Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Bloggidy bloggidy blog blog

Thanks to the little camera in my cellamaphone, I have been slacking on the blog of late. So easy to post a picture, you know. But I really have been doing lots of things over the last week or three that I feel the need to share. So here they are, in one summary post, where they will be unjustly dealt with, er, summarily. 1. Kehinde Wiley, Brooklyn Museum of Art After a few weeks of arsing around, I did finally make it (like, three weeks ago) to the BMA to see Wiley's exhibition, Infinite Mobility, and this brother is the shit. The paintings on display, from his "Passing/Posing" series, are larger-than-life portraits of young men he met on the street in Harlem. But see, here's the thing: they are each posed (and the portraits are named) as Renaissance portraits done by some of the masters Wiley studied for his MFA at our mutual alma mater. Though posed in imitation of Renaissance figures, with all the gravity and pomp that entails, the Wiley portraits are more vibrant, with astounding color and ornamentation, and provoke some serious thought about dominant portrayals of black men (at least, I thought it did. When I went, though, there seemed to be some docent training or something going on, and the best one of the trainees could come up with was "Can't you just imagine some of these guys dancing in the club? Can't you just hear the music?" And I just thought, Goddamn, I suspect that was the exact opposite of the point. But art is always open to interpretation, and mine is probably wrong, anyway). There's a whole interesting backstory to this (he approached likely prospects on the street, had them pick out their own poses from art books he had, took pictures of them in said pose, and then sent them on their way, so they remain anonymous) that you can find out more about if you go. So go. Go. Gogogo. And if you want to support other talented black artists, check out my cuz Kojo Griffin. 2. Fitty Three, Four and Five I continued to use the bejeezus out of that NYSC guest pass, and I continued to love that gym. And Buttercup was right. It is a great gym, with amenities and toiletries and all sorts of other gymy goodness. But I really want a trainer and an iPod, and I cannot justify those and the pricier gym. I got two degrees to pay for, dammit. Sorry, NYSC. But if you are looking for a gym and live near the NYSC on 80th and Broadway, check it out. Ask for Abdul Gaffer, who was my rep. He was super nice. So yesterday, I officially joined Synergy. Now I can work out at any Synergy location (a bunch in NYC, Long Island, and one in Jersey City), until January of 2006, for $678. Woohoo! Ten sessions with a trainer, though, cost more than a whole year at the gym. Like, $200 more. Damn. It might just be me and an iPod against the blub. But just to be sure, today I had a free consultation with a trainer at Synergy, who I think was thrown my way by management because they expected me to think he was hot and, I dunno, hand over my Mastercard on the spot. Um, no. Not because he wasn't attractive--hell, he's a trainer, it's practically his job--but I ain't no fool. I'm not in the gym to find men. I'm in the gym to find them out of it, haha. Okay, and also to not feel like a candy-ass doughball sissy-girl, as I have of late. Anyway, I had the whole weigh-in/evaluation/introduction to equipment experience, and he walked me through some things, and I'm still on the fence. I mean, aside from some of the trickier looking resistance contraptions, and despite my plumpity-plump appearance, I actually know my way around a gym, and have a relatively fair grasp of nutrition. See, believe it or not, fat people usually know more about these things than average thin people do, because we are often fucking obsessed. The problem for me, and for my trainer (because I am pretty sure he and management figured I'd be an easy sell) is that I'm not sure he's really going to teach me anything I don't already know, and I'm not sure I want to pay close to $100 an hour for what amounts to little more than encouragement, you know? I'll let you know what I decide. 4. Sometimes I feel like Beaker, from the Muppet Show, and wonder if "Meep meep boop beep," is all people hear when I talk. This is why I like writing. 3. And last, but not least, this past weekend I hung out with TBNY, but I'll do a separate post on that, since I have decided to add a section on my infrequent social outings (read: restaurant/bar reviews) to my sidebar, and it just won't do to have a link in that section lead to a post on art and fitness. Shite.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Thank god I came of age before the IM

This post is hilarious. I've seen my younger male cousins pull all of the isht she mentions, with some success, and I think it's such a shame so many young girls respond to this behavior. Wish more were as on top of their isht as this one.

Three-in-one for Will

Originally uploaded by Siddity.
How's three in one? An ice cream sandwich with a single bite taken out, something royal blue, and a metro sign (that's the 8th Ave local, in case you were wondering--teehee).

Thank you, thank you very much. *bows*

Who's next? Bring it!

I Heart Huckabees

Here's your triangle, Saff. Triangles. It's filled with triangles. Or maybe the Jaffes would say, er, blankets. Hm. I saw it tonight in the middle of my photo mission, all spur of the moment, and I am so glad I did. A few years back, 2002ish, if you had asked me what my favorite film of the year was, I'd have been waffling over Royal Tenenbaums vs. Amelie. But this year (so far, at least), it's all about I Heart Huckabees. I loved it, and that has very little to do with crushes on Jude Law and Jason Schwartzman, I swear. I'd write a review, but I hate writing reviews, since reviews are always subjective and usually self-important and silly; lord knows the bulk of the reviews on this film, by professional critics and layman moviegoers alike, have been all those things and more, whether the reviewer loved its existentialism satire/comedy schtick or hated the hell out of it. Let's just say I thought it was smart, funny, well acted, and interesting, and had one hell of a cast. I don't like Mark Whalberg, generally, but I even loved his soul-searching fireman character. The top five films after last weekend were (in no particular order) Shark Tale, that goddamned J-Lo movie, The Grudge, Friday Night Lights, and Team America. I swear to St. Friggidyfrack, aside from Team America, which came in a distant fifth, this country has no taste in film.

Bitchin' Kitchen

bitchin' kitchen
Originally uploaded by Siddity.
Crap view of my kitchen for TBNY.

funky decor

funky decor
Originally uploaded by Siddity.
My futon, avec pillows, for Jazz.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Something orange, for Saffron.

John Kerry Is A Rockstar
Originally uploaded by Siddity.
John Kerry Is A Rockstar.

I snapped this tee in a store window on Broadway. Sorry the quality is crap, but my camera is in a phone, after all, and I didn't want to hang out longer than absolutely necessary, lest they think I was casing the joint.

Everybody else is doing it.

So I will, too. Let me know what three things you'd like to see photos of and I'll go out and snap 'em tonight.

Just after this photo was taken...


teacozy Originally uploaded by Siddity.
my teapot, which had seriously not wanted to pose in this outfit and kept threatening to call its "people," was like, "I'm out," threw off the cozy, and straight took off. After all I did for that pot. Bitch.

Did I say scarf?

Did I say scarf?
Originally uploaded by Siddity.
I meant dope-ass hat. Yeah, that's it, a hat.

Who am I kidding? It's too small, has weird points, and the color is called "cherry." It's like a skull cap and a fez had an ugly bastard child. Maybe I can use it as a tea cozy...

Friday, October 22, 2004

Friday Night

Doing: Crocheting Listening: Coldplay, Parachutes Eating: Frozen dinner and fruit Uh-huh, go ahead and laugh. When the apocalypse comes, who'll be wearing a dope-ass scarf?! Huh? Huh?

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Fitty: Two

Day 4--The honeymoon is ending: Yesterday I did cardio at Synergy (74th and Broadway, next to the Beacon Theater; 1,2,3,9 to 72nd St.), resistance at NYSC (2130 Broadway, at 80th St., 1 or 9 to 79th St.) Today, the reversal. Went to Synergy to put their weight machines to the test. I was familiar with several since they were the exact models I'd used in college four years ago. Still, the selection was very small, and unlike the Cybex machines at NYSC, which feature useful color illustrations and written directions, few of the Synergy machines come with handy instructions. I have to keep telling myself $700 per year in savings is worth a smaller, darker, useful instruction-free space. Gah. This is my last free visit, and I hope that this thrifty thought will stay with me as I use the trial pass at NYSC for the rest of the week. After about 45 minutes I move on to NYSC for cardio. The cardio equipment at NYSC isn't any better; there's just more of it, overlooking Broadway, featuring TV/cassette/CD players. Still, I do find myself seduced by the luxury here. I am an American, after all, and I think wanting "bigger, better, more" is hardwired in our DNA. I work out comfortably for a half hour, and then, just because it's there, I make use of the resistance equipment that was lacking at Synergy. I wonder whether I will miss the steam room and sauna feature if I sign with Synergy (just a few showers and toilets here--oh, and a tanning center, but I don't need that, now do I?). But I need a steam room about as much as I need a tanning booth. I remember a glimpse of plumply saggy, naked pale flesh in the steam room on my tour the previous day, and suddenly, a sauna and steam room are not only redundant, they're icky. If I keep visiting the NYSC, I think I might be swayed. It's so bright in there. And they have that XpressLine thing, the one where you go through eight stations in 22 minutes. And it's not that I can't afford it; I can. I just don't want to pay that much. I think of all the things I can do with the money saved: get a personal trainer at Synergy to explain the damned machines; Hollywood-starlet tooth whitening; a mini-vacation; pay off student loans a month early; and so on. What to do? Advice? Anybody got good gym tips? Am I missing some wonderful, inexpensive gym somewhere? Oh, and five gym visits in two days. Owee. I might need a small team of assistants, complete with massage certification and Tin Man-style oil cans (filled with opiates), to get me out of bed tomorrow.

Rrrrow! Er, Damn!

Rrrrow! Originally uploaded by Siddity.
You see this? This is what I missed yesterday while I was assing around at various UWS sports clubs. Goddamn. I could have been at a benefit at his new restaurant, Riingo, but instead I was doing cardi-o. TBNY, from whom I stole this pic, said she didn't see him, but I am still inconsolable. Waaaaaah! More to come later on my most recent gymscapades.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Siddity Gettin' Fitty!

Apologies for the absolute worst blog title ever. So, the other day I kept knocking things over with my ass. This is a problem. I'm joining a gym. Choosing a gym in New York is almost as complicated as dating in New York: there seem to be so many choices, and yet...and yet. You don't like them, they don't like you, you like each other but something is just off. It takes time. But I don't have time. I have to shrink my ass. Immediately. So I need a gym now. Thus begins my gymquest. Day 1--Preparation for the journey: Intense Internet search for rates of local clubs--the JCC, YMCA, Crunch, Equinox, NYSC--so I can decide which to actually bother to visit. Amateur sleuthing turns up nothing specific for NYSC, Crunch or Equinox, other than some unfavorable reviews (Crunch, business practices) and reviews claiming an above average membership rate (Equinox--dealbreaker); a rate of $1200+ per year for the JCC (um, no, even with a pool) and nothing for the YMCA. Day 2--The journey: The visits begin. Search narrowed by proximity and time constraints (read: it took me forever to get out the door and I had to be at work in, like, an hour). Only visit turns out to be NYSC (80th and Broadway; 1 or 9 to 79th Street), where I meet a rep and get a brochure, list of classes and appointment to tour and work out the following day. Am horrified by membership costs--the October "specials" list a monthly rate of $85+ per month, on top of $199 (though I am told there is a discounted initiation rate of $79 until the end of the month, and I think, well shit, you're already asking for almost a hundred a month to work out, what the hell you need another $200 for anyway, that's just greedy) initiation and $29 processing fee. Quick math reveals yearly total to be a minimum of about $1200. Yipes. Resolve to visit Crunch the following day to compare rates. Later, I trawl the 'Net again and find Dolphin clubs running an online registration special of 4 months for $150. Am tempted to sign right away, work out until year end, and then join another gym when the New Years' specials roll around. Citysearch claims there is a Dolphin at 95th and Columbus, and I think that's close enough for the savings; still, I don't see the 95th St. address on the Dolphin site, so I hold off on signing up until I check the place out, which I also resolve to do, before Crunch, which is before NYSC, on the following day*. Day 3--The journey continues: Decide to visit Dolphin first and work my way back, since that is the farthest. Get to the site and discover why this location is not listed on the corporate website: it's not a Dolphin anymore. It's a Synergy club. I enter anyway, having remembered a decent review of another Synergy location on Citysearch. Get to work out right away to test the place (I've worn my gym kit because I plan to do this at NYSC, anyway). Cardio for 10 minutes, leave with a coupon for 2 more free visits and relative certainty I will join this gym. Pros: Staff is really nice, atmosphere chubette friendly--not at all intimidating. Multiple locations for only $650 per year (single location $550), no initiation fee, locker room is clean, equipment is good. One hell of a special--join now, get the rest of the year free, and pay about $50 per month. Yippee. This is what I had planned to spend. Cons: Over 15 blocks away, small, the Lifecyle I use has no stirrups on the pedals, not many cardio machines, but then again, not many members. As it has taken me forever to walk the 15+ blocks to and from Synergy, and Synergy lists competitors' rates on it's wall (Crunch ringing in at $1400/yr) I skip the Crunch at 83rd and Amsterdam and head for NYSC early. My rep sends me off to work out, tour to follow. While I am opposed to the idea of spending more than a grand per year on a gym when the exact same amenities would cost $500 or $600 per year practically anywhere else in the world, hello, five floors and personal entertainment centers in each cardio machine--CD players and little cable TVs! It can't hurt to try, yesno? This may prove essential to my gym experience. As it turns out, it isn't, since I use only the weight machines on the second of this gym's five floors. After a thorough tour and about a half hour on the myriad Cybex weight machines, I leave with a four day free trial, which I plan to use the hell out of, and a bit of conflicting emotion. I really like it. But $1200 a year? Damn. Try to take comfort in the fact that my health insurance will reimburse me $200 if I go 50 times in six months. Pros: More, more, more. More space, more equipment, more amenities, more locations (NYSC is part of a chain that stretches from Boston to D.C.). The weight machines are fantastic, classes galore, and there are roughly four times the number of cardio machines here as at Synergy. Cons: Who the hell really needs a cable TV in their elliptical machine? And I rarely watch TV when I'm lazing about at home, so I wouldn't do it at the gym. I could lug my favorite CDs in or listen to the club radio, but frankly, for the money they're asking, I could also go to Synergy and have enough cash left over for a brand new 4th gen, 40-gig iPod, a half-dozen magazine subscriptions, and a whole new workout wardrobe. After work I visit the Synergy at 74th and Broadway (1,2,3,9, B, C to 72nd St.). Also small (a single subterranean floor), but a bit swankier than the 95th street location. Cardio for about half an hour. Like the idea of joining this one or taking the multiple locations option (liked the 95th St. staff more). Still, not much in the way of weight machines. Tomorrow: Weight training at Synergy, cardio at NYSC (I have clearly whittled my options swiftly down to these two chains). More to come. *Sounds like a lot of gymage for one morning, but you see, having someplace else to go in a few minutes cuts the sales-rep rap down to 5 minutes and a brochure with prices. We like this much more than the protracted sales pitch.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Corrections, Pt. II: Shawnna is not fictional.

See? I warned you there would be more. So, in an earlier post on EA videogame release Def Jam: Fight For New York, I mentioned some of the female characters showcased in the game--celebrities Kimora Lee Simmons, Li'l Kim, Carmen Electra--and two fictional characters, Shaniqua and Shawnna. As it turns out, I was wrong. Shawnna is real. I only wish she wasn't. Shawnna is a Chitown rapper signed to Def Jam. I didn't know, never heard of her. (Apparently, neither has anyone else, considering nobody caught that in the last post.) And while in the realm of celebrity being unheard of might be as good as not being real, in the loosely journalistic world of blogdom, I do try to stick to facts. So, from her Def Jam artist website, a little somethin' about Shawnna:

Her solo debut Worth tha Weight promises to bring more depth than just the average rhymes of Burberry, Prada and sleeping around. "I want my music to be an outlet for women who have children; who feel like they cannot reach their goals and reach their dreams," Shawnna promises. "I want people to understand and feel what I am saying."
(And here I would like you all to note the lack of ellipses. I did not edit a thing out of this to change the context of the following line. It is exactly as it appears on the website.)
And rap fans will with tracks like her first single "Shake Dat Sh*t" produced by Timbaland Featuring Ludacris.
Because shakin' dat shit is deep, and the goal of struggling mothers everywhere is really just to "Shake Dat Sh*t." Yeah, that would speak to me if I were a single mom. Not. Not unless "dat shit" refers to a fool dodging child support payments. I don't even know if I want to get into what else is wrong with that excerpt. Who edited that? Did no one say, "Hmmm, perhaps we shouldn't use the 'I want to reach struggling moms' quote to highlight the depth of 'Shake Dat Sh*t'"? And will someone please, please, please tell me why they felt the need to misspell the word the, because I don't understand. "It's three letters long, so we can't truncate it...let's just spell it all assed up." I mean, WTF? And don't get me started on 'weight.' Is she a prizefighter? Oh Lord, help us in this, our time of darkness.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Room With a View

My Sky
Originally uploaded by Siddity.
Here's the view from my bedroom on a sunnier day. Come back, blue sky!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Corrections

Eat Me Originally uploaded by Siddity.
Well dang, I've already got to start running corrections. First, I confess to breaking my vow not to eat out for a week. I just got back from a nummy grubfest with ISF at Crif Dogs on St. Marks (113 St. Marks Pl., somehwere between 1st and Avenue A). I've been trying to get there forever, and finally I got my greedy little paws and jaws around a Crif Dogs veggie corndog, and it was the best waste of nutritional value I've had in weeks. It was so good that I convinced ISF, who had wanted to go grab some healthier Middle Eastern fare, to go back to CD instead, so I tried a veggie Philly Tube dog, too (that's with nuke-orange cheese goop and fried onions). It ain't every day you find a place that'll perform such indecent acts on an otherwise innocent veggie dog for your pleasure. I have to start dating somebody in the Village or something so I have more excuses to trip downtown. Of course, if I ate there all the time, the small chance of me dating would inevitably become even smaller. Ne'ermind. But I will get back on that no eating out bandwagon, starting now. And then, an update on my Lavar Hair Design Saga. It seems that, for whatever reason, the LHD folks have opted not to charge me tip, so according to my bank, the scamfest only set me back an extra $40 (to the tune of $88 total) instead of $60 (the $108 I authorized including tip). We'll see if that's final, some sort of "Sorry we screwed you" deal, or if they just haven't noticed the tip I wrote in yet and will charge me when they do. Hmph. That's all for now. I'm sure I'll discover I've accidentally lied--excuse me, misspoken--about something else soon.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


In honor of my 666th visitor, I thought I'd check out the overall evilness of my blog. This site is certified 31% EVIL by the Gematriculator So there you are. Less than a third Evil. But I dunno, 69% good is no great shakes. Anyway, I was planning to blog about my Sims2 obsession, but you could just go here.

I've been a bad, bad girl....

Pumawhipped Originally uploaded by niarain.
Today I went out to buy a birthday present for a friend and to make a run to the drugstore for dental floss. This is what I returned with. Okay, I got the present and the floss, too, but I'm just sayin', this was unnecessary. And two pair? (And here I wonder, is it two pair, or two pairs? I mean, technically, pair is already plural, and I've specified two...I think it's two pair, so I'm sticking with that) But the red ones were half off, so I got them for only $35! I lurve them, I lurve them so. Also, this morning, when I made my coffee, I put leftover coconut milk in it instead of the good-for-me skim I bought yesterday. I could see the little fatty globules floating in it, you know, the kind you get when whipped cream melts in your mocha. Except this was coconutty. Mmmm. Bad me. Bad, bad, bad. To atone for these two transgressions against good judgement and restraint, I hereby vow not to eat out or get delivery for a whole week, which should set me square, cash- and calorie-wise.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Communication Breakdown

Remember grade school recess? You'd be on the playground with your friends, making up an intricate game involving magic words (Bustarizzle means go, and hinkapoop means stop!), bizarre means of locomotion (Okay okay, now hop on one foot seven times!) and crazy safety zones (third pebble on the left is home base!). It was silly, but you would be having all kinds of fun. At least, until that kid came along and wanted to play. You know, the kid who could never follow the rules, was trying to make up some new isht on the spot so she could win, and would cry like a little bitch and ruin the game for er'body when she couldn't manipulate her way to victory. Got-dang. Didn't you hate that kid? Ever wonder what happened to her when she grew up? Yeah, well, I think I found her and others of her kind working at La.var Hair Des.ign*. A few weeks back I went to LHD to get a blowout, and found that they did a wonderful job, but were really pricey because they padded their pockets by charging separately for each service. They even have a little service "menu"--$15 for a shampoo, $15 for a conditioner (unless you want a "treatment," which will be $25), $30 for a trim, $60 for a cut, $15 for a blow, $40 for a curl or flat iron, and so on**. You pay (dearly) for each and every individual service. Say you want a haircut, which is listed as $60. If you want them to give you a shampoo and condition first (and I swear, last time I think I smelled Creme of Nature up in that mug when I was being shampooed, and that mess is only $3 a bottle) , you will pay $90. If you walk out with a wet head. If you want your naps dry, well, cha-ching, you're up to $105. So, we all together on how this works? Yes? Good. Let's move on. As I think it is absolutely straight up retarded to pay somebody $30 to shampoo my hair with some drugstore isht when I have Matrix and Terax at home, and this place is a five minute walk from my apartment, I decided to wash my hair myself. That way I would only need a trim and a blowout, and for $45, I think that's reasonable, though I think it's almost as assed up to have to even consider washing your own hair to get a reasonable salon price, but anyway. I am playing by their rules, you see, their rules. So I go in, and I have the same stylist as last time. Sweet guy, does a good job, seems to be in training, definitely speaks only a few English phrases, none of them being remotely related to hairstyling, apparently, as I literally need a translator to explain what I want done. This does not exactly put me at ease, but he's done my hair before without incident, so we press on. He dries, trims, wets me down again and redries with a blowdryer and a round brush. (Sidenote--I've opted for the round brush for two reasons: 1. I'm pretty damn handy with a blowdryer. I don't need other people to do my hair for me, really, and if I am going to become a regular with a stylist, and certainly spend the kind of money they're asking at LHD, I need to know that he can do at least as good a job as I can, in less time. 'Cause for real, I can take care of myself, start to finish, in an hour and a half if need be, two hours at a leisurely pace, and besides that I have had some fierce stylists who could have me blown out so smooth with a round brush that in 80% humidity my hair doesn't go kizzy, it just forms a really sexy wave. In under an hour, all services included, for about $50. In fact, if you're in New Haven and you need a stylist look up Jose at Panache on Chapel. If he's still there. God I miss him. But that's another story. 2. On my first visit, when I asked for a blowout, they asked me if I just wanted a blowout with a round brush or a blowout and flat iron. When I asked what the difference was, I was told the iron was more expensive, but made the hair sleeker, so I went ahead and tried it. This time, I thought I'd see what was behind door number two and save some cash. For $45, if he didn't do so great a job, I figured I wouldn't feel bad about doing it over myself. This, in case you aren't picking up on it, is called foreshadowing. Onward.) So. He does a really good job. It looks very smooth, and though it doesn't feel as smooth as when I do it and has less body (I'm big on feel, and actually like a little body, which I guess is maybe the opposite of what a lot of clients look for) I'm still very impressed. For $45, I'm happy. So I go to pay, and the receptionist checks with him to find out what services I've had (like she hasn't been sitting 7 feet away from us the whole time). He confirms a trim and a blowout. She rings these two things up, and then starts to look concerned. "I just need to check this amount," she says, plastic smile plastered on, and scampers over to a senior stylist. After some protracted whispering, she returns, rings up a new receipt, and hands me the bill, which is now $88 and some change. You read that shit right. $88. And my blow out with round brush is now being counted as a flat iron or curl service. So I say, "Um, it's a curl because he used the brush?" And I'm half joking. She, however, is not, and looks me dead in my face and says, yup, because he used the brush. An extra $40. Because he used the brush. BECAUSE HE USED THE MOTHERF-CKING BRUSH. (Sidenote #2: Now hang on one ass-biting minute. This wasn't a goddamn $200 Mason Pearson, or even a $55 Caswell Massey brush, children. This was some Duane Reade-style Goody isht, okay. Like, they ain't rollin' like that up in there. Last time I was there brotherman detangled me with a hot pink plastic vent brush and I brought my own damn comb this time and detangled myself in the bathroom to be sure I wouldn't have to suffer that particular humiliation again. And I have just told you that a) I could do a better or comparable job, and my own brushes are better too, BTW, and that b) these fools told me the week before last that the blow service with round brush was cheaper and different from the goddamn flat iron or curl service.) So you may be asking yourself, as I asked myself, how in the hell the $15 blow with round brush suddenly became one with the $40 iron/curl deal. Uh-huh. I'll tell you how. THESE ARE THOSE CHEATIN' GRADE SCHOOL HEIFERS, THAT'S HOW! They decided, on the spot, that they weren't making enough off my shit and changed the rules, that's how. Now all this raises a few questions. Did the senior stylist (not owner La.var) just forget what she told me the week before last? Did she think I forgot? Have they lost their goddamned minds? Does the "blow" service mean they charge you $15 for somebody to just, I dunno, aim a hairdryer in the general direction of your wet head? Seriously. Who's ever heard of a blowout that didn't involve a brush? Please. Besides, blowouts that don't involve brushes are called diffusing (unless they have some assed up, only-used-at-LHD definition for that, too, which isn't implausible, under the circumstances), and they charge $25 for that m-f. In case you can't tell, I'm mildly pissed. I mean, I just told you I have vats of Matrix and Terax in my bathroom, so clearly I'm not all that squeamish about spending money on my hair. I talk a good game about being cheap, but I'll cough up some money for the good isht. This includes stylists. What I don't like-nay, cannot stand, to the point where my teeth ache from the jaw grinding bitterness--is being cheated. Because that's exactly what this was. An autobody shop-style scam. I mean, I realize my hair is long, and takes some extra time. If they had said they were adding on for length, I could maybe have understood that. And the stylist, I thought at the time, had done a really good job, he'd worked quite hard, and spent an hour and a half on my hair. I respected that, and planned to tip him $20, which I had thought at the time would be something like 40%, because he clearly wanted to do a good job. And if you want to be considered a top salon and charge top salon prices, then just do that. Say a trim and a blowout and a shampoo and whatever will cost this much, thanks, and I'll accept it, or not. But don't make rules about how fees are calculated, then straight up lie about what service I had, and how that shit is decided once I join the game because you think you're losing. That, my dears, is naughty. Insufferably naughty. They may be chillin' in prime real estate on the UWS, but they defninitely got some project hustle. I don't know, maybe they're having a hard time making rent in this neighborhood. Whatever. I paid them. I considered not tipping, but it wasn't my stylist's fault, so I tipped him, too, which brought my should-have-been-$45 bill to $108 and change. On the way home, as I marveled over the sheer stones it must take to look somebody in the eye and con them that way (I'm shooting for some zen shit here, like, "If it is so important to you to screw me like this over $40, fine, I hope you're happy, karma's a bitch," but I'm failing by writing this true, but vengeful, little review) I wondered whether I'd ever be desperate enough to go back again, since the stylist was pretty good, and I thought maybe I shouldn't sever all ties. Then I got home, looked in the mirror, and noticed the back was already going kizzy, on a cool sunny day. Oh, hell no! As I stood in front of my bathroom mirror, blowing my hair out (again) with my own dryer and brush (my hair felt much better afterward) I thought to myself: I ain't playin with these fools no more. *X--I. Know. I. Should. Have. Listened. But I had already made the appointment and wanted to see what they could do. I'm an assmonkey that way. I really have learned my lesson this time ;p) **These prices are often considerably higher, apparently, if you need services on a weave, which seems extra wrong for the beweaved. I mean, why should you have to pay for the hair, and then pay extra money to have the hair you paid for styled? And, OMFG, did you know a weave costs, like, $500? That shit is crazy. My ass would sho'nuff be on the Star Jones hair plan.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Mine, bitches! Mine!

So, I haven't checked my whore-o-scope today, but I suspect it says something like:

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you, Aquarius. Tricks will be up in your business trying to take your shit left and right today. Keep razors in both cheeks and under your tongue, and don't hesitate to cut a bitch.
Or something similar. Let me explain. I went shopping on 125th today, because, as much as I love the three outfits I wore all summer because I still haven't gotten around to moving the bulk of my wardrobe to my new place, it's getting chilly fast, and I need some sweaters and jeans, dammit. First stop, Rainbow, where I spent a good half hour of my precious time sorting through stacks and stacks of sweaters that the sign said were $7.99, but apparently, somewhere in fine print, said "selected styles only." Or so the grouchy counter hussy spat when I asked if the $7.99 price was right. Goddamn. I got two $8 turtlenecks and one $15 sweater and moved on to Lane Bryant. ** Now, I went to LB, frankly, because I had one of their special $15 off coupons. I love these coupons, because the minimum you have to spend is $15, unlike some places that require you to spend, like, twice that to use the coupon, which ain't right. Over the summer I got some fancy underpants for a buck fiddy thanks to one of those coupons. Now, I don't know how hard these coupons are to come by, because I am a fatty from way back, and I've been shopping at LB since I was 13, and LB mails me these little coupon cards all the time. But I swear, I felt like women were following me around the store salivating over my coupon. It was weird. Like, "whisper whisper $15-off coupon whisper," and I'd look up, and the whisperers would look at me all shifty-like. For a minute I thought I was gonna have to throw down to defend my discount. But then I thought, I'm just being silly. Who would try to scam somebody's coupon? Oh, the other thing you should know about this coupon: the more you spend, the bigger the discount. So spend less than $75, get $15 off; spend $75-149, get $25 off, spend $150+, get $50 off. Not rocket science, and not a new feature. Now, I take my $80 worth of unmentionables (nope, I didn't find a single skirt, sweater or pair of jeans in my size that I liked. What the hell is up with the dearth of size 14 isht, BTW? I mean, I know it's the most popular size in the country, but I also know they have buyers, dammit, who could order more 14s, so they don't run the hell out, or is 14 really that popular?) to the counter and hand the counter-bitch my coupon. Counter-bitch (looking at the mail card as though it will bite, and refusing to take it) : Tear the coupon off. Me (tearing it off thinking, oooooookay, somebody's got their Sexy...Sensual...Cacique drawers in a twist) : Um, okay. I hand just the coupon to her. The coupon she then proceeds to ignore in order to manually subtract $15 from my tally, and tells me I owe her, like $70. Which I know I don't, 'cause ain't a bitch in Dodge can out sale-deduction-calculate me, dammit, and I've done the math and I know I only owe about $55 plus tax, and while tax in NYC is out of control, it ain't that much. Me: Didn't I reach $75 worth of stuff? Counter-bitch (sucking teeth) : Yeah? Me: Well, aren't you supposed to get $25 off when you spend over $75? Counter-bitch (now adding a huff and eyeroll, finally picks up my coupon to scan, and never once apologizes for trying to overcharge me, or generally being a bitch): $60. Now, what the hell was that? I know she can read, and I know she'd been working at LB long enough to know how that damn coupon worked. And then she had the nerve to be pissy when I called her on her error. That's when I start to believe I'm not being paranoid about folks wanting to take my coupon, 'cause I think she was planning to enter a manual discount for me and then scan my coupon for a friend or something. I was in there for a long ass time and none of those heifers I thought were stalking me had left yet...they could have been her friends, circling the store like coupon-scamming buzzards.... Shady shit, man. And then, shady shit experience #2. This woman comes by my place of bidness, if you will, because circumstance has thrown us together on an, er, project. She seems really friendly at first, very nice. We chat about our jobs, our respective employment situations. She's a bit more candid about her position than I'm comfortable with, though, a bit too effusive about my boss, who she's met once before, and a bit too curious about the specifics of my position. Finally, it comes out that she's given notice at her job without finding another. Red-emeffing flag. Double goddamn. Is this heifer casing my job? I wasn't sure, but I wasn't about to give her any more details than I had to. Okay, I must here admit to buying Cosmo every January to get the yearly astrology guide, and I know it's bullshit, but sometimes things stick in your head, and I distinctly remember mine saying that some time in the fall (I think it said September, but how could astrology ever work if you worried about such minor details) somebody at work was gonna try to buddy up to me for some nefarious reason, and if I stayed close-lipped and bided my time, her true diabolical motivation would be revealed. So naturally when this woman came into my space being all chummy-chummy "let's trade stories," I was suspicious, and sure enough! Diabolical. Also, it's easier to imagine this is the scary nefarious incident rather than that one has already passed and some sinister plan of which I'm unaware has already been set in motion. Hm. But anyway. Mine, bitches! Mine! **All this is on 125th Street, along with Ashley Stewart, Strawberry, H&M, Marshall's, Mony, and various other chubette and discount-hoochie gear shops. Take the A, B, C, or D to 125th. You could take the 1 or 9, but you will have to walk through some shady areas to get to the main shopping drag, and by the time you leave, you will believe your name is in fact "Ma," whether you've hatched a munchkin or not.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Grubbin' Superdeluxe

Nah Trang Originally uploaded by niarain.

My best friend, who I haven't seen since, oh, April, came to town this weekend, and we spent all of Saturday eating. Nha Trang (87 Baxter St., J, M, Z, N, R, 6 at Canal) was stop #1.

I love pho. I love it, love it, love it. I like cheap things. I love them, in fact. I love pho, I love cheap, I love Nha Trang.

I haven't had great pho since I left Pho Vietnam behind in Boston. Now I have a New York favorite, too. Aside from the fact that gullet-stuffing bowls of pho noodle soup ring in around $4-$5, and you could easily nosh on three courses for about $15, it's also just damn yummy. As the photo illustrates, we were some eatin' fools. We ordered seafood pho, some squid with pepper or somesuch dish, and a beefy-thing. My memory for the dishes my cohorts ate would normally be better, but as squid gives me a nasty rash and I haven't had beef in about 60 moons, I wasn't all that interested in their meals. I was assured, however, that both dishes were very good.

After rambling around the UES looking for the Guggenheim (I always imagine my destination is much closer than it is; this is fine if I'm travelling alone, but absolute shit when I'm leading other people, because by the time we get to wherever we're going, everyone is tired, pissy or worse) we found it a good ten blocks farther along than I remembered. And it was closed. But it's okay, we're still friends. My friends are remarkably patient and forgiving people.

A few short hours later (the interim was spent playing The Sims 2 [me--guilty posts to come] and at a light show at the Natural History Museum [them], we hopped a cab and zipped back downtown to Blue Ribbon Sushi (119 Sullivan; N, R at Prince, C, E at Spring; or hell, you're already going to be spending a mint on sushi, what's $15 on a cab?).

With it's sleek decor and lowlight ambience, BRS deserves a thorough, sophisticated appraisal. But I'm reviewing it, so screw that. Blue Ribbon was hands down the absolute best sushi I've had in town. The sushi and maki were incredibly fresh, and melted like butter on the tongue. We had some pretty basic maki--California, spicy tuna and shrimp tempura maki--and some more inventive rolls, like the eponymous Blue Ribbon maki, with lobster inside and black caviar on top. We were not disappointed by anything. In fact, I think the California roll may have inspired a moan, which I wouldn't have thought possible until that point. I mean, California rolls are like the PB & J of the maki world, you know? Okay, the moan may have escaped due to the sake box I'd had beforehand, because you don't realize how much sake a little box can hold, or how loose your grasp on verbal restraint until you've had one. So. Long story short, I may have to pull some old-school dictator shit and insist my sushi meetup group head there this month. It ain't cheap, but it's soooo good. Of course, my friends (all of whom make more than I do though I make a decent living, decided they weren't going to let me pay for anything, which is incredibly sweet, and mildly frustrating, and dammit-you-promised-next-time-you'd-let-me-buy-and-I-will-hold-you-to-it, dammit. I'm a big girl now!) paid for dinner, so I don't know quite how much it did cost....

And then, for some godforsaken reason, I commited culinary sacrilege and topped the night off with a chocolate shake from McDonald's. That's a damn shame. A frosty-delicious damn shame, but a damn shame nonetheless.

That was our night. My friends danced off into the night and I went home to bed, since I was workin' on Sunday. Plus, I was the odd woman out, and frankly, clubbin' with two couples is a little bit like deliberately shooting yourself between the eyes with a nail-gun*.

*It's not you! Love you! But darlings, we all know you'd have a better time chillin' with your mens than warming a stool with me. Thanks for the invite. Mwah!

One Damn Dollar

One Damn Dollar
Originally uploaded by niarain.
Don't even ask what they were selling. I didn't.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Acting on Impulse

Originally uploaded by niarain.
For some people, gum is an impulse buy. For me, it's creamed coconut. I bought this tub about a month and a half ago while shopping for spices and it's just been sitting in my pantry gathering cumin dust, because now that I've got it, I don't know what the hell to do with it.

I've tried toasting nuts in it as recommended on some Atkins dieter support site, but frankly, I should have known better than to listen to people who believe the way to health and fitness is to cram as many animal carcasses into their gullets as they can in a day...

I welcome suggestions.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


I was riding around today and caught the faintest tang of crisp autumn air, and was suddenly struck by the most intense pang of longing and melancholy. In fact, less pang, more fist to gut, vacuum to lungs. Flashbacks. Of cool October nights spent wandering around a dim, yellow-lit New Haven with friends, slugging off to the library or Mamoun's or the top of the A&A building or wherever it was we went when we were 19 and assing around because it was early enough in our college careers, our lives, that we were convinced we had all the time in the world to become its masters. Of conversations and ideas that seemed dangerous and relevant and legitimate and goddammit, important then, but pretentious and naive only a few years on, when we've all wandered off to lives immeasurably less sexy than the ones we thought we'd have (no one ever heads off for the Ivies thinking they'll be administrators and assistants and waiters or whatever when they're done. You think you'll come out with an offer from the WHO, IMF, UN, or other internationally recognized entity. The average-job Joes never make it into the catalog). Of the fluttery euphoria of new crushes and friends and better grades than last semester and one-step-closer to real life, of limitless fucking potential. Autumn for me is so much about potential. At least, it used to be. Now, after I've tasted "real life," gone running into graduate school and found myself spit right back out into my own personal morass (the one in my quiet moments I call "The Morass of What the Fuck am I Doing With My Life," or "Dude, Where's My Future?" or, okay, I never really call it anything but a sort of ongoing directionless amble that I hope to St. Fucklesworth will end in minor literary celebrity but which may very well end in a career in real estate, not that there is anything wrong with that, real estate probably pays better than minor literary celebrity anyway) I just can't get up the Hope and Enthusiasm that I once thought, er, sprung eternal. I find myself thinking up story ideas and shooting them down before they are even duly considered. I'm quashing crushes because I am certain they'll go nowhere and be at worst minorly humiliating and at best a complete waste of time (fine for Python skits, disastrous for the ability to love, or some such psychobabble self-help isht) . I'm in a lull, and I want some wanting, some drive, some tingle. Not this aimless plodding along. I know, rationally, that for most people, life is a series of lulls occasionally interrupted by brief bouts of passiondramaandexcitement, and I realize that for the few who've got it the other way round, life is often short, tragic and/or horrifying. I'm not saying I'm ready to quit my job and join a hippie/research commune in Costa Rica, or start swinging or smokin' the crackrock. I just want the motivation to work on my book and chase some Y-chromes. I want fall to be about could again. I want to not stare blankly out car windows reminiscing about then. I want to be distracted by now. And these are supposed to be my best years. Sigh.

Gmail! Gmail! Gmail!

I have six invites (thanks to Saffron) so if you want one, let me know!

Meanwhile, back on the island...

earrings Originally uploaded by niarain.
Problem: Last Wednesday I rolled out of bed, took one look in the mirror and realized that, though in desperate need of a blowout, I couldn't be assed to do it myself. Solution: Walk-in. There are several salons in my area, but most are not for people of color, so there was high disaster potential inherent in this pursuit. I mean, I've tried salons with white stylists with mixed success--some were fa-bu-lous, while others were a complete waste of time and cash. Luckily for me, I live a few short blocks from celebrity stylist Ellin Lavar's Lavar Hair Designs studio (127 W72nd; 1,2, 3,9 to 72nd; pick up an Essence. She's a regular source.) Even luckier, they actually take walk-ins. I booked myself a late morning app and moseyed on over. How can you go wrong with Whitney's stylist, right? Whitney might be high as SpaceShipOne half the time, but her weave is always tight. The atmosphere at LHD is an odd mix of uptown (atmosphere, prices, reception staff, who were the friendliest, most solicitous people I have met in this city thus far) and around-the-way (stylists, owner, services, thank gawd). After a heavenly shampoo/scalp massage given by one stylist, another stylist, who seemed to still be in training and frankly didn't speak English, gave me one hell of a blowout and flat-iron. Yay! I thought, I've found a NYC salon! I won't have to head back to Cramer's in Boston! And then I got the bill. I knew going in that it would be pricey. This is NY after all, and the owner-stylist is famous. Still, I was mildly horrified to learn that the cost of a shampoo, blowout and flat iron rang in at about $75 since every service is priced separately. With tips, I ended up shelling out close to $100, and I had to seriously consider whether it might have been cheaper to take the Chinatown bus back to Beantown. Sigh. Still, I know where to go when I need a trim. Lord help me when I need a touch-up. Friday, I had dinner with TBNY, HD, and HD's sig. ot. TBNY already said it all here. Sunday (my one full day off last week), faced with the unenviable task of deciding between a knitting circle, the Medieval Festival at The Cloisters, and pretzels and beer at Oktoberfest on Lexington (according to AOL's Digitalcity), I monkeyed around and eventually settled on Oktoberfest. Unfortunately, when I got to Lexington, there was no bloody Oktoberfest to be bloody found. What there was was the standard NYC street fair featuring $2 Thai food, handmade accessories and Gyro stands on every frigging block, the likes of which I have visited a half-dozen weekends already. After a long and befuddled walk down Lex searching for even a hint of Bavarian pretzely goodness (there was none), I gave up and went home with these earrings ($7, and I actually lurve them-they're like having my own personal windchimes) and a couple of bags of kettle corn. Shite. I can't believe I missed the Medieval fest for that. That's what I get for believing Digitalcity--which, last I checked, listed The Cloisters as being downtown, when in fact it is way the hell up in Fort Tryon Park, on 190th St. Curse you, Digitalcity! For your lies I missed real jousting! And that was last week, in a nutshell.

Monday, October 04, 2004

To the five boroughs...Brooklyn

There's more to New York than Manhattan, right? Like Queens, the Bronx, Staten Island. And Brooklyn. It's time to do more. First stop, Brooklyn. Which really meant forcing myself to look beyond the Atlantic Ave. stop and see something besides Target. Sigh. Because Brooklyn is more than a discount shopping haven. It gots culchah, too. Like the Brooklyn Museum of Art. I made my second visit to the BMA last Saturday (see, I have left the island for something other than cheap shoes and housewares), in hopes of seeing the John Singer Sargent exhibit I was told (on my first visit) would be opening "in the fall." Unfortunately, they meant October. So instead I puttered around and had a grand time admiring the Rodin, decorative arts and American identities exhibits. And at $6 suggested donation (free on the first Saturday of each month), it was inexpensive enough that I didn't even feel the need to whip out my expired student ID to scam half-price admission**. (I will of course return now that October has begun, to see the Sargent and Kehinde Wiley exhibits, opening this coming weekend.) Anyhoo, the only real drawback to the BMA leg of the trip was the fellow in the elevator who whispered admonitions to himself throughout the five floor ride. It could have been worse. He kept his pants on. That's saying something with NYC crazies. Don't worry, I haven't lost my flair for vapid consumerism. Of course, I went shopping, too. I went to much-hyped natural beauty product shop Carol's Daughter (1 S Elliot St; A or C to Lafayette, Harlem shop allegedly coming soon). You know the sister in the flowing cotton robes and patchouli cloud, with a head of beautifully kept locks? The one with the shea- and mango-butter lip-balm and earthy, serene smile? She got her beauty supplies from Carol's Daughter. Alas, I'm the sister standing next to her in Chanel perfume and Nars gloss with a blowout, wondering if the earth-mother serenity, one-love schtick is all an act, so Carol's Daughter was maybe not so much for me. Everything smelled either too "earthy" or too tropical-fruity for my liking, and I quickly realized why L'Occitane's shea butter cream rings in at $35 to CD's $17 pure tub-o-shea (I don't know what it takes to get shea butter from the gritty-fat consistency of the product sold in it's pure form at Carol's Daughter to the creamy heaven you get in L'Occitane's body cream, but I suspect it involves soul-mortgaging and heavy machinery. It's worth it, methinks. But L'Occitane also sells a pure shea tub--a little more than half the size for twice the money at CD, so if you are into that sort of thing, get it at CD). If you're like me--a big fan of sophisticated, multinote fragrances and beauty products with multi-hyphenate ingredients, go to Sephora. Carol's Daughter is absolutely worth the trip for hippies and natural product lovers, though, and there is a really inspiring story to the product line. I bought a bottle of their mandarin melange body cleansing gel and hit the road. I finished the trip off with a stop at my favorite mall, where I made off with a bunch of Target home goods (filing trays, folders, a matching set of office goodies--waste bin, pen and doodad cups, etc.) for about $20. I'll have to make another trip or ten for the grub/club scene. Once I've explored all of Brooklyn's nooks, I'll start on Queens. I haven't decided on the whole Bronx/SI issue, yet (unless someone's got Yanks tickets they'd like to offer?). So, that was the weekend before the one that just passed. This past weekend is a whole 'nother blog. **Which I have done, I am ashamed to admit, at the Met. I live within walking distance* of the Met, MOMA and the Guggenheim, and yet I've been to the Met once and have yet to visit MOMA or the Guggenheim. The BMA and I are officially friends. *Anything under 45 minutes is walking distance.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

I'll post again one of these days...

Dinner with TBNY. Lit. Post tomorrow.