About Me

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I live in Brooklyn, NY and I love it here.  I came here for my career in 2009 and haven't once looked back. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fear not the ob - STAC - les in your path...

I did a lot of thinking today. Could have had another freak out about how badly this recession is affecting everything. I found out this morning from my contact at Technicolor that they're all being forced to take mandatory vacations and the soonest bid for work they have is June. I've been seriously afraid of doing my budget for the next month, I was afraid of what I might find out. But I just made myself sit down and do it anyway. And now, I have a nice little strategy. Instead of freaking out that I won't be able to pay everything on time without dipping into savings, I decided to look at it in figures: how much I cost, how much I know I will make at the one job and how much more I will need to pay for myself. That third number is the important one because knowing that I can realistically take a look at all my endeavors and figure out which one will make that amount up and focus all my energies on it.

Now, I know that the above is very rudimentary accounting and any idiot who's ever had a rent payment could figure it out but that's not the point. The point is that the third number, instead of being how much I'm short, it's how much I need to make. It's all about perspective. If I stop looking at it as a barrier that's blocking me and start looking at it as an obstacle I can overcome with a little ingenuity, then it becomes much more surmountable. Suddenly, nothing is impossible. Or was that always the case?

Of course, the logistics therein, i.e. actually finding the missing income in the sea of, sorry, let's edit that...small puddle of jobs out there, are a little foggy. But today, I applied for yet another job and Thursday I'm getting my head shots done for free at a studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn so that I can start finding casting directors for extra jobs.

Today, I also got a chance to look at the short that I'll be scoring. I met with B. Warzak at Think Coffee on Mercer Street and we plugged up his lap top, with some difficulty in finding an outlet, and watched through, talked instrumentation and timing ideas and generally spotted the picture. He still has some editing to do and almost all of the ambient sound needs to be done but I've got an idea of where I want to go with it. Sometimes when there's no ambient audio, it's hard to think of how the music will fit into the picture. It comes down to certain things sharing frequency ranges and one noise overpowering another. I can still come up with basic thematic material and ideas about where music should go and how it should mesh with the dialogue, whether it should be present at all when there actors have lines, etc.

I met Karishma afterward and ate at our new lunch place: this hole in the wall Chinese place on 38th Street in Manhattan near the corner of 38th and 8th Avenue. $4.50 gets you a Styrofoam plate with rice, two meats and a vegetable. It's extremely substantial and cheap and right next to Karishma's work place. It occurred to me that we're probably pretty brave for eating there for all of the sanitation laws they might be breaking. I left the bathroom with still damp hands, mumbling about lack of soap before using my hand sanitizer (germ juice as I like to call it), all the while thinking about the kitchen employee who had left the bathroom before I used it...hoping that he was able to wash his hands somewhere else. Meh.

At present, I'm eating the rest of Karishma's birthday cake to me. It was a divine chocolate torte that she acquired at Trader Joe's, which is also quickly becoming my go to for cheap drinkable beer among other things (cute cashiers from Charlotte being one of them but never mind that for now). Their cans of "Simpler Times" Lager are $3.99 a six pack. I'll bypass the slightly cheaper Miller Lite and the like for that any day.

I've gotten in touch with two of my coworker's music friends so far. Monday night I'm going to schlep to Queens to check out the LIC bar, where one of his friends books bands, and chat music and musicians with this guy. Bunny, the engineer at work who plays bass, and I might jam next week as well.

Things are looking good. All monetary crises aside.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring has sprung...

It's already hot as hell here...in my opinion, at least. 80 degrees is hot enough. Tomorrow, accuweather.com is saying that it's going to be 89 degrees. Then Wednesday it's going to be 65 and raining. See, we never get a real transitional period, at least not a pleasant one, like the ones I remember from my childhood. It's always just slightly warmer, but rainier and still too cold to put away the jacket and then, you get one day where the weather is perfect and then, suddenly, it's hot, and everywhere you go, you sweat.

It sounds an awful lot like I'm complaining. The weather, heat aside, yesterday was amazing. It's not even just the weather itself but what the weather precipitates: Hoards of people out enjoying the weather. The city felt alive this weekend. Bands in every square, people in sandals, girls in bikinis, ice cream, people laying in the grass, people sleeping in the grass. I enjoyed myself. I did have to work on Saturday but hung out with friends in Cobble Hill in the evening and played poker. Afterward, we went to a bar down the street with a terrace. In fact, the entire bar was a terrace. It was pretty cool.

It's slowly starting to creep in how cool it is, this city. I mean, I have this thought in my head that goes something like, "It's cool to live in New York City in the summer," but now I actually understand what that means. Sorry, can't really put it into words though.

On another less abstract note, I've met a filmmaker at work who knows a lot of musicians and filmmaker types and has sent me a list of people to get to know through myspace and facebook. It's pretty cool to be finally meeting people. One of them works with us as well, a girl in engineering who also plays the bass. We're talking about getting together and playing some, which should be cool. Now I have to contact these others and see what they're about. Oh, and it's laundry day.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's a beautiful day...

The parental units visited last night through this afternoon. Lots of impromptu fun starting with breakfast at Spring Street Natural Market with my cousin, then a romp from Soho up Broadway to Union Square stopping on the way in Grace Episcopal Church to hear Bach meditations on the organ. Apparently, it's every weekday from noon to 1pm. Pretty cool. Then, we shot back over to Brooklyn because my cousin hadn't seen my place yet, my mother wanted Brooklyn style pizza and I wanted to show them my view from Sunset Park. The pizza, by the way, was excellent. A little joint facing Sunset Park called Pizza by the Park Pizzeria. I'll be going back, plus, they deliver. Sweet.

This afternoon, after cleaning up a little, I went into the city to meet Karishma back at Union Square where we sat for a bit in the grass, just thinking about how great it's going to be living in the city now that it's warm out (I'm thinking Botanical Gardens and Bronx Zoo next week already). Then we strolled down to Astor Place looking for a bite to eat at this Japanese place (it was that or dim sum at a place on 14th street but Karishma won paper rock scissors). Unfortunately, it was too crowded so we agreed to wander back in the direction of the dim sum place and see if we didn't find anything cheap on the way. Eventually winding up back at the dim sum place we opted to try it out and I'm glad we did. Karishma had been before once and had said it was cheap and good. She wasn't kidding. $1.99 for 5 fried pork and cabbage dumplings, Miso for $1.99 and a sesame pancake sandwich with roast pork for only $2.99, bringing my total to $7 and some change for a pretty substantial meal.

After the meal, I expressed a desire to go to a dive bar and, on a whim once I spotted the L train stop we decided to hop under the East River to Williamsburg to hit up a place that Karishma knew. Not quite College Hill (Greensboro, NC) but it was a pretty okay vibe for a while. The louder the music got, the more I wanted to leave so, when we finished our beers, we hit the pavement again and wandered until we wound up back at this little French bakery called Fabiane's and sat for a while eating a pretty awesome chocolate cake and pondering different techniques for making eyes at people without being obvious.

I'm really finding that I actually kind of love this city. From the architecture in Soho and up and down Broadway to the hoards of people all out doing the same thing on a day like today (that being enjoying the weather) to the fact that I can just wander into a church and hear random organ music in the same day that I eat really good cheap dim sum and take a train under the east river for some good old fashioned dive bar fun. It sort of keeps things interesting. Even if I do have to live in Sunset Park for at least a year, half an hour away from work and on a block with some of the dumbest #@$%#$^%s in the world (they were loud again last night for no reason), and even if I do have to scrounge to get by until this stupid recession passes and I can get enough work to make ends meet until the composing career really takes off.

Even if I feel unfinished or incomplete in some areas of my life right now, I'm content. It's not even just because I can enjoy myself for free in the city. I'm aware that there are things that I want now but that if I spend my life wanting everything to be just perfect then I'll never get to enjoy all of this stuff that's happening now. At least not fully.

So, with that, I should go. I'm getting up at 8:30am tomorrow for work at 10.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The right frame of mind and a film set...

It's a day after my birthday. As a kid, I always saw my birthday as this perfect day that nothing could touch and no matter what happened I'd be, at the very least, in good spirits. Now that I've come to terms with how incredibly naive that is, and now that I know that such states of mind have to be worked at, it still bums me out that yesterday wasn't the good day that I hoped it would be. My cousin did buy me lunch and ice cream, which was nice, and we walked around her old neighborhood of Murray Hill, but then I got sick at work and left early, which irks me for several reasons. First, because I know I shouldn't be drinking caffeine because of what it does to my stomach, second, because I should have been able to stand staying at work and toughing it out, and third, because inevitably it's going to look bad because I left work on my birthday. Granted, I was only training and there was someone there to cover the shift, but it looks like a royal cop out. And now, I'm fighting off frustration with myself because I'm about to talk myself out of going to a casting call tomorrow because I don't want to deal with the stress of trying to cram a train ride to Queens and back to Manhattan all between the hours of 11am and 3pm. But I need to do this and I can't talk myself out of it. I just have to buck up and do it. To hell with my frame of mind.

All that aside, I'm planning on having a nice weekend. My folks'll be up briefly from Thursday through Friday and Saturday night my poker friends are having a pot luck and poker night. Should be fun.

Today, right now, I'm getting ready to leave to pick up some stuff from a freecylcer on the Lower East Side. Phone cord to use for making a homemade antenna. Ha, then tomorrow, is the casting call I'm going to attend to try and get some work as an extra.

On a random note, before I go, I keep seeing the coolest thing from the train window as I'm crossing the Manhattan bridge: they're filming in Chinatown! I first noticed that there were Chinese lanterns strung across the streets a few days ago and then started to notice film lights set up on huge cranes and then, last night, they had some kind of confetti looking stuff in the air, supposedly simulating precipitation of some sort, maybe snow, I couldn't tell. I'm not only excited because this is the first time I've stumbled (so to speak) onto a film set, but because it means people are filming in NYC again and hopefully Technicolor will get some business. Granted, this is just one film and it needs to be several more before they get busy enough to need me again. Whatever though. It makes me happy.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Here comes the sun...

Staying in tonight and I thought I'd catch up on a little blogging. The week at NY 1 was pretty fun. I started to jump in and get my hands on the equipment around the second day and now I'm feeling pretty confident that I've got my mind wrapped around the work flow there.

My job as a Media Ingest Operator is essentially to field calls from the producers, the assignment desk, traffic (basically the people who deal with all of our incoming ads), the reporters and cameramen in the field and anyone else who either wants us to put video into our database, take it out, or send it to somebody else. So I'm answering the phone a lot. I keep wanting to say, "Master" as in master control, like my old job, when I pick up the phone too when I should be saying, "Ingest."

This week was almost entirely 8pm to 4am shifts until Friday when I worked a 130pm to 930pm shift. Next week it's all 330pm to 1130pm. Then, my training is over and I start working three to four days a week.

My friend Katherine is visiting town with her boyfriend this weekend so, after work Friday night, I met them in the Village around Broadway and Spring. From there, where they were staying at this huge apartment/publishing house office where Kat used to work, we went on to the Lower East Side and met some more of her friends at this one dive bar that we didn't end up going into. Instead we crossed the street to this country bar called Mason Dixon. They seriously had a mechanical bull. I didn't stay too long past 1am.

This morning I had to meet back up with Katherine to get my bag and we walked around the Village a little again and then headed up to the MOMA. I've been and didn't want to drop the cash, so I decided to head up to Central Park and while away the time in the sun. The great lawn and just about every green space was covered with New Yorkers enjoying the sun. There are some eight million people in the city, and I'm pretty sure they were all in the park today. Here's a good look at some shots I took, not just in Central Park but also on my way uptown with Katherine and Matt.

Central Park and others

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Oh, I've seen this guy here before...

Something is piercing through the noise of my headphones in the West 4th Street station as I wait for the D. I yank one ear bud out of my curious ear to descry the source of this strange external sound which is not part of my music. A saxophone player is playing atonal jazz improvisations by himself on the platform. So, I said, "Oh, I've seen this guy here before" and placed my ear buds back in my ear and proceeded a few steps down the platform to escape back into my own more welcome cacophony of sound.

Have I been here long enough that the novelty of subway musicians is starting to wear off? I think so. Yet, it doesn't seem long. It also seems incredibly long. The change from where I was to where I am now was so gradual I had to have Karishma remind me how cool it was that I'm working at NY 1 now after I showed her my badge. Months ago, I used to while away the time working at News 14 thinking about the possibility of working here, thinking how cool it would be to work in their facility and to share a building with the famous Chelsea Market. All those months of dreaming about accomplishing all of this and now I'm here and I've almost forgotten to check and see if I'm still alive.

Why is it that we do this to ourselves? We spend so long wanting something only to move on to other stuff we'd also like as soon as we achieve, get, buy, become that something that we've wished for. Sometimes without even acknowledging that we've achieved something. Probably because we too often experience our life either looking back or looking forward, meanwhile missing out on everything that's here in the present, however fleeting that may be.

I was so busy wanting the next thing, full time employment, stability and the certainty of having paycheck so I could feel comfortable going out and socializing without worrying about not being able to afford any kind of social activity, wanting it all together and wanting it now, that I didn't realize that one of the things that I wanted for so long happened and I wasn't fully able to take it in and really relish it right away because my mind was full of so much other shit. I was so worried about it happening a certain way that the significance of it happening at all was almost lost on me.

Now, of course, I am, in fact, relishing it despite all the unfinished work I have to do. Granted, today my comfort level was boosted by adding up my hours for the month of May. I did a little math and saw that I will, without a doubt, be able to cover my rent and bills. Whew! There's still some things that could stand to be worked out but for now, I think I'm going to pledge to stay present and remember that I've achieved something, not necessarily to hold on to it, but to remember that this is what's going on right now and that all those other things, me worrying about my stability, those are not reality. Anyway, as long as I do the right thing and keep working hard, they should work out. Maybe not exactly as I want them to or exactly as I might predict, but they should work out nonetheless. Case in point being the current situation. Despite the fact that I fretted so hard over it all, I just went through the motions and did what I felt I needed to do and, wouldn't you know it, that was probably enough. All the extraneous worrying just gave me something I could talk to my relatives and friends on the phone about. This is the central truth that hit me today, things aren't going to work out as planned, ever. Not exactly. And being okay with this is probably going to make my life a whole lot easier in the long run.

By the end of all of this, I'm going to wonder why I worried so much and why I didn't just enjoy the present moment, the train ride over the Manhattan Bridge, having my own place again, the thrill of this city and the myriad of things to do, my view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty and even the more annoying of the subway musicians.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Brooklyn Unitarian Church...

The need for a sense of community in this new and strange place has been tugging at my sleeve since I unceremoniously rolled off the plane and onto the tarmac at LaGuardia airport on February 7th. Maybe not right that second, but it certainly is a long standing unfulfilled need. And I finally sought after its fulfillment this morning, at the suggestion of my mother, and went to the Brooklyn Unitarian Church, which I now realize I was extremely close to the other day during my post Brooklyn Bridge stroll around Brooklyn Heights. It's on Pierrpont Street between Clinton and Monroe a few steps away from the M/R subway stop at Court Street (and also a short walk to Trader Joe's, so I was able to work in a grocery trip as well).

The building is a Gothic revival church tucked away in a residential section of Brooklyn Heights. It's an amazingly beautiful neighborhood and the church is gorgeous, complete with a pipe organ that sounded amazing on Charles Marie Widor's Toccata from Symphony no. 5. After the service (and after the free coffee) I strolled back upstairs and photographed a few interesting features of the church.

Brooklyn UU


My curiosity was spotted by a member of the church who proceeded to tell me all about the church, seeming to be a bit of an expert on the history of the building. Further conversation revealed she was from Virginia and also came from a Baptist church upbringing like I did. Her daughter, however, had grown up in the UU church. They offered me one of the potted geraniums that were being handed out and welcomed me to return, which I will probably be doing as often as I can. The idea even occurred to me to see about joining the choir if they had a spot for a bass.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Saturday

It's been quite a week just in terms of my outlook bouncing around all over the place, from excited or elated, to panicked and depressed. I started the NY 1 job on Friday with a half a day of boring HR orientation and another half day of sitting and watching the Media Ingest Operators do their job. I got to know a few of them and sort of got an overview of the job. Starting next week, I'm full time 8am-4pm, shadowing the day time guy. This should cover rent. Thank God.

But I'm quite honestly getting a little freaked out about the uncertainty of everything else. I did find out from Technicolor on Friday that they still are depending on me to be available soon when business picks up (when I contacted them to get employment verification documents forwarded to Time Warner corporate, i.e. NY 1, I got to chatting with my old boss over there. When I told them about NY 1, they seemed genuinely interested in finding out if I would be full or part time). But they still can't tell me with any amount of certainty when exactly business will pick up. They were able to tell me that the SAG strike is over and that the New York City tax incentive for filming has been renewed, two factors that would affect whether or not people will actually film in the city this year. But beyond that, they can't tell me when they will need me again, just that they will. I can only hope that the timing is just right.

After two weeks of full time training with NY 1, I will be back to sparser hours, hours yes, but all dependent on other employees taking vacation. So, if Technicolor got really busy in two weeks, it would be awesome as hell. Meanwhile, I apply. Mostly composer jobs and internships, a few recording studio and music company assistant jobs.

What a shit time this is. No one wants to hire anyone full time, if they're hiring at all, and if they're not hiring they're more than likely laying people off at an incredible rate. I keep hearing that the film industry is recession proof but I'm waiting to see evidence of this.

I hung out with three different groups of people this week (four if you count last night's romp around Manhattan), all of which were unemployed. I'm not talking about a few of my friends in these groups were unemployed. I mean every one of them were unemployed to some degree. It's depressing but at least we all have each other, even if we don't have any money.

I'm beginning to think this must be the craziest thing I've done in my life, moving up here without a job at a time like this. And here of all places. "If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere." Scoff. If I can make it here, I won't ever want to uproot myself again.

I've been reading a lot about Zen lately. One of the books is by Brad Warner, a punk rocker and monster movie enthusiast, who's edgy take on Zen comes off somewhat cynical at first. The title is "Hardcore Zen." There was a chapter that spoke of dreams (as in goals) in terms of our attachment to them.

"Suffering occurs when your ideas about how things ought to be don't match how they really are."

"The pain of having your dreams come true appears vividly when you realize that even if your dreams come true, they never really come true."

These spoke to my need to keep this all in perspective. Regardless of what happens, I can't get caught up in things unfolding exactly as I want them to. That's really the source of all my suffering through this period of my life. If I didn't have such big ideas about the way I wanted things to happen then, I might be a bit more transcendent right now.

As my loving sister put it, "What's supposed to happen, will happen when it's supposed to happen." I think that's comforting, in a way. But also frustrating. But again, the root of that frustration is my own ideas about how this should happen. No one ever gets life exactly right the first time and there's no one way to go about achieving your goals, only a myriad of ideas about what has worked for others.

So, frustrated and scared, though I may be, I think I'll make it through this if I just remember what Zen Buddhism has to teach and follow through calmly what I know I need to do. And that is wait...while also applying to as many jobs as I can find, trying new approaches when I find something might not be working, and remembering what my sister said.

Here's to uncertainty.














In the Grand Army Plaza subway station.

Monday, April 6, 2009

On Why I moved to New York...

The weather has been very odd today. The rain, through which I trudged to get my groceries because it didn't look like it would let up, finished and the sun came out. So I thought I would take care of laundry because I knew it was going to rain again tomorrow. Well, halfway through the drying cycle I noticed that tons of people were coming into the laundromat that had wet jackets. So I peered out and sure enough it was raining again.

As I was cleaning up today I found a long black plastic trash bag under the sink that has been there for weeks. I used it for something but don't remember what and can't remember why I kept it. I thought about it for a second and with about 15 minutes left on my dryer I ran around the block in the pouring rain without an umbrella to go back and fetch the trash bag and, of course, my umbrella. And voila! Dry laundry despite the rain.

Incidentally, this is another reason why I love, not only my neighborhood and its proximity to everything I will ever need (just about), but also my new lifestyle. That being a car-less one. Yet another reason why I moved to this city. Not only is the public transit some of the best in the world (New York certainly has the largest fleet of subway cars at right around 6,400...more than the combined total of all of the other subway systems in the U.S.), but the fact that everything is so compact and close-knit makes it so that each neighborhood has just about everything you need on a daily basis within walking distance from groceries to laundry to hardware stores to tailors to bakeries to just about any kind of specialty shop you can think of.

I could get into the myriad reasons why this is so important to me to have everything so close and connected that getting in car doesn't make sense, but suffice it to say that it's cheaper to not own a car, especially if your taxes are already paying for public transit, it's more convenient because you don't have to think about insuring, fueling, maintaining and, for the love of God, parking a car every time you need to pick something up from the store and, last of all, it's better for your health to walk everywhere you need to go. I'd get into how bad automobile exhaust is for human health and for the environment but I'd feel like I was trying to shout over a jet engine on that one. We're a culture of Americans obsessed with cars.

Where I've grown up, it made sense to own a car because everything was so spread out but for the above mentioned reasons, I wanted to move somewhere where it didn't make sense to own a car. And I feel so much freer for it. When I have the need for a car to get out of the city or to move some huge piece of furniture, there are tons of options. I feel much safer without a car. And I just feel freer. I forgot to get cheese today and it was no big deal to put my shoes on and walk five blocks to find a grocery store closer to home than my usual stop.

Incidentally, this particular trip turned into a ten block stroll during which I found out more cool things about this neighborhood. Eighth avenue alone has everything I need. I no longer need to schlep it over to 5th Avenue, on the other side of Sunset Park to go to Key Foods because I found a C Town on the corner of 46th street and 8th Avenue. After leaving the store with my cheese, I stood there and peered south down 8th Avenue and decided I was going to extend my trip a little. Beyond the C Town? There were a couple of Polish Delis (which I just think is awesome because I was thinking about Kielbasa the other day and now I know where to get good ones), there's a Thai restaurant that has a buy one get one half off dinner special from 4pm to 7pm and there's a bunch of internet cafes if I ever need to print something. And just Chinese restaurants as far as the eye can see.

I swear one of these days I'm going to have to eat my way down Eighth Avenue all the way to 60th street and beyond.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Sushi and Sake

I say I've been trying not to go out on purpose to avoid spending money and for the most part I have succeeded. This weekend though, I wanted to get out and be social and had several opportunities. They were, however, for the most part, free or cheap excursions, all except this evening's.

Yesterday, Karishma and I met a friend of hers from Greensboro and went to the Brooklyn Museum together. First, we went to a restaurant called Tom's Restaurant, a famous greasy spoon diner with apparently legendary egg creams and lime rickeys as well as breakfast served all day. The line out the door is ridiculous but the proprietors have come up with a genius scheme to avoid having people get turned off by the line: They send servers out onto the street, up and down the line of potential customers serving them coffee and snacks so they'll stay until the wait is up. I thought it was pretty cool. The food was pretty standard, the sausage was pretty darn good and we were well stuffed by the time we finished.

We were off to the Brooklyn Museum, which is free every first Saturday of the month. Except it's not free until 5pm. It was almost 3pm at this point so we took Karishma's friend for a stroll past Grand Army Plaza (a favorite spot of mine in Brooklyn) and down to 7th avenue to hit up a place called Tea Lounge. Exactly what it sounds like and brimming with hipsters. Good tea though. I had the gunpowder green tea.

The museum was nice. They have a massive collection there and we must have spent two and a half hours there perusing it. A whole floor devoted to European paintings, lots of modern art as well as American art from the colonial period on. The coolest, to me, was an entire section devoted to the history of Brooklyn containing reconstructions of old houses. Pics:

Brooklyn Museum Favorites


I spent the rest of the evening in, lounging around and watching Law and Order. This afternoon, though, Karishma and I fashioned two halves of a picnic and met in Prospect Park. I got there first and wandered around for a bit. It was so crowded but it was great to see everyone out enjoying the weather. When she called and said she was just out of the subway, I told her I'd come meet her because she'd never find me in the park. It was like a Where's Waldo book out there on the lawn. Seriously. After lounging for a good bit we walked to the circle on the southwest side of the park and parted as I got on the F to head back home so I could change out of my dirty pants (the ground was not exactly dry) and then head back into Manhattan for my cousin's birthday dinner.

Farah had picked out this Sushi place called Yuka on 2nd avenue between 80th and 81st streets. This place has an incredible all you can eat sushi thing going on (that is not a buffet). $20.95 and you can eat all the Sushi you want. They aren't kidding...and incidentally neither was Farah. She kept egging us on to get the deal. So we all did. They had ground rules however, the basic gist being if anyone at your table not ordering the all you can eat sushi deal eats off your plate, they end up having to pay the $20.95 as well (so you might as well all get it and don't try to share one price), if you don't eat something that you ordered, you get charged $1 for every piece and $2 for every roll that you don't eat. Crazy, huh? Well, that just meant the pressure was on to eat everything they brought us. Farah insisted on getting more and more each time, and that we be adventurous (even though she's vegetarian and couldn't eat, for example, the eel rolls) so I'm almost certain we got our money's worth because we ate every bit of it. This was probably the most sushi I have ever eaten in one sitting. Certainly, it was the most diverse palate of flavors as well. We had everything from regular salmon rolls, mackerel and yellowfin tuna, spicy tuna, avocado rolls (incidentally the best I've ever had), to the more unique pickled radish, pickled carrot, squid, baby octopus rolls and plum and mint leaf hand rolls (that last one was weird). And we topped it all off we a couple pitchers of hot sake, which, I'm finding, is the best way to have it.

Stuffed as we were, we decided that we should walk from 81st down to 59th street to walk it all off. We stopped at one point at a bar to have another drink, some sports bar called the Stumble Inn, how pertinent.

And now, after an hour long subway ride back to Brooklyn, here I sit typing this. So that was a good weekend. I'm hoping to have more of those as time goes on now that I have a little bit more peace of mind having at least one job in the bag. I calculated and if I work two weeks at full time to train, as long as I get my full pay during training, then that should be just enough to cover rent. Not bad, eh?

Tomorrow I have to take a drug test for said job and mail in a rebate form for a new phone I bought on Saturday. I gave in and went to Verizon and begged for them to let me upgrade early. They obliged because I've been with them for four years now. The phone has a touch screen and only ran me $50 with the preferred pricing. Again, not bad, eh?

All that having been said, I'm tired and it's late.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Greenwood Cemetery and Prospect Park

Here I sit, alone on a Friday night, cuz that's how I roll. No really, I'm hanging out tomorrow night so tonight is my "in" night. In fact, tomorrow during the day, I'm going to the Brooklyn Museum of Art with Karishma and friends, but first it's brunch at Tom's Restaurant, not to be confused with Tom's Diner of Suzanne Vega's song and of Seinfeld fame (Karishma has also apparently stumbled upon this one too, up on the upper east side). After that I'll probably be hanging out with another friend at night. Then Sunday, Karishma and I will try to picnic somewhere if the weather actually is nice for a change.

I say that like it's been all rain here. We did have a nice sunny day on Thursday which I took advantage of. A stroll through Greenwood Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in New York, began the afternoon, followed by a picnic in Prospect Park and a leisurely stroll up Flatbush Avenue. There's loads to know about Greenwood cemetery like, I found out there are catacombs there, there is a species of parrot that was introduced to the park and still survives there and tons of famous people are buried there, the likes of Samuel Morse, Theodore Roosevelt Sr., Elias Howe (inventor of the first patent for the sewing machine) and even a few notorious gangsters like William "Bill the Butcher" Poole (Daniel Day Lewis' character in Gangs of New York was based on him). Some of this stuff I found out after having already gone and missed out on these things, like the fact that there are trolley tours and that the Prospect Park West entrance is closed except on weekends (I had planned on walking through the cemetery but instead walked all the way across it before realizing I had passed the Prospect Park West entrance, then realized, upon doubling back, that I was going to have to walk all the way back to the 5th avenue entrance).

I'll go back some day, because it's close enough that I can see one side of it from 8th avenue and it will take a long time and multiple visits to explore the whole thing. At any rate, for the curious, here's a link to the main web page and here are some other fun sites with information:

Find famous people's graves

Yelp article for Greenwood
Brooklyn About.com site

And here's an album of photos taken on my walk:

Greenwood and Prospect

Obsolescence...

Those who know me well, know I'm prone to spasms of anger at my weakest moments. Spasms that often result in things breaking. My phone was the latest victim of what was, this time, a targeted attack. I've been dealing with dropped calls more than I ever have with Verizon service and, though I usually cool off once I get the person back and have bitched for a few minutes, followed by a deep breath, this time I think I was just too distracted and, in a fit of rage and annoyance, I hurled it across the room. Not one of my better moments. It works fine, except I've been sent back a few decades in terms of functionality. The screen has a crack in it. I have no idea who's calling (remember what that was like?), I can't receive text messages (what? no text?), and I have to enter in people's numbers manually, or remember where they were on my contact list. That or I can voice dial...that's the one futuristic thing I still have on my phone.

I'd have gotten a new phone sorted out by now except, I'm eligible for another free one in two weeks. Why spend extra money? As I've been sitting here coming to terms with what I'm going to miss, and figuring out what I've taken for granted all this time, a thought occurred to me. Why not check freecycle and see if someone's getting rid of a phone? Turns out I'm not the only person trying to find a Verizon phone to activate and replace a broken one. Something tells me that they design these phones to fall apart right before you reach two years so that before you're eligible for a free one, you have to buy another. Granted, I was the pulverizer here but in all fairness, it was starting to go downhill before I taught it a lesson. Sounds like a conspiracy to me.

On another note though, this is the core of what I think is wrong with consumerism and why our natural resources are slipping away. That companies actually design things to be replaced in a few years. Entire industries manufacture things that are eventually going to be thrown out, much sooner than anything should be. Think about plastic cutlery and plastic bags, granted these things can be reused but often times they have the word "disposable" written on the box, like, "go ahead, throw it out." Think about clothing, too. Same case only it's perceived obsolescence. Would you wear something that was made in the 80s if you weren't trying to make some sort of retro fashion statement? No one in their right mind would wear stone-washed jeans anymore. And any pair of surviving stone-washed jeans still in existence is probably riddled with holes and unwearable anyway. Not exactly designed to be worn your entire life.

I guess the other thing is that phones are constantly being upgraded as far as capabilities anyway. But is it so impossible to design something that can continue to be used and upgraded? A plastic shell than can be added onto when new software becomes available? But then what would the plastic companies do for business? And wouldn't your phone start to look ridiculous as other phones are getting smaller and smaller? I'm reminded of a phone that a friend of mine had in 2001 that looked like some kind of two way radio, bulky and green. She said it was just for emergencies. No kidding, she could have hit a mugger with it and just about killed him.

The point is, sure, some things are designed to be obsolete within a few years of their creation, but this is usually perceived obsolescence. Planned obsolescence, on the other hand, especially when it comes to cellular telephones, seems a bit forceful. Why can't they design a phone to last so that we can make a choice as to whether or not we want to upgrade after the proscribed two year period?

And again, I'm not talking about user induced malfunction, as in my case. I'm talking about the phone not going to the dark side after a year and a half (or a year, 11 months and two weeks), dropped calls, battery not holding a charge, buttons malfunctioning, screen going blank for no apparent reason and then coming back for no apparent reason at random. Raise your hand if you've ever had a phone do this that you haven't dropped on the ground.

I think I already know the answer to this question. I'm sure I'm not the only one complaining about it.

End rant.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Job, or jobs...

So, I got the job at NY 1. It's a freelance gig meaning I can work a total of 1000 hours a year, 1080 hours less than full time. This is not a bad thing, of course, it means that I need to keep looking for another job, or jobs, to fill in the spaces. But now I have a good idea of how my budget is going to work out. Thankfully, my first two weeks of training are going to be full time. So that means I will definitely be able to pay rent in full for May. Jeez, I make it sound so terrible, don't I?

In all honestly, I'm confident that I'll find other work. My next plan is to badger the living crap out of Technicolor (yes, I know I said delicately before but things have changed...mainly my attitude). Then, I'm going to simultaneously look at film internships to get some experience doing grip work, lighting and audio stuff, too. These are the kinds of jobs that will not only pay well on down the line, but will put me in a good place to network with directors in the city. Don't know why I didn't think about it before. I could have been interning the second I got off the plane.

I mentioned in my last blog, not wasting my time with something if I wasn't going to enjoy it. It's not even just the fact that I don't want to do something I don't enjoy, but the fact that it could be wasting my time is actually a pretty bad thing. Because, why? Time is money. That's right. Even time for which I'm not getting paid is money. I realized that, okay, realized is not the right word...accepted that I haven't been giving enough attention to my music career as of late.

One of my biggest problems is that I get these ideas about where I should be by now and some times I just want to jump to that point quickly and "catch up," as it were. I can't do that, I keep telling myself. I need to regroup often and consider what the next step is before I go kicking myself for, for instance, not having finished anything new in the past few months. (Started a whole bunch of stuff, I did).

So, then I think that it's probably a good idea to do some research and consider what I want to do with my music, make a decision about it, set some goals, come up with a plan and then implement that plan. Steps.

I figure I've got three questions to ask myself. What do I want to write and for whom? How am I going to market it to them? It all starts here. This is what I'm supposed to be using all of this glorious free time for. That and finding good, inexpensive health insurance that's not a scam. Ha. Wish me luck on that.

Blurb #7

Just got back from interview #2. Feeling pretty confident. Still haven't heard from Technicolor. Meanwhile, enjoying the neighborhood but I must figure out how to ask in Chinese if I they sell chickens without heads at the Asian market I go to. Also, I must learn what beef pizzles are. I have some idea what they might be but refuse to believe anyone would eat that. Anyway, they must know me by now at that market because I'm there once every couple of days. How can I stay away when a pound of strawberries is $1.73? Pretty soon, I'll be known as the guy who always has his own canvas bag, "Mr. No Bag." That or I'll be known as the only white man who goes in there. I caused a stir in there the other day because the line was so busy the cashier didn't look up when I came to the counter which resulted in her giving me my total in Chinese before looking up when I paused and laughing when she realized why I didn't answer her. "70 cent," she said.

Here's some photos from the past two excursions of mine:

Prospect Park and Brooklyn Bridge II