Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pizza & Ice Cream.

Grimaldi's: Sausage vs. Pepperoni & Mushroom.
This afternoon Sarah, Michelle, Alex and I took a trip across the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn Heights, home of Grimaldi's Pizza and the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. The line at Grimaldi's Pizza was about six parties and fifteen minutes long, so we were sitting in front of the pizza pictured at the right in no time.

It was delicious. I'm not quite sure if it's my favorite; my previously uncontested favorite, Pepe's Pizza, has become a bit obscured by the fog of my un-memory in the two years since I've been there. I'm going to have to arrange a return trip before too long so I can form a proper evaluation (Scelfo, I'm looking at you). But the slightly-thicker-than-thin-crust, perfectly-sized mozzarella chunks, and tasteful amounts of fresh basil, along with all the other elective toppings, really added up to the ideal texture and taste for a pizza. Nothing overwhelming, and everything complimentary. Highly recommended. Two small pizzas was just the right amount for four people, or perhaps even a bit too much.

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.
We trundled our full bellies out of Grimaldi's into the bright, unforgiving light of early afternoon and walked a block down to the waterfront and the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. We split two cones between four people, sampling the chocolate chocolate chunk and strawberry flavors. I can't imagine how strawberry ice cream could've gone wrong on a hot, sunny afternoon along the East River; unsurprisingly, it was great.

If anyone in New York is looking for a pleasant afternoon excursion in this warm weather, I wouldn't hesitate to suggest a trip across the Brooklyn Bridge to Grimaldi's and the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Internet For Winos.

I read an article in Wired a while ago claiming that public-access Internet terminals, and even laptops, allowed the homeless to create a home for themselves without having to pay rent.

Living in a squalid, Woodstock-style bus parked in a Fillmore, California, orange grove, the 53-year-old homeless man [named Happy Ivy] charges a power generator from a utility shed and uses Wi-Fi from a nearby access point. From this humble camp, he's managed to run a 'round-the-clock internet television studio, organize grassroots political efforts, record a full-length album and write his autobiography, all while subsisting on oranges and avocados.

I imagine Happy Ivy is a bit of an exception; most homeless surely don't have the luxury of owning their own laptop. I'm willing to bet, however, that homeless individuals with 'net access via public libraries and similar methods do, as the article contends, use e-mail as the postbox they've never had.

I know social networking has been expanding at a rapid pace into ever more focused niches. But imagine my surprise to find a social networking site tailor-made for those guys on the benches in front of Libby's in Central Square: Cork'd!

The creators may call Cork'd a wine reviewing/networking/tagging site, but I tend to see it as a liberating way to trade tips on cheap wine. Unfortunately, it's currently occupied principally by yuppies. You should probably check it out, as it's wicked cool. Me, I've got to do my part for the less fortunate and start reviewing the "Mad Dog 20/20 Blue Raspberry (BLING BLING)".

P.S. For extra coolness, check out the inline wine journal below my blogroll on the right. Kickass.

Wayback Machine: Impolitic? Why Yes.

From the video archives, my offensive attempt at riding a tiny bike. Strangely enough, not so different from me being serious and riding a full-sized bike.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Why Podcasting Is Here To Stay

There Be Dragons!
Originally uploaded by ispivey.
Jeff Jarvis blogs about the future of public broadcasting. I think Jeff's a very smart guy, and while I don't agree with all of his prescriptions for the news industry, I find him making sense more often than not.

Part of the reinvention of public broadcasting is going to be online distribution of radio shows (podcasting, sure), which renders local affiliates redundant. Why spend tens or hundreds of thousands running a local radio station that's just going to rebroadcast "All Things Considered", "On The Media", "Morning Edition", and other shows that can be distributed nationwide online at much lower cost? Just compare the cost of distributing "ATC" nationwide on the 'net (pennies per listener) versus running 800 local affiliates for one hour each! A quick Google search suggests running an NPR station might cost ~$200 per hour. Times 800 stations, that's $165,000 to distribute one hour of "All Things Considered". Using Amazon's S3 distribution service, and assuming "ATC" is the same size as "On The Media" (21MB per hour), you could distribute 39 million copies for that price online. And that's more than listen to NPR; the local affiliates are adding significant cost by sitting in the middle.

The survival of local affiliates is going to be in bottoms-up local content (one of Jeff's favorite contentions, that local content is the way to keep local news providers alive, is one I very much believe in). And the beauty of the 'net as a distribution platform is that that local content will be accessible anywhere in the US, broadening the potential listenership of every local station far beyond what it was before. They'll be able to put advertisements in their content, too; what pirate is going to bother taking a few thirty-second ads out of a fifteen-minute investigative piece from Tampa, FL? Local stations should focus on where they actually add value instead of taking it away through inefficient nationwide distribution of popular shows.

That's why podcasts are here to stay -- it's just a silly new word to describe distributing serial audio content on the Internet. And the Internet is a far more efficient distribution medium than nationwide syndication and FM re-broadcast.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Tom Swifties.

Sarah's spent a fairly sizable chunk of two evenings sitting on the couch chuckling into her computer at a snarky blog devoted to grammar, misuse of punctuation, and wordplay named either Subjunctivitis or Spastic:, depending on which title bar you believe. One particular entry was funny (terribly, awfully, punnily funny) enough to reproduce; the author lists Tom Swifties, named after the hero of a series of penny-dreadful novels whose dialogue was always described with excessive adverbs:

" ..., and you lose a few," said Tom winsomely.
"I'd love some Chinese food," said Tom wantonly.
"We're presently thinking about a figure somewhere between 7 and 9," said Tom considerately.
"I dropped the toothpaste," said Tom, crestfallen. (doesn't technically fit adverb structure, but funny)
" ," said Tom blankly
"No pilaf for me, please", said Tom derisively.
"Fee, fo, fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman!" said the giant defiantly.
"I've lost my trousers," Tom said expansively.

Just trying to spread the groans.

While I'm Channeling The Food Network...

Originally uploaded by ispivey.
I'd like to recommend the Moka Bialetti to anyone who wants a quick, easy, and delicious way to make a bit of espresso at home. Inspired by my roommate from Marseille, Alessandro, I picked up the three-cup version of the friendly-looking stovetop coffeemaker at Porto Rico Importers (sic) in the Village for $18.

What a great decision that was. The process is dead simple: fill the base with water, fill the metal filter with ground coffee, screw the top on, and warm over low heat. Water boils in the base, bubbles up through the grinds and a fountain of delicious espresso erupts in the top of the apparatus. The only way to mess it up is to try and make less than the stated three cups -- then you'll end up with something too weak or too strong and decidedly not right. The good news is that three cups is a vast overstatement; the maximum capacity is really more like two small glasses of espresso.

The Moka Bialetti gets the Golden Goat Horn O'Plenty award for rockingness.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Fatty Dinner

I've been trying on and off to eat at Fatty Crab, a new asian-cuisine spot in the West Village, ever since I read a review about it in the NYT six or seven months ago. Sarah, Michelle, Alex and I finally managed the feat this evening, and it was even better than I'd hoped.

We arrived around 8PM on a Saturday night and had to spend thirty minutes waiting. Inside, quarters were tight, as we had to pull a table out from the wall to let the girls get at their seats.

Dishes rolled out of the kitchen sequentially, inducing us to share each one as it arrived. The fatty duck came first, along with an appetizer of green mango with a side of chili-flavored salt. The duck had the expected sweet sauce with an added smoky spiciness, and the meat was perfectly cooked: pink and tender in the middle, the fatty skin crisped and blackened. The green mango (not a different kind of mango, simply underripe) had a sour flavor like a Granny Smith apple which mixed very well with the spicy salt on the side. Dipping sticks of mango in salt felt strangely like Fun Dip -- those old candy sticks you'd dip in powdery sugary goop years ago. Except the mango was far tastier and far less sweet.

Black pepper mussels were next, and also highly recommended. The sauce was thin but bold, and offered a different flavor for those used to eating their mussels in butter and garlic. The finale of nasi lemak was killer: an egg yolk over fragrant coconut rice with spicy chicken and all sorts of veggies and sauces to the side.

Considering our entrees each cost $11-16, the meal was eminently reasonable, particularly by Manhattan standards. If you're near the West Village or simply craving a taste of something different, Fatty Crab will not disappoint.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Summer Fun.

Glasses Make Her Look Friendly
Originally uploaded by ispivey.
Summer is definitely here. I know because I now take the bus to Union Square in the morning, as it's too hot to walk there in a suit. I also know because I spent last weekend on Fire Island, barbequed in the city, went to (and left) a free concert at Battery Park, and attended a rooftop housewarming party.

New York magazine has a great summer guide for anyone in the city. Particularly awesome is the list of summer street fairs, which I plan to take advantage of this weekend or next.

Sheldon just moved in to his new apartment 10 minutes from mine, contributing to my slow-but-steady accumulation of friends in the New York City area. We drank beer on the roof while watching fireworks; it reminded me of Boston.

I have a bit of writer's block, and it's time to finally put up the last two shelves. With any luck, we'll be having our own housewarming soon, some ten months after I first moved in. No time like the present. In the meantime, check out the latest Flickr pics, which include lots of Chinese food and summer relaxing. Sarah has uploaded her China pictures and more, so check those out as well.