Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Kids that Rock: The Black Lips

I hope you've all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. If you haven't read so already, check out this blood-warming story about Frank Woodruff Buckles, America's sole surviving veteran of World War I.

It'll be a short week this week, so this post is filler. More great videos of the kickin'-est band in America today, the Black Lips.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Apartment Renovation Update: T-6

The painting has taken WAY longer than either the general contractor or we expected, but the results are showing. The painter-subcontractors appear to have skim coated the entire apartment (this despite skim coating being outside the scope of the project, although for what we're paying, it could've been).

Now that we're six days away (T-6) from moving back in, I am astounded at the number of aesthetic details that we've had to address. Switch plates - pure white or berber white? Closet door latches - ball bearing or mirror? Bathroom moulding - accent line on the inside or the outside? Mounting your plasma on the living room wall - HDMI, component cable or S-video?

All I can say is, I'll be thrilled once we settle back in next weekend.

Where once there was a wall, now there is freedom. Just like Berlin, 1989.

86th Street Subway Station Part III

Hi Life West

The Hi Life, one of our favorite long-time UWS haunts, apparently has purchased a novelty car to advertise their draft beer, 8 oz burgers, big bowl pasta and half-price-sushi-Tuesday goodness. I can usually take-or-leave NYC bar & restaurant novelty cars (the white stretch-SUVs with laser-light blue windows and chrome turntable radials appear to be perennial nightclub gimmick that takes serve no purpose other than to impress the B&T crowd and take up invaluable parking spaces), but this one I love. Why? Anytime you combine a two-foot tall martini with a car designed without seat belts, air bags, power steering or anti-lock brakes, that just has to turn out right.

Friday, May 23, 2008

86th Subway Station Part II

Here is another series of photos of the ceramic murals from the 86th Street Subway Station, starting with a rather detailed reproduction of the 72nd Street Control House. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Addition to the Blogroll: Stuff White People Like

The folks at Stuff White People Like know my mind all too well:

White people love rules. It explains why so they get upset when people cut in line, why they tip so religiously and why they become lawyers. But without a doubt, the rule system that white people love the most is grammar. It is in their blood not only to use perfect grammar but also to spend significant portions of time pointing out the errors of others.

Looks like I've just been called out. Mazel Tov, Christian Lander! You've just made the Blogroll (Hat tip: Chance Bliss).

Come on, Eileen ... Loneliest Girl in the Store

Via Gawker:

"The Dexys Midnight Runners as pictured on the saddest iTunes store list."

And via Your Monkey Called:

"The One Hit Wonder Finds Its Starkest Graphical Expression ."

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

86th Street Subway Station

As we've been living in a month-to-month rental during the last phase of our renovation, I've been boarding the 1 train (for you old timers, the Seventh Avenue IRT) at the 86th Street station (a different stop than my normal route). The 86th Street station has a beautiful series of glazed murals - over 30 by my count - that each depict unique scenes of street life on the Upper West Side. I'll be posting additional shots of the murals over the next two weeks.

New Yorkers at Home

The Gothamist has a great post featuring a snippet of Rick Smolan and Jennifer Erwitt's a book, America At Home. The post also includes several fascinating photographs from the book - a Chinese family of 5 crowded into a 2 room apartment, artists lofts in Williamsburg, an apparent disposophiac on the UWS, a rhinestone & jungle apartment in Peter Cooper Village, and more. Check it out.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Top Seven VP Picks for Senator McCain

With Obama looking ready to wrap up the Democratic nomination after tomorrow's Oregon primary, the MSM's turning to reporting the next important topic of beltway speculation: Who is going to be John McCain's pick for the VP slot?

Frankly, with all off the flotsam that has accumulated during Barack's primary fight with Hillary (Rev. Wright, Bill Ayers, Michelle Obama, Tony Rezko, Rashid Khalidi, Hamas, et. al.), McCain could name a pet rock as his VP and still win the general election. But just in case the McCain team hasn't decided, I though I'd offer the Sherman Square pundit's top picks:

1. Former NY Governor George Pataki – A good looking, relatively charismatic and scandal-free centrist Republican. He can help McCain with the historically true-blue northeast vote. And putting him on the 2008 ticket will prevent Pataki from being tempted to launch a rescue effort to recapture the NY governor’s seat from trainwreck-in-waiting Gov. David Paterson.

2. Robert Downey Jr. – The New York Times recently reported that Downey may be a secret conservative (NYT registration required). True or not, his $100.8 million opening weekend for Ironman proves he can at least play a sucessful and muscular capitalist force for good. Plus, the movie star and indie film maverick can help McCain capture the ex-brat pack vote, been-to-prison celebrity vote, grown- men-who-still-read-comic-books vote, the male-hookers-for-coke-money vote, and the all important not-afraid-to-do-blackface vote.

3. Barack Obama – Always keep 'em guessing. Plus, Obama would be a good choice just for the Rovian pleasure of seeing Maureen Dowd perform compositional acrobatics as she explains why adding Barack Obama to the ticket proves once-and-for-all that all Republicans are unabashedly racist.

4. Jack Donaghy - We were pretty upset when CEO Don Geiss fell into a coma just hours before announcing to the Board that Jack would be his hand-picked replacement. Now Jack's stuck in a no-end office deep inside the Beltway while Geiss' flamboyantly gay son-in-law Devon Banks runs the show. Jack is credentialed to the hilt - "bow hunting Polar Bear, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, once driving a rental car into the Hudson River to practice escaping, showering with Greta Van Susteren and, claimed to have overcome a peanut allergy through sheer willpower." And, like McCain, he's got experience reaching across the aisle ... usually to get his arm around scandalicious Senator C.C. Cuningham (D. Vt).

Bonus: Naming Donaghy to the VP slot may prevent Jack’s real life alter-ego, limousine liberal Alec Baldwin, from pontificating on his wacko-theories of government in the pages of Vanity Fair for at least a couple more months.

5. Erica Rose Campbell – This busty Playboy and Penthouse model with a smile of gold and a farmer's daughter charm has renounced the world of cheesecake and found Jesus (links may be NSFW). Her recent emergence as a Born Again Christian would help bolster McCain’s appeal among the Pat Robertson / Ralph Reed set that keeps threatening to stay home on election day. Needless to say, if Obama with his shirt off can pull co-eds away from MySpace and Facebook, Erica with her shirt off could lock-up what pundits are calling the single most important voting block in the 2008 election: heterosexual men with a pulse. Plus, McCain has an opportunity to show real bi-partisanship here, as the opposition research should be a real cinch (she's already been worked over, and we've got the pictures to prove it).

Bonus: Erica for VP just might cause Gloria Steinam’s head to explode in a fit of feminist pique.

6. General Tarkin – Every Republican president needs his Fixer – the guy who hides dead bodies, launders the kickback cash, stages the photographs of political opponents saluting the North Korean flag while feasting on the barbequed corpses of endangered artic seals. Nixon had G. Gordon Liddy. Regan had Oliver North. Bush has Dick Cheney. Of course, Cheney will be a tough act to follow. I can think of no one better for McCain than the Imperial commander of the Death Star. This is a guy who, despite possessing no discernable hand-to-hand combat powers or familiarity with The Force, is so jaw-dropingly evil that he can haughtily boss around Darth Vader in a conference room full of subordinates and walk away totally unscathed.

Bonus: He makes McCain look young in comparison.

7. Trogdor the Burninator – Actually, Trogdor would be a pretty terrible choice. Virtually no on-camera charm. And what's with the arm coming out of his back? Trogdor would alienate almost every conceivable segment of the electorate. But I’ve been looking for an excuse to link to this YouTube clip, so what the hell. (Hat tip: Chance Bliss).

Renovation Update: Walls and Doors

There's exactly two weeks left for the renovation and I'm beginning to feel the tension. We have to leave our temporary / rental apartment May 31st, so if the apartment isn't ready for us to move back in, we'll be screwed.

The good news is, I stopped by the apartment over the weekend to check on progress and was pleasantly surprised. Most of the doors in the new half of the apartment (master bath, master bedroom and bedroom hallway) have been installed. Here's a shot from the new hallway looking into the bathroom with the outer door open and the inner sliding pocket door fully closed.

Here's the same shot with the outer door partially closed. As you can see, we're still waiting for the frosted glass insert for the outer bathroom door.

Here's a shot of the narrow double doors for one of the four closets in the new bedroom hallway.
And here is a close-up of the sliding pocket door that will separate the outer (sink, vanity & linen closet) room of the bathroom from the inner (shower and comode) room.

Meanwhile, plastering and prep work of the drywall is continuing.

This week, we'll hopefully have shots of the bamboo floors to share (right now, the finished floors are covered with cardboard and tape for protection while the rough work continues) and some more finished rooms. Plus, moulding/framing of the new doors, new door hardware (IOW, handles), ceiling-mount light fixtures, and wall-mounting the plasma TV.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Renovation Update: Floors and Master Bedroom

We've picked a soft metallic blue-grey (Benjamin Moore AF-695) for the master bedroom walls, offest by AF-10 white for the moulding. The contractors have been patching and smoothing over the walls for over a week (looks to me like the functional equivalent of skim coating).

Pretty soon it will be time to order the new (queen size) bed. I had promised that, once we started the renovation and moved out of the old apartment, we would never sleep on my bachelor-era concave backbreaker 2000 TM. I bought that mattress ages ago from my sister's then-boyfriend's family (they owned a mattress factory in North Philly). To give you an idea of how old this mattress is, my sister's married now (to someone else) and has 2 kids. One of them wants to learn how to drive already. The ex-boyfriend is a shuffle board instructor on a cruise ship. North Philly, on the other hand, is still North Philly. And somehow I'm the only one left with any evidence of their relationship.

The prep work on the floors continues ... the black sheets are a micro-fiber plastic material that works to insulate, soften, and sound-proof the bamboo floors.

Next up: bamboo floors and closet and shower doors! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Blind Faith: Can't Find My Way Home

Here's a juicy clip of frequently overlooked British supergroup Blind Faith (Eric Clapton, Steven Winwood, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech). Besides being a pretty rockin' clip (the clip starts out with Steve Winwood introducing their "new number" Can't Find My Way Home), this version is omits the acoustic arpeggios from the album version to much greater hard rock / pre-First Wave British metal effect.

I'm repeatedly amazed at the depth and diversity of clips that fly under the radar on YouTube. This is what the Internet if for, and why the intellectual property / copyright rules of old media just shouldn't apply, dangnamit.

Renovation Update: Master Bath

The contractors have hand-cut the edging around the bulkhead on the shower. With that detail out of the way, we're almost done with the shower in the master bath.

They're also close to finishing the detail work around the recessed shelf above the shower bench.

Our bathroom hardware vendors measured the space for shower doors last week; although they had told us they doors would be here already, they now estimate installation will be finished by the end of this week.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Not the Best Poker Player in the House

Less than a week after she eked a minor victory in the Indiana primary (where she announced that she had joined the John Birch Society wing of the Democratic Party), Clinton has adopted a new strategy to secure the presidential nomination:

Yup. The pundits all agree. She's played the RACE CARD. And wow, for a veteran, did she flub it. See MSNBC's take here. And the New York Post's take here. And the New York Daily News. And over at the WSJ Online, pundit-licious Peggy Noonan.

What to say that hasn't already been said? I defer to Kenny Rogers:

You've got to know when to hold 'em
know when to fold 'em
know when to walk away
know when to run.

Who knew? All this time, the Gambler was actually a metaphor for the topsy turvy world of a 21st century presidential campaign!

Thanks to RighsideVA for the "race card" image.