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Archive for August, 2009

Product Placement

August 28th, 2009 1 comment

As many of us TV watchers know, product placement has insidiously crept its little tendrils into all our favorite shows. Well, Royal Pains on USA might not be the best-written show of all time, but its a guilty pleasure I can’t resist. Big houses, gorgeous people, and a fleet of rented exotics that makes me salivate. But even by USA’s standards, Royal Pains’ product placement goes “clunk” so hard I was worried it would pull my plasma off the wall.

Ever since Ms. Sugarlips gave up her Saab, she has been driving around in a 2010 Prius. She comments on the solar cells in the roof. She starts the air conditioning remotely. And she discusses these actions as they happen just in case you, dear watcher, should miss it. Its a PRIUS! Its awesome! Everyone should get one.

No. The Prius sucks. Its a totally slow, lame car and I like to drive fast, awesome cars. I would clearly take an hour with any of the F430s on that show over a lifetime with any hybrid. So perhaps I’m a bit biased. But even the constant Prius placement can’t compete with one absurd example in Episode 9, “It’s Like Jamais Vu All Over Again.” In this episode, its revealed that Divya has been lying to her parents about being a physician assistant because they are traditional and Indian and wouldn’t like it. She’s scurred! We’re not really sure how she got the training to do said job without her parents noticing, but we’ll leave that one to live in the lollipop land we like to call, “suspension of disbelief.” At any rate, Divya has to make the doctor’s weird brother character lie and say he is her friend from school. But not just any school. Oh no. He’s a friend from WALDEN UNIVERSITY! Walden. Divya: “Did you get that, Evan, I said (staring creepily into the lens) W-A-L-D-E-N…” Evan: “Oh ok. Sure, Walden. Got it.” And then she proceeds to tell her parents, “oh, me and shit-for-brains went to school together.” Reply from actor hired for resemblance to play mother: “Oh really?” Divya: “Yes, at WALDEN!” Cue the surprised and impressed nods from actors playing parents.

N.B.: If you haven’t seen this moment, I suggest fast forwarding to it. I watched it several times in succession. Its just that good. You know that moment at the end of Cruel Intentions when the headmaster pulls apart Lindsay Lohan’s cross that’s filled with blow? And then he slowly, very slowly, shakes his head in disapproval? Well its just like that only opposite and not as good.

Anyway, at this point its absurd. I truly thought they had “Wharton” in the script but UPenn got its panties in a knot and wouldn’t let them say it. So “Wharton” became “Walden.”

My theory was shattered during the first commercial break, wherein a full seventy-six minutes was devoted to “Walden University…Opening Minds” (or something, not sure, was trying to find the remote to fast forward).

Later in the episode Divya laments, “But this isn’t how its supposed to be! My parents have it all mapped out, marry whats-his-name, graduate from WALDEN, and move to London.”

What makes this totally obnoxious and, frankly, completely random product placement all the more ridiculous is that Walden is an online university. They met at Walden? They went to Walden together? How? Like, what, in the public library where their two work stations were across the room from each other? They were clicking away and staring into each other’s eyes across a line of carts filled with old copies of Reader’s Digest?

Incidentally, if you’re into some trashy TV chat, check out my buddy Matt’s blog, WarmingGlow. He has videos embedded and everything. He knows how to do that sort of thing. Neat!

Have you ever experienced a product placement this absurd? If so, please share it with me – and the world – in the comments section below.

xx

-B

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Riding the Bus

August 27th, 2009 3 comments

When I was young I would sometimes take the M1 bus down 5th avenue. It took forever, practically as long as walking, but I loved to sit in the front and stare out the sweeping plate of glass that separated those of us ensconced in our rolling cocoon from the rest of the world. Riding in the front of a bus is something unlike riding shotgun in a cab or private car. The vista is much wider. When it rains, those herky jerky windshield wipers seem never able to clear off the glass without smudges. And the ride itself, of course, is one-of-a-kind. The swish of the (frequently applied) air brakes, the constant unanticipated jolts from left and right.

Well last night I decided to do some penance for all the cabbing I did over the weekend and rode the bus to and from the AMC Kips Bay to see Julie & Julia. The return trip was slightly more exciting than the trip there because it was drizzling out and the corner of 2nd Avenue and 29th Street, not exactly a hotspot of metropolitan nocturnal activities, was feeling rather barren at 10:30pm. While I checked the bus schedule (would it come at 10:30 or 10:35?) I knew in my heart of hearts that those schedules are sometimes strangely accurate, but usually just there for a bit of cheer and moral support. We waited quite some time for the bus but when it did arrive, barreling down 2nd Avenue, I was happy to hear the swoosh of those brakes as it careened to a stop in the approximate location of the designated bus stop. The bus was far from crowded, as you might expect, and thus I was able to score the seats in front, those normally reserved for the elderly and such, for myself. Of course, I would have given them up for a flock of the old, but considering the population density on the M15 that night I doubted I would need to vacate before I disembarked at Houston Street.

I love to sit on the right side of the bus. It offers a better view of the road. Plus, I get to examine the driver’s seat as we jostle through the vehicular crowd. The throne is a marvel of elementary engineering, packed with springs and buttons that look like they were lifted from an early space shuttle. Nonetheless, the seat seems to offer an oasis of smooth hauling for the driver as the rest of us try not to lose our lunch. I admit it, I’ve looked upon to those padded, highly adjustable perches with more than a wee bit of envy on a particularly potholed stretch of 9th Avenue.

Sure, its not an practical mode of transportation for those of us perpetually fourteen minutes late, but there is something unexpectedly appealing about taking the bus. One finds a sort of respite from the quicker, faster, better sensibility. Sitting in the front of the bus, I can’t help but feel calmed by the frequent stops and shutters as I look ahead, lost in the city’s embrace.

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Lions and Tigers and Bears

August 26th, 2009 No comments

Last night I went over to my friend Peter’s house to watch the Yankees game. I also intended to drop off a couple of items Peter had left at my house. One of those items was a snazzy pink checked button-down shirt. It wasn’t Peter’s. So if you’ve left a rather handsome pink shirt at my house, I’ll be wearing it. You might have to snatch it off my person. If you are successful, the shirt is yours (again). If not, possession is nine-tenths of the law, baby. Tough titties.

As watching the Yankees falling down and rolling about in the grass began to resemble an act of flagellation (in a bad way, mind you), we decided to flip channels to something more uplifting. Unsurprisingly, we landed on the Animal Channel. The program playing brought into Peter’s distinctly urbane living room a pride of lions attacking a zebra. The lions then proceeded to go to chow town on it. Peter and I agreed it would be awesome to be a lion because 1) the men get to straight chill while the ladies do all the work and 2) they’re lions. ‘Nuff said. I then returned home.

I traveled to and from Peter’s house via taxi. While a crosstown jaunt should really, for the sake of frugality, be completed via subway, I find myself taking cabs during the summer far more than is strictly necessary. This results from a combination of two factors. First, a subway ride now costs something like $7. Right? Its so expensive! Really, a cab isn’t much more if you think about it. And second, it’s hot down there in the lair of the rat king. I’d rather enjoy the air conditioning supplied by a snappy Ford Escape hybrid. Of course, hailing a taxi in the hottest months requires a little detective work. Every New Yorker knows a cab with windows down is a cab with no working air conditioning. So be sure to selectively hail or you’ll be baking on a minimally-cushioned sheet of vinyl for thirty five blocks. You’ve been forewarned…

xx

-B

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The time has come…To talk of many things.

August 25th, 2009 No comments

Last night I had an absolutely delicious dinner at Perbacco in the East Village. Have you eaten there? If not, you should. The waiters have only the loosest grasp on conversational English and smoke between courses (not their courses, mind you, but rather yours). They are entertaining and encourage a languid, European meal that practically begs to be drawn out over many hours. The food too is exceptional, inventive and delicious. Try it.

I had the aforementioned meal with my friend Orlan. We discussed some pro bono work we are doing together but mostly we chatted about our childhoods. Mine: tempestuous. His: vaguely international. The waiter forgot things that we ordered and Orlan spoke to him in various languages, none of which were the waiter’s native tongue, until my handsome companion remembered the origin of the cuisine we were enjoying. After that, those two got on like pigs in shit, I’m tellin’ ya.

I wore a Moschino shirt and, for the first time in many moons, spilled absolutely nothing on it. This was not due to sobriety. Orlan and I had a delicious bottle of wine. Orlan refilled our glasses each round because our waiter was concerned his tobacco stash was remaining too large. A grand time was had by all.

We talked of many things, including the terrible fires in Athens. We discussed not, for lack of time I suppose, the horrid pictures published in today’s Times of skinheads in Moscow (advance to slide #5) protesting an organization for gay activists to challenge governmental policies. The picture hyperlinked above shows an ultra-masculine a femme gay skinhead standing up for his rights being schooled by a lesbian. Hawt.

But what of Jasper, you ask?  Well the little man does not much like his return to city life. Walks on lead fill him with a persistent and indefatigable sense of ennui. Urban, scrawny maple trees pale in comparison to their mighty, vital oak brethren. Those trees are, in fact, not even good enough to pee on.

Jasper rolls cruise control

Jasper rolls cruise control

So clearly Sir Jasper has his work cut out for him. But I am confident he will meet this challenge and defeat his aversion to the grimy streets of the Big Apple.

xx

-B

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Alas, poor Weekend! I knew him…

August 24th, 2009 1 comment

Well the weekend is behind us. I, as usual, was wrong about the weather. It was lovely for the most part.

On Sunday, I made up for a major cultural deficit that’s been plaguing me for some time now. That’s right, I finally saw Wicked for the first time. Not like, “see it again for the first time” but actually for the first time. All the leads were good and sang really, really high. Also, there were aerial stunts which were ok but I liked the ones in Cirque de Soleil better.

I didn’t know any of the actors in the cast but Rondi Reed, a Chicago veteran, played a blustery school mistress who somehow becomes personal secretary to the Wizard. She was fabulous and rocked lots of wigs and cleavage.

More important than the show, however, was being reminded of two things Americans love: food and spending money. Wicked is set up to provide ample opportunities for both national past times. The lobby is filled with glass cases busting with t-shirts that are emblazoned with important text such as “Go Green!” and “I’m Popular!” Also available are the usual assortment of hats, fleeces, sweatpants, and the like. Whenever I see people wearing these accessories in NYC I always assume they are actors or stage crew doing errands on laundry day. We get piles of this crap during rehearsals and runs and most of it ends up heavily creased at the bottom of a bureau drawer. Little did I know that Long Islanders in fact claw and elbow their way through corpulent crowds to be afforded the opportunity to exchange $40 (Visa preferred!) for a wearable memento. If any of you are impoverished and love tshirts, let me know. I’m pretty sure I’ve got a Sunset Boulevard one somewhere with your name written all over it.

Less interesting and far more irritating is the desire by theatregoers to eat their way through a musical. The three women in front of me barreled through, in no particular order, an enormous sack of Starbursts, three pepsis, a pack of milk duds, a bag of peanut M&Ms, a bottle of Gatorade, and six or seven pieces of gum. The show is long, but not so long that you will have to go In the Heart of the Sea on your fellow theatregoers. So methinks it was less than necessary for this particular trio to consume nineteen thousand calories (give or take) between the overture and the curtain call.

Until tomorrow…

xx

-B

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TGIF

August 21st, 2009 No comments

Friday has arrived again and everyone who is anyone will be braving the monsoon this weekend in the Hamptons, swaddled in down, munching on goose liver pate. Except for me ’cause I have fabulous house guests for whom I shall skip the rice fields and remain in a New York state of mind for what promises to be a wet and sultry couple of days.

Theo, Brian, and Mattie came over last night and Jasper was dead to the world exhausted. Of course, come 1am he was bouncing off the walls and continued to do so until I hypnotized him back to sleep. He for that period was busily alternating between humping and pulverizing his favorite toy, a stuffed raccoon. Despite his complex relationship with this fuzzy, furry wonder, Jasper continues to turn heads throughout the one block of the Lower East Side on which he is semi-willing to walk. He’s only been back 36 hours but already the neighborhood is riveted by his presence. One of our fabulous neighbors, who bears more than a slight resemblance to NeNe from The Real Housewives of Atlanta, picked him up and Jasper snuggled right into her ample bosom. ‘Atta boy!

Jasper's bum

Jasper's bum

With a return to New York comes a whirlwind of much-neglected activity. Have you drunkenly left something at my apartment? Expect it to be returned shortly. My BlackBerry with the sticky alt key? Replaced with one that clicks with all the gusto of Dorothy’s heels. Closets? Getting cleaned out for the arrival of winter’s bulky sweaters and new fall coats to ease the inevitable gloom that comes with shorter days and cooler nights. What’s on your to-do list for the arrival of September? And more importantly, what will you be doing tonight to avoid said to-do list?

xx

-B

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Nova Scotia Recap

August 20th, 2009 1 comment

So as most of you know I have returned to NYC and am speaking a wee bit. I’m trying not to shout or converse for long stretches at at a time. But while its wonderful to be back in the Big Apple, I think it nonetheless vitally important to recap some of the beauty and wonder that is Nova Scotia. I can think of no better way to do so than to follow up on my promise of just a wee glimpse of the fashions I witnessed in cosmopolitan Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. Just remember to vote for my ad campaign for The Nova Scotia Board of Tourism, “Nova Scotia: Land of the Free T-shirt!”

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Lest though you think these distingué individuals were the only ones rocking the latest in haute couture, I have included a random sample of just a few other dapper citizens of the land cell phone towers forgot.

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As you can see, the taste level here is bleeding edge. Like my eyes were bleeding. I especially like how the paparazzi-shy lady in the bottom photo decided to rock all her bling for the Shark Scramble. Honey, unless your name is Sarah Sulzberger Perpich, you are not fabulous enough to rock rings on all fingers. I’m puttin’ my Gucci-clad foot down on that one.

So tomorrow, friends, is Friday. What will you be doing to celebrate the dawn of the weekend? Shall there be debauchery a-plenty? Or are we keeping an ascetic August attitude? Won’t you share your plans with me – and the world – in the comments section below?

xx

-B

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All Clear

August 20th, 2009 No comments

Just a quick update on my meeting with Dr. Zeitels. He was really happy with my recovery and officially took me off full vocal rest meaning I can (lightly and judiciously) speak. It was a bit disconcerting hearing my own, atrophied voice croak back into life but I’m thrilled to be able to once again communicate verbally. I’m back in NYC and looking forward to a vain attempt at a productive Thursday.

More to come on the morrow.

xx

-B

One closing thought. May Barney Frank never publicly say this to you: “Ma’am, Trying To Have A Conversation With You Is Like Trying To Argue With A Dining Room Table.” Really, can ya beat the witticisms of Barney Frank?

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And He’s Off

August 18th, 2009 1 comment

Well we’re off for Portland today and that means a teary goodbye to Nova Scotia. I expect that the entire population of Yarmouth will turn out to wave silk scarves and weep from the docks as we pull ever-so-slowly away from dry land and into the Bay of Fungus.

Some of you have commented that the site looks different. You, friends, are correct. We (I) here at MySilentLife have gone a bit upmarket and created a slicker look on the suggestion of my friend Matt Wallaert who knows all things social and ‘net. Matt works at Thrive with my buddy Avi Karnani and is quite clever. If you see him out, sipping on a non-alcoholic beverage, say hello.

Something rather important happened after we spoke last, and that thing is Sir Jasper’s swim. Yes, folks, my little terrier who shouldn’t like to swim decided to brave the water and swam out a bit into the lake to catch up with my wading self. He did a fabulous job and I was thrilled. Alex called out to him with glee, I clapped and remained frustratingly silent. He’s growing up, my little man. Here’s a picture of him to remind you of what he looks like:

Jasper on the Deck

Jasper on the Deck

Delicious blueberry pancakes have been eaten, alas without coffee because coffee isn’t allowed on my – I’m a mute on a restricted, really bad, no fun diet – and we’re loading up the silver car from the future.

Wish us Bon Voyage!

xx

-B

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Monday Musings

August 17th, 2009 1 comment

Well it was a busy weekend. On Saturday Alex and I headed into town to attend the Shark Scramble. Here the ostensible attraction was a weigh in of a bunch of sharks some fisherman had caught for the competition; I found that part kind of gross. Some of them seemed to have their intestines spilling out of their mouths as they were hoisted tail first by a cherry picker. The locals say there are too many sharks and they have to be culled and whatnot but sorry, I can’t help but feel a little bad for those sharks. Alex took a pic of one:

Shark Scramble

Shark Scramble

So in an attempt to divert my focus from the slaughter at hand I started examining some of the “local flavor” and came to a stunning realization. I shall be pitching this to the Nova Scotia board of tourism as a new trademarked phrase for their literature. Nova Scotia: land of the free t-shirt! The fashion on display was hardly up to the standards of so many of you fine, suave readers. I have some prime examples of the styles these folk chose to display but I can’t figure out how to get them off my BlackBerry in the land that cell phone towers forgot so you’ll just have to wait with baited breath for those.

It was super depressing but then I found a store called “The Wool Shop” and bought 5 hats and a fabulous trench coat. Thus, I felt better.

On Sunday I did a significant amount of email pow-wowing with Sentia folk and helped Alex wrap up an application for some strange director thing (directors always have to submit weird applications that ask broad, uninteresting questions – singing 16 bars and hearing “NEXT!” is so much easier!).

Later, we had a lobster bake with the community and I did a ton of dishes. There were some twins there, infants ya know?, and one of the twins was bald which was unfortunate. I felt bad for it and kept trying to amuse it until the mother shooed me away. The Burns’ dog, Charlie, was very naughty and tried to eat things off the tables while my dog, Jasper, was a perfect little pooch who sat on my lap while I ate and delighted the crowd with feats of wonder including prompted sitting, barking, and juggling of fiery pins. Everyone loved it!

After the real nice clam bake, Julie Jordan and I sat down to do a little cinema viewing. We tried to watch The Good German yet again and yet again fell asleep 30 minutes in. That movie’s boring, yo.

Whats SO not boring is that we have a bat in the house. Its swooping and slamming around. Awesome! I love bats because they eat my arch enemies: mosquitoes. So while everyone runs around with brooms and vacuum cleaners, I contentedly sit with my mosquito net tent over my bed and read a nice long hardcover book. With every swoop I know delicious, disgusting mosquitoes are being super nova-ed into his furry, creepy belly. He’s alright by me.

Speaking of books, I’ve gotten quite a bit of reading done here. This weekend I read The Education of an American Dreamer by Peter G. Peterson. Pete Peterson started Blackstone and then left and sold a bunch of shares for a billion dollars. He did some other stuff too. He’s Greek-American and has been married three times. And currently he’s married to the chick who started Sesame Street – which is just plain awesome. I know of him only because of his grandchildren, one of whom has risen to some level of fame. PC Peterson is pictured in the book with the other grandkids, lovingly surrounding their grandfather. He’s handsome and well dressed. These qualities are displayed in some magnification on PC’s current “reality” television show, NYC Prep. PC is meant to be the detestable one because he’s petty and mocks everyone. But he wears fabulous eyeliner and is fussy about his hair and also clearly very smart and crafty so I like him. I’ve only seen two episodes of the show but its clear to me he is very much in on the joke and establishing a nice little bit of celebrity for himself, celebrity which he will leverage later for book deals, his own show, and a line of designer impostor body sprays called “Passionate, by PC.”

So we’re outta here tomorrow, taking the Prius and dog and baggage and painkillers all aboard the CAT high speed hydrofoil ferry to Maine where we will spend the night and then head to Boston on Wed morning for my follow-up with Dr. Zeitels.

Ahoy U.S. of A.

xx

-B

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