Saturday, April 29, 2006

The Occassional Cool Billboard

For the most part, I find advertisements annoying and stupid - especially billboards and posters in the subway. But every now and then you see one that is clever, or strikes a chord in you personally...and I saw one yesterday that made me smile and say, "Yup." It was for an airline, and it said "Because saying 'I picked this up when I was in Europe' never gets tired." For me this is true - I love picking up stuff on my travels, especially in Europe - so here I'm going to list some of my favorite things that I've picked up on my travels:

Barcelona - my black lace Spanish shawl

Florence - my black Italian leather jacket

Reykjavik - my gray Icelandic woolen shawl

Copenhagen - my green amber pendant necklace

Austria - my crystal cross necklace

Germany - German ice wine

Vatican City - rosary beads made of rose petals

Cool huh?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

43 Places

So if you have not yet had a chance to check out - do it! Making up a life to-do list actually inspires you to start doing some of things! And now that I've been haunting the site, I've discovered another - Same deal, you list a bunch of places you'd like to visit, and check them off your list as you go. And they create a nice world map with all your places highlighted which is pretty cool. Check it out and make a list!

Friday, April 14, 2006

43 Things

I found this web site the other day that I thought was kind of cool. The website is:, and it's a to-do list that you create for yourself. Things you want to do, try, accomplish, you add them here. Then you can write blog entries about why you want to do them, how it's going, and how you feel when it's done, and share it with other people. You can also read other people's experiences about doing these things. When you create an account you can start adding things to your list. You can click on pregenerated "I want to's" or write your own. When you enter it, the site tells you how many other people want to do the same thing as you.

I thought it was a good way to try and spur yourself on to accomplish things you've been thinking about but haven't done, and I think it's a fun way to keep track. I created a list, and so far I have things like "publish a short story", "Learn to snowboard", "visit 25 different countries" and "see the aurora borealis" on my list. Let me know if any of you create your own list!

Friday, April 07, 2006

You Know You Are from Queens If...

Every few months one of these lists goes around the email - and I thought I'd share it and point out why they are really true:

You know you are from Queens if...

1) You know someone who went to Newtown, Adams, Cleveland or Francis Lewis High Schools - My Dad, Alicia, and my ex went to Cleveland, so there's one

2) You have shopped on Steinway St. & Main St. - bought my prom dress on Steinway

3) You don't go to Manhattan, You go into the"City" or down to "The Village" - this is true. I don't think I've ever said "Manhattan". Like, ever.

4) The Belt Parkway And Grand Central Suck But You Know Them Both Like The Back Of Your Hand - Yup. The Belt gets me to the beach every summer - and the Grand Central used to get me to school - and both can be fun drives when there's no traffic

5) You Know That Crossing Queens Blvd. At Rush Hour Is A Suicide Mission - crossing Queens Blvd is pretty scary all the time. I've broken into a run more than once.

6) You Live Within 20 Blocks Of A Cemetery - I live within twenty blocks of three - St. John's, Mt. Olivet and Lutheran Cemetery

7) You Know The Difference Between Crossbay & Woodhaven Blvd. - yeah, once you're on Crossbay, you're in Mob country

8) At One Time In Your Life You Have Fished Off Of The Crossbay Bridge - actually this one I've never done - but I know about five people who have! (This is the most ghetto way to go fishing ever. Mike told me he actually caught a fish this way once, and it said it looked like the one from the Simpsons with three eyes

9) You Know The Difference Between Goin' With,Seeing,Fooling Around With And Going Out With Someone - who doesn't?

10) You Curse, A Lot - fuck yeah I do

11) You Can Name At Least 6 (if not all) Members Of The "86 "METS - Gary Carter, Keith Hernandez, Daryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Lenny Dykstra, Mookie Wilson

12) You Hung out at "the park" - yeah, I've had a beer or two in there

13) You Know That Juniper Valley Is Not Between 2 Mountains - that's right. It's nestled between Maspeth and Glendale in Middle Village

14) When it snows you put garbage pails in the street to save your parking space - it's messed up, but yeah we do it

15) Your Friends Came Over To Hang Out On The Stoop - Kelly and I spent numerous childhood hours on the stoop...

16) You Know Someone With Mob Ties - I could name a few, but I won't cause then they'll kill me

17) At Least One Of Your Neighbors Is A Mental Case - yup, one of em went around slashing tires one summer. exciting stuff!

18) You Have Cruised Crossbay Or Franny Lew - my friend met her boyfriend cruising Franny Lew!

19) Private Beach?Whats That? Meet Me At B116 St. - my sister's friend was a lifeguard here one year, and she had to do about six saves a day to haul the people drinking out of the water

20) You Know What A Two Fare Zone Is - story of my life - subway then the bus...

21) You Know That "New Park "On Crossbay Has The Best Pizza - the place is a shack, but it is good pizza

22) You Know That You Can Renew Your License And Visit Your Parole Officer On Jamaica Ave - my sister went on a class trip to the Queens courthouse once. They took them into Central booking, and there was some guy behind bars going "what the hell is going on? you telling me all these white people are getting locked up?" then he said, "Oh, this is a class trip, yeah, I'm here with my class too."

23) Every Day Of Your Life A Pigeon Has Shit On Your Car - at least every other day, yeah

24) You Know That Bayside Girls Are As Bitchy As Middle Village Girls, Glendale And Ridgewood Girls Are Never To Be Messed With And That Howard Beach Girls Are The Worst - can't argue with that logic, though I've never really participated in the Middle Village bitchiness

25) You Have Been To Or Heard Of The Big Bow Wow - heard of it, yeah

26) Some Of Your Family Live On The Island The Rest Live A Few Blocks Away - yup - my grandmothers and great aunts lived within walking distance - but the rest of the fam lives upstate and in CT

27)You can walk to Church on Sunday morning - yup, right around the corner

28)You Have Been To At Least a Dozen Different Church Bazaars Whether You're Catholic Or Not - twenty years ago my Dad ran one of the wheel games at the Hope bazaar. and yes, I was at one as recently as last summer down in Brooklyn

29)All the houses on your block are attached - yes they are

30) There Is A Bar On Your Corner And You Have probably Been Hangin'Out There Since Before You Were 18 - for me this isn't true, but the closest I have is O'Neill's - big neighborhood place!

31) You know how to parallel park - a skill I'm quite proud of. I really mastered the art when working in Ridgewood

32) You Have Learned To Ignore The Deafening Roar Of Low Flying Airplanes - true. it's the quiet that freaks me out

33) You Know To Avoid The Grand Central Pkwy During The US OPEN (and especially when the METS are playing at home) - page one people. Poor Beth got stuck in four hours of traffic once because of this

34)You Have Searched Over An Hour For A Parking Space - all part of living in NY

35) You Hate Alternate Side Of The Street Parking- I do, thank God my neighborhood doesn't have it

36) Deep In Your Heart You Fantasize About The JETS Coming Back To Queens - well, the boys would like it and that would be fun in the bars

37) Deep Down You Are Really A Yankee Fan But Afraid To Admit it - it is nice to be at the ticker tape parade when they win...

38) You Know The Farmers Oval Has Never Had A Farmer and Is Definitely Not Oval - Ha

39) You Know The Other Name For Christ The King Is "The Country Club" - my alma mater!

40) You Swore You Would NEVER Buy A House on Long Island! YEAH RIGHT! - at this point, I'll take a house anywhere I can afford one

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Family and Other Accidents

Today is a very special day. It is the day that my good friend Shari's first book is released - pictured here on the right. Now you know I put up book reviews of the ones I like, and really only of the ones I like. And I could honestly say that even if I didn't know Shari personallly, the book would be up here. The biggest compliment that I can pay her is that while I was reading the story, I got so into it that I forgot that it was her book. So, if you take me up on any of my recommendations, don't hesitate to take me up on this one.

And if you're wondering if I recommend everything I read, I'd suggest going back and checking out every book recommendation I've posted on this blog. There's maybe six or seven for the year, right? Well, last year I kept track of how many books I read (out of curiosity) and the finally tally was 60. So you can see how many don't make it to the blog.

If you're interested in getting Shari's book, order it here:

You can also check out her web site at For you New Yorkers, she's doing a reading next Tuesday - info is availalbe on the site!

Monday, April 03, 2006

Atlantic City

I went down to Atlantic City on Saturday to meet up with my parents who were there for a business function. Hey, free hotel, a couple of free meals, how can you go wrong? But I was mostly going to play blackjack - it had been awhile, and I was jonesing.

I ended up playing a variation of blackjack called Spanish 21 which I am familiar with. It's different from blackjack because there are no tens in the deck. There are jacks and queens and kings, and they all count as ten - but there are no actual tens. And in a five or six deck shoot, it makes a difference when you're counting on a dealer to bust. There are people that don't like Spanish 21 for this reason, but it doesn't bother me so much. I still play by the regular rules and I was doing okay. On Saturday afternoon I pretty much broke even, up only $10.

Saturday night I had sauntered down the lit up boardwalk - which is quite enjoyable in the spring, by the way, and had ended up at the Bally's Wild West casino. Spanish 21 again - it was the only table that actually had a $15 minimum - everything else had already gone to $25. And I had table karma, dealer karma, card karma, whatever you want to call it. I sat there for two hours, joking with my fellow patrons - and made myself a nice $300. For me, gambling is so much fun that it's worth it if I can just sit at a table for a couple of hours and play with $100. But when I hit $300 - I knew it was time to head for the hills.

I walked back down the boardwalk towards my hotel, and even though it's not quite the season yet, the boardwalk was pretty alive. The usual food joints were open and playing music, selling pizza, hot dogs, french fries, funnel cake, pretzels, lemonade, ice cream. Souvenir shops selling cheesy shot glasses and seashell paperweights. Cages full of hermit crabs. Tattoo and piercing parlors next to massage places and psychics. 99 cent stores selling everything from dishwashing liquid to shoes to makeup. The Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, playing the scary music from "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" when he has the scary dream. And down at the Taj Mahal - the pier, complete with rides and games of chance - water race games and basketball and such. I know this is strange, but I feel oddly at home in Atlantic City. I mean, I wouldn't want to live there or anything (God help me, I'd be pawning gold fillings) but I really do enjoy being there, even when I'm off the blackjack table. There's something nice about the lively boardwalk, the ocean crashing on the beach a few feet away, and the way the sun sets pink over the glinting skyline.

The next morning I played regular blackjack, and almost lost $100 of my winnings. I was down to my last $10 - then built it all the way back up to $100 when the dealer changed and the karma returned. So I happily quit when I was up $310 - not a bad net for a weekend that was free to begin with.