemed appropriate enough.

My original plans for Friday were to go first thing in the morning to go and do conference things. This was, after all, the reason why I was in New York in the first place. But we still hadn’t received our luggage, and, at this point, I smelled enormously. Annette only had one outfit too and she wanted to go shopping anyway. So instead, Annette and I walked down to Macy’s. We went our separate ways at this point and Annette spent more time shopping than I did. I was pleasantly surprised at the sales, frankly– good deals all around. Anyway, I bought a conference outfit (and a few other things), changed into my new clothes the dressing room, and went off to the conference, all clean and shiny and new.

Babbo front door

After the conference, I went back to the hotel, did a little school work (I was still “teaching” online during this whole thing), and then Annette and I went to meet Annette S. at one of the major destinations for this trip, Babbo. This is an adventure that actually began a month earlier. Annette suggested that a good birthday present for me (I turned 41 on Sunday) would be a fancy meal at a fancy restaurant in New York, and since Bill HD and his wife had been to Babbo and I had actually heard of it (it’s probably the highest-end restaurant that Mario Batali owns). I found out that to get reservations for a Friday night, I needed to call at 10 AM a month in advance. So that’s what I did. I must have hit redial 100 times, and 20 minutes later, I had my choice of reservations– well, before 6:15 or after 9:30.

The food, the drink, the desert– well, I could go on and on, but was all fantastic.

After that, we did some carousing in Greenwich Village– this is one of my favorite pictures for the whole trip, actually:

The Best Backrubs We did not discover the accuracy of the sign, but we did find a place for wine. After a while, it was time to go home and Annette S. put us on a subway. Like a couple of wide-eyed farm kids, Annette and I found our way back to our hotel.

Saturday afternoon, we got “a slice” and went to the Museum of Modern Art (very cool). We thought about going to a play, but decided on a piano bar outing instead. Now, I have to say that I was not familiar with the genre of the “piano bar.” I was expecting place where some person played the piano and where someone– either the piano player or some other singer. There are apparently several different definitions of the “Piano Bar.” In this particular case, there was a professional playing and singing, but the wait staff also sang and performed. There was also a few people who got up and sang karoke-style, but they sounded pretty darn good to me, like struggling Broadway actors.

Anyway, we were having a grand time, listening to the music, laughing, talking, etc., etc. Everyone in this place was doing this, actually. It was far from a concert. At some point, this couple of German tourists– let’s call the man of the couple “Gunter”– sat down next to us. I looked over and noticed that Gunter had three scotch and waters and they both were quite earnest at paying attention to the show. I didn’t think much of it, kept talking and laughing in my loud voice, and Gunter kept on looking over at us, kind of giving us some kind of stare.

Whatever. But then, out of nowhere, Gunter shouted out “Look! I am not here to listen to you talk! I am here to listen to the music! This is the cabaret!” Or something like that. Well, Annette S. and Annette and I looked at each other and laughed. “Is he serious?” Annette asked. Then I, in my too loud voice, kept talking with Annette and Annette S. about how stupid this all was, how this wasn’t freakin’ Carnegie Hall, there’s no cover, it’s a freakin’ piano bar, etc. And then we largely ignored Gunter again.
At one point a bit later, Gunter started taking pictures. Since I too was taking pictures, I decided to take a picture of him (note the cocktail in his hand):

I don’t know exactly why, but even now this makes me laugh.

Oh, an important postscript here:

A BIG BIG thank you to my parents who came out to watch Will and Sophie while we were off spending money. Besides keeping track of the boy and the dog, my mom straightened up/cleaned up the basement and my dad fixed our dryer so that it actually can dry a load of clothes in a normal period of time. So again, thanks a ton.

What’s wrong with the Food Network?

Through various readings, I stumbled across this “guest blogging” entry by Tony Bourdain about the Food Network. Generally, the Food Network is one of my favorite “hey, let’s veg out and watch TV” kind of channels, but I also agree that the Food Network has relatively recently been in decline. Anyway, what Bourdain says here in his oh so gruff way strikes me as pretty much on the money. If you are a Food TV fan, read and enjoy.

RIP, Ed Bradley/Conversation with Will about this…

I was sad to hear that Ed Bradley died. I have been watching 60 Minutes forever– probably since I was at least Will’s age because it was a show that my father in particular always watched. I’ve always liked Ed, the “younger, more hip” of a crowd of reporters who in reality haven’t been young or hip in quite some time. I mean, even Bradley was 65. Anyway, I appreciated his reporting, enjoyed his NPR radio shows on jazz music, etc.

So, we were talking about this in the car on the way home last night after a fairly quiet family evening out to celebrate Annette’s birthday.

Me: I heard Ed Bradley died.

Will: Was he the old and crazy guy?

Me: They’re all kind of old, Will.

Will: The old and crazy guy who says stuff at the end.

Annette: Andy Rooney?

Will: Yeah, Andy Rooney! I like that guy.

Annette: Why?

Will: Because always says all this crazy stuff at the end of the show, it’s crazy stuff but actually is kind of true. It’s weird.