Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Restaurant Review: Ghenet (in Soho, NYC)

284 Mulberry Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 343-1888

Ghenet caters to the gluten-free if you call up the day before and ask them to make you Teff-only Injira bread. However, ONLY DO THIS IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHOW UP FOR CERTAIN. I actually had to beg over the phone the last time I called because so many gluten-free jerks have called up and then never arrived at dinner, causing them to have to throw out their uneaten bread. Teff is really expensive--a small bag of Teff flour costs $4.50+ at your local health food store. So, respect the restaurant and follow through. I really like eating here, and I don't want to have to stop. Enough ranting.

I've eaten here several times. The first time, I had the Dori Wett because I honestly didn't know better, and I wasn't so happy with my selection--1 tiny chicken leg and a whole hard-boiled egg were not what I was expecting. So, my experience wasn't the greatest.

My date always gets the vegetarian combination platter, and it's definitely the one to beat. Don't bother with the other items on the menu--this is the one. You can choose a great selection from the back of the menu. You'll be filled up and you'll have leftovers to take home. Enjoy!

This is a test

I found this little widget and am testing it out. The lyrics to this song are actually quite nice, altho the widget is pretty damn cheesy.

Rihanna - Umbrella lyrics

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What were you--born yesterday????

Yes! Litte Aaron was born yesterday. Congratulations to the proud parents! I'd post a pic, but we'll let them have their alone time with their new little one. Much love! XO!

Winning through non-competition

I just caught wind of a brilliant new game that relies on total non-competition to win. It's Brainball! The players' brainwaves control a ball on a table. The one who is able to relax more pushes the ball further and "beats" the opponent. Sheer genius! How soon can I try one of these?

Don't forget to get the Mindball Multiplayer accessory so three people can play....

I read about Brainball in Wired's article, "The Future of 3-D Printing, Pilot Communication and Weather Reporting." Speaking of which, who doesn't need a 3-D desktop prototyping machine? Now you can make the cardboard replica of a Shermann tank that you've always dreamed of...for only $4999!

Friday, September 14, 2007

I heart New York

Seen on the corner of Broadway/Houston yesterday...head on a firebox.
Of course it was gone by noon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Totemic Animal with Jelly Roll

Some have said my totemic animal is the chipmunk due to its high energy and chatty nature. I also have a pretty intense sweet tooth. This is perhaps the ultimate expression of my
inner animal self. (The pic was found randomly on some user's profile on a social networking site.)

Saturday, September 8, 2007


On Thursday, I went to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to see the Keith Haring triptych. It is his last major work before his death in 1990 and depicts the life of Christ. The center panel evokes both His birth and His crucifixion. It's silver, although appeared gold in the light, and is very beautiful.

The cathedral is apparently the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. I was glad I got to see it, and I was saddened to see the damage by the massive fire in 2000 that ravaged half of it (and is now under reconstruction). However, it is clear that America's propensity for "larger" doesn't equal better. Once you've seen Notre Dame, it's hard to be impressed by American rip-offs. American cathedrals are a pastiche homage to their European counterparts.

Speaking of cathedrals, my favorite is a comparatively smaller cathedral, St. Albans in England. Obviously, cathedrals take hundreds of years to build, and times change. As a consequence, St. Albans has a nave that is partly Romanesque (with rounded arches) as well as Gothic pointed arches. It took so long to build that they switched styles to keep up with fashion. I couldn't find a great photo of it online, but I did find this old postcard where you can see the difference.

A sucker born every minute

My two previous posts have gotten me thinking: Does the general public know a good thing when it sees it? Harry Potter. The iPhone. Both are lauded by the public, which begs the question: do the masses actually have taste?

In my opinion, the Potter books are average in terms of literary merit. The only way they've revolutionized the publishing industry is by sheer volume of sales, which is nothing to sneeze at, but the books themselves have not intrinsically changed the literary world (although some would argue they've encouraged kids to read, which I suppose is true, although I would counter-argue with the question: isn't it the parents responsibility to inculcate a love of reading from a very early age? I'm betting most of those parents out there haven't been reading to their kids since birth...). In any case, the act of publishing books has not changed because of Harry.

Conversely, the iPhone is extraordinary in terms of user interface design. It's a total paradigm shift in how a person can physically interact with a device. Suddenly, all other cell phones seem like dinosaurs, and I have no doubt that the cell phone with a push-button keypad is on its way out over the next 5 -10 years. (Obviously, comparing Harry and an iPhone is a bit unfair: Harry is content--words on the page, but the iPhone is content and functionality).

A barrier to entry of the iPhone is obviously cost. Mac products are always expensive and require disposable income. But, the plummeting price means that they'll be in even more people's hands sooner than ever.

Still, $600 (now $400) is an exorbitant and ridiculous price to pay for a device. A Harry Potter obsession would cost the reader approximately $116 if they purchased the entire hardcover boxed set on Amazon. If one had to choose their popular poison, it would be to one's economic advantage to adhere to Harry and shun the iPhone. But what about those of us who shelled out for both?

This brings us back to public opinion: Harry and the iPhone are both a success. One is largely mediocre when taken as a whole, the other is impressive despite its flaws (I really could strangle the phone for not syncing properly to iPhoto, and yet still I love it). Some people buy the books, some the phone, some both. This may suggest that it's not so much that the public is savvy or truly understands how to judge an item's merits, but that the general public likes to engage in public discourse around shared interests. Also, when critical mass is achieved, there is a sense of unity, i.e., I feel less alone in the world when I see someone reading Harry on the subway. Also, we like shiny, new things, we're easily distracted, and we are willing to spend, spend, spend to get that feeling of being a part of something larger than ourselves.

Even if the iPhone is a life-changing device, aren't we still suckers for shelling out half a grand that could be going into our retirement accounts? I can delve into snobbery and suggest that Harry stinks and the iPhone rulez, but aren't I the butt of an economic joke regardless of the intrinsic merit of the books or the phone?

There really is a sucker born every minute. To quote from Barnum the musical, "...the biggest one, excluding none, is me."

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Thank God it's a tax write-off

Mr. Jobs has dropped the price of the iPhone by $200.


We iPhone owners paid the price to be early adopters.

Maybe we really are just fools after all.

But then I hold it in my hands and I'm charmed. Ach, I'm a sucker!

The Problem with Harry

I've been having an email conversation with two friends, K in Chicago and Weeza in London regarding Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the 7th and final installment in the that series you may have heard about. Our emails aren't so much debate as confirmation of how much we agree that DH is as mediocre as shopping at The Gap or eating Domino’s Pizza.

K summed it up best:
"The Harry Potter series was like rooting for a particular runner in the Olympic marathon. Books 1-6 were like my runner getting stronger through the race and surging into the lead as they enter the stadium. Book 7 was my runner tripping over her shoelaces, falling and crawling over the finish line to get the bronze. The epilogue was her copiously shitting her pants at the medal presentation."

So well said. Oh, and ugh--that epilogue--by far the most painful part of the book. A reviewer by the name of The Meteorologist “Don’t call me Weatherman” on Amazon commented:
“...The epilogue was forced and cliché. I really wonder if the publisher asked Rowling to do this because it is so unlike her. I remember reading an interview about her writing this last section in her hotel room while she cried and drank. No wonder why she cried and drank, this epilogue was terrible, I would cry too.”

How Harry Should Have Ended ***Possible spoilers below***

The three of us contemplated possible alternative endings. K in Chicago states:

“I was personally hoping that Harry would die in an act of transcendent self-sacrifice that left behind an artifact to protect the world from the inevitable emergence of the next major Dark Magician. Being a series with a lot child readers meant we were safe from the prospect of him knocking up Ginny with another Chosen One. I was thinking more along the lines of his death being the critical ingredient in a spell that combined the Deathly Hallows into powerful talisman (of course hidden at Hogwarts) that would seek out the most worthy wielder when the need arose.”

Alas, that would have accorded the book actual literary status, which just wouldn't do for the Scholastic stockholders. Perhaps the whole Potter phenomenon bespeaks the problem of success--Rowling could have wiped her ass with each page and published it to massive sales. Is it too much pressure that creates the crap that emerged, or is it resting on one's laurels--a cloud of success that obscured her vision from creating something truly remarkable?

Weeza from London responded:
“There's something preachy and condescending about DH, in the way it hammers home weird little lessons in morality while completely overlooking other (major) points. There was an article in one of the London papers not long ago (wish I could remember which) about how JK Rowling herself has changed since she began writing the series. Then, she was a nobody with little money and a kid, writing a story she loved and believed in. Now, she has Charles and Camilla round to dinner, and turns up at events in glittering gowns. She's come a long way, from working class to borderline aristocracy. Perhaps that's showing through in the book? There's always something superficial about the Nouveau Riche. Perhaps this is the literary manifestation?”

I think Weeza is right. And, I don't think I could come up with a better ending than K conjured. My ending would at least have one character turn gay, Hermione decide she's better off finding another man entirely, neither of the Weasly twins dying, and at least a frikking graduation! I would have kept the setting at Hogwarts, worked in one last quidditch match that is perhaps interrupted by Voldemort, and cut out the Deathly Hallows entirely. Finding the Horcruxes was plenty of plot action.

I’m glad I went back to the series after a 5 year hiatus and finished it off, if only so I could try to understand such a public success. I’m sorry to conclude that only something this mediocre and derivative is probably capable of achieving such public acclaim. (As for derivative, don’t even get me started on Rowling’s ham-fisted barely metaphorical use of World War II references of England versus Germany. Does “Nurmengard” sound like Nuremberg to anyone else?? Sheesh. Some creativity, PLEASE! And let’s not even get into the blatant concept thievery from Lord of the Rings.) I’ll be even more glad to get back to re-reading something much better, like Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass.

Monday, September 3, 2007

My blog has begun

Many thanks to my sister for helping me get my blog up and running TODAY instead of continually putting it off. Expect major generality.