Thursday, June 30, 2005

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago

Hard Rock Hotel Chicago
Originally uploaded by jlyn1267.
So last week it was off to the Windy City for the ALA (that's American Library Association to you non-publishing people) conference in Chicago, Illinois. There was a nice array of hotel choices available with sweet discounted rates courtesy of ALA, so I thought about where I'd most like to stay during my six days in the midwest.

My first choice was actually Hotel Monaco. I've stayed there in New Orelans, and yes, I admit it - I like having a goldfish in my room. I do, I like it. But the Monaco was all sold out. So then I moved on to the Hard Rock Hotel. I have this weird hobby of collecting Hard Rock Cafe glasses from every new city I visit. It's become sort of a challenge now - to get as many as I can. This is what I've got so far: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Orlando, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Boston, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Reykjavik and San Juan. So I figured if I stayed at the Hard Rock in Chicago, at least I wouldn't have to go far for my glass.

And I have to say, the Hard Rock was a pretty cool stay. It's swanky as hell, all done in severe modern grays and blacks - it looks like the middle of the night at all times in the lobby. And people always seem to be drinking martinis in the lobby.

Here's what I liked about the hotel. The staff (apart from being wildly helpful and polite) wear name tags that have their first name, and under that the name of their favorite band. The phones in the room have the usual hotel buttons - Housekeeping, Front Desk, Room Service. But they also have a button called "Everything is Possible". The hotel guide had a page devoted to it that said, "You forgot your razor. You're fifteen minutes late for the meeting. You forgot the gift and your wife is going to kill you. We know. Dial Ext. 56 - Everything is Possible, - and we will do whatever we can to help." I spent half of my trip trying to think of something ludicrous to call them about.

Then - this is my favorite. There was a mini bar in the room - stocked with beer and soda and water. Gummi bears and Pringles. In the center though - there was a small round tin with just the Hard Rock Hotel symbol. I wondered what it was, and checked the price list. It was an "Intimacy Kit". I picked it up again and turned it over. Condoms, lubricant and "obstectrical towlettes". Fascinating! The Hard Rock Hotel won't make you run down to Walgreens if you accidently get lucky! Anyway - apparently the minibar is weight sensitive - so my picking up the Intimacy Kit resulted in me buying it. So now I've got a travel sex kit - all ready to go for my next adventure. Swell.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Have you heard this band?

Now I'm not abandoning Coldplay - not this easy. I've still got all three of their albums on my MP3 player. However, I've devoted some of the leftover space to "Snow Patrol" - I got the CD from Matt. They're pretty new I think - and if you have HBO and saw a million previews for "Empire Falls" like I did, then you've heard them. Listen to "Run". You won't be sorry, I promise.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Champagne Anyone?

So I was out at a lounge on Saturday night for someone's birthday. This place was called Taj - swanky and dim, high ceilings and buddha like statues around. They had small couches with pillows on the sides - and a little coffee table in front to put your drinks. We were a big group and it was Michelle's birthday so we decided to snag one of these tables when they opened up.

Now these are the "Reserved" tables. The days of being able to go to a club or bar and actually sit down, are over. Now the only way that you can have the privilige of sitting is if you are willing to take a table and order lots of booze. And that doesn't mean you can order rounds of drinks all night. That's not enough either. These tables come with a specific menu - containing only bottles of liquor.

Now, I've been at "Reserved" tables maybe twice in my life. Why? I can't believe that clubs actually get away with this. I understand why they do it - but my question is - why do we the consumer allow them to? On this menu, you can purchase champagne or a bottle of Vodka, whatever. And they'll bring you glasses and a bucket of ice and Coke and juice to go with what you order. But dude, the bottles cost like $300-$600 bucks. Now I'm no expert, but if I'm not mistaken, even a bottle of Grey Goose is $30 or $40 bucks in the store.

A few months ago I was in Puerto Rico. We were staying at the El San Juan, and I admit, me, Kim and Matt were all staying on our parents' dime. Now Mike and his entourage were down there as well, so one night we're all going to the club in the El San Juan - I'm blanking on the name. And Mike thinks we should get a table. So there's seven of us. And the deal we end up negotiating is to get a table and drinks for $60 a person. Now ordinarily I would never spend this kind of money to be in a club that is going to be dark and loud and irritating to me anyway, but as I mentioned I was already in PR on my parents dime, and I had just won about $150 in the casino - the first victory in a four day streak. So I parted with the money, and in to the club we went. For $420 - we were given a tiny round booth - but all of us could fit in it if we squeezed. We got a bottle of vodka, a bottle of barcardi, a few cans of red bull, a glass carafe of orange juice and a few cans of Pepsi. I think I had one Screwdriver that night - the $60 cocktail - by far the most expensive drink I've ever had.

Note to my generation: This "Reserved" table bullshit is a waste of time and money. Sitting at a table with a bottle of severly overpriced liquor makes you look stupid, not cool. This is just another installment of a series of complaints that I have which is called "What's fun about clubbing anyway?" I may need to start my own column on here about just that. :-)

Monday, June 13, 2005

My new obsession

Biggest Brother
Originally uploaded by jlyn1267.
HBO was kind enough to put their 2001 miniseries "Band of Brothers" on their On Demand Channel recently, allowing me to rewatch the entire ten part series. For some reason, I was fascinated by it this time around. I've never been huge on the war stuff- I leave that to my Dad, but I found this story so interesting, poignant and at times, heartbreaking, that I couldn't stop watching the episodes. (The fact that every actor in it was a serious piece of eye candy may have had something to do with it) After seeing the whole story - from basic training to Hitler's Eagle's Nest, I realized that I wanted to know more about these men - especially the man who had led them - Major Dick Winters.

I found this book "Biggest Brother: The Life of Major Dick Winters, The Man Who Led the Band of Brothers" and just read it. It offers much of the Band of Brothers's story, their trek through Europe in WWII, but from his point of view only. I liked learning about his life before and after the war.

Ever since I got promoted to manager last year, I've thought a lot about leadership, and what it takes to motivate people, to get the job done without killing yourself and those who work under you, but also making sure things happen as they should. I must say, reading about this man has done more than just entertain me - he's inspired me. For anyone who's a history buff - I strongly recommend this read.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Gripe of the Day: My work building

My gripe of the day is that I hate the building I work in. It's old. It's in a boring neighborhood. You know what - this building sucks so much that it has just earned itself a Letterman top ten list. Here goes:

Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Working in This Building:

10. It's on Madison Avenue in the damn Persian rug district of Manhattan. Boring.

9. The front doors are so heavy that I have to throw my entire body weight into opening them.

8. You can't go down the stairs without setting off the fire alarm. And nicely enough - the emergency lights don't work. We learned this during the blackout two years ago - and had to go down the stairs by the light of Abe's palm pilot.

7. It's in a really boring neighborhood. If you ride in NYC cabs and look at the map in the backseat all the neighborhoods have names except for this one.

6. The bathrooms are ancient. Stupid and pink and tiled. I swear its an exact replica of the restrooms in grammar school.

5. The sinks in the bathrooms have these soap dispensers that barely dispense any soap. They're the old fashioned pump kind - but even after fifty pumps, you've got maybe a drop of pink soap.

4. The elevators decide which one wants to take you up. All three could be in the lobby - but you could get in one and it won't budge. You have to get into the other one, and then it will take you up.

3. At night, the elevators tend to "go to sleep". That's right - you push the button, wait for fifteen minutes, and - nothing. You eventually have to call down to the doorman to send them up.

2. It's in a boring neighborhood. Have I mentioned that already?

1. The elevators are now deciding its fun to skip my floor altogether. After making me miss a mailroom drop off because they were "asleep" the elevators then proceeded to skip my floor on the way up, and on the way back down to the lobby, even though I had pushed the buttons twice. I then had to take another elevator.

This building sucks.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Another book recommendation!

It's great to work in publishing. This book was brought to my attention by my dear friend Beth. All the Fishes Come Home to Roost is a memoir - but one unlike any other that I've ever read. It's not easy to be poignant and sarcastic at the same time, but Rachel Manija Brown does it here. I sailed through this book in a day and half - it was that captivating. Now it doesn't come out until October -I got a sneak peak at a galley - but believe me - this one will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Question of the Day: Memoirs

I'm currently reading a memoir - title and cover image to follow in a future post if I really like it - and my question of the day is - how do people write about their childhoods so vividly? Memoir writers always tell of their childhoods in great description - and I wonder how the hell they do it. I can't remember jack about my childhood. I can sum it up in like ten bullet points:

-Our Lady of Hope grammar school - blech
-summers at the beach club, sun surf, sandcastles, babysitting, doo-wop bands
-games & playing with Kimble, Kelly, Chris, Jamie, Jackie, Heather, Brian, Kenny, Larry, Matt
-vacations to Disney World & Williamsburg at the Kingsmill
-books books and more books. summer reading at the Queens Public Library - games to "find the queen"
-Girl scout camp. Fun but tiring
-Watching corny programming like the Dukes of Hazzard, Facts of Life, Different Strokes
-sleepovers at Kel's, Bianca's Emily's - I haven't thought of some of these people for years
-barbecues on the porch with the fam in the summer
-outings with Mom and Dad, plays, fishing trips, dinners, blah blah blah

See? That's pretty much it. Not that it wasn't great or anything, its just that I don't remember much more than that. So how do these writers do it? do they ask their parents. That's fine and dandy, but there's only so much your parents remember too. I've asked my parents various questions that are met with shrugs.

What do you mean you don't know what time I was born?

Shrug. I don't know. It was in the morning sometime.

Anyhow - if anyone has any insight to share on this, please feel free to post a comment.