Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lilah in the Snowstorm

Lilah and Daddy to a quick trip outside. She loved the snow, though she did not like the wind.


She wanted to make a snow angel but decided against it once she realized she’d have to lay down. Instead, she loved making glove prints with her mittens, extra emphasis on the “tt” (mitt – ens).


It was snowing so hard, the camera flash kept picking up the snow in front of the camera instead of Lilah.


We lasted out there about 12 minutes, which was enough to get us both covered. But it was really fun. The rest of the night, she kept saying “I love you, Daddy” out of nowhere. If only it could snow everyday.

Amsterdam, Day Three

Woke up four hours later to force some breakfast down my throat and say bye to everyone. They were all going home, like I was supposed to before they asked me to attend a meeting in Paris on Monday. That meant an extra day in Amsterdam, could’ve been worse.

Got an early start and went to Richts Museum (which means riches, as in cultural riches) with friend who only had 2 hours. Learned all about the history of the country, the ion at the center of so many global issues. It’s amazing how influential such a tiny area has been. Rembrandt blew me away. Damn, he was good!! No one could compare.

Met up with Aimee, who was staying one more night, and went to the Anne Frank House. It was about the same size as my apartment. There was a chart to show how the girls had grown, just like my dad did. Made me realize that a) they had been there for 2 years, which is a long time, and b) they were a family.

Otto Frank ran a spices company, which shows the deep roots Holland still had to the spice trade (remember the Dutch East India Company)? They were arrested in August. Some of them made it to October, some December. The Mom died in February, the Sister in March. Anne had no one left, and died in April. The camp was liberated in May.

They had a moving video with Otto Frank, her father. He know she kept a diary, everybody did. She was a passionate writer. She asked them not to read the diary, and they didn’t. It was kept safe by a receptionist during the war. When he finally read the diary, he said it was a completely different Anne than he remembered, such bug thoughts she had never shared. He said, “it goes to show that most parents don’t really know their children.”

Took a long walk after that, trying to find new places in the city. Couldn’t find a cheap lunch spot for the life of me and started to get starving. Settled on the first place I saw and ordered a hamburger. The Dutch hamburger is four pieces of freshly grilled beef on top of 2 pieces of French bread with lettuces, cucumbers, carrots, and other fresh veggies and mayo. It was amazing! Had it with an orange fanta and was very happy.

Went to the main shopping area and bough black socks, because I had run out. Heller boys can never have too many socks. I wanted to buy gifts, but all that crap was so expensive. There was nothing purple or penguin related for Lilah, and I knew I’d get shit for getting Jack a $20 Amsterdam tee with a pot leaf on it (but it would have looked so cool on him!). Harley, I swear to God I looked all over for a gift, but we both know how that turned out (not good).

Bought a lighter for an entire euro and went to a coffeeshop. Lesson learned: always check the lighter before you buy it! Tried to get in touch with the London guys, who were there till 7pm. But they were all the way across town, and I was exhausted. Went back to the hotel and had an awful nap. I was lonely and missed my family. I was all alone and wasting the day in the hotel.

OMG - the TV was terrible. There were 5 channels, 3 of them in Dutch. Dutch is the ugliest language on Earth. I tried to watch a show about soccer and get a sense of the culture, but it was hard to listen to. Off putting, actually. The only options we had were to switch between the Travel Channel and BBC News. The Travel Channel had a show about hiking. Hiking, for real. This woman went around hiking and meeting people who had spent the last 6 months hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. BBC News it is! Did you hear about Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi getting it in the face? I got to watch the entire thing, live. I get some rest listening to Rift by Phish.

I get in touch with Aimee again, and we plan to go out for dinner together. Feel better now. We meet up in the lobby so I can check email. We meet this couple, who turn out to be Beth Hart, a successful R&B singer who tours Europe 8 months out of the year. Aimee knows her and talks to them while I check emails and drank my Grolsch. FYI, Grolsch is awful.

I finish my last joint on the walk to dinner. We pick what looks like a local place, very pub like. I get a beer and order the pork kebab (don’t ask me why), while Aimee gets the soup. I start fading before the food comes. I get my meal and I can’t eat it. Literally, I can’t force it down. Aimee lets me try her chicken soup, and the next thing I know it’s gone, wolfed down by a tired and stoned Jew in Amsterdam.

Back to the hotel, I pack and go to sleep at 9am to prepare for the 5am wake up call so I make the 6:16am train to Paris. I wake up to barrage of texts from Brian with updates on the Giants/Eagles game. Good brother, Brian! Sounds like I missed the game of the year, but at least we won.

Listened to David Bowie’s Hunky Dory 3 times in a row on the train. Paris was freezing, and I had 2 hours to kill. Went from café to café getting delicious coffee waiting for the team from London to show up. They do, and we go to an office park outside the city.

Have the meeting, where I manage to say 3-4 smart things about a project I know very little about. I'm the token American on the team. We then take the cab back to Garde Nord and then to the airport. I am so excited to be going home. Have a final meal and bye European chocolate (on the company of course) and settle in to the plane. I watch The Hangover and laugh my ass off. We land at 9:30pm local time, 3:30am my time.

The story ends with me exactly where I wanted to be, on the sofa, holding Jack, sitting next to Harley, who's holding Lilah. The End.

Amsterdam, Day Two

Slept till 1:15pm. The NY office went for lunch, where I got an omlet (should have gotten the chicken sandwich). After that, we took a nice long walk around town.

Amsterdam is a cross between Brooklyn and Venice. The quaint brownstones are offset by scenic canals. The city is almost entirely a semi-circle, with all the canals arcing off the train station. The bridges can make getting around slow, but it’s beautiful and it always feels like there’s something around the next corner.

We made it to the Red Light District, which at 3pm is populated by women that look like the maid from “Flipped Out.” These were mature women. It’s just as quaint as everywhere else, just with women and more coffeeshops (which smell awesome).

Made it to a coffeeshop near the hotel and bought a joint. Over the counter weed = happy Andrew. The joints are mixed with tobacco, so I had to buy a “pure” joint. Kathryn and I had it while everyone else hung out. Man, that stuff is goooood. I decided then to write my paper on nutritional labels, doing a cross-cultural comparative analysis of the layouts to understand the meaning. Even the next day, it’s still a good idea.

After, we got french fries with ketchup and mayo. Then back to the hotel for a 2hr nap. Woke up, had some beer in the hotel lobby while everyone gathered for dinner. Tim and I went out with the London crew for dinner, where I shared a bunch of appetizers with Monica and Guy (from London).

After dinner, we were led through town by a Londoner who used to live in Amsterdam. He took us to all the tiny little streets where all the really beautful women are. The streets were so small, only 1 person could pass at a time. With traffic going in both directions, it got tense. You’re just standing there, right next to a barley naked woman who would be happy to have sex with you. Not an altogether unpleasant feeling.

Got in cabs to go back to the same area of town as last night. Blue Marlin owned the back space, where we kept drinking. The London guys went out for a cigarette, I joined them and had a joint (which come in handy little plastic travel cases). It was cold, but man was it fun.

Did I mention how cold it was the entire time? So cold. I didn’t have a hat and refused to pay 15 euros for one with a pot leaf on it. Did I mention how expensive everything was? Bottled water was 2.50 euro, around $4. I drank a lot of tap water.

A smaller crew went to another club and danced to loud, thumping music. Very surreal. There was a couple dancing very close but not so close it was gross. They looked very happy. Bex said “Who do they think they are?? I kind of want to be them!” I knew exactly what she meant.

After that, Tim, Parker and I went to Burger King. Fuck yeah, Burger King! We got a large shake to share, fries and whoppers, and perfect booth overlooking the square. One of the best fast food moments ever.

Made it back to the hotel and met up with the party, which was in one small hotel room. We hung out until 7am. I was falling down tired but laughing. Went back to the room and feel asleep happy. Then I realized I needed to extend my stay by one night and jumped out of bed to call reception. The typically gruff Dutchman on the phone told me I had to go down to the lobby to do do. Groggy, spinning, and not happy at 7:30am, I finally made friends with my pillow for a quick nap.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Amsterdam, Day One

My company trip to Amsterdam was amazing. I really had the best time. Here are some quick highlights:

DAY ONE
Before the plane took off from JFK, we had time for a quick drink at the bar. I wanted a soda and a beer and couldn’t decide (that’s so unlike me!). Tim, a Brit, suggested a Shandy, which is a beer topped off with lemonade (we had to settle for Sprite). It’s a girly drink but it hit the spot.

There were 5 of us traveling on KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines). The plan was big, with rows of 3-4-3 and 1st class upstairs. But the back half of the plane was all cargo. Massive. Kathryn and I sat behind the 3 other guys, with a woman in between us. The woman offered to let me sit next to Kathryn, meaning I get the middle. I said no thank you. She flipped out and demanded another seat. In the end, we got a full row for just the two if us and were ecstatic.

I couldn’t sleep on the plane. I started to watch The Time Traveler's Wife. SPOILER ALERT: the guy dies. My biggest fear is that I don’t get to see my kids grow up, and that’s exactly what happens to him. Right after he dies, there’s a scene where his daughter climbs into bed with the mom and they snuggles, exactly the same thing that Harley and Lilah do. All I saw was my girls sad and me not there. I lost it. I couldn’t watch the rest and was fighting to keep hold, the same way I did when we watched Bridge to Terabithia (remember that, Brian?). I had to go to the bathroom and calm down while thinking to myself, what’s going on here? My mother’s father died young, and he had a daughter and a son, just like me. Anyway, that really, really sucked.

After that came some terrible Bollywood movie. Still no sleep, so I played Minesweeper and got a few minutes sleep here and there.

We landed at 11am local time, 6am my time. First thing we do is go to the closest Starbucks. I lead the way. “We come all the way to Europe and go to a Starbucks” can be interpreted in both a good and bad way. I got my bold roast with a shot of peppermint and was very happy.

Got to the hotel and took a walk through the flower market, which would have been amazing if I had any interest in flowers. I force the group of us to go to the first supermarket we seeing, and Albert Hein (a chain I know all too well from work). I love supermarkets, and all the different shapes, sizes, and products were way more exciting than they should have been. After that, I started saving little packs to take back home with me.

We had a lunch that we all struggled to stay awake through. Back to the hotel for a 2 hour nap before the company party. They had us all gather in the lobby. There, I met all the people in the London and Bath offices that I've spoken to but never actually met. It was exciting and fun.

At 5:30pm, a flurry of cabs took us from the hotel to a boat on the river for a short cruise, drinks, and dinner. We passed a hotel with a bicycle parking lot that was 3 stories high and must have had at least 1,500 bikes. No joke.

The party was fun. Open bar, 3 courses including lamb steaks (I had 2). They had a belly dancer as random entertainment. I got pulled up, along with 4 other guys. I did not want to go, but I could either be embarrassed while dancing or be the dick who refused to go up. I did what I had to do I think people appreciate that.

After the party, cabs to a club where we danced until 3am. I kept getting drinks but still have no idea who paid for them. Awesome. Spoke with the CFO of the company, not sure about what. After that, we met back at the hotel and went to another bar, a small gay bar where a guy unsuccessfully tried to steal Kathryn’s purse. Tim and Parker almost got into a fight, and we ended up swigging Hendricks Gin from the bottle in some one’s hotel room.

We finally shut down at 5:15 am, with the New York office setting the pace for the night. We planned to meet for a 10am breakfast. Yeah right.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's The Weather Like Today?

Two exciting things in this video.
1. Jack is standing like a champ (but not crawling) in his newly lowered crib.
2. Lilah is singing the weather song she learned at school. Harley and I are cracking up off camera.
video

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Hey, Did Something Die On Your Face?

I've been growing a beard. Yes, that's right. A Heller boy has facial hair, just like a REAL boy!

I always liked the idea of a beard. I could never stand the feeling for more than a day or two. About 3 weeks ago, I found that I preferred shaving every other day. I started thinking more about the beard.

You know how when you buy a new pair of shoes, you start to notice everyone else's shoes even more? Well that happened to me. I'd be the only guy in meetings without any facial hair. So many people around me have the 'cool guy' beard, I wanted one too.

Last Tuesday, I forgot to bring my razor with my to Philly for our Thanksgiving visit. I figured this was my shot. I had an excuse and several days out of the office to see it threw. I could always shave the Sunday before work.

It's itchy and blond. It makes me look like Spencer from Heidi & Spencer. Harley hates it. Brian hates it. Lilah wants it off. Jack seems ok with it, but who knows. But everyone at work likes it. The guys all have beards, so I think they may be a little biased.

Well, I made it to Friday morning, about 10 days. The itch got too much, and the hairs when I touched them. Plus, Harley said I couldn't have a certain something until I shaved. The beard didn't stand a chance.

I took these pictures this morning to memorialize the beard. It's not me at my best, but these powerful images will help us top never forget how much the beard gave to us for the short time it was here. A moment of silence, please...



This New York Magazine article here talks about the new trend among mean for facial hair. Basically, guys grow it because they can, because it makes them feel cool. 100% correct. I thought it looked cool on me. The only time I liked it was when I was in front of a mirror. It may look ugly, but believe it or not, beard = vain.

The Worst Poster Ever

I take the same route to the subway every morning. I tried out a number of different paths when we first got to 80th Street. Over time, I determined that 1st Ave to 79th St to 78th St to 77th & Lex was the best.

The decision was based on a number of factors, such as:
- minimal volume of foot traffic
- time efficiency
- visual appeal of the route
- scenery
- timing of traffic lights

I do not like to deviate form the path in the mornings. On the way home, things ae much looser. I often try other routes, but not in the morning. I know what's the quckest (or at least feels like the quickest), and I take it.

There's a new poster up at a bus stop. I can't stand looking at it. It literally pains me to see these words together.



I forget it's there, somehow, and always get shocked by it. I cross the street before I hit it. I want to put black paint on it and erase it from my memory. As Jack grows, he looks more and more like this kid. GOD FORBID.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In Defense of Gay Marriage

Here's a video of Phil Spooner, an 86-year-old WWII vet, testifying in support of marriage equality before the Maine legislature earlier this year. The most persuasive speech I've heard to date.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Great Muppets Bloopers




hahahah

In Honor of the Troops



Ok, that was terrible. But check this out:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qIgVrOy9vM

It's the last scene from First Blood, the original Rambo movie. Man, that's a great movie. Stallone was an amazing actor, though you'd never know it. He brings a humanity to issues some veterans were facing (or at least the issues I was led to believe they were facing).

If you want proof that Stallone is a good actor, check this guy out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M20nW1xL7Lg

Did anyone else see the most recent Rambo? I loved it. LOVED. It was violent like Braveheart, in that it looked real. And the footage of the jungle was gorgeous. Plus, it wasn't weighed down with all the metaphorical issues that the second and third movies were. Very surprisingly good.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Oh Geez, Not Again

I know what you want. Blogs about packaging!!!


I'm really into ginger ale. Harley got it free with Chinese food one night. I had the stroke of genius to mix it with Southern Comfort (my favorite booze) and haven't looked back since. Like I said, it tastes like an adult Shirley Temple.

Here's what the category looks like. Surprisingly, I think they all do a good job of making their product look unique. Canada Dry has just made a big push with new packaging; you might have seen the ads. A little busy, think I like the old one a little better. Seagram's looks old. Schweppes is my favorite, like the cleanliness and strong hit of color balanced by the bubbles.


Here's the new Breyers, next to the old. Harley doesn't like it, but I do. It looks fresh and updated. More feminine, but I'm ok with that. This was done at Sterling while I worked there and tested really well. Still, I'm a big nostalgic for the old one.


Here's what Chef Boyardee looks like in BJ's. Brand managers and design firms spend a lot of time trying to make these displays look great in the crappy club store environment. See how the images blend from one pack to the next? That's a wet dream in my world.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Stuff

I'm sorry, everyone. I have not been in the mood to blog. Grad school is harder than ever since Jack came. I'd rather be home than reading or writing. I'm dreading my papers and the time away from the family they require. I'm having a hard I just need to get through this year, fast. Any time away from the wife and kids makes me upset.

I have been watching baseball. I am seriously into baseball right now. The Yankees were damn exciting. I feel great with the world series, but also a little dirty. Like, we pay $80 million more than any other team. No shit we won! It's winner's guilt.

Baseball is a simple sport, just like basketball or football or soccer. But the more you watch, the more you learn, the more you see the massive complexity involved. There is no time to think, only react. Some people are born to play, others (like me) are not.

Pitching is an art. Try to get this little ball past this guy with a stick. Simple, but difficult. Brian, you don't always throw strikes. You use the balls to get guys to swing when they shouldn't.

I voted against Bloomberg. didn't like that he blew the term limits, that he was listed in the Republican spot, or that he spent gazillions. Plus, I knew he'd win and felt more comfortable voting on principle since I didn't know what else to vote on.

Jack and Lilah started taking baths together. Jack sits in his baby bath, and lilah goes with it in the tub. I fill the water so they are both at the same level, and they play while facing each other. It's the cutest thing I ever saw. Last night, lilah was playing and splashed jack in the eyes. He started wailing, then she started. It was a chain reaction of tears that took 10 minutes to end. I tried to stop it, but it's power was overwhelming. It was sad but so, so funny.

My new favorite drink: Southern Comfort & Ginger Ale. It's very sweet, which I like, and the whiskey mixes with the ginger to give it almost a cherry feel. I call it a "Yankee Red," cause it's reddish and I made it up while watching the yankees.

Off to class...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Packaging No One Else Cares About

Back To Nature's new look (old pack on the left, new on the right). Finally looks like a small company of granola eating, teva wearing hippies. I'd buy it! Guranateed the new, lo-fi look costs more than the old, fancy packaging.


The Retro Raisin Bran Packaging. No appetite appeal. Looks like it would taste like cardboard. But for some reason it's intriguing and I want it. Maybe it's because morning time is better when it feels like 1956!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Trouble With Assumptions

Two beggars are sitting side by side on a street in Rome. One has a cross in front of him. The other one the Star of David.

Many people go by and look at both beggars, but only put money into the hat of the beggar sitting behind the cross. A priest comes by, stops and watches throngs of people giving money to the beggar behind the cross, but none give to the beggar behind the Star of David.

Finally, the priest goes over to the beggar behind the Star of David and says: "My poor fellow, don't you understand? This is a Catholic country. People aren't going to give you money if you sit there with a 'Star of David' in front of you, especially when you're sitting beside a beggar who has a cross. In fact, they would probably give to him just out of spite."

The beggar behind the 'Star of David' listened to the priest, turned to the other beggar with the cross and said: "Sol, look who's trying to teach the Goldstein brothers about marketing."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Thoughts on a Wednesday

Lilah loves to open the refrigerator and get out what she wants, all by herself. She’ll run into the living room with a slice of cheese, the chocolate milk, pasta. One time she even brought us the Brita when she was thirsty.

The problem is that she leaves the refrigerator door open. I told her that she’s letting all the cold out and the penguins are going to come. What did she say next?
1. I see penguins!!
2. Oh, Daddy! That’s so silly.
3. Why? Why the penguins coming to my house?
4. I want chocolate milk.

When I come home from work, I have to pick Jack right up or he screams. When I do pick him up, he gets the biggest smile on his face, gets so excited and flaps his arms like a bird. So fucking cute.

We went to a wedding outside Raleigh/Durham. Turns out the Raleigh and Durham are twin cities. The wedding took place right in between them. That’s right, we spent the weekend in the taint of North Carolina.

The drive was good. Lilah got sick the morning on the way their but was such a good sport about it. We like long drives, but hour 8-10 is rough. I went straight to work and have been exhausted ever since.

I had to do a presentation on Goebbels and the Nazi propaganda machine. I should have prepared more, but I faked it pretty well. I just spewed all the useless knowledge that Brian had told me over the years and gave a quick history lesson. Finally, Brian’s blabbering came in handy.

Another Video of my Work Life

Brian Loves Smoking

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Dust Storm in Sydney

Around September 24th, 2009, there was a great dust storm in Sydney, Australia. The dust rolled in from the country side and blanketed the city for about 8 hours.

The dust was spectacular but cause a lot of damage. The most harmful aspect was the unkown amount of topsoil from farms across a huge swath of Australia. The dust so thoroughly blanketed everything in its path — clothes, cars, train seats — that the government promised to lift water restrictions, imposed because of a drought, so residents could clean their homes and vehicles.

Here are some pictures from my company’s Sydney office. Gives a first hand account and some amazing images of the Sydney Opera house.







Thursday, September 24, 2009

Measuring Things

The US should use the metric system. Inches are reeduckyouluss. Millimeters makes sooo much more sense. The UK has it right.

One thing the UK has it wrong on is the Celsius system. The difference between 21 and 22 degrees is too subtle. Fahrenheit rules.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm Back!

Well, not really. The semester has started for both me and Harley. That means Harley isn't homemost nights so I need to watch the kids alone. Work got suddenly crazy, and since i have to get home on time, I need to use every second I have to get my sh!t done.

So I may be a less frequent blogger. It's not that I don't love you, I just need some space.

Here's a video to let you know I've been thinking about you. This would so happen to me.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Always Look At The Positive

A Few Things

Remember how I had a list of celebrities I don’t like? Here’s an update.
  • I don’t hate Bobby Flay. I think he’s kind of a tool. Years ago, I had a friend of a girlfriend that worked at Mesa Grill and said Bobby was mean, so I’ve always had that impression. But you have to be kind if a dick it build an empire, and he seems like he tries really hard, does good work and basically deserves the success he’s had.
  • Brad Pitt. Said he lost something since he got with Angelina. Not so sure anymore, meaning not so sure there was much there! He was on Bill Mahr this week and seems to be doing a lot of good in the world. Seems to genuinely love his kids, his wife, his job, and doesn’t let it all go to his. He’s funny too. He sits there with an almost-smug smile and cracks jokes that actually made me laugh. He does look a little deer-in-the-headlights but twinged with a confidence that says, “so what if I’m not a genius? I’m Brad Fucking Pitt. I don’t have to be.” Gotta respect that. Still thought he sucked in Benjamin Button.
  • Anthony Bourdain. Cocky douche. I’m pretty much not going to like anyone who acts like an ass when a judge on a cooking show.

Happiness = all laundry cleaned, folded, and put away. Ahhh...

I hearby give up on white-meat chicken. I cannot take the dryness, the blandness, it’s tendency to overcook and dry out too quickly. I need to lather in sugary sauce to make it palatable, which kind of defeats the purpose of why I’m eating it in the first place. Sorry, arteries, but you’re welcome salivary glands.

Check this out. It’s an online spreadsheet with every Phish show ever played and a link to download almost all of them. So awesome. Those guys lived the life, always touring, always getting bigger crowds, always writing better music. Fucking love that band.

I totally see how the Yankees are evil. They snatch up all the good players with their never-ending funds. The stadium is always full, their merchandise is sold everywhere, they have their own television network, and they are “America’s baseball team.” If I were an Oriole fan, I’d fucking hate them too. But the Yanks are a world unto their own. The Yankees played the Oakland A’s last night. The field still had the football lines on it. The upper deck was completely empty. But the A’s played really well despite the loss. It’s tough when one team has such a financial advantage. Thank God I married into the Yankees. It’s soo much easier.

Back to work...

What She Really Wants

Harley works evenings, so I get to watch the kids 2-3 evenings alone. It can be great, it can be tough. Monday night, Lilah was very tired and cranky. She was promised ice cream, so I gave her a cone of danilla, her favorites, with rainbow sprinkles that was had to search for before coming home.

She was eating very nicely when her cone broke. She said she needed a new cone, though the ice cream was all gone. I said no. WWIII ensued. “I don’t want you! I want Mommy! Noooo!!” She wanted to take the verboten 7pm nap and ran into her bed room and onto her bed.

Put Jack down with Baby Einstein and rushed in to keep her up. She was crying, tears all her face, snot streaming down her face, with ice cream still stuck in her hair. Things were not looking good, and I was getting upset.

So what do I do? I ask her how her day was. She stop crying, looks at me and says, “good.” What else did you do today? She gave me a 7 minute answer. I don’t remember what she said, but she said it with such enthusiasm, so cute! She was instantly in a better mood.

After that, I brought Jack into the bedroom and we all played nicely for the rest of the night. Guess all she needed was special attention. (Now, you all should know what comes next.) JUST LIKE MOMMY!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Some Sports Stuff

1. Michael Vick should be allowed to play in the NFL, if a team wants him.

Yes, he was convicted of organized dog fighting, a despicable and disgusting crime. He has been vilified in the media, humiliated across the country, and will never be respected like he once was. It will haunt him for the rest of his life. But he served his time and paid his debt to society, as determined by our legal system. He should be allowed to play.

The question is who wants him. What team would take a convicted and disgraced felon? The answer is any losing team that wants a talented quarterback to help him win. I think he’ll go to Detroit or Kansas City.

2. Hank Basket got hurt today.

Yes, Kendra’s hank. Not good for the Eagles or E!. I don't even know who else we have. But I'm still in baseball mode right now. Speaking of which...

3. I don’t understand why people get angry at the Yankees’ for having the highest payroll in MLB.

Yes, it’s massive, but it’s sustainable for them. It’s a build on years and years of success. I don’t know much about the team, but there’s something strange (to me) with complaining about a winning team’s ability to pay for star players. Sour grapes, anyone?

Besides, a team of stars doesn’t always win. Their massive payroll didn’t help them win any games earlier this season. What good did us do then? Baseball is a business. You don’t complain about the guys who can spend the money. You prove that money doesn’t matter. Hasn’t anyone seen Major League?

Maybe some one can give me some insight on this matter. Perhaps a certain Blue Jays fan might have some feelings on this subject...

Monday, August 10, 2009

How To Get Fired From Facebook



Never forget who's reading your posts!

By the way, I love my job and everybody I work with.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Keep Walking

If you have 6 minutes, watch this new ad for Johnnie Walker:



It tells the story of the brand (and the pack) in a very engaging way, and will make you want to go to Scotland and drink a lot.

I don't usually promote ads, especially not long ones, but this one is awesome. And I've been to those Scottish hills (or at least been near them), and they are even cooler in person.

Here's an interview with the director. It looks effortless but it took 40 takes, and this was done at 8pm on the last day of the shoot.

I didn't realize what an amazing actor Robert Carlyle is. The whole thing is dependent on him keeping you engaged. A cool question & answer:

What was the most challenging element of the job?
By 5pm on day one we hadn't managed to do one complete take. We therefore had nothing. We soon worked out that the reason for this was the huge bank of TV's which we'd placed 2 meters in the wrong position. Robert was having to slow down his walking and speed up his talking in a way that was artificial and was throwing him. There was nothing we could do but rebuild the TV's which meant wrapping and staring again the next day having achieved nothing on the first day. The following morning there were a lot of anxious faces and murmurings of "fixing it in post". Then Robert turned up and did the very first take of the day in one. As I said - the man's a genius.

What Gets Me Through The Night

Magazines at Reception

I visit the design office of a global personal care products company. I expect to see the typical boring magazines. BrandWeek. AdWeek. Business Week. Blah Blah Weekly.

Instead, I see these:
  • Instinct (let's be loud - let's be proud)
  • Mountain Bike


Sure, this might be what I'd expect under my brother's mattress, but not at a major company! Of course, there offices were in Chelsea...

Guys on a Truck

On my way to work, I saw a big truck with saw horses to be used for crowd control. There were two guys standing on the truck to keep them there. They weren't strapped in, and even if they were, would they be able to stop all those pieces of heavy wood from falling without getting crushed in the process?

What are they thinking! They should tie them down properly before they get on the road. They probably shouldn't be on the open back of a truck either. Some one should call the cops!

Oh wait...


Thursday, August 06, 2009

Unsung Hero of the Day

John Cazale, Fredo from the Godfather movies.

He appeared in only five feature films in his career, and all of them were nominated for Best Picture.

He was friends with Al Pacino since they were teenagers. Al Pacino, referred to Cazale as his "acting partner", the guy he could've acted with his entire life.

He won lots of Off-Broadway Obie Awards before making it into movies. Pacino invited him to audition for the role of Fredo. Unlike most of the casting of the film, he easily won his the part in thanks to a good audition and little competition for the role.

Francis Ford Coppola was impressed with his performance and wrote a much bigger and central role for the sequel, in which shares the screen for a classic scene in American cinema.

Friend Al Pacino requested him to audition for the role of Sal in Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Director Sidney Lumet was unsure, with Cazale not being anything like the real-life counterpart (the real Sal was eighteen, while Cazale was in his late thirties). Cazale immediately won over the part with the audition.

His final film, The Deer Hunter (1978), was filmed while he was ill with bone cancer. He became engaged to his co-star, Meryl Streep, whom he met when they both appeared in the New York Public Theater's 1976 production of Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.

The studio was unaware of his condition, but the director knew. Cazale was weak and needed to film his scenes first. When the studio discovered he was suffering from bone cancer, they wanted him removed from the film. His co-star and fiancé, Meryl Streep, threatened to quit if he was fired. He died shortly after filming was completed.

Google Maps Finds the Highlander

Click here. Give it a momment to bring up the street view.

It looks just like any random street in any random town.

But Google chose to get a street view on this particular street, on this particular day at this particular time, as a legendary battle ensued.

They even blurred out their faces!!

There can be only one.

Fatty Boombalatty, Part. 2

In keeping with today's theme, here's another gem: www.fancyfastfood.com.

This guy takes cheap, easy fast food and shows ways to transform it into a gourmet-looking meal. Crazy stuff. My boss's friend did this, and the guy's in talks about a book and maybe a TV show. I'd watch it!

Boston Krème Brûlée & Fruit Tart (Fancy Dunkin’ Donuts)
Boston Krème Brûlée & Fruit Tart (Fancy Dunkin’ Donuts) by Erik of Fancy Fast Food Ingredients:  8 Boston Kreme donuts 3 Strawberry-Filled donuts 1 Vanilla Kreme donut 1 bottle of water 1 cappuccino packets of sugar organic mint leaves (for garnish and a touch of irony)   Using a bread knife, cut open each of the dozen donuts to expose its filling.  Scoop out all of the custard filling from the Boston Kreme donuts into a fancy ramekin. Then, even off the top and let it chill in the refrigerator for a while.Time to make the fruit tart… Place some donut halves into a food processor and add about two capfuls of the bottled water for every two full donuts.  Blend it all down until it becomes a doughy paste.  Mold the dough into a mini tart/quiche pan, then bake in a pre-heated oven for ten minutes at 425° F.  After it cools down to room temperature, scoop out all the strawberry filling from the Strawberry-Filled donuts onto the tart crust.  Top it off with a dollop of vanilla cream from the Vanilla Kreme donut.Once the ramekin of custard is chilled, sprinkle a layer of sugar on top.  Then, using a kitchen torch — man, they are awesome — carmelize the sugar until it becomes a brown shell.  Garnish it with the organic mint leaves, and voilà!  With the fancy fruit tart and the cappuccino served in a fancy cup, now America runs on crème brûlée! Ouais!

All made from Dunkin Donuts. The creme brulee is made from the Boston Creme filling.The tart shell is made the donut shells in the food processor, and the tart filling is from strawberry donuts.

Wendy’s Napoleon (Fancy Baconator Combo)
Wendy’s Napoleon (Fancy Baconator Combo) by Adrian Fiorino of Insanewiches.com Ingredients:  1 Wendy’s Baconator 1 large fries 1 small Coke 1 botte of water 2 little cups (or packets) of ketchup  12 sugar packets  Disassemble the burger. The cheese may not separate from the meat, but that’s okay. Place the bun in a food processor with 2 tbsp of water and pulse until it resembles couscous. Set aside. Do the same with the fries until it becomes a paste.Chop the burgers (cheese and all) into pieces with a knife. Place in a food processor and pulse until they look like pate.To create the Napoleon, cut the french fry container so the top is level. Pack alternating layers of the minced meat, the mashed potato paste, and the bun-turned-“couscous” into the container until it is full. Invert over a plate and wiggle until it is loose.For the spun sugar garnish, empty twelve packets of sugar into a heavy-bottom saucepan with 1/4 cup of water over medium heat. While stirring, cook mixture until it is a deep brown color (10-15 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to sit 1 min. Over foil, gently flick the sugar back and forth to create a strand-like design.To make the sauce, put 1/2 cup of Coke and the ketchup into a pan over medium heat. Reduce for five minutes.Next, crisp up the bacon in a pan for two minutes over medium heat before chopping it into little pieces.To assemble, gently separate sugar garnish from foil and stick it in the top of the Napoleon. Pour sauce around the Napoleon and then form 4 little piles of bacon around the edges of the plate.Pour some of the remaining Coke in a wine glass, and there it is: a Fancy Baconator Combo that you might think is waaaay better than the original!
Take a Wedny's Baconator. Put the meat into a food processor and make a paste. Do the same with the bun and the fries. Cut off the bottom of the fry cup (it's circular) and use it as a mold to create alternating layers of meat and fries/buns. Reduce the Coke by boiling it to make the sauce. Cut the bacon into tiny bits and use as garnish.

Here are some other ones. I won't explain how to make them because I'm lazy.

Dao Mi Noh Chow Mein (Fancy Domino’s Pizza)
Dao Mi Noh Chow Mein (Fancy Domino’s Pizza) by Erik of Fancy Fast Food with his brother Mark Ingredients (for vegetarian option):  1 large Domino’s American Legends Pacific Veggie Pizza (default order customized with light cheese, green peppers added, and no provolone, parmesan, or feta cheeses) 1 two-liter bottle of Diet Coke  This Fancy Fast Food dish requires “hoisin sauce” derived from the dark syrup of Diet Coke, so first pour 1 1/2 cups of it into a wok. Place on medium heat and let the water evaporate as you prepare the other items.Pick off all the vegetable toppings from the pizza pie. While you don’t have to separate all of them by type, make sure you separate out the spinach, as it will be used for the garnish. Next, using a pizza slicer, slice thin strips of crust to make the “noodles.” Gather them all and rinse in a colander. Place them in a pile onto a white plate.When the Diet Coke is evaporated down to about 2-3 tbsp. of “hoisin sauce,” add the green peppers, red peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes to the wok. Sautée and stir fry all the ingredients until they’re all mixed together, then spoon them over the noodles.  Garnish with spinach and serve with chopsticks and Diet Coke in a stemless wine glass.  And there you have it, Dao Mi Noh Chow Mein in thirty minutes or more!

Spicy Chicken Sushi (Fancy Popeyes Chicken)
Spicy Chicken Sushi (Fancy Popeyes Chicken) by Erik of Fancy Fast Food Ingredients:  1 two-piece Popeyes Bonafide spicy fried chicken dinner (breast and wing), with a biscuit, a side of cole slaw, and a large Coke (no ice) 1 Loaded Chicken Wrap 1 large order of red beans and rice packets of Popeyes Louisiana hot sauce wasabi paste (for garnish)  This Fancy Fast Food dish requires the dark syrup from Coca-Cola, so first pour the Coke into a non-stick saucepan. Place on medium heat and let the water evaporate as you prepare the other items. Unwrap the Loaded Chicken Wrap and remove the chicken tender. As best as you can, separate the rice from the red beans remaining in the wrap and place the two items into two separate bowls. Add to these bowls the rice from the red beans from the large side order as well.  Rinse the rice in a colander and pick out the remaining red beans. Dry the rice in a paper towel and let it air out for a while. Rinse the tortilla wrap, and then cut off its rounded edges to make a rectangle. Next, cut the tip off the chicken tender (about 2”), then skin and bone the rest, along with the chicken breast and wing. Using the biggest masses of white meat from the chicken tender and chicken breast, cut out four little slabs of chicken. Then take all the remaining chicken and chop it finely. Add the chopped chicken into the bowl of red beans; add hot sauce from the packets to your liking. Mix it all into a consistent paste. Once the Coke has been evaporated to a thick syrup, place the wrap into the saucepan to dye it a darker brown. When enough of the syrup has infused with the wrap, place it face down on a bamboo sushi roller.  Then add a layer of rice on top of that, followed by a strip of the chicken/bean mix in the center of the wrap.  Roll the wrap into the shape of a maki roll, cut off the ends, and then cut the roll into six equal parts - you have just cut “mocki” rolls!  A lot of the syrup coloring may have rubbed off during this process, so re-apply the coloring to each piece with a pastry brush. Cut the edges off the buttermilk biscuit, then cut in half to make to rectangular pieces. Slice those two pieces laterally to make four rectangular pieces of about equal size. Place the four pieces of chicken on each of the four biscuit pieces. Drain and rinse the cole slaw in a colander. Now assemble the presentation! Place the six cut “mocki” rolls on the platter. In one of them insert the tip of the chicken tender, like Japanese chefs do with the end of a shrimp tempura or spider roll. Accentuate the center of each roll piece with a bean and more hot sauce. Place the four chicken and biscuit “sushi” pieces onto the platter, then drizzle and glaze them with more of the Coke syrup. Garnish with a pile of cole slaw and a dab of wasabi paste, then serve it with chopsticks. Love that sushi from Popeyes!

Tacobellini (Fancy Burrito Supreme)

Tacobellini (Fancy Burrito Supreme) by Erik of Fancy Fast Food Ingredients:  2 Taco Bell Burrito Supremes (beef) 1 beef soft taco 1 large Sierra Mist packets of mild, hot or Fire sauce (to your liking) parsley (for garnish)  Think outside the tortilla. Carefully unwrap the Burrito Supremes and soft taco, and extract their stuffings in a bowl.  Carefully rinse off each of the tortillas, and then briefly steam them in a steamer to soften and moisten them. Then lay each tortilla on a cutting board and cut circles in it using a small circular cookie cutter, or simply an empty tin can measuring around 2 1/2” in diameter. Take the filling and put a small amount in each small tortilla circle, then fold it in half and pinch it into a tortellini shape.  The moisture should keep it sticky enough to stay put.  Pile the tortellinis on a plate. Next, cut open and pour the contents of the sauce packets in a measuring cup, then generously drizzle the sauce over the tortellini. Garnish with parsley and serve with Sierra Mist in a wine glass.

Fatty Boombalatty

I had McDonald's for lunch. A 10-nugget meal. Opted for the more healthy Dr. Pepper instead of a milkshake. Now I'm sleepy. But that's nothing compared to these, all found on thisiswhyyourefat.com:

Corn Corn

Corn on the Cob on a stick, covered in corn dog batter and deep fried.
Corn Corn  Corn on the Cob on a stick, covered in corn dog batter and deep fried. (Submitted by Arwest)

Corn Dog Pigs In A Blanket

Fried corn dogs wrapped in American cheese and biscuit dough.Corn Dog Pigs In A Blanket Fried corn dogs wrapped in American cheese and biscuit dough. (Submitted by Laura Flowers)

The Rubix Cubewich
The Rubix Cubewich (via insanewiches)

The Hurler Burger

A burger topped with Easy Cheese in a jelly donut.
The Hurler Burger A burger topped with Easy Cheese in a jelly donut. (Submitted by Bob Phillips via trouttowers)

The Uruguayan Chivito

A roast beef sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cheese, basil garlic mayo, hard boiled egg, pickles, red peppers, green olives, onions, ham, and bacon on a white bread bun.
The Uruguayan Chivito A roast beef sandwich with lettuce, tomato, cheese, basil garlic mayo, hard boiled egg, pickles, red peppers, green olives, onions, ham, and bacon on a white bread bun. (Submitted by Phillip Penix-Tadsen)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Daily Quiz



Is this a picture of:

A) the face of the monster from Little Shop of Horrors
B) the head of a giant sandworm from Dune
C) a football
D) stitching from a leather sofa
E) Andrew, get back to work!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Not So Manic Monday

I watched Beowulf this weekend. Yeah, that Beowulf, that has Angelina Jolie and looks like a cross between animation and real actors. It was amazing. AMAZING. I loved it. Watched it twice just to see the monster again. I didn’t know the story but now want to read the original poem. I highly, highly recommend it. It’s directed by Robert Zemeckis, the same guy who did Forrest Gump, Back to the Future, and a bunch of other classics. AMAZING!! Good story told really well. It’s on Showtime, DVR it.

I also watched The Hulk with Ed Norton. Did it in 30 minutes on fast forward. Did not need to waste that much time.

We had a family stay-night on Friday, since it was raining. Lilah helped me finish a pint of Ben & Jerry’s (Cinnamon Buns flavor). After that, she and I had a sugar rush and wrestled on my bed. We then took an hour-long shower/bath. Here's my little princess:


I’ve been bonding with Jack pretty hardcore. He just looks at me and smiles. How could anyone resist? He loves kisses, gets a huge smile when you put your face anywhere near his. I can’t help but smooch. Does that make me gay? (The answer is no. Not until he’s older, maybe 6 or 7. Then it’s creepy)


Update on my iPod games:
- I shot the moon in Hearts.
- I beat all boards on iBomber.
- I got over 2,000 on Rope & Fly.
- I got 66 on Flight Control.
- I beat Minesweeper on expert.
BRING IT ON!!!
- I choose not to play Flood on Expert, cause it sucks.

Any other game suggestions? All the ones listed above have become tiresome, though still addictive.

I love having a job where I can take the time to write a blog post, that the world so desperately needs. I’m also wearing jeans and sneakers. I came in shorts (the subway is hot!) and would have kept the shorts on, but my muscular calves were getting the ladies too excited. Completely understandable.

On the subway this morning was the first time I got excited for my upcoming class. It’ll (hopefully) be my last Fall semester at NYU, and my final official class to earn my Master’s. In the Spring, I’ll write my thesis which should get me out of taking a class. I will miss it, but a class and thesis is no joke. Will be a long year. After this, my higher education days are done for a looong time. I’m going to get a house, start a band, and convince Harley that 2 kids is the perfect amount so I have more time for the band and yard work.

Boxing is officially boring compared to Ultimate Fighting. Baseball is much, much more exciting in person than on TV. Went to a game with Harley and her friend Rich from Louisville, KY. Had the best seats and the best time. Got seriously drunk on the best tasting Heineken ever.


It was so hot I had to buy a baseball cap. Now I suddenly love this Yankees cap and wear it whenever I can on the weekend. Sure, it’s uncomfortable, gets really hot, makes me look like I’m 12, and every other dad on the Upper East Side is wearing the same exact hat. But I love it. Go Yanks.


JEN SIMON, DON’T READ THIS

Lilah is peeing on the potty. Like a champ! She woke up last night to go pee instead of going in her pull ups. HUGE!! If only poops met the same fate.

You don’t know this, but there is an epidemic sweeping the nation’s toddlers: Wonder Pets Cupcakes. There’s a commercial on Noggin, and it’s all Lilah can talk about, she and many other toddlers. But it’s not just buying these things, you have to make them. It’s work! We told her no Wonder Pets cupcakes until you go poopy on the potty. We’re all still waiting.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Cool Video & Andrew's Musical History

A design intern at work created this video for a pitch. It takes a Skid Row song and uses the words to create images. It's is really cool and only 95 seconds long:



Who knew Skid Row was still around?!? They reformed without Sebastian Bach and are still going strong. Good for them. I loved their first album. I won a contest when I was a C.I.T. (counselor in training) at Willow Grove Summer Day Camp and got that album as a prize. I listened to it every day and eventually wore out the tape.

After that, I bought Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood, the album that made me want to play guitar. I didn't want to tell my Mom I bought the album, cause I thought she'd be unhappy that I bought a heavy metal. I wore that album out too, started playing guitar and never stopped.

The next big album for me was Pearl Jam's 10, about 3 years later. Wore that one out also. Decided to grow my hair long. Big stuff for little Andrew. After Pearl Jam (sophmore year of high school) came Phish (freshman year of college). Then came the Beatles soon after.

Has anyone heard the remixed 10 they just released? Awesome stuff! Get it here. I hadn't been able to listen to 10 for years, brought back too many memories. But this remix sounds fresh and exciting, reminds me of being 16. I realized that the original 10 was mixed to sound like Mother Love Bone and the Seattle rock sound the dominated before grunge really hit. I hate that sound, wet with reverb. The new mix is much more like the later Pearl Jam albums and strangely sounds more like Pearl Jam that the original.

The Montauk Monster

Anybody remember the Montauk Monster? It was a strange creature that washed ashore at the end of Long Island last summer.


Well, now it's back. They found something like it in Canada. Here are the pictures of the live thing:


They think it's a bald raccoon, an increasingly common creature. Weird, but I do love a solved mystery.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Randon Thoughts When I Should be Working

Has anyone else been as into True Blood as me? I didn’t think I’d like it, but every time I watch it I get sucked in. It’s really fun and really well written. Did anyone else see the most recent episode where we find out how Eric became a vampire 1,000 years ago? Was that not awesome?!?

The Abrevaya-Hellers had a great vacation. Jack is the cutest little guy. Lilah is potty training. Not great, but it’s going! We went to Montreal for the day. Went Blueberry picking, canoeing, to the beach, flew kites, and did a lot of hanging around. Very nice. I find I’m the happiest when the 4 of us are out on a trip together, just hanging out.

I really bonded with Jack this trip. Maybe it had something to do with Lilah wanting only Mommy and Mimi, but the boys spent a lot of time together. Every time he smiles, I melt. he emotions are physical as much as mental; it feels like I love him. It’s so strong, I feel like I’m being tricked by nature so I’ll take care of him. It is working.

I didn't do any reading at all. No heavy academic work. No light smut. Just vegged. I am so not looking forward to going back to school this semester. Not at all . It's my last year. Hopefully, I'll have a Fall class and then write my thesis in the Spring. Thesis = no actual class = happy Andrew. After that, I am done with higher education for a LONG time. Maybe forever.

It’s the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing today. Yes, Google told me that. You look back and realize how amazing an accomplishment it is. The complexity of a moon landing is easy to underestimate. With the Internet, wifi, TiVo, and baked potato chips, it’s easy to forget how we’re just standing on the shoulders of genius work from 40 years ago.

We went to Vanessa and John's daughter's baby naming. She's named Gracie, but now she has a Jew name too. After the naming, they had a pool party. I took Lilah in the water. Though timid at first, she did not want to get out. She hung on my neck for an hour in the pool. It was so awesome. I wasn't into NJ so much. But then I fell asleep on a sofa by the pool, listening to the wind blow the trees. I could get to like NJ (despite the previous chart I posted).

Here are pictures from Apollo 11, which I found on the official site. Check out the mission summary and see how planned out, how matter-of-fact the hole experience can seem. They were army guys. Buzz Aldrin said he felt no fear, no excitement. He had a mission to fulfill, and emotion gets in the way. That said, they were supposed to sleep once they landed but were too excited and went out for a walk right away.




This is the Apollo 11 landing site. You can see the lunar lander to the right of the center. It looks like another crater.






Math is Fun