Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Yep, that's the sound I heard as some bastard hit my brand new (okay, five months old, but still!) car. I was driving home from work on Friday afternoon to pick up Che before meeting friends for dinner. In an effort to avert an intersection that had been closed due to a fatal accident (so I learned later), I cut through a parking lot and came out of the driveway into the center turn lane. As I was driving down the center turn lane and waiting for a clearing to merge into the closest lane of travel, out of nowhere, some bastard in a pick-up truck rammed my driver side door trying to merge into my lane. In front of a half dozen police officers. Handy to have them as witnesses.

The officers sent other officers out to take our report, and I waited in the 110° heat with the pick-up driver yelling at me and coming over to my car to take pictures. Whatever, dude. Like I'm gonna go out this weekend and bash up my new car some more just to scam your insurance. The officers showed up, asked questions and took our statements, had us exchange information, and sent me on my way while they continued to talk to the guy and decide if they would issue him a citation. All in all, the process was relatively painless, although my door no longer opens. So my car is driveable, as long as I'm willing to crawl in and out through my passenger door. Which is generally fine, except yesterday when I decided to wear a skirt to work. And a little inconvenient when I pull into the gas station on the wrong side. Oops.

So far, dealing with the insurance company has been pretty painless too, and it helps that we both have the same insurer. I dropped off my car at the body shop in the morning and picked up an Audi A4 from Hertz. It's fine, but it's not my car. Call me spoiled rotten, I'm lost without my Bluetooth phone and my XM radio. I'm hoping the insurance company finishes its investigation quickly so that I can get my car back and drop off the rental with no out-of-pocket expenses. The body shop thought I would have my car back in a week, which shocked me. I was thinking more like a month.

Sigh. What a pain in the ass. However, dinner at Stax afterwards (to which I was only about 20 minutes late) helped make up for the drama. Gotta love a place that has tater tots on the menu. And man, these were some GOOD little fried potatoes.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

We used to be such movie buffs. I wish we could find a way to fit more movies into our lives again. Although even when we watched a ton of movies, they were generally rentals. It takes something BIG to drag me out of the house and sit among a mass of annoying people in a crowded theater when in a few weeks, I can watch it in the comfort of my own home. The Dark Knight is one of those movies.

I'll reiterate that this is not a genre of movies I typically watch or enjoy. And even putting aside the bias from my fondness of Heath Ledger, this is a fantastic movie. I loved every second of it (and there were a lot of them although they passed very quickly) and would go see it again -- IN THE THEATER -- in a heartbeat. This not only lived up to its hype, it exceeded it. And Heath Ledger as the Joker? PHENOMENAL. I went into the movie thinking, "Okay, I know there is posthumous Oscar talk, but c'mon, this is not a movie any actor is winning an Oscar for." He very much deserves to be in the running. His character is so creepily psychotic, he literally made my skin crawl. Absolutely brilliant talent.

The only minor annoyance to me was Maggie Gyllenhaal, and I am generally a fan of hers. I just didn't think she was at all suited for the role of Rachel, which was played better (am I actually admitting this??) in Batman Begins by Katie Holmes. I think someone else could have done a better job than both, although I'm not sure who that person is. Maybe Claire Danes? Or Reiko Aylesworth? Regardless, petty criticism on my part that didn't detract all that much from the movie.

I'm giving it two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I am not generally a fan of sci-fi, adventure, or other similar genres of movies, including movies about superheroes and comic book/strip characters. So I have never seen any Batman movie nor would I be interested in seeing any Batman movie but for the fact that Heath Ledger is playing (so I hear) the role of a lifetime. I am a huge Heath Ledger fan, so I'm anxious to see his performance as the Joker.

A group of friends had made plans to go see The Dark Knight this week but with the caveat that only those who had previously seen Batman Begins could come along. Fine, whatever. Neither of us had, so Che bought the movie on iTunes a couple of nights ago and watched (and enjoyed) it. I started it last night and am actually enjoying it so far. I have about 45 minutes left, which I intend to watch on the treadmill this afternoon while I'm running, so that I can earn my admission to The Dark Knight this evening.

That said, how is it that I have gone 34 years without knowing that Batman is not actually a superhero? He has NO superhuman powers. I can't tell you how disappointed I was watching Batman Begins last night and realizing that he is just a super strong, well-trained guy with a bunch of high-tech equipment and gadgets. Like Inspector Gadget, but cooler. He can't fly? He can't scale walls? He doesn't magically transform from Bruce Wayne to Batman by some means other than donning his bulletproof suit?? I truly thought that the scene where he confronted the bats in the underground tunnel was where he would gain his superhuman Batman powers. But no.

I'm guessing that means Robin is just a sidekick who rides along in his cool car too.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Countdown Begins...

In 44 days (including today), I will be on a plane to Southeast Asia. And, more importantly, incommunicado with work for almost THREE weeks.

Yes, I'm having a hard time focusing and thought I needed a distraction. Maybe it's because all I can think about lately is how much I am ready to quit this job and move to NYC. Which just makes it hard to get work done.

Soon, I hope. In the meantime, I'll look forward to vacation.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I heart NY

Yep, just like the cheap $2.00 t-shirts you'll find in Times Square. What a fabulous city.

Our trip started at the Newark airport, where we stood for almost an hour and a half at baggage claim waiting for our luggage. There were multiple "apology" announcements for the delay, which was caused by "several flights coming in at once." Like you didn't plan for that??? WTF, it's not like planes just show up at random! Anyway, luggage finally came, we took an uber-expensive cab ride to Times Square (I so do not remember it costing that much last time), and finally checked into the Renaissance at close to 3:00 a.m. BTW, our hotel was fabulous. The location is convenient but I don't think we'll stay in Times Square again. The hoards of tourists who will come to a complete halt in the middle of the sidewalk to take a picture of the M&M store sign and carrying shopping bags from the Gap and Hard Rock Cafe (seriously, you go all the way to NYC to eat at Hard Rock and shop at the Gap??) are too much for me.

We were barely crawling out of bed on Friday in time to meet my friend Katy and her husband Jason for a late lunch at Stage Deli. I grew up with Katy, and we were BFFs all through junior high school. This is only the second time I've seen her in the last 18 years. Lunch was mediocre, but the company was wonderful. We had a lot of fun catching up.

Afterwards, we wandered over to Junior's for their famous NY cheesecake. We took slices to go and dropped them off at the hotel before heading out for the day. Che wanted to see the New York Aquarium, which is on the Boardwalk at Coney Island.

Little did we know that the masses were all going to Coney Island for the annual Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Yikes - the crowds, the crowds! And no, we didn't see the hot dog contest. Probably good, since I started feeling nauseous from the heat at the aquarium, which was not all that impressive. We walked along the Boardwalk, then took the subway back to Manhattan. We had an early dinner at Tisserie, then decided to brave the even bigger crowds forming at FDR Drive for the Macy's fireworks display over the East River. We arrived at a spot near 20th Street about two hours before the show was to start. We chatted with the people around us and basically just sat/stood around (in the rain) and were finally rewarded with an awesome fireworks show. It was totally worth it.

But then the rain started coming down harder, and we were soaked by the time we made it back to the hotel, booking it the whole way on foot. It helped that we knew there was cheesecake and coffee waiting for us there, which we enjoyed while watching August Rush.

Saturday was on-and-off rainy, which didn't stop us from walking our feet off. We started with brunch at Boom Restaurant in SoHo, a spot we enjoyed last year. Afterwards, we meandered through SoHo, TriBeCa, down to the WTC site (which made my heart stop), back up through Greenwich Village, Washington Square Park, the West Village, etc., darting in and out of cafes, bookstores, and funky shops, boutiques, and markets along the way. What a blast. We made it back to the hotel in time to clean up for dinner with our friends Laura & Greg at Koi Restaurant in the Bryant Park Hotel. Gorgeous restaurant, amazing food, wonderful company. Afterwards, the four of us walked to the Music Box Theater for August: Osage County (which won the 2008 Best Play Tony among others), which was phenomenal. We scored awesome seats (center orchestra aisle, SECOND row) online a few months ago, and even though the show was almost 3 1/2 hours long, the time flew by. I could have watched it all night. Watching the stories unfold among this extraordinarily dysfunctional family was like watching a tragic yet hilarious trainwreck. I highly HIGHLY recommend this show.

Sigh, our last day in New York. The weekend just flew by. We got up early to venture north into Central Park:

We made an obligatory stop at Strawberry Fields and John Lennon's memorial:

then made our way along Central Park West to the Natural History Museum for a few hours. We then wandered through Upper West Side neighborhoods, took a break for lunch at Arte Cafe, picked up cupcakes to go from Magnolia Bakery, and eventually made our way back down through Hell's Kitchen before saying goodbye to Manhattan and returning to our hum-drum suburban lives.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Community Supported Agriculture

I first heard about CSAs when I was living in Austin, and for $10/week, a bag full of fresh fruit and veggies and sometimes farm-fresh eggs would show up on my doorstep every Friday. It exposed me to all kinds of new and interesting produce, and I loved the challenge of figuring out what to do with it all before the next delivery.

In an effort to regain control of my eating (and cooking), I just joined a local, organic CSA and received my first delivery of the summer season last Tuesday:

That gigantic baguette-looking vegetable is an Armenian cucumber, and it seriously is as long as my arm. A third of it made for wonderful marinated (in rice vinegar, sugar, salt, sesame oil, and crushed red pepper) cucumbers to go on the side of garlic-sesame pork tenderloin. Most of the bounty kept well while we were in NYC (trip report to come shortly), and I hope to use a lot of it once tomorrow's delivery arrives and I see what else is on the menu this week. Unfortunately, I knew the ripe plum and yellow pear tomatoes wouldn't, so I generously shared those with my coworkers, who swore they did not let them go to waste.

Can't wait for tomorrow's delivery! Hoping for more tomatoes so I can make Cooking Light's fabulous tomato and eggplant gratin.