Friday, January 30, 2009

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

We've all seen men in drag. But how about men in drag ... on pointe? Throw in a little mime and a lot of slapstick and you have Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. My friend Daniel gave me his extra ticket and so together we guffawed through hilarious re-interpretations of dances from Swan Lake during their closing night. I know nothing about ballet, but I do know that I enjoyed this show.

CONSUMED: The Joyce Theatre; 175 8th Ave, Chelsea (Manhattan)

Thursday, January 29, 2009

book cover for The Mysteries of Pittsburgh

I'll admit it without shame. I judge books by their covers.

Because that's exactly how I ended up buying this edition of "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh," the first book written by my new favourite author Michael Chabon.

Now all I want to do, even before reading this book, is to buy its brethren (which are also designed by Milan Bozic).

CONSUMED: Chapters; Oakville (Ontario)

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Old Man Luedecke :: Proof of Love

Listen folks. Of all the music-listening "advice" that I ever egotistically post on this blog, if I had to choose for you just one artist that I want you to listen to, then this is it.

I am not joking. He changed my life. (OK well Sufjan changed my life too. But he's not who I'm referring to.)

Old Man Luedecke is the pseudonym of Chris Luedecke, a quick-fingered banjo player that hails from that dear coastal province of Nova Scotia. His music touches my heart so that when I heard it for the first time, I was quick to ask my friend who it was. Then the second time I heard it, months and miles away from that first exposure, I asked my hosts (already knowing the answer), "Is this Old Man Luedecke?"

Maybe it's because that first time was during an impromptu Haligonian waffle party or maybe it's because bluegrass (and banjoes) go so well with brunch, but I can't stop myself from putting him on when I'm slicing bread for the toaster or whisking eggs to be scrambled. Not to mention that the refrain from his song "The Joy of Cooking" (see his myspace page) goes, in 10-person harmony, "If I'm not mistaken / The answer's bacon!" With sunlight pouring in through the window and a large cup of coffee in my hand, I forget about my endless to-do lists and live between the plucking of those strings.

First time: Capp's apartment in Halifax
Second time: Brendan and Garity's apartment in Bay Ridge (Brooklyn)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The 700 Club

Not having been dancing in months meant that I couldn't resist the lure of the 700 Club. The first time I visited Kim in Philadelphia, she brought me to this dive bar in Northern Liberties, only a few doors down from her own, that on Saturdays turns its second floor into a sweaty shake-a-thon. This past Saturday I was back in Philly visiting Kim, and once again we shamelessly absconded from her own party, eagerly climbing the wallpapered stairwell to join the ranks of plaid-clad hipsters shaking booty to Beyoncé.

CONSUMED: The 700 Club; 700 N. 2nd St, Northern Liberties (Philadelphia)

Friends: I *need* to go dancing more often than once every three months. Please save me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

banner for the Prince George-Norwich Meadows CSA

Two out of the three summers that I lived in Manhattan, I was a member of the community-supported agriculture (CSA) program in my neighbourhood. It was an awkward sort of organisation only because it was trying to stir up food awareness and organise a local food culture in a community that didn't want any of it. (This was exemplified by the struggling Murray Hill Greenmarket, which is only able to support one or two small farmers each week during its short summer run.)

Thus while I was looking for some semblance of a progressive community during those first years in New York, I realised early on that Murray Hill was not going to be the place to find it. And so I shirked my duties as a CSA member and never signed up for the requisite 6 hours of volunteer time at the sign-in table. Yet the guilt grew over the months of vegetable collection that by the summer's end, I broke down and offered my (limited) services to re-design their pamphlet one year (with Dory's artistic touch), and their street banner the second (recruiting help from Ainsley).

Here is the fruit of my labour, displayed high above 28th Street between Madison and 5th. I unexpectedly passed it the other day and decided to snap a shot as I brimmed with pride seeing it out in the wild. This project is particularly sweet because it was the first and only time I've submitted by (*extremely* limited) drawing skills for public consumption. And it didn't turn out too bad, if I may say so myself.

CONSUMED: The Prince George; 14 E 28th St, Murray Hill (Manhattan)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Biochemical Pathways poster

click on pic for glorious detail

I hated biochemistry; too large a volume of chemical structures and pathways that were never really studied in context. In the end it became a memorisation exercise. But my aversion to six-carbon rings and all things cyclical did not stop me from pausing to appreciate this incredible poster from 1993 detailing some of the more essential biochemical pathways.

Perhaps to his credit, Gerhard Michal (editor) appears to have lifted a page from Harry Beck, including the choice of a similar typeface. Which is maybe why I'm curiously able to over look the content and appreciate the poster for its aesthetic. I'm just trying to decide now whether it would be missed if it was to be removed from my department, and where exactly I would put it if it was to somehow fall into my hands.

CONSUMED: my work; Manhattan

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fette Sau

I've been asked countless times whether I am vegetarian. I guess I understand how people may confuse my leftie leanings with vegetarian-like tendencies. But I am a carnivore through and through.

And as a lover of meat, Fette Sau is heaven.

I insist that it's the some of the best barbecue around (note: no claims to authenticity). And what with their equally tasty sides of broccoli, potatoes and beans, topped up with a fine array of beers ... well I'm just going to have to stop right here before I drool on my keyboard.

CONSUMED: Fette Sau; 354 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration tchotchkes

Kalin came all the way from Vancouver to attend the Inauguration ceremony with Dory. They left Sunday afternoon and returned late last night after spending 7 hours slowly making their way from DC to New York. They then spent another hour or so recounting (in part due to my insistent questioning) their first-hand experience of the Inauguration ceremony. And while the stories of the million-person crowds struck terror in my heart, a small part of me felt regret for not participating in person.

These souvenirs, if they should choose to keep them — a nametag, a small paper American flag waved vigourously on the National Mall, an unused DC metrocard, pictures taken with frigid hands — will be worth the memory exercise and bragging rights in the future when they recount their participation in history to the next generation: "I was there when the first black president was inaugurated."

CONSUMED: my apartment; Brooklyn

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lincoln Memorial

That *other* politician from Illinois will be inaugurated today. Perhaps one day, he too will have his own memorial, being the first black president and all.

It's time to deliver on the hope.

CONSUMED: Lincoln Memorial; Washington, DC

Monday, January 19, 2009


Can someone please explain to me how I've all of a sudden become a Klondike addict? And I continue to play it even though my personal winning record is something like 1 out of 10 games. I've never used it before to procrastinate while at work, nor did I ever play it for the past 3 years that I had my old iPod. But now it's inexplicably my favourite thing to do when I'm on the train. Poor Grapes of Wrath is being neglected thanks to a simple game of solitaire.

CONSUMED: on various forms of New York public transit; Manhattan and Brooklyn

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Lodge

Tonight, on the way home from dinner, I bumped into my roommate with two of her friends. They were off to The Lodge, I place I've come to associate with night-caps and late night beers. Tonight we all drank Old Fashioneds, and it reminded me of my first love, the whiskey sour.

Dory and I decided that this was the year of more roommate beer nights, which likely means The Lodge will be seeing more of us. I would love it if I could get to know at least one bartender before leaving the city, and it would be great if The Lodge could facilitate that.

CONSUMED: The Lodge; 318 Grand St, South Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

La Rondine (at the Met Opera)

Never did I think that I would sit in the 9th row (orchestra) of the Met Opera. And yet I did, thanks to Katie and the MetOpera weekend ticket draws. We went to see Puccini's "La Rondine" (which recently got a mention in NY Magazine's "Approval Matrix") and I gaped all the way through the first act. Opera has been one of those classical art forms that I have yet to fully embrace. And perhaps to my disservice, some of my first opera experiences involved 12.5 hours of Ring-series Wagner, sitting in the last possible row of the Met Opera House. So this time, when I got to engage not only musically but visually, with facial expressions and costumes and set details all accessible without the use of binoculars, well I can honestly say that I can understand why one might pay premium prices for those seats. Here's to more opera in my life.

CONSUMED: La Rondine; The Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center; Upper West Side (Manhattan)

For all those that use feed readers, sorry for the busted feed over past few days. I think I figured out what was wrong. And to everyone else: feel free to start using the RSS feeds there on the right!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Emily Post's Etiquette

I thought that reading a book on etiquette would be cool and entertaining. Like guides on (writing) style. Instead, it's pages upon pages of useless drivel (place settings should only contain three of any utensil type), common sense (skiing can be dangerous!), or abhorrently conservative values (women's name cards should read "Mrs. [insert husband's name here]" — makes you want to wretch too, eh?).

I'm so glad most of us have parents to raise us right, and teasing from elementary school classmates when they don't.

CONSUMED: a Madmen-themed fondue party; Bed-Stuy (Brooklyn)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

studio street windows

I'll never stop marvelling at the idea of studio-as-storefront. Even without a class in the window, I could imagine dancers in unison "performing" for the pedestrians of 9th Avenue.

CONSUMED: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre; 405 W55th St, Clinton (Manhattan)

Monday, January 12, 2009

The General Greene

Working in Brooklyn, at least for a day, provides unbelievable benefits. Like meeting friends at The General Greene in Fort Greene for lunch. I had the roasted pork sandwich with pickled okra and a spicy aioli (perfectly spiced if you asked me). Kathleen had the meatball hero. And John had banana bread (supposedly amazing ... I didn't try it) and yogurt. Simple food for simple folk, also exemplified by their order-at-the-counter system for lunchtime. Who wants to make the trek for dinner?

CONSUMED: The General Greene; 229 Dekalb Ave, Fort Greene (Brooklyn)

Friday, January 9, 2009

MEC SuperMicroft cycling jacket

When my friend Ben gifted me with my first road bike (a 12-speed 1980s Velo Sport), I didn't really know how far I would dip into the cycling world. Before I knew it, I found I had outfitted myself with a Chrome bag and a $100 New York-ready chain lock. I was changing my own busted tubes (and patching those that were repairable). But then the weather turned, and I found myself climbing the stairs to the subway more and more. Suddenly, after a month of commuting by train, I decided that the New York winter was mild enough that it was possible to ride to work. It was time to get back on the saddle again.

My only problem? I didn't have a wind or water-resistant coat.

Thankfully my decision to ride came just prior to a trip home for the holidays. And so I went to the new Mountain Equipment Co-op that opened up 15 minutes from my parents' house and bought me a cycling jacket. For $50 (made in Canada too! who ever said locally-made was more expensive?), I got exactly what I needed. And it's already saved me twice from the weather (wind once, and rain another).

CONSUMED: Mountain Equipment Co-op; 1030 Brant St, Burlington

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Ottawa snow

It's no secret that I love snow. As I've told many an American: Give me 0°F and snow over 35°F and rain any day. Yeah, I'm talking about that same stuff that cancelled my flight and stranded me for an extra 24 hours in New York when I wanted to be visiting with friends in Ottawa. The same stuff that shut down airports and ruined Christmas for hundreds of people continent wide. That stuff fell heavy and thick the Sunday I was in Ottawa. And while I had a whole day that I could have used to go see my country's capital, I chose instead to don my boots and go tromping. It was absolutely glorious.

CONSUMED: the Glebe, Ottawa

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Nikki McClure calendar

(my parents' house in Canada)
December 26th :: I'm lying on my old bed in my parents' house, away from New York. I receive an email from my roommate, Dory. "I put the mailbox key on your key ring. There's some Chinese food in a tupperware that I forgot to throw out. I left the 2009 Nikki McClure calendar on the table too. Happy Boxing Day!" Oh wow. A brand new Nikki McClure calendar for 2009? I can't wait.

(my kitchen in Brooklyn)
December 30th :: I'm rushing to assemble a dinner in honour of a visiting friend. People are supposed to arrive in 20 minutes, and I still haven't made the fried bananas or finished the soup. Then my eye is caught by our old calendar on the wall. And yes, there just as she promised is the new one, sitting unopened on the table. I jealously reach for it, but then just as quickly stop myself. I can't yet. It's not even New Year's Eve. Dammit. I return to stirring the soup, wondering if a peek would mean a curse on 2009.

(my living room)
January 1st :: I'm handing out hot chocolate to the small handful of friends that decided to take refuge in my apartment from the brazen New Year's Day winds. The conversation idles between various topics, and I'm cross-legged on the floor scratching my cat. Without explanation, I jump up and dash across the room towards the kitchen. Inquisitive cries follow me down the hall. I call from the kitchen, "It's time to open the calendar!" More confused statements from the living room. I emerge from the hallway triumphantly holding the Nikki McClure 2009 calendar. "I've been wanting to do this for a week now." And like a kid show-and-telling a coveted possession, I turn the cover for all to see the proud month of January.

CONSUMED: my kitchen, Brooklyn

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Spuyten Duyvil

I've lived down the road from Spuyten Duyvil for over three-quarters of a year, but only went there for the first time a couple weeks ago. It took a post-dinner pre-flight late-night rendezvous to get me there. And though I spent months precariously listening to friends rave about the joint, I can now safely say from personal experience that it is indeed a beautiful haunt, especially if you avoid the crowd and go for one of their delicious pints on a weekday. I can't wait to go back and imbibe the Dieu du Ciel that they're importing from Montreal.

CONSUMED: Spuyten Duyvil; 359 Metropolitan Ave, Williamsburg (Brooklyn)

I've added a pseudo-blogroll (see on the right). These are my friends, all with exquisite blogs. They deserve your patronage perhaps more than I do.

Monday, January 5, 2009

top 10 albums of 2008

I decided my first post of the year was going to be a reflective one. But don't worry, I won't be writing you a cautionary tale on how 2008 was the beginning of the end, or a didactic on how to turn your life around from lessons learned over the past year. No no, what I wanted to do, rather, was the extremely egotistical exercise of listing my top ten albums of 2008. Especially since I spent a bit of time scouring my iTunes play counts in order to figure out whether there was an objective way to come up with this list. And I think I've got it. So with no further ado (also can I mention how pleased that 8 of the 10 artists are Canadian?):
  1. Land of Talk :: Some Are Lakes
  2. Ra Ra Riot :: The Rhumb Line
  3. Wintersleep :: Welcome to the Night Sky
  4. Old Man Luedecke :: Proof Of Love
  5. Basia Bulat :: Oh, My Darling
  6. Shad :: The Old Prince
  7. Wolf Parade :: At Mount Zoomer
  8. Beirut :: The Flying Cup Club
  9. The Stolen Minks :: High Kicks
  10. Chad VanGaalen :: Soft Airplane
CONSUMED: on my iPod, in 4 different countries, and at various altitudes above 10,000 feet

So I'm going to give the blog another go. I must send a thanks to all those kids who asked me about the future of this blog in person. It's always great to get feedback, especially when comments are often quiet. Having said this: 2009 should be the year of comments! Comment away, friends!