Monday, November 30, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

English, of a Sort: Lost in Transition

The pancakes look good, but the English at The DOUBLEOVER Cafe is even better.

As long as by better, you mean funnier.

In this post, Gail goes on a quest for waffles and finds an English menu with some amusing descriptions.

The English might not be the best, but it's much better than my Japanese.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Raccoon Dog Nuts: Lost in Transition

As promised, Gail's post aptly titled "Sometimes, Japan's a little nuts."

Oversized raccoon dog testicles.

With pictures.

And a history lesson.

If nothing else, you at least have to take a look at the images. C'mon-- I know you're dying to see some prints of testicles being used as rowboats and fishing nets.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Countdown to Japan: 1 Day

Tomorrow we're off to Japan.

It's our first trip to Asia, but luckily we've had a lot of help.

Our friends Gail and Joe are English teachers in Hiroshima, and we're ending our trip by spending a few nights with them. In fact, they're pretty much the reason why we're going to Japan in the first place. If you're my friend and you live in a foreign country, I will come visit you!

This trip is about two years in the making. I worked with Gail for four years at the Springfield News-Sun, but I haven't seen her since she and Joe moved to Japan about two months before Paul and I came to New York. Moving from Ohio to New York seemed like a big jump, so I can't wait to see first-hand how living in Japan compares to the Midwest.

Luckily, Gail keeps a blog that's as entertaining as it is fascinating. Keep an eye on my blog over the next week or so for some links to a few of Gail's funniest posts. My parents particularly liked Gail's post about the prevalence of statues and images of raccoon dogs with oversized testicles. You'll get that link next week, and so much more!

So ... bags are packed, Lost in Translation is watched (for the third time) and I'm ready to go. Now I just have to prep myself for the 14 hour non-stop flight.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Another Scene from Delancey/Essex

So my new thing is taking photos of the murals in New York City subways.

Or rather, getting Paul to take pictures of me in front of them.

A couple of weekends ago, we found ourselves in the Delancey Street/Essex Street station on the Lower East Side, the same station that has the large fish murals that I wrote about in September.

But the fish are on the downtown side of the platform. On the uptown side: a veritable forest.

So Delancey/Essex gets two completely different murals, and all I get at 77th Street in Brooklyn is a plain orange wall? Manhattan gets all the breaks.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New York, New Glasses

I got glasses about one month after we moved to New York.

I had worn contacts for about a dozen years before then, but they were irritating my eyes so much right before we moved that I could barely stand to keep them in all day. My eyes kept twitching-- probably a result of the stress of moving and the barrels of cleaning solution I seemed to be using to sanitize our Ohio house before we left and the Brooklyn apartment that we moved into.

What's more, one of my last articles as a reporter in Springfield was about locals who used glasses as a fashion statement. As I hung out in an optometrist's office waiting to speak to the newly be-spectacled, I took a look at the offerings and liked what I saw.

So one of my first tasks as a New Yorker was to get an eye appointment and new glasses. I had them on for my first day of work and haven't looked back.

Except when I resurrected my contacts a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to wear them to Six Flags, but I wasn't sure how my eyes would handle them again after an absence of two years. So I wore them to work for two days.

I had forgotten until I got all of the questions and questioning looks that none of my current co-workers had every seen me without glasses. By contrast, few of my Ohio co-workers had every seen me without contacts.

I felt a little alter-egoish, and also a little stereotypical. Small-town girls gets big-city makeover-- who hasn't heard that story? Anyway, it's not quite as stereotypical as it seems-- I need a much better selection of shoes (among many things) before I can say I've really gotten a big-city makeover.

But it did make me think about how moving to New York, almost like moving away for college, was a chance to start again among new people, new friends. I wonder if I took advantage of it as much as I should have.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cupcake Wars: Robicelli's

Oh, Robicelli's, I had just gotten to know you.

Robicelli's, the Bay Ridge gourmet market that sponsored the sandwich-making contest that (nearly) made Paul a star, has shut its doors to focus on it's cupcake-making venture.

The bad news: After our supply of ale-and-mustard cheese runs out, that's it.

The good news: I can still get Robicelli's cupcakes in the neighborhood.

Robicelli's has gotten accolades from bloggers and cupcake enthusiasts throughout the city for its unique flavors and creamy frosting. They've been sold at the market all along, but I had my first one only about a month ago.

The "Tres Leches" was a brown butter cake with dulce de leche buttercream frosting and a caramel shard on top. The frosting was smooth and delicious, and it somehow seemed totally inappropriate that I was savoring it while watching the Matrix Reloaded on TV.

But even though the store is closed, the cupcakes will still be sold in another store/cafe a few blocks away. Good, because I have so many more to try ...

A sampling of flavors.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

My Second Favorite Neon Sign in Bay Ridge

Hinsch's is a Bay Ridge institution-- an old-timey soda fountain with surly waitresses (no waiters that I saw) of a certain age.

The food is about average -- Paul's had a hamburger and I once ordered a waffle -- but the ice cream is the star of the show. One sweltering afternoon we sprung for the $10 sundae -- three scoops of our choosing topped upon sliced bananas and a layer of some kind of pound cake, smothered with whip cream, sprinkles and cherries. Yum.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New York Celebrates Another Yankee Victory

News flash: The New York Yankees won the World Series last week.

And although I'm not particularly a fan of the Yankees, I did root for the home team throughout the postseason, so I just had to get a glimpse of the ticker-tape parade on Friday just steps from my office.

Actually, this was my second New York ticker-tape parade (the first was after the Giants won the 2008 Super Bowl), so I was prepared for the crowds. I made it to work just fine -- even a couple of minutes early -- but a couple of my co-workers weren't so lucky. They got stuck on the other side of Broadway, weren't allowed through the crowds and across the street, and took more than an hour to go about 2 blocks.

From my desk I could hear the cheers and screams from the crowd outdoors, so I could tell when the parade was nearby. I grabbed my camera phone and snapped a few quick shots of the spectators and floats. Did I see Derek Jeter? A-Rod? Maybe. I was really too far away to know.

The intoxication wasn't limited to the 21-and-over crowd. Some of my co-workers saw many a kid drunk and looking for more. I guess I was too busy wondering who was going to fall off their makeshift stool first to notice any of that.

There's always next year, Reds.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Now Grace Is Gone, Too

Yesterday we put our second cat in 12 days to sleep.

Needless to say, it hasn't been a great two weeks.

As you know, our other cat, Will, had blood clots and died two weekends ago. Grace, Will's 9-year-old sister from the same litter, seemed to (understandably) be moping around and appeared not to be eating or drinking very much. So we took her to the vet last Saturday.

Everything appeared OK initially, but the next day Grace didn't want to use her back legs much and basically stayed put. Paul then got a message from the vet: Grace's kidney's were not good and she needed to be taken to an animal hospital immediately.

So for three days -- Sunday through Wednesday -- her kidneys were basically flushed out. After the third day, the vet said we would know whether we should continue or whether it was no use.

It was no use.

So Paul and I left work early yesterday for the horrid task of putting our cat to sleep. She seemed tired, and we knew the only thing that was keeping her in good shape was the fluid she was connected to. And so we said goodbye to yet another cat.

For as much as I thought I disliked the cats, the place sure seems empty without them.

Paul, Will and Grace in Columbus

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

In the Middle of Everything and Nothing

When I watch a Yankees game, or Saturday Night Live, or a parade on TV, it's hard to remember that it's all happening right now just a few miles away.

I might as well be in Ohio, or California or the middle of Siberia for as connected as I feel to events happening a subway ride away. But there's so much going on in New York at any one moment, that there might as well be nothing.

No one cares when the president visits. Or when world leaders convene at the UN. When the Pope came to New York in April 2008, it entered people's consciousness just long enough to be glad he would be visiting on a weekend, when commutes wouldn't need to be altered because of the crowds.

Of course, that's why so many stars love to live in New York: you can be in the center of the world and still be anonymous.

But I'm not completely immune quite yet.

I still get excited when I see, for example, Hillary Clinton outdoors giving a speech on TV when I'm taking a walk during my lunch break, or "The Good Wife" taping a segment outside a Duane Reade across the street from work.

I like these chance encounters, however small they might be. But I'm not part of the crowd jostling to see who's entering Radio City Music Hall for the MTV Video Music Awards. After all, I'm no New York City tourist!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday at Six Flags

I hadn't been to an amusement park in at least three summers-- a record by far for someone who used to visit Cedar Point every year (and even had a season pass for one memorable year).

But I was getting antsy to ride a roller coaster again, so Paul and I finally visited Six Flags Great Adventure, in Jackson, NJ, for its annual fall Fright Fest. Not only is it a mere 90 miles away, but it has several varieties of coasters that I'd never before ridden.

We arrive shortly before the gates opened at 10:30 a.m., and our first stop was the ride I was most looking forward to: Superman. Riders are on their stomachs for the entire ride, which results in some strange feelings as you're upside down, looking at nothing but the sky.

We were on the second train for Superman, but the lines got longer as the day progressed. In any case, we managed to make it on all of the adult rides once, and ended the night with our only repeat-- Superman once again.

The park has 11 or 12 coasters, but only about 6 are good, and maybe 3 of those 6 are very good. In a comparison that all of my Ohio friends and family will understand, this Six Flags was infinitely better than King's Island but still wasn't in Cedar Point's league. But since Sandusky is about 500 miles away, it's nice to know I can get a thrill-ride fix much closer to home.

The fountain was orange for Fright Fest.

I've always considered the cable cars any amusement park's second scariest ride,
after the Ferris wheel.

Almost like we're at Disney World.


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