Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quote of the Day

From a Newsweek interview with Maurice Sendak, creator of Where The Wild Things Are:
[Newsweek:] What do you say to parents who think the Wild Things film may be too scary?

Sendak: I would tell them to go to hell. That's a question I will not tolerate.
You go, Maurice.

NYC - Day 3 - Part 3

I didn't know the location of Apple's NYC flagship store. We just sort of stumbled upon it walking up 5th Avenue. I am glad we did. It's design is as beautiful as its machines. This is the entrance. You walk into the glass box, take a frosted-glass spiral staircase down and you are in the store, a giant one room basement filled with mostly tourists checking their email on computers and iPhones and Europeans buying all the Apple products they can get their hands on before flying home.

The aforementioned frosted-glass spiral staircase, which, by the way, was creepy to walk down because the steps are transparent.

At the bottom of the store, looking up at, I believe, one of Trump's Towers.

Next door to the Apple store is FAO Schwarz. We had to go in. I was here, once before, when the guards outside were my same height. They ran away as I approached, I could have easily carried Chewie here out of the store with me, they were so afraid, but we just opted for a picture and checked out.

In the Subway, waiting for a train to Rockefeller Plaza.

You might know this as the statue right in front of the ice rink at 30 Rock that you occasionally see in movies or parting shots of national newscasts. I used to know it that way, but now it's something real, a statue lit up during all hours of the night with pillars of water surrounding it. I know the buildings which surround it. I know the noise it makes and that the height of the water changes every few minutes. I enjoy this about traveling. There are places, famous works of art, streets, buildings, etc. that have been simulated so much in movies, books, pictures, articles, and paintings that you forget they actually exist somewhere outside all the simulation and artifice. When you come face to face with them it is refreshing and real. For me, this stirs the soul more than the best written descriptions or images ever could.

Anyhow, in the warmer months, it overlooks diners at a couple different restaurants. We would eat at one of them on our last night there. It was good but overpriced, even for NYC standards.

I've written on this blog about my dislike of the Today Show, but just thought I would put a picture up. This studio is so small. They make it look so much bigger on television.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NYC - Day 3 - Part 2

Day 3 is going to be in at least three parts. I can't believe the walking we did this day. I probably snapped 200+ pics on this day.

From the Brooklyn Bridge we went to Grand Central Terminal, which, Wikipedia says is incorrectly and popularly referred to as a station and not a terminal. Anyway, I don't care all that much. We spent our trip calling it Grand Central. The main terminal is staggering in size and has probably been photographed millions of times, but I couldn't resist. I do wish I had taken advantage of the natural lighting, but we were on the whirlwind tour. In the picture above, Kate pauses by the stairs right after walking into the building.

Main terminal and flag.

Widescreen shot of the terminal and flag.

This is the lighting I am talking about. I like this shot just because it was the only one I got of the floor, but I should have taken a lot more.

An office building, near Bryant Park, which slopes outward as it reaches the street.

The Chrysler Building as we walk toward the nearest subway station.

On that aforementioned walk by Bryant Park, some print on the opened back doors of a truck caught my eye. I live in Oak Creek, WI, technically. I call it the OC. It's not a big suburb. With a population of 32,000, one would not expect many companies outside of Wisconsin, let alone in NYC, to call upon a business located in the OC. But while we were in NYC, someone did. It looked like the library was throwing some sort of event and this company in the OC was in charge of planning or tents or catering. I don't know. I just had to take a picture.

New Belgium, not Budweiser

Overheard in a bar in Wausau, Wisconsin.

Customer: Do you know who brews Fat Tire? Is it Budweiser?

Bartender: Some company in Colorado.

Me: New Belgium Brewing.

(Customer gives me a funny look, perhaps somewhat appreciative of my response and maybe surprised at my eavesdropping.)

Kate (to me in a whisper): That’s sacrilege.

Bryce: I know. Budweiser, are you kidding me?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting to the frontier

Hulking masses of metal in the sky

You fly by every day

Sometimes I spot the gray letters on your side

I can read them from the ground

F-R-O-N-T-I-E-R, I used to live on the frontier

I’ve been stuck in Middle America

A day closer to middle-aged

I’m in the midst of committing

More years of my middle ages

To writing meaningful pages

The Shins and Starbucks

I just settled down into my regular writing table at the coffee shop and what tune comes on? “Phantom Limb” by The Shins. I am instantly sent back in time. I’m wearing a green apron. I’m closing up the store with Jarrod. We just kicked the last customers out and we’ve put on The Shins’ Wincing The Night Away. Our jobs are monotonous. We are bored. But we make the most of it. The Shins help our cause.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Reminding me of 9/11

So I am meandering through a security line at the airport recently. I am bored and to pass some of the time I read signs, even if they aren’t at all applicable to my travel. Traveling with kids? No. Traveling with gels and lotions? No. Traveling disabled? No, but I am freakishly tall, but you guys don't consider that a disability...jackasses. I read on.

I eventually come to a poster profiling the featured TSA employee at this specific airport or whatever…it’s not explained. You know the people though, they suspect everyone and think you are making a bomb out of everything and they are dressed like mall cops. Anyway, the employee featured on the poster is describing how he once screened a burn victim from the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon. I’m thinking this is odd. Here I am, about to get on a plane, and there is a poster reminding me of 9/11 and I get this image of this poor bloke working at the Pentagon on a beautiful day in September and he gets knocked upside the head with a jumbo jet and burning fuel. I just don’t think it’s great to give me, or anyone else, this image. We are all aware that people joined TSA because of 9/11. You don’t need to share that with me. I don’t need to be thinking about that dark day when you are patting me down or when I am stepping onto an airplane.

There are words better left unsaid. And there are words better left off a TSA employee of the month poster. Tell us about your hobbies instead. There’s no need to talk about a day everyone remembers like yesterday.

Just a thought.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Scroll Down

I've been working on another NYC post. I started a few days ago and I just published today so scroll down for it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Nobel

There is a lot of buzz out there this morning on Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. As expected, there is a lot of criticism from the right. They ask, "What has Obama accomplished?" My first answer to that question, "Well, not that much considering all of the Right's stalling and lying about what health care reform means for this country."
But, honestly, I think the Nobel for Obama is way too early. If Obama is able to accomplish what he wants to accomplish, he would certainly be a worthy recipient of this prize. However, he hasn't even been in office a year. The decision to give the prize to Obama obviously has something to do with how different some of Obama's policies are from the previous administration. We can be happy about that, but it wouldn't have been so easy for the right-wing nutters to make fun of this if the Norwegian Nobel Committee waited a little longer.

Nevertheless, there are some witty responses from the left out there. My current favorite:

Monday, October 05, 2009


In Wisconsin, tonight's game is bigger than the Super Bowl.
And right as I typed this Favre threw a TD pass. I'm not even a Packer fan, but man, that guy is Judas.

NYC - Day 3 - Part 1

The first thing we happened to do this day is wander down to Times Square to look at the TKTS offerings. TKTS was closed, so we headed off for the rest of the day, but when we were walking through Times Square we saw Dr. Oz interviewing people for his show. We stopped. Kate took a picture. We carried on. But I thought the picture was pretty good. Oz wears scrubs all the time, even while interviewing people in public. So weird.

A water fountain in City Hall Park. I am pretty sure I am not making up the location. It was right near Brooklyn Bridge.

The walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was hot and slow (because of the flood of tourists on Labor Day), but it was worth it. The views from the bridge are incredible. I probably took close to seventy pictures when we were on the bridge. Don't worry, I've tried to pare that down a bit.

Lower Manhattan, shooting toward the WTC site.

We got another touristy couple to take our picture. They did a damn fine job.

From the bridge, looking to Midtown with the ESB, Metlife, and Chrysler building all visible.

Again, from the bridge, looking toward the Statue of Liberty.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Chicago's Loss

A few quick things about the news of Chicago losing its bid to host the 2016 games.
1. According to the cable news networks, we can now confidently say that the apocalypse is upon us because of Chicago's loss.

2. I just don't know how President Obama will get on, or how one could consider him a successful leader due to his failed, last minute pitch for Chicago. Clearly, his will be a lame-duck presidency for the next three and a half years, roughly.

3. The truth of and impact from Chicago's loss didn't quite reach me until I could hear the Reverend Jesse Jackson lament for the City of Chicago and all Americans. Now, it has really hit home. Thanks, Jesse.

I Took The Challenge

During the last couple of days, you may have seen a Starbucks commercial on TV, which advertises the new Starbucks instant coffee called VIA. The commercial encourages people to come in and take the Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge.

I did exactly that today. I was handed a cup of Pike Place (Starbucks daily brew) and a cup of VIA Columbian (instant coffee). I was not told which cup was which. The challenge is to correctly guess which coffee is instant and which coffee was made today, just moments after being ground. After a moment of looking at the coffee, smelling it, and tasting it, I made my guess and I was correct. I was handed a coupon for a dollar off a pack of VIA coffee and a free tall, brewed coffee for my next visit. These coupons were given to each customer, whether they guessed correctly or not.

Starbucks’ idea of having a taste challenge is a good one. It brings people in, gets the new product out there, but I think there is a flaw in the test I took. Let me explain.

First of all, I knew which cup held the Pike Place when I looked down into the cup. Pike Place was the nearly transparent coffee of the two. Nevertheless, I smelled and tasted both cups, noticing right away that the VIA Columbian was darker, stronger, and more embodying of a fresh-brewed coffee than the Pike Place Roast.

My point being, is it necessarily a good thing that Starbucks has created an instant coffee that can easily rival and, perhaps, beat their everyday fresh roast in a taste challenge? If I were Starbucks, someone guessing that the Pike Place was the instant coffee, which happened several times while I was sitting in the store this morning, would insult me. It is a bit of a catch-22, the VIA does a fair job at hiding its instant-brewiness. That’s something the Bucks can be prideful about. However, it tastes better than the stuff you pay $2 for at your local Starbucks, which, I think, doesn’t bode well for the daily brew at the Bucks.