Author Archive

RyanAir: Hell on Earth, or Just a Cheap Way to Get Around Europe?

d42 is currently playing expat in Germany, and while there, she had the opportunity to try out RyanAir, the airline I always wondered about due to the fact that you can fly from one country to another for less than you would pay for a Greyhound ride to another state. They even offer free flights. “What’s the catch?” I thought to myself, and then d42 went to Stockholm…


Here’s the article my boyfriend and I would love to write:

Everyone can easily summon a fairly detailed image of their conception of Hell On Earth(TM). In fact, for many, this is a serious pastime, and one they dedicate countless hours to perfecting. For some, it’s sitting in a boardroom listening to the droning of a middle-management lackey, for others, it might be toiling in the malodorous, dimly lit kitchen of a scummier-than-average White Castle. For me it is, without a doubt, languishing for hours in a flightless airplane with no hope of exit, rescue, or a decent tuna sandwich. Friends, this past weekend was like a delightful subclause, within the Dark Prince of Hell’s parenthesis. And that parenthesis’ name is RyanAir. We traveled for hours to an out of the way airport misleadingly named “Hamburg (Lübeck)”– Lübeck is only close to Hamburg by way of some mad cartographer’s artistic license. We waited in a tent– a tent!– for our decrepit spruce moose. We crammed ourselves into acrid-smelling pleather “seats,” wrestled with our seatbelts, […] Continue reading

Wednesday: Reading. Friday: Rocking– With AFP

Show date: June 5, 2009
Venue: Highline Ballroom
Bands: Amanda Palmer, The Lisps, Emilyn Brodsky, Abby Ahmad


AFP''s blurry self-portrait before the show. Due to battery fail, this is all the photography you're gettin'. And it ain't even ours.

The night opened up with Abby Ahmad, a one-woman vocal powerhouse. She appeared on stage as a little surprise (she was unbilled), but quickly won me over with her fun, rhythmic guitar and her amazing voice. Deep and rich, she had to back at least a yard away from the mic in order to belt out some stanzas without blowing speaker cones or ear drums. Sadly she only played three songs, but they ran the gamut from emotional (i.e., recovering from a breakup) to tongue-in-cheek (i.e., reminder that a woman can have fun between the sheets all by herself). Continue reading

The Watchmen Lives Up to Expectations

d42 having murderous opinions

d42 having murderous opinions (click it to read them)

Late one unremarkable Thursday eve, I met up with several compatriots on a mission. We first acquired food from a Local Establishment, where, having ordered a ginger ale, I was informed that I could have *only one* small ginger ale, and there would be *no refills.* The waitress was very clear on this. Cherry Coke, however, flowed like the Nile.

After food was safely in our bellies, we moved on to the Cinema, where the line was already forming. In a rare display of foresight, the IMAX theater here developed an assigned seating system, so there was no need for a stampede as long as you bought your ticket early enough. Our seats were good, close to the back and on the right. Continue reading

The Hulk Really is Incredible

A text message arrives early on Monday from an inside man: Wanna see the Hulk premier tonight? Since the movie isn’t officially released until Friday, how could I say no?

The Zeigfeld had nary an empty seat when we finally arrived– luckily seats were assigned. Ours were in the rear on the right, but afforded quite a good view. Before the showing began, a representative from the Marvel Board of Directors, Marvel chief Joe Quesada, and two of the producers stood and said a few words about the movie and about the history of Marvel’s return to silver screen glory, beginning with the first X-Men movie through to today. They carefully avoided saying anything bad about a certain previous attempt to bring Bruce Banner to the big screen, but instead chose to look to the future by going over the upcoming Marvel blockbusters-in-waiting (Iron Man 2, Thor , The Avengers … etc).

The Incredible Hulk begins with a really well made flickering montage of news reports, flashbacks, and article clippings giving enough history of the tribulations of Bruce Banner to orient a casual nerd like myself. The movie starts off with Bruce Banner traveling desperately far and wide looking for a cure for the Gamma poisoning that transforms him into a huge and vicious monstrosity. Continue reading

NYC Restaurant and Foodservice Expo: A Gateway Drug

Random picture of things done with sugar to get you in the right frame of mind.

It was March 9th, and our trip to the Jacob K. Javits center on Manhattan’s west side began with an early morning phone call from ETL: “Hey, what time do you think it is?” I chewed my cereal and considered this for a moment. I glanced at the clock—it clearly said 8:36. Waaaaaaiit a minute… ETL’s pregnant silence was like a claw hammer in my heart. FUCK– Daylight savings time! The one event we were looking forward to—the Press Pastry Tasting—evaporated before our now one-unscheduled-hour-older eyes.

Undaunted, we hustled downtown as fast as the subway would take us. The Javits center on this fine March day hosted the International Restaurant & Foodservice Show on its lower level. We obtained our press passes after some delay, and after cutting a rather self-important CNN reporter (“you don’t need my name, just put down CNN”) in line, and headed into the domain of the restauranteur.

It was laid out in much the same way as any other convention, rows and rows lined with innumerable booths of vendors hawking their wares and services. A great many of them were restaurant technologies and gadgets to make foodservice faster and more efficient. We photographed many things, though apparently, it’s not permitted to photograph artsy porcelain service sets. Photos of these are issued by the vendor only…

The show also hosted the International Pastry Arts Competition—the very event whose delectable wares we were denied by the tyranny of railroad timetables—whose theme this year was “Under the Sea.” Very prom-esque! We made a beeline straight for this area and were presented with such amazing works of gravity-defying confectionary that words cannot do them justice. I will allow ETL to provide imagery for your drooling pleasure. Continue reading

Four Star Secrets Tolerable Only to Foodies

service-included-cover.jpg Service Included: Four Star Secrets of an Eavesdropping Waiter, by Phoebe Damrosch, is probably in my top most misleadingly named books of all time. When I first read the title, I assumed it would be a gossip-filled spelunk into the dark dinner-discussion secrets of those rich enough to drop over a thousand dollars on one meal. Something like this has it’s appeal to us hoi polloi—lord knows I would jump at the chance to sit for a meal at a 4-star restaurant (but I would probably want to take a crash course in etiquette first), and reading a book about the people who take what Thomas Keller dreams up for granted is not without its draw.

What this fanciful Imagineering leads me to is simply that this memoir is not about the secrets of the insanely rich—Damrosch reveals nary an eavesdrop— instead it focuses on the author’s personal bumbling journey through waitressing, life, and love. The title instead highlights the backdrop against which we see her life unfolding.

Damrosch began waitressing in a trendy Brooklyn café and sundry other eating establishments. When it opened, she landed a job at the Manhattan offshoot of Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, Per Se, by pure chance. From the moment she first dons the Armani Per Se tuxedo, Damrosch’s entire life begins to center around the restaurant. Don’t get me wrong—working at Per Se is clearly not the same as working at Heliopolis Greek Style Family Diner. For one thing, the wait staff goes through a several-week training period, during which they get a crash course in everything from the varieties of sparkling versus still water, to the history of the Central Park overlook that Per Se enjoys. They have 401(k) plans, health and dental benefits, and make enough money to afford living in Manhattan. The job demands close attention to detail and significant study, which I have to admit I never expected, and which I ended up finding fascinating. Continue reading

Velocity of Demon Spunk Equals G Times WAR Squared

Friday, November 2, 2007. Oh. Man.


The Rockstar Energy Drink Viva La Bands tour, sponsored by Bam Margera (of Jackass), featured Vains of Jenna, an interesting new sleaze rock band from Sweden as opening act, and was headlined by Cradle of Filth, who are pretty uniformly awesome. The tour also featured another band, one that I had heard of, but never seen, and not really listened to. They’re a famously outrageous band, so I had a little bit of a notion of what to expect; I knew it would be fun.

I was so unprepared. I was more unprepared than the proverbial Polish cavalry riding in to face the tanks of WWI. I was more unprepared than you before your Insert-High-Stress-Standardized-Test-Here. I was more unprepared than an extremely unprepared thing.

That last band was GWAR. Continue reading