Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thursday Random Underground Mobile Post (TRUMP)

This morning's soundtrack is courtesy of the Foo Fighters' "Skin and Bones"
acoustic CD.


Grrrr. Just gave up a seat on the R to go stand on the N express. The
platform was crowded enough to indicate that, if I even made it on the N, I
would have been smushed.


So I am back on the R, standing. Should have stayed in my arm seat.


Am about to start reading "The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit" by Lucette
Lagnado. Melanie finished it for book club at the BRJC. I never cracked it.
She enjoyed it immensely. She is on to the February book: "Foreskin's
Lament" by Shalom Auslander.


Switched at 36th Street. The stuffed N was pulling away. Now I am in a
slightly less crammed D train.


My copy of "The Big Book of Pulps" is on hold at the local library. Last
week I picked up "Scouts in Bondage; And Other Literary Improprieties".
It's a tiny tome featuring the covers of antiquarian books with titles
that, um, seem silly by 21st Century standards. Who knows? They may have
seemed silly 100 years ago too.


Like Frank Topham's tale "Invisible Dick".


News yesterday of a disturbing story about an NYPD cop enslaving a 14-year
old girl, prostituting her, then selling her to another man for $500. The
"New York Post" lives off such awful news and announces in huge headlines
"COP SEX RING". A proud New York reporting tradition, indeed.


Excited for tonight's season premiere of "Lost" on ABC. Last night we
watched the re-airing of last season's finale, complete with pop-up text at
the bottom of the screen, annotating the action. It was an interesting way
of re-viewing the episode.


Two nights ago, I missed a photo op of some graffiti at the Ft. Hamilton
subway station. Among the scrawls was the insult "You are retarted (sic)".
Personally, if you can't properly spell "retarded," you shouldn't be
allowed to call someone that, let alone deface public property with
evidence of one's ignorance.


Well, now typing from below Manhattan. A little more room on the train.


My friends who are Mets fans are ecstatic about the reality that Johann
Santana will be joining their pitching staff. As a Tigers fan, I am happy
to see him head out of Detroit's division, and even out of the American
League. Of course, with Detroit's off-season additions, they could face
Santana in the 2008 Fall Classic. Wishful thinking, but know for sure I
will point back to this post should it come to pass nine months from now.


I am revising my Super Bowl prediction from last week: Patriots 34, Giants
31.


Pulling into 34th Street. That's all for ths mobile post.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Clever Restaurant Name O' the Day

Spotted this one on 11th Avenue in Brooklyn. Generally, the zillions of Chinese restaurants in New York City don't have clever names. This is a shining exception:


Or is it just an awning typo? I'd like to think not. "Men at Wok" is such a great name.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Father, You Are Ancient


Well, not really. Or really.

Anyway.

Head over here to see how a 70-year old blogger commemorates becoming a septuagenarian.

Pulp

I'm catching up on Podcasts and just listened to this one from NPR.

The subject is The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps, an anthology of pulp writing edited by Otto Penzler.


I went through the Raymond Chandler oeuvre in the early 1990's. It is easy to fall in love with his writing when you're living in Los Angeles, which is just as much a character as is Philip Marlowe. Chandler's The Long Goodbye is near perfect writing. At one point it had made my Top 20 book list, but has since fallen off.

I mention Chandler because the editor includes the story "Red Wind," which I remember reading and being amazed by when I came across it fifteen years ago.

Another story mentioned is actually available in pdf on the NPR site. Charles G. Booth's Stag Party is actually more of a novella, and I throughly enjoyed it, reading it on the subway over the last few days. I strongly recommend downloading and reading it.





Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 2008 Edition


This is a special request from Rabbi Micah Kelber, who mentioned to me last weekend that an update to the TGiB series would be welcome, especially in light of the fact that earlier this week was the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat ("The New Year of Trees"). To relive the original series, head here, the 11th installment of BillyBlog's 2005-2006 project. This last post is startling in how bright and glowing the tree can be. One can then click backwards through time via links to see the whole series in reverse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Return of Poetry Wednesday: "Little God Origami" by Stefi Weisburd


The number of corners in the soul can't
compare with the universe's dimensions folded
neatly into swans. In the soul's
space, one word on a thousand pieces
of paper the size of cookie fortunes falls
from the heavens. At last, the oracular
answer, you cry, pawing at the scraps that twirl
like seed-pod helicopters. Alas, the window
to your soul needs a good scrubbing, so
the letters doodle into indecipherables just
like every answer that has rained
down through history, and you realize, in
your little smog of thought that death
will simply be the cessation of asking, a thousand
cranes unfolding themselves and returning to the trees.


I heard this originally as a Poetry Foundation "poem of the day" podcast. Go here to get the feeds.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Pisses Me Off Angers Me

I know, I know. I need to get a life.

But let me just spew venom.

In my post from September 15, 2007 (here), I said "I smell an Oscar nomination," while praising Eddie Vedder's "Hard Sun" video for the film Into the Wild.

Vedder won a 2008 Golden Globe for the song "Guaranteed" "Guaranteed" was also nominated for a 2008 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Song and has also been nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media.

So, it would only make sense that the song would at least be nominated, right?

Wrong. The Oscar nominations were announced today and the film was shut out for best song. Look, I'm not asking for a win, but I really wanted to see Vedder perform it on the Oscars telecast. A small favor to ask.

But no. Instead, "Falling Slowly" from the film Once, "Raise it Up" from August Rush, and not one, not two, but three songs from Enchanted. Fun movie, lovely music, but, golly gee willikers, spread the wealth, Academy.

Ok, so maybe it's a little post-Packers disappointment, but I think this is just ridiculous.

[Insert update on February 5, 2008:


Eddie Vedder's work for Into the Wild was also disqualified for Original Score nomination because it's too "song-based," and the Academy wants the category to concentrate on composers creating dramatic scores. That said, Vedder didn't even get a song nomination, though Alan Menken's three cheeze-oid balads for Enchanted got nods. Cue vomiting.


That quote was from this blog over on Wired.

Here's the video for "Guaranteed":



In all fairness, here's "Falling Slowly":



and "Raise it Up":



And the trio from "Enchanted"...

"Happy Working Song":



"So Close":



and "That's How You Know," the worthiest of the three nominees:

New York Minute(s): Seagulls Along the Belt Parkway Promenade, Caesar's Bay/Verrazano Narrows



Shot Monday, January 21, 2008, Temperature approximately 24 degrees (F). Shot while perched on my Raleigh m20.

And here is a longer version (2 minutes, 34 seconds) with a different perspective:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Realizing What is Important

So, as I ponder the post-season in which my favorite football team missed the Super Bowl, I gain a little perspective from this young lady:


Her name is Rachel Rodin and she is a young girl in our community who has recently received a lot of press. Of course, she would gladly exchange that press for a clean bill of health, I'm sure. Rachel and her family are members at our synagogue at The Bay Ridge Jewish Center. Rachel is a year younger than my youngest daughter, Shayna, and they have been in the same Hebrew School class for a couple of years.

Rachel has always been, in my opinion, a bright shining face in the community. All this despite overcoming leukemia a few years back. Alas, the disease has returned and the situation has become grave.

Last Saturday, in an amazing show of local support, hundreds of people in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights were tested in the community to see if they were bone marrow matches for Rachel. Melanie and I were among the scores of people who were inspired by Rachel's struggle to see if we were the needles in the haystack of possible matches.

And although the odds are long that we may be able to help Rachel, in getting tested, we joined the National Marrow Donor Program, and may some day be able to help someone else in need of bone marrow. If it were not for Rachel, I wouldn't be typing this up, linking the program, and helping spread the word.

To me, it was a no-brainer. If one of my children were fighting for their life, I would pray for a donor to emerge out of the population to help give them a fighting chance.

I urge anyone reading this to register and be a potential life-saver. The test is just swabs in the mouth, nothing more. And although donating marrow can be a painful experience, from what I hear, it must be worthwhile if knowing your contribution is changing the lives of people truly in need of help from others.

More on Rachel:

A New York Daily News article here.

We can follow Rachel's condition here.

National Marrow Donor Program
home page here. By exploring the page, or clicking here, you can find when and where the next drive will be in your neck of the woods.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Live Blogging the NFC Championship Game: The Aftermath

OK, so if you're just visiting and want to see my hopes and dreams slowly unravel. Scroll down to the first of the live blogging posts and then go in reverse order back to this post.

I could go in and edit it so it looked nice and flow-y, but I would just have to relive the game and I'm not in the mood.

The Giants deserved to win, yadda-yadda-yadda. And I imagine this loss means Brett Favre will stick around for another year. The Packers have the youngest team in the league, even with Ol' Man Favre at the helm, and they have a bright future.

Kudos to the Giants. I am still amazed at how well Eli Manning played, and especially Plaxico Burress, who had a monster game.

Enough of this nonsense. I hold my head high. I still am bitter about the Packers loss to the Broncos in the '98 Super Bowl. Now, I'll be surrounded by happy fans for two weeks, until the Big Game, when the Patriots eviscerate the Giants in what will be one of the most lopsided victories in Super Bowl history. I could be wrong.

I hope I am.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Giants Win!

Congratulations to the Giants. They outplayed the Packers on nearly every
front and entirely deserve the trip to the Super Bowl.


The silver lining here will perhaps be a return of Brett Favre next season.


Good night.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Packers win the toss.....

Will they win the game?


We can only hope.


The Giants certainly deserve accolades, especially if they win. They have
played a better game, for sure.


Here's the kick.....


Crap. Favre throws an INT.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Overtime!

The kick is no good. The Giants out-played the Packers in regulation. Now
the magic can begin!

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Last 2 Minutes

Packers catch a break on a holding call that nullifies a HUGE Giants
touchdown.


The 2-minute warning comes. Packer Nation is holding its breath.


2nd and 15


Steve Smith makes a great catch. Booth review. 3rd and 1.


1:26 to go.


1st down Bradshaw.


1st down Smith.


You can hear a pin drop in Lambeau.


4 seconds to go.


Tynes to go for a game-winning 36-yard attempt.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Is This It?

2:48 to go. Can Brett weave his magic?

Not on 1st down.


A false start penalty against Green Bay won't help.


Not on 2nd down.


2:39 to go.


3rd and 15


4th and 5


Prediction: Eli gets the ball back and throws an INT that gets run back for
a game-ending TD.


Geez. Packers special teams makes a great play and then blows the fumble
recovery.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Favre's Time to Shine (?)

Three and out. Oh well.


Eli's got the ball back.


Time is running out for the Packers. The Giants have outplayed the Pack so
far. If they can pull this out, oh my, 3rd and 9.


Sack by KGB!

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Fourth Quarter and It's Anyone's Game

Sigh. Another great kick return for NY. Their special teams are outplaying
the Packers'.


Matt Seubert goes out injured.


That might be a factor. The Packers' d-line has been very quiet tonight.


An amazing catch by Burress, who is playing as if touched by a higher
power. (So's Eli, for that matter). Then the Packers' Nick Collins goes
down. Another injury break.


Big 3rd down play.....


Eli burns another time out.


Again, 3rd and 5, my heart in my throat.....


Toomer drops a pass and the ball goes back 10 yds.


Bradshaw picks up 10 on a screen. They're going for it on 4th and 5.


Another P.I. on the Packers.


Eli misses Burress in the end zone. Bradshaw picks up 3. 3rd and 7.


Packers burn a time out. 6:57 to go.


Eli misses.


Tynes comes out for a 43-yard attempt at a field goal.


He misses!

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: What a Play!

Favre throws an awful pass that gets picked off in a nightmare from the
past. But the defender is stripped and the fumble is recovered by Mark
Tauscher in a fortuitous turn of events. Huge sigh of relief from Packer
Nation.


Mason Crosby ties the game with a 37-yard field goal. What a freakin' game!

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Third Quarter Ends...

On a scary pass from Favre that lands in the end zone. Packers down by 3.
I'm worried.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: 3rd Quarter Winding Down ....

Giants answer with a nice kick return. The way both these teams are
playing, they will be slaughtered by the Patriots. The secondaries from
both teams are really giving up the big plays.


The Giants have a bright future with Ahmad Bradshaw.


This is the third coldest game in NFL history.


You wouldn't know that by how well Manning is playing.

Bradshaw scores for the Giants. They lead 20-17, the 4th lead change of the
game. 2 minutes left in this quarter.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Green Bay Scores Again

After a phenomenal kick return by the Pack, there is a hope that Green Bay
will answer the Giants touchdown with another score.


Favre comes out throwing and Ryan Grant gets a little more action. Grant
has been a non-factor and I'm waiting for him to break one.


Oooh, the Packers catch a break on a Giants' penalty.

TOUCHDOWN Green Bay!

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Giants Take the Lead

Giants go up 13-10, early in the 3rd quarter. Packers almost caught a
break on the Jacobs fumble. Packers helped out a lot with several big play
penalties. Jacobs redeems himself with a touchdown. More annoying is my
8-year old who is talking major smack.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Halftime

Packers lead, but Plaxico Burress is having a career game and making me
nervous.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Touchdown, Driver!

90 yard touchdown to Donald Driver!!!! Woooooo-hoooooooo!

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Giants Score Again!

Sure, it's only 6-0, but the Giants are definitely playing better football
so far. How annoying.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: End of the 1st Quarter

Well, I, along with most Packers fans, have to be less than thrilled with
the first fifteen minutes. It was less catastrophic than the 14-0 deficit
they faced last week, but the Packer Nation must be a little nervous right
now.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Giants Score First

Urgh. Giants are looking better than the Packers, and score first, on a
Tynes field goal.

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Here We Go!

It's -1 degrees at Lambeau. Holy frozen tundra!

Live Blogging the NFC Championship: Before the Game

So I am a long-time Packers fan living in Brooklyn, working in Manhattan,
existing in New York Giants territory.


When the Giants upset the Cowboys last week, ensuring an NFC championship
matchup between the New York team and my beloved Packers, I knew it would
be interesting.


So the last few days I have been wearing my green and gold proudly, much to
the amusement and annoyance, apparently, of my fellow city-dwellers.


I have had many good tidings, including a surprising vote of support from a
Vikings fan at a local bank.


I have received a lot of attention, as well, and that's without even
wearing my cheesehead.


I did notice, early in the season, people seemed to acknowledge the
Packers' colors with a sense of admiration and respect.


Even the chiding from fans over the past few days has been gentle and
good-natured. I have seen how Boston Red Sox fans are verbally abused, so I
know the potential of hostility sports fans possess.


The best example of silly taunting was that of a woman, seeing me from a
good thirty yards away, bellowed (and I do mean bellowed) "Green Bay goin'
dooowwwwwwn!"
She was on a side street when the taunt began and it followed me down the
avenue, even as a crazy Jets fan voiced his support for the Pack, chiding
the talents of Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms, "that albino [expletive
deleted]".


So the kids are simultaneously embarassed and amused by the extra attention
their father is receiving. People honking and rolling down their windows to
instruct me to "take that jacket off!"


It is game day, today, and one guy at the laundromat looked at me with
mouth agape when I walked in with jacket and cap. Another one
slef-assuredly said sarcastically that "it's a shame they have to lose
today". Later, when he was leaving, I good-naturedly said, "Should be a
hell of a game." He agreed and predicted, "21-17". I'm assuming he was
predicting a Giants' upset.


And, our local Brooklyn caricature gave me a friendly earful when he saw
me, reminding me that Vince Lombardi was from Brooklyn. This is the same
guy, from the neighborhood, that I remember meeting almost 11 years ago
when I moved here. He was (and remains) straight out of a Scorcese film, he
could be Joe Pesci's cousin, for all I know. He is a true character.


So if the Packers win, hurrah! They will advance to the Super Bowl, in a
rematch (presuming the Patriots dispatch the Chargers later today) of the
1997 classic when I hurdled my infant daughter in her car seat as the
Packers' Desmond Howard returned a kick for a game-clinching touchdown.


If they lose, then the Giants certainly have earned the right to face the
New England juggernaut in the Big Game. I will cheer for the NFC champion,
regardless. And if I am saddened by a Packers loss, I will be
simultaneously gladdened by living in a city whose squad is in the Super
Bowl.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Cloverfield


Just saw Cloverfield. Very good, but the shaky camera method made me nauseous. It has been called "Blair Witch meets Godzilla". Still, very good. Disclaimer: I've seen maybe five movies not meant for kids in the last ten years. So, I'm generally pretty impressed with any movie where I don't have to wonder if a kid is going to ask me to take them to the bathroom at a crucial point in the film.


Nonetheless, a shaky thumbs up from me. I was riveted by the destruction of my city, and entertained, despite the queasiness from the (intentionally) wobbly camera work.


Later on....the more I think about it, the better I liked this film. The special effects were astonishingly good. It didn't seem as if I was watching computer-aided movement. Only wish I had taken a Dramamine before the film. I'm not usually one for motion sickness. Perhaps I am just nervous about the Packers-Giants game tomorrow!

Peter Travers, in his review in Rolling Stone, nailed my physical reaction: "About the dizzying visuals: If the movie had lasted another half-hour, you'd barf. But eighty minutes of woozy is just right."

Lazy Blogger Relies on the Creativity and Genius of Others to Entertain His Audience

Really, I got nothing.

In the mean time, go here and see more of these:

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tattoosday, Still Chugging Along

It's a Tuesday, still, so I thought I'd throw out another mention of BillyBlog's spin-off, Tattoosday, which has been running neck and neck with this one, in terms of visits.

I posted earlier today in my "Tattoos I Know" series what I believe is one of my most important tattoo commentaries. That said, I thought I'd mention it here and send some more traffic that way. It's a double-barrel post, a beautiful tattoo of promise paired with a heart-wrenching memorial tattoo that moved me deeply as I wrote it. Read it here.

GISDP #2

La, la, la. Indoor soccer again. Last week Shayna didn't do much. This past Sunday, she was simply ferocious, especially after her team went up 4-0 in the first quarter over an inexperienced Red team. Her buddy Max scored twice, and two other boys as well, and that just wouldn't do. She had to represent the women, as their sole representative on the Gold Team.

After drilling the goalie in the third quarter with a ball that ricocheted off his shin guards, into a teammate, and then back into the net (she was the last Goldie to touch it, so this dad counts it), she got her first pure goal of the game, below. Remember, it's a longer clip, so hang on to the end to see the goal....

video

The Gold team held on to win, 6-1.

This has been another Gratuitous Indoor Soccer Dad Post, brought to you by BillyBlog.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunrise, Brooklyn Bridge, January 13, 2008

Last week, I rode the bike to work, enjoying the mild January temperatures. I left it at work, choosing to ride back this past Sunday morning. It was about 10 degrees colder than on the previous Tuesday, but I needed to retrieve it, so I went in early.

When I hit the Brooklyn Bridge, just shy of 7 AM, I snapped a few shots with the BilliCam:




That's the Manhattan Bridge in the distance. I passed five people while traversing the span. Quite serene and breathtakingly beautiful.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Interesting Obituary: Jack Brod


This struck me as fascinating, from the New York Times obituary section:

Jack Brod, a businessman who over nearly eight decades gradually worked his way from the 7th floor of the Empire State Building to the 76th, where he reigned as the skyscraper’s last original tenant, died last Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 98.
Read the remainder here.

Or, check out a similar bio here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mobility

Blogging a la Blackberry again. Here are some random Thursday thoughts...

Last night, Melanie and I attended an Occidental College alumni event:


WELCOME HOME, TIGER!

Featuring Special Guest: Janette Sadik-Kahn '82
Commissioner, NYC Department of Transportation


It was a special "winter break party" with a range of alumni. Alas, no one from my class, but some people I knew from younger classes, including John McGee, who was around for the infamous "Newcomb Used Car Lot" incident. See the post from April 1, 2007, if you hadn't read about it yet.


It was a nice event in a beautiful downtown apartment and listening to Janette Sadik-Kahn was inspiring. She is the champion of a concept called "congestion pricing," which basically proposes that, during the day, vehicles driving in and out of Manhattan would be charged an $8 toll.


That's sensible to the non-car owners, but heresy to those who rely on their vehicles daily to take them in and out of the city.


Of course, Barack Obama's name came up several times throughout the night. He was an Oxy undergrad before transferring to some Ivy league school. Obama is also a graduate of Punahou School in Hawai'i, the arch-rival of my alma mater, Iolani. I always liked to think of Punahou as the school students went to after they were expelled from Iolani. An unfair characterization, for sure, but one that makes me smile, nonetheless.


It's nice to see Jon Stewart back on the air with The Daily Show, even if he is sans writers. Ever since getting DVR in the Fall of 2005, I haven't missed an episode.


I may have mentioned this before, but something happened with google searches at the beginning of December 2007 that drastically increased the amount of traffic BillyBlog has seen. Viewership (notice I do not say "readership") has increased. A lot of entries come off of image searches. More noticeable is the spike over at the upstart spin-off Tattoosday. Of late, that "side" project has outdrawn BillyBlog, based on hits per day.


Crossing Manhattan Bridge now. Beautiful, bright sunrise.


Despite the lovely weather the last two days, we have dipped down to a more moderate range in the forties. I had hoped to shoot some tattoos, but was limited to passing out a Tattoosday printout to a woman eating in the Manhattan Mall food court.


Shifting gears, just finished The Gonzo Way, a short little tome about the philosophy of the late great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. His widow, Anita Thompson, composed the book and it's a quick, invigorating little read well worth a peek, especially if you like HST. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is the only non-fiction book on my Top 20 Books list.


Bookpeeping on the N: The Piano Teacher by Elfriede Jelinek.


That's all for this trip. Thanks for reading!

Security Alert!

Cleaning up some old drafts and finally sharing them with the world. This one is simple really. A guest at a Bar Mitzvah we attended in October had a unique fashion accessory on her dress:


Upon first glance, there doesn't seem to be anything bizarre about this garment.

However, someone with an eye for detail may notice something unusual on one side of the dress:

No, it's not a governmental tracking device. It's a store security tag that was not removed after the dress was purchased.


We have all, I would imagine, had to go back to a store to have a security tag removed that a cashier had forgotten to detach from a purchase. Discovering said human error must be on someone's list of top ten annoying things in life.

Imagine, however, that you are out of town for a family event and you are looking forward to wearing your new dress for the first time. You get dressed the morning of the bar mitzvah only to discover a strange weight on one side of your dress. Oh, it's the security ink tag! What are your options? Buying a new dress seems extreme, and the store from where the garment was purchased is in another state.

So you go with the obvious choice: wear it and hope that nobody notices. Especially a blogger who loves posting about random, quirky things.

The odds are stacked against you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Springtime in January

We broke records today, I think, or came close. The temperature in New York City was in the 60s, a rare treat for us warm weather lovers.

I celebrated the thaw with exercise, rising at 5am so I could ride my bike to work in pleasant, albeit dark, conditions.


It's a nice trek, just under 12 miles. The temp (before sunrise) was in the high 40s.


We shall see how long this "heat wave" lasts. There is rain in the forecast tomorrow!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Cool Stuff People E-mail Me: "We Are All Rock Stars"



This is an Indian version (very short) of Guns N' Roses "Sweet Child of Mine". Thanks to my friend Felicia for hooking me up!

Dirty Keyboard

I don't know what it is, but I really like this picture:


Photo by Jolee Cohen

Friday, January 04, 2008

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Lap Dance

Last month, the New York Times Magazine published its 7th annual "Year in Ideas" issue. I mentioned it briefly in passing here.

Well, I am just getting through it now, and tripped over this interesting "idea" yesterday, reported by Rebecca Skloot:


LAP-DANCE SCIENCE. Despite media reports to the contrary, the University of New Mexico did not pay for Geoffrey Miller and Brent Jordan to get 5,300 lap dances in two months. In fact, Miller has never even been in a strip club. And frankly, they're getting tired of everyone's asking.


Miller, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of New Mexico, and Jordan, his recent undergraduate research assistant, did conduct a study examining the impact ovulation has on lap dancers' tip earnings. But they gathered data via a Web site, where strippers logged in anonymously to provide information about their earnings, productivity and menstrual cycles during 296 work shifts (about 5,300 lap dances). The results: While ovulating -- and therefore the most fertile -- strippers made an average of $30 per hour more than menstruating women and $15 per hour more than women elsewhere in their cycles. Women on the pill -- who typically don't ovulate -- made significantly less than naturally cycling women overall and had no ''estrus earning peak.''


Jordan first became aware of this phenomenon while working his way through college managing a strip club, where his duties included ''physical protection,'' collecting nightly reports on women's tips and providing dancers with tampons when necessary. Jordan noticed that the women getting tampons reported lower tips than those who didn't. So he started collecting ''preliminary data'' to analyze for his evolutionary biology coursework.


''Studies like this,'' Miller says, ''can tell us about the nature of human sexuality and attraction and answer important questions scientists have been debating for decades.'' For example: Conventional scientific wisdom says that almost all mammals except humans go into estrus (a k a ''heat''). Cats yowl and raise their hind ends in the air; female primates get visibly engorged in relevant areas. But humans, scientists have long believed, do no such things. Miller and Jordan's research indicates otherwise. ''It's highly controversial because it's science blurring the line between humans and other primates,'' Miller says, ''but our results give clear economic evidence that human estrus actually does exist.''


The findings that estrus impacts earnings could have implications for women selling cars or giving big presentations as C.E.O.'s,'' Miller says. ''Should women schedule big job interviews during certain weeks of the month? We don't know. But maybe.''


Interesting, no?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Good Karma and the MTA

I'm a believer in karma.


Here's an anecdotal reason why.


On December 31, 2007, I was headed home, looking forward to some quiet celebration time with family and friends.


It was 5:15 pm. Rush hour and the 34th Street Station below Greeley Square was hopping.


There was a street vender at the turnstiles, appealing to riders exiting the subway: "Can you swipe me through? There's no attendant and the machine won't take my ten dollar bill!" He was carrying a large black garbage bag filled with festive plastic hats and other New Year's Eve goodies.


I walked through the turnstiles after swiping my pay-per-ride Metrocard ($2.00 per ride, for those unfamiliar with our transit rates). The vender was appealing to people exiting the system, hoping he'd have luck finding someone who was utilizing an unlimited card, one that reset 17 minutes after usage. An exiting rider, assuming he swiped in more than 20 minutes earlier, could swipe back in and let the vender through, at no additional cost.


I stopped at the top of the stairs and thought, "What the hell?" I headed back to the turnstiles and swiped him through, taking $2.00 off my card. Not something I do very often, if at all, for a stranger.


He was very grateful, thanking me profusely and ranting about how there was no attendant and the machine wouldn't take his ten and no one would let him through and he rembled on, walking down to the platform with me.


He thanked me again and said, "Here. What color you like?" He was offering me a plastic Happy New Years hat (that sell on the street for more than 2 bucks, usually). I tried to defer but he insisted, so I said "blue" since that was on top, and I didn't want to sound picky (all the while thinking there would be a scuffle at home between Jolee and Shayna if I showed up with only one hat.


I didn't swipe him through because I thought there'd be a free hat in it for me. I did it because it seemed like a good way to end the year and I felt good about helping out a fellow New Yorker.


We all took turns wearing the hat New Year's Eve and Shayna even wore it a little New Year's Day.


I wasn't going to share this story because, although nice, it's not that extraordinary.


Except today, I was headed home and at the same turnstile, I had my Metrocard out, ready to swipe. I noticed the display said "OK" and then went dark even before I had a chance to register the message.


I pressed against the metal bar, expecting to be stopped. But I wasn't. I passed through, with a complimentary ride, thanks to a glitch in the system.


It was Fate repaying me my gesture, or so I choose to believe.


Perhaps we can all take a moment out of one day a week, or a month, or a year, even. And do something kind for a stranger.


In the end, I got my ride back. And a blue hat. And a hearty, earnest thanks from a fellow citizen. And, hey, I even got an extra post to share with the blogosphere.


Happy New Year, indeed!

Let's Go Bows!

Here in Brooklyn, a family of four sported matching black University of Hawai'i Warrior t-shirts as the Sugar Bowl started on New Year's Day.




This morning, I am glad I won't be the one to break the news to my youngest, Shayna, that the team from the Hawaiian Islands was summarily slaughtered in front of a national audience, 41-10.


My heart goes out to Colt Brennan, UH quarterback, who may have gone in the 2nd or 3rd round of the NFL draft. His standing was likely deflated in the worst performance of his career.


To rub salt in his wounds, the Warriors only touchdown came late in the game, after Brennan was knocked out by the ruthless Bulldog pass rush. Tyler Graunke, in relief, executed much better. No doubt aided by a Georgia defense resting on a comfortable 4 touchdown lead. Nonetheless, it gave UH fans some comfort that they have something to look forward to next year.


The Warriors touchdown that put them into double-digits was celebrated with much gusto by the Hawai'i fans in the Superdome, as Brennan grimaced from the sidelines.


Which bears the question: how much crap will I get from co-workers who knew I was watching the game with great apprehension? One guy shook his head sadly when I espoused the fact that Hawai'i had a fighting chance. "They're out of their league. It won't even be a game."


Well, damn, he was right.


Still, kudos to Georgia who played well. And so what, if they lost by 31? Illinois lost to USC in the Rose Bowl by 32. And that was a match-up of more even proportions (or it was supposed to be, at least). Plus, there was a t least one other Bowl game with an even more lopsided victory for the winning team. [Sun Bowl: Oregon 56, South Florida 21, Cotton Bowl: Missouri 38, Arkansas 7]


The fact is, Hawai'i won. Not the team, but the State, and the University. The Warriors show-cased their pride and their 'ohana on national TV. And they fought hard throughout, failing on another TD attempt with 2 minutes to go, playing with heart and pride.


Besides, they get to go home to Honolulu, and the Bulldogs have to go back to Georgia. On which plane would you rather be?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!