Saturday, January 28, 2006

Odds and Ends Pt. 4

A man tries to make paper by referring to a poem. Learn about the results in his hilarious report "Recipe for Paper," which recently aired on public radio program Studio 360.

Goto Reviews, which bills itself as "A Guide to the Most Efficient Things in the World," is a nifty site. For example, it made a reference to the "Mealbox" table. The chairs and table are all shaped in such a way that they can be stacked together and packed into a box.

And thanks to dan dan noodles for his concern. When I tripped, it was on a poorly lit, nearly empty block. A guy walking in the other direction turned around and asked me if I was OK, and that was about it, no snickering or laughs that I could hear. Incidentally, today around lunchtime, I was walking down 14th Street, which some of you know as one of the major crosstown streets in New York, when an older woman in front of me tripped and fell. The gentleman who'd been walking in front of her and I stopped to make sure she wasn't hurt, but she seemed more embarrassed than anything else, her sunglasses sitting askew on her nose.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Odds and Ends Pt. 3

One gorgeous afternoon, walked down Minetta Lane, quiet winding street like nothing out of New York. I recalled something a classmate had seen when doing a photo essay on the street. And there it was, just as he had described -- a rainbow macaw in a courtyard, several yards away from a locked gate that led onto the street. Perched on the railing next to a second-floor back door. It bobbed its head, walked back and forth on the railing and then -- zip! Though not as quickly as the word might imply, though in one smooth motion, the parrot slid down the railing to the bottom of the staircase. Bobbed its head. Then turned, walked up the railing, claws grasping metal.

In a less poignant moment, I tripped and fell while walking in the East Village this evening. I'm not a clumsy person, at least I don't think I am. I happened to be looking up at the back of a residential building, wondering at how dingy it looked, when my foot hit a slab of concrete sidewalk jutting about an inch out of the ground. I caught it in just the right way. Next thing I knew, I was falling, not in slow motion but violently. I just managed to catch myself on my hands and knees. Thank God I didn't hit my head or crash onto my face, but my palms are still numb from the impact -- I couldn't believe how such a common ... blunder ... could hurt so much.

Filed in:

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

An Incident One Evening

I had a very postmodern experience this evening as I was walking home from the train station.

I'd stopped by my usual corner grocery store and upon exiting took a different way home. As I was walking down this dark, primarily residential block, I heard a commotion and saw a crowd of silhouettes gathered at the intersection at the bottom of the hill. I assumed it was just a bunch of kids fooling around. As I neared the intersection, however, I saw some people running toward the crowd as a fire truck wailed by me.

When I reached the end of the block, I saw it -- a fire in the top floor of a walk-up. The window had shattered or been shattered. Flames were pouring out, shooting several feet into the air. The word conflagration came to mind.

I often hear fire trucks go by. I don't know if this is typical for a New York neighborhood, but I clearly recall in the past year two incidents on my block alone. Once I saw only smoke coming from a building, no fire visible, though a firefighter climbed from his truck to the roof. The other time, I was sitting in bed late one night when I heard a loud explosion. I figured that a gas line or some utility under the street had burst. I couldn't see that much from my window, but the street seemed to be on fire. The following day, I noticed that fresh asphalt had been laid near that spot.

This was different, however. As I watched the proceedings, I realized that I'd never seen a house on fire in real life. I'd seen it in movies and on the news but never in person. Although only one room of this apartment seemed to be on fire, I couldn't believe the enormous energy behind the flames. How bright it was.

A firefighter raised the ladder on his truck and drove it toward one of the apartment's other windows. Suddenly, the pane of glass exploded. It wasn't like the sound made when a small object flies through a window. This was a high, crackly explosion with a low oomph behind it.

Another firefighter who'd made it into the apartment broke some of the other windows. Some errant sprays of water started coming out of the room in which the fire was concentrated. The flames diminished.

Later, a firefighter took a chainsaw to the stone molding at the top of the building, cutting into it with a shriek. No more flames seemed to be coming from the roof, but the roof was still on fire. The firefighters aimed water at it. Water spurted out from the gaps and gushed down the side of the building.

As planes passed overhead, I wondered if the passengers on board could see the fire and the red and yellow lights, not nearly as bright as the glow of the fire, of two police cars, two ambulances, three or four fire trucks and a fire department SUV.

As the fire was beaten, the crowd dissipated. At the fire's peak, quite a number of people had converged on the spot -- people coming home from work or the grocery store, delivery workers on bikes, families, people out walking their dogs, people out running. Car traffic slowed to avoid hitting gawkers standing in the street. Every time I lifted my coffee cup to take a sip, I felt as if I was at a movie, enjoying the show.

It was rather heartbreaking, actually. There was something about the ferocity of the fire, eating up the room and crawling up the walls from what I could see of it. I wondered how I'd feel if I came home and saw my place on fire, wondered what I'd be in anguish over losing. Photos? Old letters?

Fortunately, I don't think anyone was hurt. I kept expecting a firefighter to descend the ladder with an unconscious person slung over his shoulder, but the rest of the apartment had been dark. Either no one had been home or the apartment had been vacant.

On an entirely different note, I guess library cops do exist.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Hurray for Dirt

Jesse wanted me to point out these instructions for making a nifty sod couch, a perfect project for someone looking for something both environmentally friendly and comfortable (if not a little messy):

Does that remind anyone else of the Adobe, the "sassy new Mexican import that's made out of clay"?

Filed in:

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Danny Leiner's "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"

Note: My thoughts on this movie were originally posted in my sidebar and was written a few weeks ago.

Yes, the "Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle" is silly, but it's refreshing to finally see a film that doesn't feature an Asian male as The Nerd, The Japanese Mafia Guy, The Martial Arts Expert, The Immigrant or The Restaurant/Laundry/Cornerstore Owner.

The fact that two Asian males are the leads make this film even more remarkable to me. I feel that here's finally a movie that reflects my experience, i.e., people of color as average Americans. (I also liked how the film touches upon the issue of racism. At one point in the movie, one of the "villains" snears at Harold and Kumar, "Better luck tomorrow!")

Filed in: