Monday, December 29, 2008

'Iolani School Orchestra at Saint Bart's

Today I took my daughters to hear the 'Iolani School Orchestra perform at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City.

The highlight for me was the inclusion of the traditional Hawaiian song 'Ulili E. Nothing like seeing a beautiful hula performed in New York at the end of December.

It was a brief, thirty-minute performance, but the highlight of my day.

Here it is, a little dark, but lovely none the less:


I haven't read as much as I would have wanted to this year, especially in light of the dissolution of a book club to which I belonged.

However, I recently picked up Philip Roth's most recent novel Indignation, which I zipped through in less than two days.

I strongly recommend it.

Despite being 230 pages, the smaller size of the book stretches it out from a novella to a novel.

Roth is a gifted storyteller and, his haunting tale of a young Jewish man coming of age in the middle of the 20th century is certainly memorable.

Not to mention the plot element that emerges 60 pages in that causes the narrative to be seen from a whole new perspective.

I strongly recommend this tale that reminds us, repeatedly, that the smallest of decisions can have momentous effects.


Read Michiko Kakutani's review (spoiler alert) in The New York Times here.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Cool Stuff People Send Me: Christmas Eve Edition

This comes courtesy of my sister Lehua in Hawai'i:

Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Eddie Vedder

This is just an awesome little clip, with Eddie and Pete Townshend from an appearance on Letterman in 1999, performing "Heart to Hang Onto":

Monday, December 22, 2008


Got on the N train at 34th Street and rev up the commuting soundtrack, starting with "Iko Iko" by The Dixie Cups.

A guy next to me reading Death in Paradise by Robert B. Parker.

At 14th Street, the next song comes on, "Roadrunner" by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. Great New York song.

Next up, "In convertendo - Qui seminont in lecrimis" by Rameau from a classical piano masterworks mix.

As we leave Canal and head toward the Manhattan Bridge, Bruce Springsteen singing "The River". Serious deja vu.

Meanwhile a woman sits near me reading a hardcover, Family Tree, by Barbara Delinsky.

The train crosses the bridge, pausing before we head under Brooklyn.

Ah, the familiar opening chords to Sammy Hagar's "Heavy Metal". Some of the worst rhyming in hard rock history, pairing "contacts being made" with "barricade". The nifty pop rock chords make up for the cheesy lyrics. Then again, this is coming from the man who popularized the phrase "I can't drive/fifty-five".

"My First Night Without You" by Cyndi Lauper? How did that get on my iPod?

Note to self: delete this song from iTunes. Sorry, Cyndi.

Between Pacific/Atlantic and 36th, I get some obscure Michael Stipe song "Hotel (L'Hotel Particulier)" from Monsieur Gainsbourg: Revisited. The recording is so low, I can barely discern the song. I will be deleting that one, aussi.

Next is "Son of a Bitch" by the German metal band Accept, who are most known for their song "Balls to the Wall". Their album Restless and Wild is pretty good. However, there is something pathetically nostalgic about bands who sing songs in English, even though it's not their first language.

I make the connection to the R waiting at 59th Street as a beautiful rendition of "We're Going to Be Friends" by The White Stripes fills my earbuds.

At Bay Ridge Avenue, I get a seat. "Breakdown" by Agent Orange clangs in my ears. Two more stops.

At 86th Street, I get my final song of the ride: "Hey Hey What Can I Do" from the Led Zeppelin box set. Great tune.

And that was my Subway soundtrack for the afternoon commute today.

No Need to Read Beyond the First Sentence....

Lonely Man Jumps Into Polar Bear's Cage in Berlin

Published: December 22, 2008
Filed at 3:22 p.m. ET

BERLIN (AP) -- A man jumped into the Berlin zoo enclosure of famed
polar bear Knut on Monday, but officials were able to keep the animal
away from the intruder by distracting him with a leg of beef, police

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Nail in the Coffin of Innocence

Yes, It Works

This is a found item that I dare not touch. But I spotted this envelope on West 12th Street back on November 23 and never posted it.

Interpret it as you will. The possibilities are endless.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Looking Beyond the Message*

This was found last Saturday in the same HSBC parking lot as the last card in my 52-Card Pickup game.

It was written on the back of one of those doctor appointment reminder cards.

Aside from the stunning alliterative qualities of the note, it has very little significance of a found item.

Sure, brackets. Bring them in. Why not? Everyone needs brackets.

But why the asterisk at the end?

It's a one-item list. No need to differentiate between the brackets and other items. Or the act of bringing them in, and other tasks.

I question whether this added punctuation mark glyph was scribbled consciously or unconsciously. A scan of the asterisk's Wikipedia entry doesn't help.

These are the things that keep me up at night*.

*Not really

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

BillyBlog Plays 52-Card Pickup (Paris in the Parking Lot)

I found these cards last Saturday, December 6, in the HSBC parking lot at the corner of 92nd and 3rd, in Brooklyn:

They are from the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. Here we have the 8 of Diamonds (the card whose back you see is the 6 of Clubs, previously found in this adventure).

The following cards have been found previously:

The Two of Hearts and the Queen of Spades (November 1, 2008)

The King of Spades (October 26, 2008)

The Ace of Spades (September 22, 2008)

The Jack of Diamonds (September 18, 2008)

The Six of Hearts, Queen of Hearts, and Eight of Clubs (August 10, 2008)

The Six of Clubs (July 21, 2008)

The Seven of Hearts and The King of Diamonds (April 24, 2008)

The Three of Clubs (March 29, 2008)

The King of Hearts
and the Three of Spades
(February 28 and March 25, 2008)

The Ace of Diamonds (July 7, 2008)

The Jack of Hearts and Five of Hearts (July 19, 2008)

View the whole set here.

And here's the scorecard with the latest addition:

Hearts: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, Ace
Diamonds: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, Ace
Clubs: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, Ace
Spades: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K, Ace

Friday, December 05, 2008

Social Justice

On the West 4th Street train platform, I waited.

I waited with other people.

I watched an older woman in a fur coat attempt to throw a folded
newspaper section into a nearby garbage can.

She missed.

Or, more accurately, she hit the can, but it bounced off the top and
landed on the ground.

Time slowed to a crawl.

I detected in her a movement away from the trash can as she looked at
the discarded paper at the base of the receptacle. Her body language
indicated that she did not feel like stooping to pick up the paper and
attempting to redeposit it in the bin.

But then, mid-movement, she noticed I was watching this unfold with
interest, and her body movement altered and she did what I thought she
was not going to do.

She picked up the paper and successfully dropped it into the trash.

I am convinced that my observation of the event altered its outcome.

I realize that I have given this incident perhaps one hundred times
more thought than the woman has given.

Nonetheless, it was fascinating to me, regardless of its lack of
importance in the grand scheme of things, and I felt compelled to
share the experience here.

Sent from my mobile device